Thursday, December 31, 2009

My family decided to ring out 2009 with a bang. Two bangs, actually. But I'll get to that.

My dad, Laura, Sarah and I got up early and headed out to pick up Gamps, then drove to Missouri for our annual pre-New Years cheap booze buying run. There's a big, like, discount alcohol emporium we go to a handful of times a year, but always around the Fourth of July and before New Years Eve at the very least. We were thinking that for the first time in a week, the roads were pretty good. Most had finally seen a plow, a few sunny days meant that the places that had been scraped were mostly melted off, the huge drifts and piles were avoidable.

We pull into the parking lot, head inside, and Laura slips on some black ice and falls. Instead of going straight down, she tried, mostly on instinct, to brace herself, and in so doing threw her leg out to the side, so when she did fall down, she ended up wrenching the shit out of her knee. Bang number one.

She tried to walk the stiffness out of it, so we went ahead and picked up some drinky-drinks, then drove Grandpa to the store while we were out, then dropped him off at his house. Then we prepared for leg two of our annual pre-New Years outing: Chinese buffet and Half-Price Books. We've been doing this at least since I was at USC, and it's nice to take a break from the usual holiday food, as well as get out and spend some of that Christmas money. We usually go a few days after Christmas, but waited this year because of the weather, so everyone was a little bit more excited about it than usual.

As we took the on-ramp to get on I-70, we came around a turn and drove right into a pothole about two feet in diameter, right in the middle of the road, that my dad couldn't see until he was already on top of it. Bang number two.

It didn't take much more than a half-mile for the front tire to blow out. My dad pulled over to the shoulder, which was almost completely covered with ice. The snow had been plowed to the side, obviously, so there was nowhere to stand except in the snow. Laura and I got out, my dad got the jack and spare, and proceeded to try to jack up the car. The jack broke. My dad thought that maybe he had the car up high enough to switch the tire out anyway, so he pulled it off. The car was not high enough and was still resting a bit on that damaged rim, so when he pulled it off, the car settled back down, and far enough this time that he couldn't get another jack underneath. So he had to call for a tow.

This makes it sound more orderly and quick than it actually was. We were on the side of the highway for over an hour. It was just over twenty degrees outside, we were standing in the snow trying to change a tire. In that time, not a single person stopped to see if we needed help, not a single cop or state trooper drove by. There were four city trucks patching cracks in the asphalt literally twenty feet away from us, and no one even looked our way, let alone asked if we had a cell phone or needed a hand.

My dad won't get his car back till Wednesday; the suspension has to be adjusted, and he needs new rims on both tires on that side, as well as tires, as he found out the back tire had been damaged, as well. The bill for just the suspension and rims is over five hundred dollars.

Happy new year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas. We had an interesting one, by dint of more snow than I've seen around here in awhile. After we finished opening presents, Laura and I cooked quiche for breakfast; we usually just do leftover dessert from the night before, so this was different. Then we went out and shoveled. Because the blue van and Marshall's car are parked on the street, right in front of our driveway didn't get plowed, so we got to shovel about five feet of the street, too. Then we went over to Grandpa's and shoveled his driveway and walkways and porches, not because he was in a hurry to go anywhere, but because he's stubborn and would have went out and done it himself. On our way there and back, we saw about eight cars off the road, and this is a stretch of only about four miles or so.

Pet Peeve: I don't understand the person who is well aware of how bad the roads are being as how he or she is driving on them - and they've been bad because we had a day of sleet first, so the plows haven't been able to scrape them clean - and also sees cars in ditches or snow drifts literally every mile, and not only is driving the speed limit, but is actually speeding and passing people. I don't even understand that kind of idiocy.

Yesterday my dad and I had to shovel again. Today I'm going to have to shovel again, and we'll probably go over and shovel Grandpa's again. Apparently, he was trying to go somewhere yesterday (where?!) and couldn't get out.

Not that we're usually clamoring to get out of the house on Christmas or even the day after, but it's different knowing that you can't get out. I haven't gotten stir-crazy yet, and I still have a lot of stuff I want to do today (list to follow), but tomorrow? I'll probably want to get out of the house, and probably won't be able to. Sarah's going to end up having to cancel her birthday party because we're supposed to continue to get snow through Tuesday

I didn't ask for much for Christmas, but I got some things I didn't ask for that were totally great. My parents got me a Latin dictionary for the computer, which I'm really excited about because paper Latin dictionaries are pretty expensive; they also got me one of those cushions that have little arms that prop you up in bed to read, and I've wanted one for years and years, so that was awesome. I also got a French press and a lot of different coffees, so I'm fairly awash in that. I was going to save my stocking chocolate for our post-Christmas movie day, but it's hard to say when we're going to be able to do that, so I may just eat it.

I had the time, so I was futzing around on Photoshop last night and made a new desktop, since I don't actually have that many. I don't feel as comfortable with a larger palette like that; I never know how to position the images and build up the background, so I have a lot of desktops I started and scrapped because they looked bad. But I was pretty pleased with this one, and I'm uploading it for Holly. :) (I don't recall Catherine squeeing over Picard and Crusher, so I don't think she'd be that interested, but hey, maybe she wants a hot pink shippy squee desktop, IDK!)



(Click for full size.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve! It's a pretty low-key affair at my house; we have Grandpa over, nice dinner, everyone opens one present (except for Grandpa, who opens all of ours, obviously). No cleaning freak-outs, no preparing a shit-ton of food. It's actually rather pleasant.

We're under a winter storm watch, which, if it had been colder yesterday we'd already be under at least a foot of snow since it rained all day; thankfully, we haven't even gotten to sleet yet, so maybe we'll luck out and miss most of it. I don't mind snow proper, but they were calling for what was variably described depending on what channel I was watching as "wintry mix," "icy mix," and "icy mess." No, thank you!

Aaaaaand here's some random pictures.



Loooook at them being so cute! They didn't really get along those first few weeks, but now they're total bffs and nap together all the time, when they're not trying to rip each other's throats out in aggressive cat playtime.



Of course that's where he's sleeping.



Princess models her new winter coat.



The Christmas village! (Click for full size.) We finished it last year but I didn't get pics; we bought unpainted white plaster houses, like with the Halloween village, and painted them ourselves. It's unfortunate how the huge size and flash point out every single tiny flaw, because most can't be seen with the naked eye. It looks really snazzy IRL.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Christmas Eve eve! When I was a kid, and my year hinged around this time of year, this was the day filled with the most torment. I would make myself a countdown calendar to Christmas on Thanksgiving, and cross off the days - if I'd known that actual calendars existed, and not only did they count down to Christmas, but also gave you a piece of chocolate on each day? I don't even know. It's probably a good thing my parents hid their existence. But by the time I got to the day before Christmas Eve, I could hardly stand waiting anymore. You might think Christmas Eve was worse, being the day before and all, but we had a big holiday meal and I had opening a single present to look forward to; it was always this antepenultimate* day that tested my patience the most.

If things go as planned, I will go see Avatar today. Eee! Although not in 3D; I'm not ready to tax my eyeballs and brain in such a way, considering I still have a hard time with hand-held cameras and sometimes even just big screens. We had been talking about waiting to do a double-feature with Sherlock Holmes after Christmas, but those two movies don't really work for me, mostly because Avatar is so long. It would be like going to see another movie after watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies, unless that other movie was also one of the Lord of the Rings movies (I did two in a row, but never pulled off the whole trilogy, sadface).

Every time a big movie like this comes out, I wonder what the Drafthouse would have done for it, what special drink they would have concocted, what new item on the menu, whatever. For the second Pirates, they had a live Pirate band and tropical frozen drinks; for the Chronicles of Narnia, to enter the individual theater, you had to walk through a wardrobe with the back cut out, into which they put a bunch of fake Christmas trees, and they had Turkish Delight on the menu; for Hot Fuzz, they came around at the end of the show and gave everyone a free mini-donut. I really miss the Drafthouse.

*Did you really think I'd pass up a chance to use "antepenultimate" in casual conversation? What a fantastic word. Seriously, like, does anyone really need a word that means "next to the next to last?" At least just "penultimate" has legit reasons to occasionally pop up, you know? Oh, Romans.

Monday, December 21, 2009

To continue with the previous post's theme, I cannot find my disc for Photoshop. I can find every single solitary random mix CD I burned for my younger sisters ten years ago, but my Photoshop CD? I cannot find it. I can find the disc to install Windows 95 but my Photoshop CD? I cannot find it. I can find the disc for Tetris that came for free in a can of Pringles, but my Photoshop CD?

I CANNOT FIND IT.

GUYS, I AM GOING TO CATCH ON FIRE.

So, you should never buy a new computer. I'm just saying. The trials and tribulations ever since I bought that thing, it's like I was actively shaking my fist at Fate or something and he was like, "LET'S DO IT, AHA." First of all, since I've been using a laptop for almost five years, I had completely forgotten about the need for a monitor; I dragged in Marshall's old one from the garage, and I don't know what he did to it, but the connections were so jacked up; the screen was green and I couldn't change the contrast or brightness, it would randomly black out for up to a minute at a time, it couldn't run certain applications in full screen, et cetera. Today I finally got down to the thrift store and bought an old one for five bucks that while gigantic and cumbersome, actually works, so there's that.

Back to the day I set the new computer up. I thought, oh, transferring my files will be a breeze! I keep absolutely everything on my external hard drive! And I do mean everything: all my pictures, everything I've written in college, all my scripts, videos, my music, icons, everything. Everything.

Everything.

So when I plugged in my external hard drive and the new computer didn't recognize it, I was bummed, but not discouraged; I would have to burn DVDs on my old computer and that would take a while, but no big deal. Until I plugged it back into my laptop and that didn't recognize it, either. And I tried again and again, and turned everything off and turned it all back on, and safely removed over and over, and plugged in a few more times. It didn't recognize the device.

I sat downstairs and literally cried for ten minutes.

We took my hard drive to one of the computer tech places and they plugged it into a computer that was running Linux and everything popped up okay, and the guru literally had no idea why it would do that, but we took it back home and plugged it into my old laptop and it worked. So it wasn't a total loss, at least. In the end, it took 23 DVDs to burn off all my data. You can imagine how long that took.

Set up iTunes, and of course I didn't get to keep my play counts, my playlists, my date added, and all the rest of my meta data. Of course. I read, like, twenty different tutorials, and short of manually editing my .xml file, there's apparently no way to keep all that stuff when you transfer over to a new computer. Thanks, Apple! Also, my one hundred songs that I've either purchased, or gotten as a free iTunes download, or Laura has? Have to be authorized. Can you do that if you don't have a connection to the internet? Ha! So I have to go buy a twenty foot ethernet cable, oh yeah.

Thank God, my version of Final Draft still installed. I don't know what I would have done.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

God, this month. It's been one of those months. Have you ever had long periods of time - not just a day, or even a couple days, but seemingly endless successions of days - where everything just. I mean, I have felt like this pretty much every moment of every day of December.

It's like if there were a movie, called Murphy's Law, and you saw it, and looked it up at home later, and found out it was based on a book, and when you went to the bookstore, found out it wasn't just a book but an autobiography, and you read it, and even more things happened because obviously they can never fit in everything from the book into the movie, and then you get to the end and you're just glad that's not your life, and then you turn to the author picture and note at the end and then you realize IT'S ME. I WROTE THAT BOOK.

And it's not big things. The house hasn't burned down, the old blue van still drives (today I got it up to 35 mph!), I am healthy. It's the cumulative effect of a million tiny things: I have to take off my glove to open the door because the doorknob sticks, and that makes me drop my keys, and when I bend over to pick them up my purse falls off my shoulder, and my iPod drops out and hits the concrete, and I pick it up and stick it in my pocket, and as I walk inside, the headphone cord gets caught around the railing and the speaker part gets pulled out from the earbud and the whole apparatus will no longer work. (True story, btw.)

It's all of that, plus the animals. I think five animals is too many. I read somewhere that a dog is like a very bright three year old, in terms of its intelligence and behavior as well as how you should treat it; I think our dogs are more like really dim, perhaps developmentally challenged, two year olds. Spencer plays this game called WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO GO NEXT I WILL GET THERE FIRST, and if he's not tripping me, then he's herding me or making me stop and wait for him to sit still before I can try walking again. He barks at everything, and when he barks, Princess barks. The cats just roam around and attack each other and gallop up and down the hallway and knock Christmas tchotchkes on the floor and cry because they haven't eaten in one entire hour and they're going to staaaaaaaarve.

And then there's the picking up after my family, and arguments over who gets to watch the nice TV, and piles of clean clothes in the living room and I folded all the laundry I am sure as hell not going to put it away for you, and loud people during sleepy time, et cetera.

I need a holiday. A very long holiday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So, I had things to do today, but instead I've spent the afternoon reading this creepy post, including most of the linked videos and articles. Why do I freak myself out? At any point, I could have just stepped away, but now I've got a cat in my lap and the heater on and I'm afraid to sit at my own computer now, since I'm alone in the house and it's in the basement. :(

:(:(:(

ETA: These are the two creepiest things that were linked; both manufactured, obviously, but still. The Dionaea House and Marble Hornets.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We're hosting the Christmas get-together this year, so the past few days have been biz-zay. We're doing the serious kind of cleaning, you know, washing curtains and dusting mini-blinds and polishing hardwood and vacuuming couches. Yesterday Mom and I made all the desserts: chocolate toffee cheesecake, carrot cake, fudge, and sugar cookies. Ugh, the sugar cookies; I used pretty holiday cookie cutters, except that I can never get the thickness of the dough, its temperature, and the oven's temperature right, so they either were crispy little burnt things, or they puffed out so much you couldn't tell what they were. I ended up taking, like, almost two hours decorating them so you could tell that the bows were bows and the presents were presents.

Today we're making the barbeque brisket and ham, and putting together everything else, besides cleaning up again because cleaning in advance never actually works. We're having my dad's brother and his wife, my Uncle Paul and Aunt Debbie, over, along with my cousins Duncan and Elliot and their wives (my other cousins, Angela and Kaitie, can't make it). And Gamps, of course. We're going to have...twelve people in the house? We don't have room for twelve people in the house.

Speaking of my cousin Duncan, I had forgotten to post some of the pictures they took with his baby daughter Ashlyn, who happens to be my grandpa's first great-grandchild. Kindly check out the happiest baby in the entire world.





You can kind of see Heather, Duncan's wife, there. Hee.





Four generations! I love how my grandpa is not actually looking at the camera. There was not a single picture where all three men were; if my grandpa did, then my Uncle Paul wasn't. I don't know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aaahhh I had the scariest dream last night. I sometimes find myself bemused at the fact that I still have nightmares at my age; not just nightmares, but that I wake up and continue to be genuinely freaked out for some time. I have to share this one, because brrr, but I know how difficult it can be to read someone else's dream, so I'll try to keep this as succinct as possible.

It started off as a CSI dream. (Does anyone else have TV episode dreams?) They were investigating a pile of dead cats in front of an abandoned store in a strip mall. No one wanted to go inside the building to collect evidence, and they found out that as they moved toward the bottom of the pile, some of the cats were still alive, and they started putting them down.

Then, I was in the passenger seat of a car, being driven by some kind of military officer past the same strip mall. A dozen or so cops were inside that abandoned store, shooting towards a hole in the ceiling tiles. They ran out of ammo, and before they could fall back, men in the ceiling killed all of them with absolute precision. Bang, bang, bang. Then, two men turned long rifles on my car and shot; I screamed for us to hurry up and drive away, but not before I saw that the men from the ceiling had their eyes sewn shut. The leader, who was looking right at me, started talking into a walkie-talkie and I heard his voice on the radio; the men were turning that abandoned building into a hotel and were charging $9 a night, and I realized that they would kill anyone who checked in.

Then I woke up, and had to roll over on my back and stare at my pitch-black room for about ten minutes because I was convinced a man with sewn-shut eyes was standing in my corner, just watching me.

This also reminds me that I haven't posted about my three sleep paralysis incidents this year, about which I had intended to keep a log here. The first two this summer were fairly benign. One, I just woke up and couldn't move, and very rationally knew it was sleep paralysis and just waited for it to wear off. Another, I woke up with a heavy weight on the small of my back; I assumed it was Phoenix sleeping on me, and didn't even realize I couldn't move.

The third, though, I had about two weeks ago, and it instantly entered my top ten. I woke up on my back, frozen, with someone pressing their knee into my throat and holding their hand over my mouth and nose. I couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't even think beyond the cold certainty that I was about to die. I wasn't even distantly aware that this was just sleep paralysis and a hallucination; I was convinced that someone had broken into the house and was quietly and methodically going to kill us all.

Sometimes I wonder why I look forward to sleep so much. ;/

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New November Media.

Books
46. House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski. 11-9.
47. Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome, Anthony Everitt. 11-13.

Movies
60. Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009). 11-1.
61. Defiance (2008). 11-22.
62. The Blind Side (2009). 11-25.

Television Episodes
439. How I Met Your Mother - 2x14 - “Monday Night Football.” 11-1.
440. 30 Rock - 4x03 - “Stone Mountain.” 11-1.
441. Father Ted - 3x02 - “Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep.” 11-2.
442. Father Ted - 3x03 - “Speed 3.” 11-2.
443. Modern Family 1x07 - “En Garde.” 11-4.
444. Father Ted - 3x04 - “The Mainland.” 1-4.
445. How I Met Your Mother - 2x15 - “Lucky Penny.” 11-5.
446. The Office - 6x08 - “Double Date.” 11-5.
447. 30 Rock - 4x04 - “Audition Day.” 11-5.
448. How I Met Your Mother - 2x16 - “Stuff.” 11-6.
449. I, Claudius - E13 - “Old King Log.” 11-8.
450. Fringe - 1x01 - “Pilot.” 11-9.
451. Fringe - 1x02 - “The Same Old Story.” 11-9.
452. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 5x19 - “The First Duty.” 11-10.
453. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 5x20 - “Cost of Living.” 11-10.
454. Glee - 1x09 - “Wheels.” 11-11.
456. The Office - 6x09 - “Murder.” 11-12.
457. 30 Rock - 4x05 - “The Problem Solvers.” 11-12.
458. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 5x21 - “The Perfect Mate.” 11-14.
459. How I Met Your Mother - 2x17 - “Arrivederci, Fiero.” 11-15.
460. How I Met Your Mother - 2x18 - “Moving Day.” 11-15.
461. How I Met Your Mother - 2x19 - “Bachelor Party.” 11-15.
462. How I Met Your Mother - 2x20 - “Showdown.” 11-16.
463. How I Met Your Mother - 2x21 - “Something Borrowed.” 11-17.
464. How I Met Your Mother - 2x22 - “Something Blue.” 11-17.
465. Becker - 3x23 - “Sue You.” 11-18.
466. Becker - 3x24 - “Trials and Defibrillations.” 11-18.
467. Glee - 1x10 - “Ballad.” 11-18.
468. Modern Family - 1x08 - “Great Expectations.” 11-18.
469. The Office - 6x10 - “Shareholders Meeting.” 11-19.
470. 30 Rock - 4x06 - “Sun Tea.” 11-19.
471. Star Trek - 1x25 - “The Devil in the Dark.” 11-22.
472. CSI - 8x09 - “You Kill Me.” 11-22.
473. Fringe - 1x03 - “The Ghost Network.” 11-22.
474. Fringe - 1x04 - “The Arrival.” 11-22.
475. Fringe - 1x05 - “Power Hungry.” 11-23.
476. Fringe - 1x06 - “The Cure.” 11-23.
477. Fringe - 1x07 - “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones.” 11-25.
478. Modern Family - 1x09 - “Fizbo.” 11-26.
479. Glee - 1x11 - “Hairography.” 11-29.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Well, Laura and I did it. We got up, sat in line, and charged through a store like crazy people. We weren't planning to, and then last night around 7pm my dad looked up from the paper.

"Nebraska Furniture Mart has laptops for $229."

I bought my laptop in 2005. Laura bought her computer in 2004. Both are slow, cumbersome, and basically falling apart. Her DVD drive quit working over a year ago, and I don't trust mine any more. And it's been a while since I could run more than one program at a time. Make icons AND listen to music? Ha! So we talked and talked and talked, and finally decided to go for it.

We got everything out the night before, went to bed at 9pm, and woke up at 3am this morning. It was barely above freezing, and the store didn't open till 7am, so we knew we were looking at almost 4 hours outside. I put on: two pairs of socks, a pair of comfortable exercise pants underneath a pair of jeans; a thermal undershirt, a t-shirt, one of my dad's insulated work shirts, and a jacket; a scarf, a knit hat, gloves; my woolen cloak.

Waiting in line wasn't too bad. Aside from my face, I was actually quite warm; in fact, my face being a little cold ended up being good, because my core was almost too warm. The last half hour was a little bad, because my toes, as well as Laura's toes, got a little too cold - tennis shoes are so porous, no matter how many socks you have underneath.

They were giving out vouchers in the form of wristbands for the eight big-ticket items: two HDTVs, a Blu-Ray player, a Dyson, a netbook, a computer tower, a computer package with monitor and printer, and the laptop. Laura and I were a bit overwhelmed when we saw how many people had camped out with tents, but the first half of the line just didn't look that packed, so we tried to stay optimistic. Then, as the time for the vouchers to be handed out drew near, and people started packing up their lawn chairs and their tents and the propane tanks hooked up to God knows what (no lie), and everyone stood up, we realized we had around 250-300 people in front of us. It was going to be close.

The Blu-Ray player came first. Laura went ahead and got a voucher for it just in case nothing else made it back to us. Then the 32 inch HDTV came by, and I got that one. The man in front of us, who'd driven an hour in the hopes of picking up a Dyson, got one and was so happy, it was a pleasure to just be in the company of someone radiating undiluted contentment. And then, tragedy!

"We are all out of laptops! The laptops are gone!"

So shouted the man no more than thirty people ahead of us. We'd waited in the freezing cold for hours what was essentially the middle of the night, and it was all for naught. As we walked to the line forming in front of the doors, a young woman asked if we wanted a voucher for the computer tower. Whatever. Fine.

Another forty-five minutes, and then the doors opened! I have never. It was I don't even. Like, literal thousands and thousands of people running, pushing, shoving, yelling, grabbing, blocking. I saw people knocked over. I saw someone climb on top of a pallet and start throwing digital picture frames to their family behind them. I had a cart run into the back of my legs so hard that I had visions of the Pamplona bulls. But Laura and I ended up getting all of the smaller items that were on our list: two $10 DVD players, a personal DVD player for Sarah for $40, $9 wireless headphones for Marshall, four pairs of earbuds for 97 cents, a rice cooker for $12, and an LED flashlight for a dollar. Then we stood in the voucher line.

Three and a half hours in line outside, now another hour in line inside. We called our parents, we talked. Mom and Dad wanted the HDTV, but didn't care about the Blu-Ray player, and neither Laura nor I wanted to get it, either, so she took off that wristband. We went back and forth, and decided that the tower was a really good deal. 6 gigs of memory. My laptop has 256mb, so that's 24 times as much. 640 gigs of hard drive space. My computer? Has 40. We had planned to pick up 1tb external hard drives to go with the new laptops, for $90, but 640 would be plenty. Plus, Laura already had a monitor, and we have two other extras floating around the house, so that wouldn't be a problem.

So we both got the desktops. $299, which was about $50 of retail. The more we talked about it, the more we convinced ourselves that this was a better deal both financially and in the long run than getting the laptops. By the time we were ready to check out, we were pretty psyched.

And then we saw the line to check out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Eating Lots of Food, Watching Random Marathons and Out-Of-Order Parts of The Christmas Story, Putting Up Christmas Decorations, Taking a Nap, and Occasionally Feeling Guilty For Not Remembering To Be More Thankful Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

• I left my wallet and cell phone at home this morning. Good thing my van has a top speed of 40 mph!

• Today I had students named Oleg, Alejandro, and Paloma. Awesome.

• One of these days I'll sing for all of you my original pop hit, "Gotta Take Some Advil (Oh My God My Head)," recently composed in the kitchen.

• My grandpa's new dentures remind me of that scene in Dennis the Menace when Dennis replaces Mr. Wilson's front teeth with Chiclets.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

So it's been an interesting couple of weeks. On Sunday the 8th my parents went to Petsmart to buy a light bulb for my dad's aquarium. My mom moseyed over to the cat adoption room, and when my dad finally found her, they both fell in love with a six month old kitty. He was sweet and affectionate, and very pretty, but he also sounded sick, and we already had two cats at home.

When they came home and told us that they were very close to adopting him, I was heartbroken. All it took was a little bit of encouragement, and they agreed that if I paid the adoption fee, we could get him. So my mom called his foster mom, who wanted to keep him a few more days to get him better. We picked him up on Thursday the 12th. When we met at Petsmart, his foster mom told us that he'd been sick for a while - she actually brought him home from the Humane Society because he'd been sick with an upper respiratory infection and needed to get better. She assured us that he was almost over it, since she'd been giving him antibiotics. Just a cough and a little sneezing, but no mucus anymore.

She lied.

He got sicker and sicker, wasn't eating much, slept all day and night, and had very little energy, and so this past Tuesday my mom and I took him to the vet. She gave us a prescription for an antibiotic and injected him with fluids under the skin. I now believe that his foster mom either wasn't giving him an antibiotic, or was giving him the wrong dose or the wrong kind, because his recovery has been miraculous. The next day, he was running around and playing. Now, just a few days later, he's galloping up and down the hallway and leaping up the walls.

I would like to introduce you to the newest member of the family.



This is C. K. Dexter Haven. He's not scowling at you. That's just his face.

Monday, November 16, 2009

So it begins. This morning we got rain, then hail, then sleet. Thankfully it's been pretty warm, so nothing has really stuck, but still. Winter.

I actually don't mind the first half of winter that much. Thanksgiving and Christmas, pretty lights, holiday food - winter weather is just part of the package. January isn't so bad, either. But by the time my birthday rolls around in late February, I've pretty much had my fill. I am reminded of my first year in Austin. I expected hot weather in August, and even September. The first of October, the locals assured us that within a few weeks the temperatures would drop; I usually woke up in the 7:30-8:30 hour, and it was almost always in the 90s already that early. October came and went. "Oh, it'll cool down by Thanksgiving," they told us. I came back from Thanksgiving break to days still in the 80s quite a bit of the time.

After Christmas break? Still warm. Oh, it wasn't ungodly hot anymore, but a January in the 70s? Bizarre, and I actually kind of didn't like it. But then I thought about my sister, going to KU, routinely trudging through snow and ice on her way to class because they wouldn't cancel even if it wasn't safe for the buses to run. Then I didn't mind it too much.

The weekend of my birthday approached. Unlike my entire childhood, I would have a lovely, warm birthday. I would be able to go out, have fun, and I wouldn't have to worry about bundling up or dealing with icy roads.

February 25: It was about 25 degrees outside, and we got three inches of ice. In Austin, Texas. I think it was warmer in Kansas City.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catherine's post on Lady Gaga's new music video - which I totally love, BTW - made me think about some of my favorite music videos over the years. I love videos. They're not as tied to narrative as the other major film forms, they can really experiment with a lot of fun things and actually be quite innovative, and finding ways to interpret a song is always a creative challenge that, when it pays off, is quite awesome. These are in no particular order.

Smashing Pumpkins - "Tonight, Tonight"

Gorgeous. If you're not familiar with this video and its iconography, this is based on the very influential George Méliès film "A Trip to the Moon" from 1902, generally considered the first science fiction film. The Smashing Pumpkins manage to perfectly capture the look of the original film while still making it work in video form - it's absolutely right for the song, as well.

Kenna - "Hell Bent"

The video was originally an Academy Award-nominated stop-motion animated short film, which was recut and used by Kenna a few years later. I would never have guessed, because it works with the song so seamlessly.

Sigur Ros - "Glósóli"

When you're an Icelandic band, all you have to do is point the camera outside for an amazing, scenic, epic video.

Radiohead = "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"

My favorite music video of all time. The black and white cinematography is unreal, the moving in and out of slo-mo within a shot, the jumping women and breaking glass - all of it, perfection.

Monday, November 9, 2009

There are many different ways to keep track of extended periods of time. The most common is the calendar year, which lasts from January 1 to December 31. Another is one's personal year between birthdays, commonly referred to as one's age. An important way to keep track of time for children and young adults is the school year, which is roughly synonymous with the TV year.

The most important way to keep track of time in this household? The college basketball year. From early November until, if we're lucky, early April, one or two times a week the heavens open and bestow upon us a Kansas Jayhawk men's basketball game. This basketball year looks to be a very promising one; we're the consensus number one team in the nation, we picked up one of last year's top high school recruits, and two of the players from our 2008 Championship team, who definitely could have gone into the NBA this year, decided to stay one more year. We had a lot of new players last year who were a little green, who have now had a year to settle in, gain some experience, and get used to playing as a team. It's a good start.

Sports, and in my case college basketball, can be a lot like religion. The only thing missing is that for the most part, sports don't answer any of life's burning questions like: Why are we here? How was this world created? What happens after death? But other than that, there are a lot of similarities. The team you root for depends a lot on where you're from and how your parents raised you. One of my earliest memories is jumping up and down with my mom and dad when KU won the National Championship in 1988. Things might change when you go away to college, and are introduced to new teams, maybe even different conferences, but it's hard to completely sever your ties with the team you grew up with.

There's an incredible sense of community. Even just watching the game alone in your home, you're connected with all of the other people watching the game. You know that you're cheering when they're cheering, groaning when they groan, screaming at the refs when they scream. Of course, you can always go to a sports bar or one of those restaurants with lots of shit hanging on the walls, or, if you're lucky, to the holy of holies itself, the actual game. In KU's case, Allen Fieldhouse. I've only been a few times, but I'm pretty sure the deep sense of awe and respect that suffused my spirit as I walked inside, found my seat, and then watched a game with 15,000 other fans, was not that much different from how people feel when they go to church.

Just like religion, you feel like your team is obviously and objectively the best. Everyone else who roots for other teams is deluded in some way. If they'd only sit down with you and listen, you could explain to them why KU is the best team. First of all, our first coach invented the game itself; he's like a prophet, bringing down a ball and a peach basket from heaven. And if someone disses your team? They're not just insulting the school, they're insulting you and everything you stand for.

Of course, like many religions, there are moments of clarity where you think, this is kind of strange. Why am I getting so much joy out of watching some strange boys play a game? But joy there is nonetheless, and that's what keeps bringing you back. There may be bad times, off seasons, blown second round games and overtime losses, but you know that deep down, the game will always be there for you, when you need it most.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New October Media

Books
42. Sixty Days and Counting, Kim Stanley Robinson. 10-4.
43. Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy, Dorothy Allred Solomon. 10-10.
44. How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower, Adrian Goldsworthy. 10-16.
45. The Palace, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. 10-23.

Movies
54. She’s Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein (1999). 10-1.
55. The Haunting (1963). 10-17.
56. The Skeleton Key (2005). 10-23.
57. The Road to Dracula (1999). 10-24.
58. When A Stranger Calls (1979). 10-25.
59. The Phantom of the Opera (1925). 10-30.

Television Episodes
397. How I Met Your Mother - 2x01 - “Where Were We?” 10-5.
398. How I Met Your Mother - 2x02 - “The Scorpion and the Toad.” 10-5.
399. Heroes - 4x03 - “Ink.” 10-6.
400. How I Met Your Mother - 2x03 - “Brunch.” 10-6.
401. Heroes - 4x04 - “Acceptance.” 10-6.
402. The Office - 6x02 - “The Meeting.” 10-7.
403. Father Ted - 2x09 - “Cigarettes, Alcohol and Rollerblading.” 10-7.
404. Glee - 1x06 - “Vitamin D.” 10-7.
405. Father Ted - 2x10 - “New Jack City.” 10-8.
406. The Office - 6x03 - “The Promotion.” 10-9.
407. The Office - 6x04 - “Niagara.” 10-9.
408. How I Met Your Mother - 2x04 - “Ted Mosby, Architect.” 10-11.
409. Heroes - 4x05 - “Hysterical Blindness.” 10-12.
410. How I Met Your Mother - 2x05 - “World’s Greatest Couple.” 10-12.
411. Glee - 1x07 - “Throwdown.” 10-14.
412. How I Met Your Mother - 2x06 - “Aldrin Justice.” 10-15.
413. How I Met Your Mother - 2x07 - “Swarley.” 10-15.
414. How I Met Your Mother - 2x08 - “Atlantic City.” 10-15.
415. The Office - 6x05 - “Mafia.” 10-15.
416. 30 Rock - 4x01 - “Season Four.” 10-15.
417. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 5x16 - “Ethics.” 10-17.
418. Modern Family - 1x01 - “Pilot.” 10-17.
419. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 5x17 - “The Outcast.” 10-18.
420. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 5x18 - “Cause and Effect.” 10-19.
421. Modern Family - 1x02 - “The Bicycle Thief.” 10-20.
422. Modern Family - 1x03 - “Come Fly With Me.” 10-20.
423. Glee - 1x08 - “Mash-Up.” 10-21.
424. Modern Family - 1x05 - “Coal Digger.” 10-22.
425. Modern Family - 1x04 - “The Incident.” 10-23.
426. The Office - 6x06 - “The Lover.” 10-24.
427. 30 Rock - 4x02 - “Into the Crevasse.” 10-24.
428. Dollhouse - 2x02 - “Instinct.” 10-25.
429. Dollhouse - 2x03 - “Belle Chose.” 10-25.
430. Dollhouse - 2x04 - “Belonging.” 10-26.
431. How I Met Your Mother - 2x09 - “Slap Bet.” 10-26.
432. Father Ted - 2x11 - “Flight Into Terror.” 10-27.
433. How I Met Your Mother - 2x10 - “Single Stamina.” 10-27.
434. How I Met Your Mother - 2x11 - “How Lily Stole Christmas.” 10-27.
435. Father Ted - 3x01 - “Are You Right There, Father Ted?” 10-28.
436. Modern Family - 1x06 - “Run For Your Wife.” 10-28.
437. How I Met Your Mother - 2x12 - “First Time in New York.” 10-29.
438. How I Met Your Mother - 2x13 - “Columns.” 10-30.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween weekend was crazy! Sarah told me at the beginning of the week she didn't think she'd go trick-or-treating; she told me Thursday night she was. So I spent Friday running everywhere getting the components of her costume, which included buying pink netting at Hobby Lobby and making a tutu with Laura. She was having her friends over here, and I was going to drive them around Saturday night, so there was a lot of cleaning during the day. I also decided to make a cake and my mom wanted Halloween cookies, so in between cleaning, I also got to cook.

Oh yeah! And we carved pumpkins, too. (Click for full size.)



Guess who carved what for cash and prizes!



My amazing cake.



Sarah in the early stages of preparing. She had a moment where she could have chosen to go as a pretty, pretty princess or ballerina or something like that. Instead, she chose...



She's Old Gregg!



Yeah!



Sarah and her friends. That pirate outfit was crazy; she had pirate heads screwed into shoulder pads. Amazing.

And if you're unfamiliar with Old Gregg, as I might well imagine you are, here's a primer. I'd say he's Sarah's favorite non-regular TV character of all time; we've been hearing her say things in an Old Gregg voice for at least a year now. The show is The Mighty Boosh, arguably the strangest thing I've ever seen in my life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New batch of icons; one set for a movie that came out three months ago, and another for a TV show that no one else watches except for me (and Holly (hi!)). Yeah!

Inglourious Basterds:

1. 2. 3.

4. 5. 6.

7. 8. 9.

10. 11. 12.

13. 14. 15.

16. 17. 18.

19.

Beverly Crusher Star Trek:

20. 21. 22.

23. 24. 25.

26. 27. 28.

29. 30. 31.

32. 33.