Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It has begun...

Sigh… it pains me to write this post, however, I feel it is my duty to keep everyone informed of the goings-on in the world of linguistics. Even if they happen to pander to the grammatically-challenged and simple-minded amongst us. Oh yeah, and also because Faisal threatened me with legal action if I kept this to myself…

This afternoon, I visited my go-to online lexicon, dictionary.com, to look up the word “specialness.” I used it in my previous post, and since Word underlines it with a little squiggly red line (signifying a possible misspelling) I looked it up to make sure I was using it correctly. And as long as I was wandering around the cyberworld dictionary, I decided to check on that “word” which has become the bane of my existence – the sneaky interloper that has been attempting to create a space for itself somewhere in between real, legitimate, useful words. That redundant, unnecessary conglomeration of letters that mocks me every time I hear someone use it in conversation. I am speaking, of course, of "comfortability."

So imagine my surprise when, instead of seeing the usual “word not found” message I’ve grown so used to, today I saw this instead:

1 result for: comfortability
com·fort·a·ble Pronunciation[kuhmf-tuh-buh l, kuhm-fer-tuh-buh l]
(of clothing, furniture, etc.) producing or affording physical comfort, support, or ease: a comfortable chair; comfortable shoes.
being in a state of physical or mental comfort; contented and undisturbed; at ease: to be comfortable in new shoes; I don't feel comfortable in the same room with her.
(of a person, situation, etc.) producing mental comfort or ease; easy to accommodate oneself to or associate with: She's a comfortable person to be with.
more than adequate or sufficient: a comfortable salary.

[Origin: 1350–1400; ME <>]
—Related forms
com·fort·a·ble·ness, com·fort·a·bil·i·ty, noun
com·fort·a·bly, adverb

One result for comfortability??? Since when? How did this happen? There’s some sort of Comfortability Mafia, isn’t there? And they got to the dictionary.com people… they must’ve sent their most intimidating thug and made all kinds of threats… How else could this have happened? How else could an obviously made-up word find a place in what I’m starting to think is a made-up dictionary? I’m sure there was no coercion when they added, say, “apple” to the dictionary. Nope. An apple is an apple. No problem. Add it to the dictionary. Or “happiness.” Sure, great word! Add it to the dictionary. How about “existential”? Yeah, we can throw that in there, absolutely. Well, what about “comfortability”? Uh, sorry, no. Nope, not gonna work. We already have “comfort,” so why do we need comfortability? Uh, whoa, hey, wait a minute Comfortability Mafia Guy – whatcha doin’ with that grenade launcher? Heh heh – it was just a joke! Of COURSE we can add “comfortability” to dictionary.com! I mean, people love to have choices, right? Why have ONE word that means “comfort” when you can have TWO? Just because one is redundant and unnecessary doesn’t mean we can’t toss it into the mix!

Fortunately, a quick perusal of a few other online dictionary sites assured me that not everyone has jumped on this “non-existent word validation” bandwagon. But how long until the Comfortability Mafia gets to the rest of the dictionaries in the world? Oh, it’s a slippery slope… when one of them falls, the rest will soon follow.

And I have very little comfortability in this realization…

I'm special... but you're not...

I was just reading about a recent study that revealed that college students are becoming more narcissistic than previous generations of college students. Apparently we’ve been pushing the “self-esteem” thing so much that we now have kids growing up to not only believe they are worth something, but to also believe they are the center of the universe. And for some reason, I think this is funny. I guess there’s a fine line between “self-esteem” and “self-centeredness.”

The article reminded me of my acting debut in high school. I portrayed the part of “human scenery” in our production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Actually, the official description of my part was “townsperson.” My friend Ali was a townsperson, too. And we refused to simply be the “human scenery” we were meant to be. Every time we were on stage together, we would have some sort of pantomime worked out to make our appearance more interesting. We worked especially hard on one of the scenes in the middle of the musical. There’s a scene where the entire cast is onstage, supposedly at a big town get-together. And as with all musicals, there was a big production number with lots of dancing and plenty of solos for the main characters. However, the townspeople did get a nifty little dance routine, and, if I remember correctly, this was the scene where Ali and I had our own little ten-second dance in the spotlight, where she sort of lifted me and tossed me over to the side… hmmm… is it weird that the director gave us two girls our own dance number? Well, Ali WAS pretty tall…

But after our moment in the spotlight, we were supposed to retreat to the shadows of the background, where we’d join the rest of the human scenery in claps and smiles and other non-distracting behavior. We didn’t want to detract from the main characters. But we didn’t exactly want to fade into the background, either. So Ali and I got together with a couple other girls, and we created our own “background story.” We had a whole story made up for our non-existent characters, and a whole pantomime of their night at the town get-together. We even threw in an argument at one point – while the main characters were hogging the spotlight, the four of us in the background were acting out a fake disagreement, which, at the right spot in the progression of the musical number, we’d resolve with hugs and smiles. At one point, the four of us climbed up to sit on a wooden table at the back of the “town square” set, and proceeded to launch into our very own sit-down choreography. We were especially proud of that one – we’d made the whole thing up on our own, it fit into the music perfectly, and the director never told us to stop… so he either never noticed, or he thought what we were doing actually belonged there.

Our one obstacle on the way to being independent background actors was one of our classmates named Annika. Annika had been named “stage manager” by our school’s drama teacher and director, Mr. Ruf. That mostly meant she was supposed to keep track of the props. But Annika decided it meant that she was in charge of everything that happened on that stage. If you wanted to set foot on the stage, you’d better have Annika’s permission first. If you wanted to ad lib in the background, Annika better not notice, otherwise she’d have choice words for you. And when she saw someone behaving in a way she disapproved of, Annika would always say the same thing: “you think you’re SO special! Well you’re not!”

“You think you’re SO special” became a sort of catch-phrase amongst us lowly townspeople. As Annika patrolled the stage with her hands on her hips and her eyes ablaze with anger, we began to think SHE was the one who thought she was SO special. Annika, after all, had scored one of the leads – apparently sealing her “specialness” quite securely. And the way it seemed to the rest of us, no one else was allowed to be as special as Annika. After a while, we learned to just ignore her – the only “power” she could legitimately wield was over the props.

And so, on opening night, I was wearing a costume and the first face-full of makeup I’d ever worn in my life (Ali said I looked like a “French temptress”… I think it was supposed to be a compliment, but I was only fifteen… and Ali read a lot of romance novels…). And when the curtain rose on that town square scene, our townsperson pantomime was perfectly executed. We were so proud of ourselves. And why not? We were, after all, SO special…

Monday, February 26, 2007

Laugh, and sometimes you laugh alone...

So did anyone watch the Academy Awards last night? I didn’t watch… I usually find those awards shows a bit boring and tedious (does it REALLY take that long to hand out a couple dozen awards??). Not to mention self-indulgent. I’m surprised you can get so many celebrities and their giant, inflated egos into one single theater. I did flip over to the channel for a few seconds right around the time Helen Mirren won her best actress award, and happened to see the camera cut to a shot of Clive Owen looking quite handsome, and I thought, “well that’s it – the highpoint of the night… not gonna get much better than that…” so I switched to a different channel. (Clive, I thought your “Children of Men” was pretty horrible – and don’t even get me started about “Derailed” – but at least you look good when you’re making bad movies…)

But I did, of course, notice that Martin Scorsese was at long last honored for best director. When I look at the list of movies Scorsese has directed – Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Color of Money, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and now The Departed – I realize one thing: I have never seen a single Martin Scorsese movie. Not one. I can only assume this is because I was never aware of his talent as a director. Oh, but NOW – now that he’s won an Oscar – I’m sure I’ll be more apt to give him a chance now and then.

Instead of the Oscars, I was watching the Simpsons – they ran the Christmas and Halloween episodes from last year, which I somehow managed to miss the first time around. Rick always seems to think I’m weird if I watch a show like the Simpsons with him, because apparently I laugh at things that are only mildly funny. Or at least Rick thinks they’re only mildly funny. Like on the Halloween episode last night, there was a scene where Bart tells Milhouse he wants to complain about his Krusty the Clown alarm clock because, “it squirts acid in your face when the alarm goes off – look.” And then he hits a button to demonstrate, which squirts Milhouse with the acid. At which point Milhouse goes, “Argh! You already showed me before!” I mean, c’mon – how funny is that? You already showed me before… that’s hilarious… am I the only one who thinks so? Eric? You think that’s funny, right?

Rick and my dad were out this weekend talking to someone about the houses being built in another part of our neighborhood, and when Rick got home, he was like, “oh, we talked about you a lot… yeah, we told the guy this and this and this about you...” Apparently, I’m “quirky” and that translates into good conversation material. “Lisa likes to turn the temperature down to 45 when she sleeps… Lisa won’t eat seeds… Lisa has an irrational fear of pool drains… Lisa laughs at stupid things on the Simpsons…”

But hey, it’s not such a bad thing to be “quirky,” right? Quirky isn’t so bad… it’s when you cross the line from “quirky” to “bizarre” that things take a turn for the worse. Like Britney Spears shaving her head and checking herself in and out of rehab fifteen times. That’s really bizarre. But me thinking that the Wizard of Oz is the scariest movie imaginable? Well, that’s just quirky. That guy on the travel channel who’ll eat anything in the world, even if it’s still alive? Kinda bizarre, if you ask me. But me refusing to eat fish because fish tastes like dead fish? Quirky. How about that nutty astronaut who drove across the country to kidnap her romantic rival? Bizarre. Me sleeping in a tent outside Clive Owen’s house while I write my daily “I love you, please marry me” letter to Derek Jeter? Well, that’s… uh… okay, you’ve got me there…

You already showed me before! So funny… :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm so paranoid...

It was so windy in Austin today… we were dodging flying cows and battening down the hatches and so forth… Actually, I don’t even know what “battening” means, to be honest. I know what a HATCH is… but I wouldn’t know how to “batten” it if you asked me to. So if, like today, it was very windy and someone yelled, “Lisa! Batten down the hatches!” I’d pretty much just be like, “uh, okay…” and then I’d go back to doing whatever it was I’d already been doing. Because if I can’t do something right, then I’d better not do it at all…

I’ve had really bad luck with windy days in the past. I’ve been the unfortunate recipient of two corneal ulcers – which might as well be called “big gaping holes in your eye.” It’s not a good thing to have a big gaping hole in your eye. In fact, it’s generally considered rather bad. And I believe both of them were the direct result of windy days in correlation with my contact lenses. I’ve worn contacts since I was about 16 years old, and I never had any problems with them at all until one windy June afternoon in the year 2000. (Is it sad that I can pinpoint the date so specifically? I guess it could just be because I have a good memory…) I was outside, walking through a mall parking lot, feeling continuously buffeted by the wind, and I felt something sharp jab me in the eye. No doubt some tiny piece of debris whipped up by the gale – but even something tiny can feel quite annoying when it takes up residence next to your eyeball. Once I reached the protective barrier of the shopping mall, I kept rubbing my eye, hoping to dislodge whatever had been blown into it. Eventually, I either managed to get rid of it or I just became numb to it… either way, I forgot all about it for a few days…

And then one morning I put my contact lens in my eye, and thought I’d trapped an eyelash underneath it. I kept looking in the mirror, trying to find the offending little hair, but couldn’t see anything. The more I rubbed my itchy, watery eye, the worse it felt. Finally, some time that evening, I took my contact lens out and looked in the mirror again. This time, I could see a big white patch on the iris of my eye – I was preeeeety sure it wasn’t supposed to be there. The itching had given way to outright pain and an extreme sensitivity to light, and every few seconds, my eye was overcome with bizarre muscle spasms. And what’s worse was that it was Saturday night and the eye doctor was closed until Monday. So I spent all day Sunday sitting in the dark, hoping that my eyeball wouldn’t fall out before I managed to get to the doctor. And it turned out that wasn’t even a BAD corneal ulcer. They’re a lot worse if they get infected – but I managed to get antibiotic drops before that had a chance to happen.

A couple years ago, after yet another windy day, I noticed the exact same thing starting to happen. Fortunately, since I’d already been through it once, I recognized the symptoms as soon as I felt that “eyelash in the eye” feeling. So it didn’t have a chance to grow to epic proportions. But it still left me without the option to wear contacts for a few weeks, and had me seriously considering lasik surgery to correct my eyesight. I’m still thinking about it… the idea of a laser in my eye isn’t exactly appealing to me. But neither are stupid corneal ulcers every time there’s a windy day and some piece of dirt gets stuck underneath my contact.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I’m certain there’s something in my eye…

It's just the wind... my hair doesn't ALWAYS look like this... well, maybe it does...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Paris, Milan, eBay...

We ate dinner at Rick’s parents’ house last night, where his niece Allison excitedly explained a class project to us – she had brought home two little rocks, which she was supposed to rub together over a bowl to see how sand is formed. She sat at the kitchen table, smushing the rocks together, watching the sand fall, and talking non-stop about whatever happened to be inside her head (she is what can only be described as a “chatterbox”). At one point, she noticed that one of her rocks had a crystal inside it, and she showed it to us and then said, “we should sell it on the Internet! We’d get really rich!” We didn’t have the heart to tell her that rocks with crystals really aren’t worth anything…

What’s funny is, I’ll bet if that rock was on eBay, someone actually WOULD pay money for it. Especially if we could make up a great story about it first. I mean, when people actually pay money to buy a piece of toast because someone says their toaster burned an image of Jesus onto it, you gotta figure people will buy just about anything. “Uh, yeah, this was a rock that Jesus took out of his sandal. Yeah, that’s right… he was walking over by the Sea of Galilee one day, and was like, “yeowch! Something’s stuck in my shoe!” and he took it off and there it was: the miraculous rock of the sandal. Yeah. So pay me some money for it.”

I used to volunteer at a thrift store with my friend Cindy – she mostly stocked things in the store, and I mostly checked people out at the cash register. And I was always so surprised by the things people would actually BUY at that store. The store was a great concept, of course: people donated items, other people bought them, and all the profits went to charity. I remember so many times that Cindy would come up to me at the cash register to show me some kind of weird item that she was about to stock in the store. It was like, “look what someone donated – it’s a t-shirt from a Burger King uniform!” And we’d laugh and wonder why anyone would think someone would want to pay money for part of a Burger King uniform. An hour later, I’d be ringing up someone’s purchase at the cash register, and suddenly there it was – the Burger King shirt. I could never figure that out… why would anyone buy a Burger King shirt when there were a hundred plain t-shirts hanging out next to it, in every color of the rainbow, any of which would be a much more reasonable addition to a wardrobe?? Are there people who actually WANT to look like they’ve just gotten off a shift at a fast-food restaurant? Is it part of an attempt to sneak into Burger King and pretend to be an employee so you can score some free fries? I never understood that…

Of course, I could never bring myself to buy ANY clothes at the thrift store. I don’t know why exactly… it’s kind of like if I’m going to be wearing someone else’s clothing, I need to have a back story to go with it. I can’t just wear any old piece of clothing, because who knows what the person who wore it previously was like. I have no problem buying used books, or something like a flower vase or a refrigerator magnet. But clothing is too personal… if I want something cheap, I’ll just travel over to my neighborhood Mervyn’s store and search through the clearance racks (I once got a brand new skirt at Mervyn’s for 5 bucks… it had already been marked down about ten times. That was their last-ditch effort to get rid of the thing, I guess…) Actually, I can’t really do that anymore – it seems that Mervyn’s just recently shut down every location it had in Austin… I’m gonna miss that store. Everything was always on sale, even if it wasn’t marked “on sale.” The price on the tag was always more than whatever it rang up as at the cash register. That was a fun store. I wonder why they closed down? Maybe they weren’t making a profit because of all those sale items…

Well, if I have to buy everything retail, I may need a little extra money. Hey, does anyone want to buy a really cool rock?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lost and confused...

I think spring is finally here – yes, after days and DAYS of cold, freezing weather, it is finally climbing into the 70s every afternoon, just as it logically should (being the end of February and all). Sigh… I guess it’s back to t-shirts every day. The sweaters were fun while they lasted…

So I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about my new globe yet – well, technically, it’s Rick’s new globe. He got it for spending the last ten years of his life in servitude to Dell. And while it seems that ten years of working hard should be worth more than a puny little globe, I really LIKE globes and have never had one before. So it’s cool in a way, yet at the same time not necessarily as cool as a “ten years of loyalty to one company” gift should be. But seeing as I have a fascination with all things map-like, the globe was a welcome addition to my living room. Even Allegro thinks so.

So who watched Lost last night? Am I the only one still tenaciously holding on to this show? I’m with it until the end… I don’t care how weird and nonsensical and annoying it gets – I’m seeing this thing through. But as always, last night’s episode left me thinking, “huh??” Last week we had the time-travel paradox, and now we have a flashback where Jack is hanging out on the beach in Thailand, drinking Coke and flying kites. And of course he manages to hook up with a mysterious Thai woman who has weird tiger-striped hair. She also has a loyal following of equally-mysterious men who present her with envelopes full of money because she has a “gift.” Uh, right. A “gift.” I hope it’s an uncanny immunity to STDs, otherwise, Jack is gonna get the AIDS. (That’s what Rick said last night as we were watching the show: “Jack is gonna get the AIDS…” That is, by the way, a reference to an episode of Family Guy, where a barbershop quartet sings a song called “You’ve Got the AIDS.” If you haven’t seen it, then you just don’t realize how hysterically funny it is…)

Of course, at the end of the episode, Jack follows his Asian-paradise hook-up girl to her place of employment, which he discovers is… a tattoo parlor. And her “gift” turns out to be an ability to “see” what people “are” and a talent for tattooing them with, uh, whatever they are (seriously, that’s about as intricately as it was explained on the show…). There was then a bizarre exchange between the two, where Jack demands to know what she “sees” about him, and she hesitates so much you have to assume it’s something horrible, like he’s a selfish, narcissistic jerk who’s destined to be alone forever, or he’s a serial killer in the making, or, at the very least, that he was never supposed to be a doctor. But no, she just gives him the usual, “you’re a great leader” stuff we’ve been hearing about Jack all along. Yes, yes, Jack is a leader. We get it. And then he demands to be tattooed, and his tattoo ends up saying something like “he walks among us but is not one of us.” For some reason, this entire thing culminates in a bunch of guys beating up Jack on the beach, and telling him to leave the country and never return. I have no idea what that was all about...

But the lame back story in this episode wasn’t the most annoying thing about it. I’ve actually been annoyed by something ever since we first met Juliet – mainly, the way the Others act as if they can’t understand why the Losties think they’re such horrible people. That attitude has sort of been getting on my nerves, and it especially annoyed me during last night’s episode when Jack wakes up in the cage with a crowd staring at him. We discover that the flight attendant who we thought was abducted by the Others actually IS an Other. And when Jack starts ranting and raving about his situation, she looks at him as if he’s insane. It’s like she can’t possibly understand why he’d be so upset about being locked in a cage. Like he’s supposed to be perfectly comfortable in there and not care that he’s being held prisoner. “Gee, the polar bears didn’t seem to mind…” I mean, what is the deal with that? Do some of the Others actually not know everything that’s going on? Do they assume that the people locked in the cages are there because they WANT to be? Is there some kind of Other against Other thing going on?

Like I said, I don’t care how annoying it gets… I’m sticking this thing out until the bitter end… :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You learn something new every day...

Rick stayed home from work today, to study for his final exam in his finance class. I gotta tell ya – finance is some seriously exciting stuff. (Did everyone catch the sarcasm? Good…) So since he was home, we decided to go grab some lunch at this new place that opened up north of here in Cedar Park called Moonie’s Burgers. Or is it Moonie’s Burger Barn? Or Moonie’s House of Burgers... Burger Haven… Burger Bin… I can’t remember. The point is, it’s a new place, they serve hamburgers, and the proprietor is apparently named “Moonie.” Or maybe he IS a Moonie? Well, whatever… Rick had heard from his friend Tim that this place had great hamburgers. Actually, Tim’s description was a little more graphic. I believe he said if he “could make love to a hamburger” it would be with the kind they serve at Moonie’s.

Okay, first of all, um… eewww. I mean, the LAST thing I want to be thinking about when I’m eating is “I wonder what Tim would be doing if he was alone with this hamburger?” And second, everyone knows I have an aversion to ground-up meat anyway, so I was hoping this place had chicken or something I would consider more palatable. Fortunately, I discovered that they DO serve gardenburgers, which I love, so I ordered one of those. But I can’t say that Rick or I agreed with Tim’s assessment – the burgers were good, but they certainly weren’t THAT good. (In fact, really, I can’t imagine ANY kind of food being THAT good… maybe certain types of chocolate… maybe…) I wasn’t particularly fond of the buns they used for the burgers – they seemed to be soaked in some sort of butter or oil, and tasted slightly sweet. So it was almost like eating a burger sandwiched between two pieces of pastry. Like lunch and dessert at the same time. I almost think those buns would’ve tasted better had they simply been covered with a can of cherry pie filling. (Actually, that probably WOULD have been pretty good…) Needless to say, I was only able to finish half of my sandwich before I felt that I’d ingested enough fat and calories to sufficiently maintain my metabolic function even if I were lost on a raft at sea for a month or two. (And I’ve only got 3959 steps on the pedometer today!)

Anyway… moving on… I watched a really interesting show about the bubonic plague on the Discovery channel last night. Yes, that’s right – there ARE really interesting shows about the bubonic plague, thank you very much. (Granted, it might help if the viewer is a bit of a nerd…) Actually, it was more about infectious diseases in general, and how scientists are studying epidemics – like the bubonic plague in the 14th century – to figure out why some people seem to be able to fight off infection more easily than others. The show brought up the case of a doctor and minister in 14th century England who visited scores of bubonic plague victims, yet never fell ill himself. He was exposed many times over, but managed to escape the disease altogether. They also investigated the HIV virus in our present society – which, back in the 80’s before much was known about it, easily infected hemophiliacs because of all the different blood sources they were exposed to. But some of those hemophiliacs were able to completely avoid HIV – not because they hadn’t been exposed to it, but because they were immune to it.

I had no idea that some people were immune to the HIV virus – apparently, it’s the result of a genetic mutation that prohibits the virus from entering cells. Viruses are kinda cool, really – they’re like tiny little terrorists (uh, not that I think terrorists are cool…). They find a cell, break into it, take over, and order that cell to do what they want it to do. Which includes replicating more of itself. So the virus terrorists break in and create tiny little terrorist training camps, which pump out more little virus terrorists, and so on. But the viruses can’t survive if they can’t find a cell in which to set up camp – and that’s where that genetic mutation comes in. Some people have cells that are resistant to infections – like they have extra security on their cells to prevent break-ins. The viruses can’t get into the cells, so they have no way to survive. So scientists are studying people with this mutation to see if there are ways to introduce that sort of “security” into the general population. Isn’t that cool? Huh? Isn’t it? Does anyone else think it’s cool? Am I the only nerdy person who watches shows about infectious diseases for the fun of it?

Well, regardless, I very seriously need to drag my nerdy self over to my treadmill and work off some of that pastry-burger I ate for lunch…

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rat kabob, anyone?

Happy Chinese new year, everybody! It is the year 4705, also known as the year of the pig. The Chinese calendar has twelve “zodiac” signs, but instead of each corresponding to a different span of time within a year, each one has the honor of representing an entire year on its own. According to Wikipedia, the "pig" is considered a symbol of fertility, and people born in the year of the pig are supposed to be friendly, loyal and patient… but they can also be selfish, lazy and rude.

I myself was born in the year of the rat – which doesn’t sound all that good from a “western” point of view. When we think of rats, we usually think of those things running around in the New York City sewer system… if you see a rat, you call the exterminator, right? But of course different parts of the world have different views. In fact, I once read about a restaurant in China that specializes in dishes prepared with rat – we probably shudder to think of eating rat, because our minds go right to those disease-carrying rodents crawling around beneath the streets of dirty cities – but the rats used in the restaurant are perfectly clean mountain rats. They don’t grow up drinking filthy water or huddling in sewers – they drink from springs and eat fruit and probably take daily showers in the rat commune. Okay, maybe not – but the point is, it’s just another animal, like a chicken or a cow, yet because of our own societal opinions of rats, we’re not likely to jump at the chance to try rat stew or rat pot pie or rat stroganoff…

So I can’t be too upset about being a “rat,” right? And actually, the rat is the first sign in the Chinese zodiac, so people born in the year of the rat are considered “leaders, pioneers and conquerors.” (See? There’s that “leader” thing again…) Rats are also charming, passionate, intelligent and cunning. Of course, on the negative side, rats are “masters of mind games” (oh, you mean like Jeopardy?), “quick-tempered and aggressive,” and “will not think twice about exacting revenge on those that hurt them in any way.” (Everyone better remember that…) And what’s more, because rats are so darn power-hungry, they can either be good leaders OR good dictators. In fact, I was just down in Venezuela, having lunch with Hugo Chavez, and I was like, “Hey Hu,” (he lets me call him Hu), “Hey Hu – if you and I got together with Kim Jong and Mr. Ah… uh, Mr. Ahmama… um, Mr. Ahmooah… er, the President of Iran, we could totally rule the world!!” And Hugo agreed wholeheartedly. Some day, my power-hungry self is gonna be a tyrannical, ruthless dictator… you’ll see…

Okay, to be honest, the ONLY part of the whole “rat” description that actually seems to fit me is a part about how rats are “highly exclusive and selective when choosing friends, and so often have only a very few close friends whom they trust.” That’s definitely me. I’m just not sure about the dictator stuff. But who knows? Maybe I haven’t found my true niche in life yet…

Friday, February 16, 2007

The waiting game...

So did everyone hear about the peanut butter tainted with salmonella? It’s apparently found in two different brands – Peter Pan, and some other kind I’ve never heard of (so the name escapes me at the moment). I read the warning from the FDA yesterday, and it said to look for a number printed on the lid – if it begins with “2111,” your jar of peanut butter may be tainted. So I went to the pantry and pulled out my jar of Peter Pan, and lo and behold – there was a 2111 staring back at me from the top of the lid. Of course, this was the same jar of peanut butter I’d already eaten out of several times, with no ill effects whatsoever. But I still felt compelled to throw the rest of it away. Maybe I just hadn’t eaten ENOUGH… maybe it WAS tainted with salmonella, but I hadn’t eaten it in amounts that would make me sick. Maybe if I’d gone on some sort of peanut butter binge, I would have ingested enough bacteria to create a little evil salmonella troupe in my digestive tract. That would not have been good…

I’m sitting here waiting for the DHL guy to show up to pick up a package. Rick ordered a new computer and monitor, and when the monitor was delivered, it had a big crack on the side of it. So Rick talked to customer support and they sent out a new one right away. So the DHL guy was back yesterday, with the new monitor, and a comment about, “you got another one, huh?” And now he’s supposed to show up again today, to pick up the defective monitor and ship it back. I don’t like practically being on a first name basis with the DHL guy…

But he has failed to show up so far, even though the last two days, he’s been in the neighborhood at around 11 o’clock in the morning. I don’t know what’s taking him so long today… I’ve just been waiting around and taking random pictures for the fun of it:

Writing and waiting for someone to ring the bell...

Echo napping... she's pretty much deaf now, so it's easy to sneak up on her...

But she's not blind, so I think the flash woke her up...

A dove tile and a bottle of olive oil in my kitchen...

My front door...

Bored with waiting for DHL guy...

So hopefully he’ll be here soon, so I can get the big cardboard box out of the foyer… it’s kinda in the way…

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lost in my chocolate...

Rick gave me some great chocolate for Valentine’s Day yesterday. And not only that, but chocolate lip balm, as well. There are two things I’m totally addicted to in this life – chocolate and lip balm. If I was stranded on a deserted island with a pile of chocolate and a case of lip balm, I’d probably be okay for a long time. Chocolate I love just because it tastes so good, and it’s so versatile in baking recipes, and I guess it releases endorphins or something like that (but mostly, I think it just tastes good…). But lip balm is actually the one item in my possession that I can NOT be without. Ever. Just to illustrate: I currently have three tubes of lip balm in the carry-on bag I use when I travel (I could NEVER be stuck on a plane without lip balm); I have five tubes of various lip balms in my everyday bag (two with SPF, three without); I have two lip balms with SPF 20 in a drawer in the bathroom, plus a large tin of Smith’s Rosebud Salve (great stuff, by the way) which I use every night. And I happen to know that Rick is usually carrying around a tin of Carmex, which I’ve been known to borrow if I’ve stupidly left my own lip balm somewhere else. The point is, chocolate lip balm feeds both my addictions quite nicely… that stuff has REAL chocolate in it…

Anyway, like I was saying, the chocolate Rick gave me is REALLY good – it’s probably the best chocolate I’ve had since I was in Belgium about four and half years ago. We’d watched some Belgian chocolate-makers demonstrating their craft, and then had the opportunity to taste the final product and buy boxes to take home. And stupid me – I only bought ONE box. One measly box. Why didn’t I buy more?? (If I remember correctly, Faisal bought about a dozen boxes of that stuff. Which he claimed were “gifts” for people back home. Suuuuuure they were.) The thing that made that chocolate so good was the fact that it was made with fresh ingredients, and no preservatives. The difference in flavor is quite noticeable. And when you have a piece of chocolate with some kind of filling made with fresh cream, its shelf life is lessened considerably. But it’s SO worth it – a truffle made with fresh ingredients compared to a drugstore candy assortment truffle is, well, there’s actually NO comparison.

And since finishing off those amazing Belgian chocolates (which I think was about two days after I’d returned from that trip), I hadn’t found any confections in America that seemed quite that good. I mean, don’t get me wrong – chocolate in all its forms is quite acceptable to my palate. I just hadn’t found anything to rival the perfect “melt-in-your-mouth” consistency and sublime flavor of what I’d brought back from Belgium. Until yesterday, when my Valentine’s Day gift was delivered by FedEx. Rick found this candy maker in California called Richard Donnelly chocolates. (That’s http://www.donnellychocolates.com/ – go order something. You’ll thank me later.) And they, just like those Belgian chocolatiers, make their candy with fresh ingredients and a short shelf life (which is fine, because they’ll be gone by tomorrow…). And what’s more, this place experiments with different flavors in their chocolate, infusing them with spices like cardamom and saffron and chipotle. Trust me – it sounds weird, but it tastes great.

Okay, enough chocolate talk… if I keep talking about it, I’ll just want to eat all of it now. So how about that episode of Lost last night? On the one hand, I was just glad to see an episode that finally focused on the people on the “blown up hatch” island, instead of another episode about the Others’ island. But on the other hand – uh, WHAT??? That was pretty much my reaction after last night’s episode. So we have a time travel paradox going on? So Desmond turns the key, blows up the hatch, and suddenly returns to England? I have to admit, it was quite creepy when the old woman in the jewelry store told him to give the ring back because, “you don’t buy it, you have second thoughts and you leave, and you return to the island.” It was like all of a sudden, Desmond was in this weird virtual reality world. (Wait, maybe he IS in a virtual reality world – maybe they’re ALL in a virtual reality world. Maybe no one is really on that island at all – they’re all in some stark, white room, sitting in chairs and hooked up to virtual reality machines…)

But the paradox is what’s really messing with my mind right now – if Desmond turns the key and winds up back in England, only to eventually return to the island and turn the key AGAIN, what’s the point? And if he keeps returning to life in England, then how is it that life on the island keeps moving on? And if he knows that Charlie is supposed to die, then how many times have the rest of the castaways been through the exact same situations on the island? And did Desmond have to get hit in the head with a cricket bat before he’d return to the post-hatch timeframe of the island? Like if he HADN’T remembered that particular day, and told the bartender to duck, and been hit in the head with the bat, would he have just lived the same situations up to the point where he turned the key again? Did he manage to change something in the time-space continuum by finally realizing he was living his life over and over? I mean, had he ever made it to that post-hatch-naked-in-the-forest point before, or was it only when he finally realized what was going on? This is the problem with Lost – they answer one question, only to replace it with fifty more…

I think I need some chocolate…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Be my valentine...

This is actually my first valentine ever, given to me when I was seven months old by some guy named Herv. Herv? I’m not sure who that is… apparently Herv and I lost touch at some point. Well, you know how busy life can get when you’re seven months old. I had to stare at mobiles and eat pureed stuff and master the art of crawling. I just had no time for a relationship. (Seriously, I don’t know who “Herv” was, but my mom kept the valentine and wrote “Lisa’s first valentine” on the back. It was tucked into the pages of my baby book, which my mom gave to me a few years ago.)

So happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Although, as I’ve said before, Valentine’s Day is really just a holiday that Hallmark made up, in an effort to pressure people into buying more cards. I mean, isn’t it kind of silly to have one specific “day” to tell and show people you love them? Shouldn’t we be doing that ALL the time? And think about it – wouldn’t it mean more if someone gave you a gift at some random time during the year for no reason other than to say “I love you,” as opposed to being pressured into buying a gift for Valentine’s Day? EVERYONE buys gifts on Valentine’s Day… but a really clever and thoughtful person might buy a gift on, say, the second Tuesday in August. Just my own crazy opinion…

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was in elementary school, we were always expected to buy valentines for all our classmates. That way, everyone got an equal number of valentines and no one felt left out. It was a little tedious, writing, “to so-and-so, from Lisa” on the back of all those cards. And every Valentine’s Day, we’d have a class project where we would construct “valentine receptacles” out of construction paper, and hang them on the edge of our desks. We’d then spend an hour or so walking around the room, depositing valentines in all the construction paper containers, and then return to our own desks to sort through all the paper sentiments.

But eventually you grow up and realize that life isn’t always systematically doled out in a fair fashion. Like in high school, where they’d sell “valentine carnations” in the cafeteria every February. You could buy one for a dollar for whoever you liked, and it would be delivered to the recipient on Valentine’s Day morning in homeroom. So every Valentine’s Day, there’d be a big show of calling out the names of all the popular kids, while the unpopular kids remained unrecognized (as usual). Some people would get five or ten carnations, running to the front of the room to collect their prizes and arranging them on their desks, until they looked like weird little Rose Parade floats. My senior year, I was very surprised to hear my own name called – someone bought ME a carnation? My mind turned over the possibilities of who my secret admirer would be – could it be Ed, that guy I’d had a crush on since junior year? Or maybe Doug, the cute and popular (but really sweet) captain of the football team, who always made a point to say hi to me. I suppose it could be Paul, who I’d sat across from in that homeroom class all four years of high school and who was constantly asking me to borrow pencils (he never returned them). I hoped it wasn’t Paul…

When I got back to my desk with the carnation, I eagerly opened the attached note to see who had sent it. “Happy Valentine’s Day! From, Jennifer.” Jennifer? I turned my head to the right, where Jennifer, who was sort of a friend but more a friend-of-a-friend, smiled and said, “I always feel bad when you don’t get one.” I thanked her sweetly, but something inside me wanted to shred that pile of carnations she had on her desk into thousands of tiny little petals…

Oh well… high school ends (thank goodness) and life moves on. And eventually Valentine’s Day is less about quantity and more about quality. And oh yeah – it’s also about Hallmark selling cards… :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

You can buy me chocolate even if you hate me...

One of the pins on my “places I want to go” map is pierced through the city of Agra, India. I’m sure there are plenty of places that would be interesting to visit in India, but Agra, of course, is home to the Taj Mahal. And if you’re going to be a tourist in India, you might as well visit the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal, as the story goes, was commissioned by a Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She died after the birth of their fourteenth child (FOURTEEN? This woman had fourteen kids? And she never went insane and jumped off a bridge? No wonder she was his favorite…). According to the legend, while she was on her deathbed, Mumtaz asked her husband to construct a monument to their love. And so Shah Jahan, in the midst of his grief, rounded up thousands of workers to construct a grand tribute to love in white marble, complete with onion dome and minarets, to be the final resting place for his beloved Mumtaz (and, eventually, himself).

Of course, Shah Jahan was known to be a bit of a player, and had affairs with both Mumtaz’s sister AND sister-in-law. Not to mention the concubines and dancing girls he kept on hand at all times. So one has to wonder what it MEANT, exactly, to be Shah Jahan’s “favorite” wife. There is even some controversy as to whether Shah Jahan had anything at all to do with the construction of the Taj Mahal – some historians believe it had already been around for hundreds of years as a Hindu temple to Shiva. But for the sake of the “Valentine’s Day” theme, we’ll just stick with the love story legend…

It’s no secret that love inspires grand gestures. So it isn’t hard to believe that the Taj Mahal love story could be true. It wouldn't be the first time we'd heard of an extreme display in the name of passion. Love, or people’s perceptions of it, can result in some crazy behavior. Take that loopy astronaut who’s been in the news lately. She was so “in love” with her fellow astronaut that she drove across the country (wearing a diaper so as to avoid bathroom breaks, no less) with the apparent intent of kidnapping and/or maiming and/or killing the woman who was her “rival” in the astronaut love-triangle arena. Yeah, that just doesn’t seem right to me. I mean, maybe I’m just not very knowledgeable about the subtleties of seduction, but I’m pretty sure throwing on a diaper, stocking your car with pepper spray, ropes, and knives, and running off to kill the object-of-affection of YOUR object-of-affection is not the best way to endear yourself to him. If I’m wrong, I need to find out who Derek Jeter is with right now, and go buy myself a box of Huggies…

It’s interesting what we associate with “love.” Is a marble building – while beautiful and majestic, perhaps – really any indication of love? Is a five carat diamond necklace really a symbol of love? Is driving across the country like a crazy person really a show of love? (Obviously not…) I was once watching an episode of Scrubs (ah, the wisdom of Scrubs) where one of the patients was a beautiful woman who was married to a short, pudgy, badly-dressed, geeky-looking guy. In fact, one of the doctors accidentally called him a “hobbit.” And then the doctor asked the patient how someone as attractive as her had ended up with a guy like that. Her answer was simple: he had been the one who was always there for her when she needed someone.

The grand gestures CAN be nice, of course. I mean, who doesn’t like a huge box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day (hint hint), or something pretty and shiny and expensive, or a plane ticket to some place exotic, or a giant white marble mausoleum? But these things, on their own, are simply THINGS. And while “things” can certainly be nice, and thoughtful, and beautiful, the “things” and the “love” are two separate matters. The chocolate doesn’t last long (it’ll be lucky if it makes it to February 15…), jewelry loses its luster, vacations come to an end, and a beautiful marble mausoleum is, after all, just a building. In the end, when the onion dome layers have been peeled away, what are you left with? In the end, maybe it really does come down to simplicity rather than grandeur. Maybe it’s all about one simple question: are you there for me?

The chocolate is optional (but encouraged). :)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Look into my crystal ball...

Rick and I picked up some food from Pei Wei for dinner. Mongolian chicken. Good stuff. Pei Wei is pretty much a no-frills version of P.F. Chang’s – same food, for the most part, although the menu is smaller. And they don’t serve desserts or a very large variety of drinks. The restaurant itself is just a simple diner-style setup, and lacks the whole “Chinese palace” theme of P.F. Chang’s. And judging from the take-out line at the restaurant tonight, most people take their Pei Wei food home with them.

And any time you eat Chinese food, whether it’s in a restaurant or at home, the familiar fortune cookie concludes the meal. But I’ve noticed lately that fortune cookies rarely contain “fortunes” – a fortune is supposed to provide some sort of portent into the future, right? They’re supposed to hazard a guess at your fate, your destiny, your eventual place within the microcosm. In fact, last year, right before the fantasy baseball draft, I DID get a fortune in a cookie that read, “you will be recognized and honored as a community leader.” I took this to mean that I would “lead” in the “community” of my fantasy baseball league and everyone would have no choice but to “recognize” it. And, of course, I was “honored” to accept Bryan’s money. So you see, sometimes those silly little fortunes actually DO know what they’re talking about.

But usually, the “fortunes” in my fortune cookies are more like suggestions… or like obvious observations… things like, “you smile when you are happy” or “the wise man reads to increase his knowledge” or “remove trans fats from your diet.” Tonight, the fortune in Rick’s cookie said, “the simplest answer is to act.” Um, okay. Not entirely sure what that means. And my fortune said, “don’t pursue happiness – create it.” So not only did I NOT get a fortune, but my cookie reminded me that any time I’m depressed about something, it’s my own darn fault. Gosh, thanks, fortune cookie!

In addition to the “fortunes” in these cookies, each slip of paper included a word on the back, in English and in Chinese, with phonetic pronunciation, presumably in an attempt to teach us fortune-cookie-recipients some basic Chinese. The word on Rick’s fortune was “store.” Okay, that seems pretty logical – I could see needing to know how to say “store” if I happened to be wandering around China and needed some gum or a soda or something. But the word on my fortune was a bit more confusing: moustache. Moustache??? Of all the words I might need to know at some point during an excursion to China, I would think that “moustache” would pretty much be the least useful. Unless I needed to say something like “the man who stole my bag had a moustache.” But what about words like “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you”? Wouldn’t they be more practical? Or am I missing something about the usefulness of “moustache”?

I would just like to see a REAL fortune in my next fortune cookie, even if it’s just something like, “you will eat chocolate cake for dessert.” Because then I could blame the calories on destiny…

Friday, February 09, 2007

O say, can you sing this song without screwing it up?

Nick left a long, rambling comment under my Super Bowl post (but that’s what I love about Nick – when he writes a comment, he WRITES a comment :)), where the Billy Joel/Star-Spangled Banner issue was discussed. And I agree with Nick – Billy didn’t seem to sing the anthem with any feeling or pizzazz… he just sort of SANG it (and not even very well) and that was it. In fact, I didn’t really have a problem with the “lack of pizzazz” – because I’ve heard too many people completely butcher the national anthem by elaborating on what was written to a much-too-extreme degree. It was more the “lack of feeling” that seemed to be the problem.

And I wonder if that was the result of something I’d heard the day before the Super Bowl. I saw a clip of someone interviewing Billy Joel and asking him how he felt about being asked to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. And he actually seemed rather distraught about it, talking about what a “tough” song it is, and how “the melody is difficult,” and how nobody can remember the words because they were written so long ago that no one knows what they mean anymore. So when I actually heard him sing the anthem before the game, I could almost see those gears in his head spinning around, reminding him not to forget the old, meaningless words, and to bear with the incredibly difficult song to the end. In other words, he completely psyched himself out with this nonsense about the anthem being “tough” and apparently incomprehensible.

I’m not sure I understand how anyone with a musical background can think the Star-Spangled Banner is a difficult song. I can understand how someone who is NOT musical would think it was difficult – everyone does seem to get tripped up on that F at the top of “land of the free” – but if it’s too high for your voice, you can simply transpose it to a lower key. But the melody itself seems pretty darn easy to me – I mean, if you want to talk about high notes and a difficult melody, try the Queen of the Night’s aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Now THERE’S a difficult song (where the highest note is a full octave higher than the F in the Star-Spangled Banner… I can’t imagine what a stadium full of people attempting to sing the F above high C would sound like… dogs would be howling… cats would be running for cover… glass would be breaking… it would be chaos…).

And as far as the old, outdated verbiage – I can’t say I agree with that, either. Is it really that hard to understand the lyrics? Perhaps I shall translate into “modern speak”:

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?

Yo, dude, it’s like way too early to get up… but look out the window and tell me if you can still see that thing we saw last night.

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?

You remember? It was like a flag with stripes and stars all over it, and there were a bunch of people yelling and shooting at each other, so we were hiding behind a wall and watching the whole thing.

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.

And there were all these bombs exploding, and the fire would light up the sky, so we could look over at the flag and see it even though it was dark.

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

So, like I asked before – is it still out there?

Now was that so difficult? The whole song seems very simple and straightforward to me… but if you start convincing yourself that it’s a super-hard song that nobody can understand, you might end up playing it way too safe when you sing it for the Super Bowl audience, and give a less-than-impressive performance.

But obviously Faith Hill didn’t have that problem. (And don’t worry Nick, I’m sure Cindy is well aware of your admiration of Faith Hill and her lovely outfits – just like Rick is well aware of MY admiration of Derek Jeter and his tight pinstripe pants… :))

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm such a birdbrain...

I’m a little sad, because there appears to be a dead phoebe bird in the nest above the door on the back porch. A few years ago, we actually had TWO phoebe nests on the back porch – the one over the door, and another one tucked into the back corner of the porch. And one summer, a phoebe took up residence in the nest in the back corner, where it decided to raise its little bird family all the way from egg to tentative flight. And at first, everything proceeded the way these things normally do – the phoebe would skittishly guard the nest by day, and fearlessly remain perched at its post all night (even if I walked outside with noisy, barking Echo…). And eventually, I could see the tops of fuzzy little baby bird heads poking out above the grassy, twiggy nest.

And then one morning I walked outside and one of the baby birds was lying on the porch. It was obviously not quite ready to fly, and it flitted aimlessly on the ground, unable to make much progress. As I looked around the backyard near the porch, I was disturbed to notice another baby bird underneath some bushes, only this one was dead. I (rather unceremoniously) plucked the dead bird off the ground with a plastic bag, and tossed it away (should I have given it a proper bird funeral? And what does a proper bird funeral consist of, exactly?). I then called my dad over to my house, and he climbed up on a ladder and placed the still-living baby bird back in the nest. I knew all that stuff about the mother bird ignoring human-touched baby birds was nonsense – since birds don’t exactly have a heightened sense of smell, and they really can’t tell if a human has been handling one of their offspring. (And even if they could, they probably wouldn’t care…) So I waited for the mom bird to return to the nest, to feed the remaining baby birds.

Except she never came back. And I started wondering if all that “don’t touch a baby bird because the mom won’t come back” stuff was true. What’s more, I noticed that those fuzzy little bird heads had stopped moving. So I called my dad back over to the house, he climbed back up the ladder, and this time he took down the whole nest – dead baby birds and all. He then proceeded to tell me that those baby birds hadn’t looked so good when he put the live bird back in the nest. And, apparently, “it smelled kinda funny.” Argh! Dad put the poor live baby bird back in a nest full of its dead siblings! It’s no wonder the mom had pushed a couple live birds overboard and flown away (I’m assuming the dead bird I found on the ground HAD been alive when it left the nest, because I found it quite a distance from the porch) – she was actually trying to SAVE the living birds from whatever had killed the rest of them. And then we go and throw that little baby bird right back into the baby bird chamber of horrors… what terrible stewards of nature we are…

Afterwards, I tried to think of why those birds might have died. The nest was off the ground, safe from any sort of predator, it wasn’t cold outside, and there are always plenty of bugs around so it’s not like food was scarce. But then I realized it might have actually BEEN the bugs – a couple weeks earlier, we’d noticed wasps building a nest in some cracks above the door. So Rick went outside and sprayed that whole area with Raid, on a day that was rather windy. And the wind was carrying the Raid mist over toward that bird’s nest in the corner. Those poor birds probably never had a chance… their nest must’ve been full of pesticide. (Again, we are terrible, terrible stewards of nature… we should just move to a downtown condo right now…)

But I’m confused about the dead bird in the nest today. It’s an adult bird, and it wasn’t there last night. So at some point in the middle of the night or early this morning, that bird flew up to the nest and just died there. We haven’t been spraying any Raid out there lately, so I know it’s not another bird-slaughter by pesticide. Do birds fly back to their nests to die? Maybe it was just this phoebe’s time to go. But it’s still a little disconcerting that things keep dying on my back porch…

So I know what dad will be doing tomorrow morning when he’s home from Dallas… I have the ladder ready…

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

So they DO have vending machines in LA...

Feeling much better today… all the achy muscles are gone… well, they’re not “gone” – I still have all my muscles. They just don’t hurt anymore. And, as further proof of my well-being, it is now about 12:30 and I’ve already accrued 4,450 steps today. I seem to be really fortunate in my ability to ward off colds and flu… I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I’m constantly walking…

So Eric just text messaged me a picture of his (late) breakfast – he was eating “crunchy French toast” at a place called Nookies, which is not his usual breakfast haunt. Usually he’s at the Pancake House every day, where they know him by name and know to bring him a glass of half OJ/half grapefruit juice, and know he likes the French toast with a bowl of fruit on the side (right, Eric? Isn’t that what you usually order?). So if the Pancake House people find out about this traitorous foray into the underbelly of the Chicago breakfast scene, they will NOT be happy…

And speaking of food… last night on 24, someone finally, at last, uttered those two little words I’ve been so longing to hear from a 24 character: “I’m hungry.” And then something about “I think I saw a candy machine outside.” I was so excited – would we finally, after months and months of on-air fasting, get to see someone eat? Apparently not… because no one ever actually made it to that elusive candy machine. But I have hope now – I’ve seen proof that people on 24 DO, in fact, feel hunger at lunchtime, just like normal people. It’s only a matter of time before we meet Bertha, CTU’s resident cafeteria lady… Also on last night’s episode, Chloe scowled a lot, people called cell phones a lot, Jack yelled at his brother a lot, and then his dad the-farmer-from-Babe killed his own son. And I’m still trying to figure out how the talking pig fits into all this…

Well, it’s about 3 o’clock now (got distracted by other things in the middle of blog-writing…) and my step count is up to 8,230… I seem to have run out of interesting things to say. That’s assuming, of course, that I ever actually say anything interesting…

I think I’ll go make French toast…

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super? Maybe more like so-so...

Feeling a bit under the weather today... that’s a strange saying, “under the weather.” Is it possible to be over the weather? Or in the middle of the weather? And what kind of weather are we talking about here? Sunny? Stormy? Cold? Wouldn’t you ALWAYS be under the weather, unless you were flying in an airplane?

Well, regardless… like I said, I’m feeling a bit under the weather today. I seem to have developed a cold, and would very much like to wrap myself up in blankets and go to sleep. But if I did that, I would feel like I was being some kind of lazy good-for-nothing, proving myself worthless to society or at least to my household in general. I must, therefore, continue on with my daily duties… except for my usual quest to walk 12,000 steps. I think I may have to significantly reduce that number today… In fact, it’s mid-afternoon and I’ve only logged 1167 steps so far. Quite pitiful in contrast to my typical mid-afternoon tally, which tends to be in the six to seven thousand range. Oh well… gotta have an off day every now and then…

So did everyone watch the Super Bowl? I was not overly-enthusiastic about either team, so I wasn’t sure who to root for. But after a while it became apparent that the Colts were playing better than the Bears, so I decided to root for the Colts. Might as well cheer for the team that will most likely win. And the Colts DID win, so – yeah! My team won! The team that I arbitrarily decided I wanted to win ended up winning!

What I want to know is, who decided Billy Joel should sing the national anthem? Was that the best they could find? I mean, hey, I enjoy a round of “Piano Man” as much as the next person, but the guy did not seem to know what he was doing with the Star-Spangled Banner. He’s certainly no Faith Hill – right Nick? :) And then there was the halftime show, with the artist-now-known-as-Prince-but-formerly-known-as-the-artist-formerly-known-as-Prince, who, strangely, seemed to be dressed for a Miami Dolphins game in an orange shirt and aqua polyester pant suit. Actually, I can’t be certain it was polyester – I’m just guessing, because it was pouring rain throughout the entire evening, yet Prince’s outfit seemed impervious to liquid. I suppose, in a way, it was a bit of serendipitous luck that it was raining so hard as he belted out “Purple Rain.” And yet I couldn’t help but think that if it hadn’t actually been raining, there would have been some sort of “rain shower” special effect on stage. And then suddenly there was no need for it. The “rain” special effect guy had probably been waiting for his moment all week, nervously practicing his “rain” button-pushing technique and worried he’d accidentally hit “fire” by mistake. And then his services were no longer required, and his big moment never materialized, and now he has to wait an entire year before another Super Bowl halftime show rolls around… (Yeah, I’m pretty sure that made absolutely no sense, but like I said – I’m not feeling my best today.)

And I was rather unimpressed with the commercials last night. There really weren’t too many that stood out, and certainly none that made me want to run out and buy whatever they were advertising. I think the Career Builder “lemmings” ad was pretty funny… and the Bud Light ad with the hitchhikers was funny. But it seemed like there were an awful lot of boring Chevy ads. And the Doritos ads were just weird, the Coke ads were annoying, and the one with the guy dressed up in a foam heart was rather disturbing. He was being accosted by evil villains representing things like “high blood pressure” and “diabetes,” and I kept expecting the superheroes to arrive – like a guy with “exercise” written across his chest, or a girl dressed like a salad… but no, the poor heart was just tossed against a wall and that was that. Rather depressing, if you ask me…

Well, speaking of being tossed against a wall… I’m off to take some Tylenol, which will hopefully help with this annoyingly achy feeling I seem to be overcome with at the moment…

Saturday, February 03, 2007

What day?

Aunt Carol left an interesting comment under my last post, about a holiday called “Dyngus Day.” I had to look it up on Wikipedia, because I’ve probably been away from Buffalo long enough that even if I HAD known about it when I was a kid, it wasn’t something that lodged permanently in my brain. Dyngus Day, it turns out, is another name for Easter Monday – or the day after Easter. It’s not widely celebrated in the U.S., but it IS rather popular in Poland. And Buffalo has a very large Polish population, so it would stand to reason that Dyngus Day is a well-known holiday in Buffalo.

And Aunt Carol is right – in terms of bizarre behavior, I’d have to say Dyngus Day has Groundhog Day beat. Here are a few excerpts from Wikipedia:

In Poland, traditionally, boys will awaken girls early in the morning and douse them with water and strike them about the legs with long thin twigs or switches made from willow, birch, or decorated tree branches.

Oh, that is exactly the way I like to be awaken in the early morning – with a cold blast of water and a trip to the local minor emergency center for antibiotic salve. And the amazing thing is that this is not done out of malice or cruelty – no, this is what boys do to girls they LIKE. Here’s more of the article:

Later the focus shifted to the courting aspect of the ritual, and young unmarried girls were the only acceptable targets. A boy would sneak into the bedroom of the particular girl he fancied and awaken her by completely drenching her with multiple buckets of water. Politics played an important role in proceedings, and often the boy would get access to the house only by arrangement with the girl's mother.

Okay, I’ve heard of some unusual courting practices throughout different cultures, but this one is really strange. I mean, there aren’t many parents that will allow a guy to walk right into a girl’s bedroom while she’s sleeping, before the two of them have even solidified any sort of relationship. And there certainly aren’t many parents that will allow the same boy to walk into the bedroom with “multiple buckets of water.” I can’t imagine these poor girls enjoy the “festivities” on Dyngus Day, except for the apparent assurance of eventual marriage. In fact, the way this article makes it sound, if you DON’T have the privilege of being doused with water and beaten with switches, you might as well forget about ever saying “I do”:

Throughout the day, girls would find themselves the victims of drenchings and leg-whippings, and a daughter who wasn't targeted for such activities was generally considered to be beznadziejna (hopeless) in this very coupling-oriented environment.

And to think I’ve always wondered why Polish people are the target of so many jokes… :)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Yes, that's right -- it's a great big bunch of randomness!

So the Pennsylvania groundhog didn’t see its shadow, which supposedly means spring will be arriving early this year. (Although c’mon – all it really means is that it was either cloudy in Pennsylvania today, or the groundhog was facing the sun…) Why do we even HAVE Groundhog Day? Who came up with this bizarre tradition? And why a groundhog? Why not a rabbit? Or a gerbil? Or any of a myriad of other rodents? Does it have to be a rodent? Or could it be, say, a house cat? If I go ask my cat right now, will she be able to tell me whether spring is almost here? Hold on, I’m gonna go ask…

Okay, all she said was, “mrreeww” and then she swiped at my hand and snagged her claw on my sweater. So… I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I’m guessing it can be translated into something like, “go ask the groundhog…”

Hey, I found another random questionnaire! Which is the perfect thing for a Friday when I don’t have much to talk about. Who’s excited? Nobody? Well, too bad:

The last person I kissed:
Um, I kissed Echo this morning before I took her to the vet. Because I was feeling guilty that I had to take her in to get her teeth cleaned, and they have to sedate her, so she couldn’t drink any water all night and she was obviously thirsty this morning and wondering what I did with her water dish. Does that count? Echo is a person, right? Okay, maybe not…

Never in my life have I:
Seen such insolence, young man! Oh wait… I don’t think that’s what we were going for. Um, let’s see… never in my life have I watched Casablanca. And it seems like one of those movies that everyone is supposed to see at some point in their life, so I suppose I’ll have to remedy that eventually.

The one person who can drive me nuts, but then can always manage to make me smile:
Well, I guess that must be Rick. He can definitely drive me nuts, and then he has this annoying habit of trying to force me to smile when I don’t want to. Usually he’ll bring up the name of our friend Bill, who has often had me laughing so hard that the mere mention of his name brings a smile. And if the name alone doesn’t work, Rick will add something like, “think of Bill dressed like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, singing karaoke and tap dancing.”

High School was:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Well, it’s wasn’t THAT long ago. And it was only as far away as New Jersey. And oh yeah, it was a horrible place filled with ridiculously immature people. Oh my gosh, teenagers are such idiots. I mean, seriously – I thought teenagers were idiots when I WAS a teenager. And some of them grow up to be equally idiotic adults.

When I'm nervous:
My hands get cold and all red and blotchy. It’s weird. And if I have to talk and I’m nervous, my voice has this annoying habit of cutting off mid-sentence. I’ll just be talking, and then all of a sudden- total silence. Like someone chopped my sentence in half. That, like the red, blotchy hands, is also weird.

The last time I cried was:
Well, let’s see, it’s about 1:30 now, so…

If I were to get married right now my bridesmaids would be:
Dressed in something a lot nicer than what they wore the first time.

My hair:
Is long. And brownish. Sometimes sort of reddish. And usually doesn’t do a thing I want it to do, no matter how much styling goop I throw into it.

When I was 5:
I sat next to this boy in kindergarten who’d always lean over and kiss me on the cheek when I least expected it. I was constantly trying to wash off the cooties.

Last Christmas:
Would last Christmas be the one that just passed by, or is it LAST last Christmas? Well, either way, last Christmas I wished for a Christmas miracle snowfall, but was once again denied…

When I turn my head left, I see:
The window that looks out to the side of the house. The side of the house where that scary oleander used to be.

I should be:
Vacuuming – now while I have the chance. Echo isn’t around, so she can’t bark incessantly and try to attack the vacuum cleaner. I should definitely do that before I pick her up this afternoon.

When I look down I see:
My feet. (THAT was rather boring.)

The craziest recent event was:
Well, I guess that was this morning, when someone plucked a random rodent out of the ground and decided it could predict the future.

If I were a character on Friends I'd be:
Hmmm… I guess I’d have to go with Monica. The one who was rather geeky and unpopular in high school, but grew up to be okay (although still a bit of a geek). She likes hanging out with her brother, and has some weird obsessive behaviors (although I’m definitely not a total neat-freak like Monica…).

By this time next year:
They’ll be pulling another unsuspecting groundhog out of its burrow. Or whatever it is groundhogs live in.

Current Relationship Status:
Status quo.

I have a hard time understanding:
Myself. And quantum physics.

One time at a family gathering:
Oh – me and Eric and our cousins Steve and Kevin found some of my grandmother’s old cat’s eye glasses and some flowery handkerchiefs and we wrote a play that we called “Rambo and Mrs. Old Fogey.” Eric was Rambo (he tied a red scarf around his head) and Steve wore the glasses and a handkerchief on his head and played Mrs. Old Fogey. I can’t remember the “plot,” but I do know that at the time we thought it was hilarious.

You know I “like” you if:
Hmmm… this is a tough one, because you certainly can’t go by whether I talk to you or not. I don’t really get comfortable with talking to people until I’ve known them for quite a while – so just because I don’t talk to you much doesn’t mean I don’t like you. If I email you now and then just for the fun of it, I definitely like you, because I tend not to waste my time emailing people I don’t like.

If I won an award, the first person (people) I'd thank is/are:
I guess it would depend on who had supported me throughout my years of struggle before I’d made it big and been nominated for an award. But I think the general template is: “God, mom and dad, and the Academy.”

Take my advice:
Oh please – you know you’re just going to do whatever you want anyway.

My ideal breakfast is:
At the Four Seasons hotel on Maui. Mmmm… guava juice…

If you visit a place I grew up:
I would not recommend Buffalo. Go to New Jersey. Yes, I know people make fun of New Jersey, but trust me, between those two choices, Jersey is the one that gives you better options.

Where do you plan to visit anytime soon:
I don’t know. Maybe Chicago. (If you hear a knock at your door, Eric, it’s probably me. So you should go clean your apartment.)

If you spend the night at my house:
You’ll be visited by threeeeee ghosts… (that’s a reference to A Christmas Carol, for anyone who didn’t get it…)

I'd stop my wedding if:
Well it’s a little late for that, isn’t it?

The world could do without:
Double-sided sticky tape. I mean, I just think we could find a way to make things work with the single-sided stuff.

I'd rather lick the belly of a cockroach than date:
I don’t think Rick likes it when I go out on dates…

Most recent thing you've bought yourself:
Um… oh – I just bought some nail polish. Yippee.

Most recent thing someone else bought for you:
Mom and dad bought me a double tall cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks this afternoon…

My favorite blonde is:
Hmmm… weird, I don’t really know many blondes. I guess Rick is sort of blonde (when he’s not shaving his head and actually has hair…).

My favorite brunette is:
And I know too MANY brunettes to answer this… how could I possibly pick a favorite? (You know who you are, my favorite brunette. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking to YOU.)

The last time I was drunk:
I danced on a table with a lampshade on my head? Honestly, I can’t even remember that night… all I know is I woke up on a yacht with Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan, and they told me I needed to stop partying so hard…

The animals I would like to see flying besides birds are:
Uh… flying animals? That’s just scary…

I shouldn't have been:
In the right place at the wrong time. Or vice versa.

Once, at a bar:
Do you want another Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan story? I really don’t go to many bars. Coffee bars, maybe.

Last night I:
Ate way too much at Rick’s parents’ house for dinner. And discovered that Bluebell has a really yummy new ice cream flavor called “chocolate-covered cherry.” Must… not… buy… gallons… of… ice… cream…

I dont know:
Much about history… don’t know much biology… don’t much about science books… don’t know much about the French I took… but I do know that I love you… and I know that if you love me too… what a wonderful world this would be. (Wow, I can’t believe I know the words to that song… I don’t even know who SANG that song…)

A better name for me would be:
Um… I don’t know. I think Lisa fits okay. Unless you want to call me Princess Lisa, Her Royal Highness of Lisaland.

If I ever go back to school I'll:
Completely change my major from English writing to biology, biochemistry, or forensic chemistry.

How many days until my birthday?:
167. Write it down.

What I really want for Valentine's Day is:
For Hallmark to admit that Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday designed to sell more cards.

I'm wearing this:
Jeans and a blue sweater.

Tomorrow I am:
Probably doing nothing very interesting.

The last thing I ate was:
Chicken fingers at TGI Friday’s.

I really want to learn:
A couple new languages. I’d love to be fluent in something other than boring old English. That’s not to say I’m fluent in OLD English. I meant boring regular English. But not British English. Or Australian English. American English. I wish I was fluent in something other than boring regular American English. I’d also love to learn some kind of martial art/fighting kinda thing… like Capoeira or Krav Maga… everyone is always talking about Capoeira and Krav Maga… and I want to learn about the open heart surgery they featured in this month’s issue of National Geographic… they printed some seriously cool pictures (or seriously disgusting, depending on your point of view), but there’s supposed to be a video of the entire surgery online… and I’d like to learn about all the holidays they celebrate in other countries around the world, and see if any of them are as weird as Groundhog Day… to be honest, I pretty much like learning about just about anything…

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Save the fish!

So last night Rick was questioning me about my hatred of fish. And by “hatred of fish” I mean as a food source, not fish in general. I love fish when they’re alive and swimming around. I love aquariums. One of my favorite places in Hawaii is the Maui Ocean Center, where you can walk through a giant plexiglass tube and watch all the fish swimming in the water around you. It’s quite fascinating, really. Much more fascinating than watching a limp, lifeless fish sit on a plate in the middle of some field greens, nestled amongst a smattering of capers, with a dish of remoulade on the side. Rick wondered if perhaps I should just force myself to eat fish, since fish apparently is one of those foods we’re all supposed to be eating more of. Because it’s “good” for us or something stupid like that. And maybe, Rick said, it’s an acquired taste that just takes some getting used to. “Like beer,” he mused. (I’m also not a big fan of beer, although I could probably acquire a taste for beer before I’d ever acquire a taste for fish.) We then had a conversation that went something like this:

Rick: So, what – does it actually make you nauseous to eat fish?

Me: Yes. Yes it does. Eating fish makes me want to throw up.

Rick: But why?

Me: Because! Because fish tastes like dead fish.

Rick (starting to laugh): Fish tastes like dead fish?

Me: Yes! Why would I want to eat a nasty dead fish?

Rick: Well what about steak? Does steak taste like a dead cow?

Me: No – steak tastes like steak.

Rick (after laughing for several seconds): Well then what does a dead cow taste like?

Me: I don’t know… but it doesn’t taste like steak.

And I stand by my original statement – that fish does, indeed, taste like dead fish. I don’t want the dead animals I eat to actually TASTE like dead animals. I mean, that’s just gross. I might as well be a vegetarian if that’s the case. Of course, I’d still have the problem of carrots tasting like dirt, and seeds tasting like… well, seeds don’t taste like anything, really. They’re just annoying.

And yes, today’s post IS rather short, in honor of the fact that today is February 1st, and February is the shortest month of the year. Or maybe I just don’t have much to write about.

Nah, I’m gonna go with the “February” excuse… :)