Wednesday, January 31, 2007

White Death 2007 Update!

As of 8:23pm Central Standard Time, it is NOT snowing, raining or otherwise precipitating and the light dusting of snow which had appeared earlier is now gone. More updates as conditions warrant....

White Death 2007!!

It's snowing. People are panicking. The stores have sold out of milk and are rapidly running out of bread. It seemed like everybody at Wal-Mart (except me) had an overflowing shopping cart. I merely picked up the usual groceries (bread, soup, orange juice, yogurt, refried beans and peanut butter). I haven't seen lines at the gas station like today since the onset of the current Gulf War.

When I left Wal-Mart it had started snowing. Lightly. The total accumulation is expected to be 1-2 inches over the next two days. The drive in to work tomorrow morning could be "interesting". I'm going to leave before 7:30 just to get ahead of everybody else and give myself an extra bit of time to get there.

This morning on the Drake and Zeke show, a listener, who is a native of the Midwest, sent in an e-mail regarding the upcoming expected winter storm. She provided pointers to inspire terror in the public. First, you have to name the storm to inspire dread. Drake and Zeke decided that White Death 2007 sounded like a good name. Second, have the local TV station film a news spot in front of the empty shelves at the stores to further inspire terror in the masses as well as to spur on frantic purchasing. Finally, continue to drive on the snowy, icy roads exactly as you normally do including the lack of turn signal use. The drivers behind you really don't like knowing that you're about to turn or change lanes. They would prefer to spin out into oncoming traffic while avoiding your vehicle. The listener went on to say that she was going to go into work a few hours later than usual to give the police and tow trucks time to clear all the wrecks off the streets. Personally, I just want to be able to do a donut in the middle of my cove. I would take my car out and do donuts in a parking lot for every first snow, just to remind myself how the car handles when it slides.

Bang Head Here
Note: We cannot use new software in an outbreak investigation if the software doesn't actually run at the present time with the present equipment. Even if you could teach me how to use it, the software has to actually work before I can use my new software skills. And frankly, I don't know that learning new software in the middle of an outbreak is really a good way to run a big outbreak. I will be more than willing to use the new software (once it's running) in a future outbreak, but not now. Please stop asking because the answer isn't going to change and you're keeping us from actually getting the investigation done.

Tonight's Entertainment:
I brought home some data entry work, just in case the Great Blizzard of 2007 deposits eighteen inches of snow on us. But I'm going to knit instead. I think I'll finish my blue sock and then cast on the second sock. If I can find the second ball of yarn, that is.

Monday, January 29, 2007

READ MY LIPS.....

No New TB Cases!!
I managed to actually make some progress on the data entry and we have identified no new cases to investigate. I expect that to change by the end of the week when the last of the skin test and symptom screen results come back. I am fairly certain there is one more case hiding out there.

For now, I'll be happy to keep making progress on the data entry. Because we're using Excel for the data management, it's not really possible to share the data entry duties. The new software we're getting is server based, so in theory more than one person could work on the data at a time. It's a pity that the IT folks couldn't get the server to talk to the app yet. I can't complain too much though as I get to cut and paste most of the answers instead of typing it.

Happy Birthday!
Today was the birthday lunch for Dr. G and me. We have the only two January birthdays. We're both 5 years old, though I'm technically a week earlier. (In real life he's several years older.) Lunch included lasagne, tossed salad, coleslaw (made with cauliflower rather than cabbage and it was YUMMY!) and bread sticks. There were two kinds of cake (angel food, which is my favorite, and cinnamon swirl cake, which is Dr. G's favorite). I had an extra piece of cake for an afternoon snack.

RIP Barbaro
Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, was euthanized today. He had developed an abscess in his right hind foot (the same leg that he broke in the Preakness Stakes). Over the weekend, the surgeons at the New Bolton Center put pins in his leg to shift the weight onto the newly healed cannon bone. This was a procedure not without risks, one of which would be causing laminitis in the front hooves. This morning, it became apparent to the veterinarians that Barbaro was no longer comfortable. Barbaro's owners decided it was time to let him go.


Bird Brains....
The local birds are not the brightest. In the past three weeks three separate species have had an individual fly into the back window. I'll be adding a sticker to the window so they can figure out it's a window, not a hole.

So far I have identified the following species hanging out on the deck and enjoying the birdfeeder: house finches, purple finches, gold finches, blue jays, cardinals, tufted titmouses (titmice?), juncoes, cowbirds, and sparrows. I have seen wrens and bluejays in the neighborhood and have heard woodpeckers and owls. I'd like the owl(s) to eat the moles, but have not yet managed to make that introduction. I really need to put up the second feeder. The feeding population has gotten large enough that there have been some squabbles among the crowd.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Someone I'd like to work for....

Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia. If the surf is up, the boss (in his 60s) is out of the office. Surfing. Employees are encouraged to do that too. As Mr. Chouinard put it, "You can't schedule surfing for next Tuesday at 2pm. Meetings can be moved." Mr. Chouinard started out making climbing equipment for himself, then his friends, then other people. And the Patagonia Company was born. He still does blacksmith work, making pitons, among other things. When the surf's up, he's out on his board. He's made a point of making corporate decisions in favor of the environment, even if it increased expenses. Patagonia was the first major retailer to switch to using ALL organically grown cotton in its cotton products. They also started using EcoSpun in the fleece. You can buy really snuggly fleece made from recycled soda bottles. Patagonia also started the movement to donate 1% of sales to environmental causes. And on top of all that, their gear is very well made and worth the somewhat higher cost.

This morning, in an interview with him on CBS Sunday Morning, Mr. Chouinard said, "I don't have a big bank account. I have a checking account. I don't buy stocks. I give most of my salary away. I have everything I want. You can't bribe me."

*That* is where I want to get in life. And I'm very nearly there. I'm not yet to the point of giving most of my salary away, but I suspect Mr. Chouinard's salary is significantly larger than mine and that he has fewer outstanding debts.), but I've just about got the rest of it. Yay for me!

Hip Hip Hooray!!
I finally got a newspaper today. I'm not sure what they had to do to sort it out, but a fat Sunday paper was on my driveway this morning. The local paper here is a 50-50 mix of locally produced articles and newswire stuff. The comics include Doonesbury, Baby Blues and Dilbert though so I don't complain too much.

Cataloging the Collection
I have started the yarn stash database. I got three bins of yarn entered into it last night. I have four more bins sitting in the living room waiting to be entered. I have found the four sweater kits from Samuel Charis Knits (now out of business). I only remembered two of them. I have both an angora pullover and an angora cardigan to knit, plus a vest I didn't remember and a jacket.

The "other" data entry
I probably should be doing the data entry for work, but I really don't feel like it. I've been working hard enough at work.

Soup Day!
I've decided to make a pot of vegetable soup today and use up some of the veggies in the fridge. I'll make some cornbread to go with it. It's a bright and sunny day today, but it's still pretty cold. I won't be washing the car yet. I could take it to the car wash. I just hope that won't strip the wax off that I so carefully applied last month.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Good News and The Bad News.....

With respect to work......

The Good News is that the outbreak investigation training session has been scheduled.

The Bad News is that it's scheduled for the middle of the cruise I was going on in May. I could skip the training and go on the cruise, but I'd rather be at the training. Not that a cruise wouldn't be fun, but I think the training will be more fun. What can I say, I love epidemiology and figuring out how/why people get sick. This particular training won't happen for at least another year whereas I can always go on another cruise later in the year.

The Good News is that a tuberculosis case we've been working with has been taken out of isolation as that person is no longer infectious.

The Bad News is that we picked up two more suspected cases of tuberculosis (and the associated contact investigations).

The Good News is that I got the copies of the TB skin test results from one investigation.

The Bad News is that I now have to put them in the computer. And there are LOTS of test results. Like over 1000 of them, not to mention the other 800 that haven't been sent in yet. Why can't the really infectious people be hermits? Oh, that's right. That would be "easy". We wouldn't like that. That might lead to *boredom*. Boredom *is* the enemy.

The Good News is that I have gained the attention of "important people."

The Bad News is the reward for good work, which gained said attention, is leading to more work. Then again, boredom *is* the enemy, so perhaps that's not all bad....

With respect to knitting......

The Good News is that I tracked down several of my sweater projects for the Sweater a Month Knitalong.

The Bad News is that I found MOTH LARVAE and lots and lots of moth eggs in the yarn in that particular storage bin, plus some chewed on skeins of yarn.

The Good News is that I have now gotten all the yarn involved washed or thrown out.

The Bad News is that I'm now worried that I have conveyed moth eggs across the house, even though I vacuumed *very* thoroughly and washed the clothes I wore when I skeined and washed the yarn.

The Good News is that the yarn for The Freedom Sweater from Amazing Threads is apparently undamaged, as is the sweater itself (sans sleeves).

The Bad News is that I apparently have illiterate moths as they chewed on the green Reynolds Paterna yarn which is clearly marked "Mothproofed". Or perhaps these are hardy, country moths who normally dine on hot sauce and moonshine so that piddly little "mothproofing" is nothing but extra flavor.

The Good News is that I discovered that the green yarn bleeds dye like mad *before* I knit the ski sweater with it and the green dye ran into the white parts.

The other Good News about the green yarn is that I've decided against making the ski sweater with that yarn and will be knitting hats, socks or kids sweaters for The Dulaan Project.

The potential Bad News about the "moth incident" is that I have a LOT of yarn and fiber in the knitting room. I'll be doing a quick survey of the remaining yarn bins tomorrow, which will also facilitate finding the rest of the sweater projects.

The Good News is that I have found a mill to which I will be sending a number of my fleeces for washing and carding, so they'll be out of danger for a while. As long as I'm going through bins, I can figure out what fleeces I'll ship too. The mill owner/operator says the fleeces ought to be back by the end of February. w00t! I may have to try my hand at dyeing the roving when it comes back.

Other Good News/Bad News.....


The Good News is that it'll be 40+ degrees tomorrow so I can wash my car for the first time since possibly Christmas.

The Bad News is that there is a 70% chance of rain. Methinks I need to get the salt and ick off the car from Illinois anyway.

I think that's the end of the Good News/Bad News.

Cricket Update:
There were three crickets last weekend. I've seen two this week, though I found one of them dead on Thursday morning. Thursday night, I found the surviving cricket perched on my pillow in the bedroom. I ignored him until it was time to go to bed, at which time he was no longer on the pillow. I threw back the covers and found him under the blankets. Mitch suggested the cricket was trying to seduce me and to imagine it speaking in a Barry White voice ("Hey, Baby!"). I haven't seen cricket since I evicted him from the bed. I hope I didn't hurt his feelings. I'm just not attracted to guys with antennae or six legs.

More Work Excitement:
The three-day training session I was scheduled to participate in next week has been postponed with the subsequent dates TBA. I'm kinda bummed to not be going (BOOKSTORE!!), but I also didn't want to miss out on three days of the data entry and investigation stuff. There is too much work going on for me to be gone three days. Of course, the subsequent set of training dates may not end up being any more convenient.

I've also been tapped for participating in the statewide major disaster drill later this summer, so I get to go to the planning sessions in February. This could be fun. No, seriously. I like disasters and putting together drills.

Evil Raisins and World Domination
Breakfast this week featured oatmeal with golden raisins. I had purchased golden raisins in December with the intention to use them in a particular cookie or muffin recipe, but never got around to baking them. So when I ran out of regular raisins I started using the golden raisins in my oatmeal last weekend. I had a minor headache on Sunday, which I mostly ignored. On Monday, I was stressed at work and got a headache. I also had some sinus issues, so a headache didnt' really surprise me. Tuesday I had a headache. Wednesday I had blueberries in my oatmeal. No headache. Thursday more raisins and a bad headache which got worse overnight. Thursday night it occurred to me that there was a correlation between the onset of the headaches and the consumption of golden raisins. Golden raisins contain sulfites. That's what keeps them from turning brown like regular raisins. Sulfites cause headaches in people who are sensitive to it. Ouchies. Today's headache wore off by about 9:30 with the assistance of caffeinated coffee at work (I only keep decaf at home, even if it is stored in a regular Folger's container) and three extra-strength Tylenol.

So, what to do with the evil golden raisins? Obviously, the evil raisins must be made part of an evil plan. Conveniently, I happen to have an evil plan....I'm going to put them in oatmeal raisin cookies for Mitch to foist off on his co-workers. The cookies won't get to Mitch in time to make the 11am Tuesday meeting a happier place to be, but they will be there in time for the Thursday Secret Squirrel Meeting. The Secret Squirrel people don't know about Morenna Cookies. Yet. But soon they too will drool uncontrollably at the mention of Morenna Cookies. My plot for Global Domination continues.... And I'm going to make peanut butter cookies for one of the invaluable support staff. Just because I can. It's fun to make someone's day at random.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Tuesday already?

I suppose taking half of Monday off would make the week go faster. So would being really really busy. I had every intention of alphabetizing some paperwork tonight as I sat and watched TV, droooling on myself. Except that I'm not sure I have sufficient neurons to manage alphabetizing anything. Not even if I sing the alphabet song while I do it.

So I'll sit and knit on a mindless sock. (As opposed to a sentient sock which may explain why socks occasionally go missing and may or may not be found again.) And watch The Princess Bride for the thousandth time. I'm actually catching it at the beginning this time.

"No more rhymes now, I mean it!"
"Anybody want a peanut?"

Eating Better
I availed myself of the free food at a vaccine seminar at the hospital today. As a result I'm not particularly hungry this evening. I had a bowl of oatmeal for dinner and I'll have a mug of miso broth in a little bit. It's the same mug of miso broth I made last night, but failed to finish. Details. I have a fridge full of produce that I should eat soon. I have absolutely no plan for meals this week, but won't be coming up with a plan tonight.

Several people at work have asked how much weight I've lost. Haven't actually lost any weight and my clothes aren't fitting more loosely either. Perhaps it's because I wore a sweater today that wasn't particularly baggy.

Knitting News
I haven't done any knitting in at least a week. I will haul out the blue ribbed sock tonight for some mindless knitting. It is definitely not a night for the Kiri shawl or anything requiring attention. Soon I will need to find the sweaters I have planned to finish as part of the "Sweater a Month" knitalong. I have found a mill to send at least some of my fleeces to for processing. Patty is located in Wisconsin, I think and has reasonable fees for washing and carding into roving. I will definitely send the shetland and crossbred fleeces to her. I don't know about the Coopworth yet. I may still keep those and comb them as preparation to be worsted spun. Perhaps this weekend I'll figure out which fleeces will go and which will stay.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Busy busy!

Friday was a whirlwind day at work, trying to get caught up on work before the weekend. It was a busy day but productive. Still left work late, but only by 5 minutes. I was late because I was backing up the database to CD for offsite storage. I realize that it is unlikely that an asteroid will hit my office building, but why leave things to chance? Always back up your data. (Says the woman who hasn't backed up her home HD in a couple of weeks.... Ok, so I'll do that Monday morning.)

Got home just about the usual time though. Did a wee bit of cleaning since I have a guest this weekend. I put the sheets in the washer before I left for work so I just needed to put them in the dryer when I got home. I even almost got the bed made before my guest arrived. Well, the bottom sheet was on. Sort of. Ok, so it was just two corners. That's kind of halfway. Fortunately my guest got lost on the way so I gained an extra minute or two. If I hadn't had that the bed would have been totally unmade. HORRORS! Yeah, right. Whatever. :o)

It's Mitch!

Anyway, Mitch arrived all the way from Washington state for a visit. We spent today running around town, starting with my routine visits at the library, the farmer's market and the vegetable store (where they also sell fruit and we got bananas and tangelos). With his advice I got a smart phone to replace my beat to heck old LG cell. I now also have a stylish Life is Good purse. I dislike carrying a purse, but sometimes it's hard to not carry one. Like when there's no back pocket in your pants to put your wallet. I long ago quit trying to be "ladylike". I prefer to be self-contained. This has proven to be a great advantage in going through security checkpoints and in not having to keep track of multiple bags and belongings. But this purse is small, sporty and non-traditional. I think it reflects my personality quite nicely.

Anyway, we had lunch at Jason's Deli. Mitch got a chili-cheese baked potato the size of a football. I had tomato-basil soup and a salad. We also picked up a hacksaw so that I can trim the track for the laundry room doors and get them installed eventually. One of us will act like a clamp and the other will saw the track to size. By the time we got back to the house we were both really tired. So we watched a movie, downloaded some stuff for my new phone and ate a frozen pizza for dinner. We'll both sleep well tonight, I'm sure.

Tomorrow we're talking about having breakfast at IHOP, then perhaps heading over to the mall to walk around a bit before taking in a movie. We'll see how early we get out of bed. :o) I'm taking Monday morning off from work, so we'll have breakfast and Mitch will hit the road back to the airport for his flight home.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

If you type the URL wrong....

you can't find the right page.

Example: blooger.com will not allow me to log in to my blog.

Blonde Moments
If you read yesterday's blog entry, you may recall that I failed to buy yeast at the store. So I went to the store at lunchtime today. And got all the way out to the car with my potatoes, tofu, scallions and onions before I remembered I needed yeast. DOH! I went back in and got it. At least I didn't get home again before I remembered. The clerk laughed at me when I showed up in line again, but admitted that she forgets stuff like that too.

WINTER!! YAY!!
The high temp today was in the mid 30s. *That's* more like it!! This is the first time that the high temp hasn't been at least 40-something. At least it wasn't windy or rainy. It's been raining for the past three days. My front yard actually *squelches* when you walk on it. It's going to take it a looooong time to dry out. Even longer since it's mostly clay.

Monday, January 15, 2007

There He Blows!!!

Wilt, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, is having a meltdown. He is unable to say the word "no", so ends up doing lots of stuff for other people and not getting to watch the big game on TV like he wanted. So he had a fit when asked one too many times to do something. The episode ended with Bloo tricking Wilt into saying yes again. sigh. Poor Wilt.

The girl who lives next door to Mac has an imaginary friend named Cheese. Cheese got lost and showed up at Mac's house. Yep, that's right. Mac and Cheese. Then Cheese decided to hang out with Bloo. Yep, that's right. Bloo Cheese. Cheese's real person is Louise. Yep, that's right. Cheese Louise. That couldn't have turned out better if they'd planned it like that. :o) Cheese says he likes chocolate milk (he says it a lot, actually), but he's really lactose intolerant.

Today's Kitchen Adventures
I am halfway through making baked beans. I have discovered that I don't have any dry mustard. Will be heading into the store to fix that and get some liquid smoke while I'm at it. And as a treat to me I'm going to buy some extra-firm tofu and grill up some cajun-rub tofu. (Yeah, I know, most of you think that sounds icky, but I think it's yummy. If you don't eat any that just leaves more for me.) I found a recipe for oatmeal toasting bread today on FarmGirl Fare. I may just have to make some of that too, though I may not have quite enough motivation to pull it off.

Okay, so I decided to bake bread afterall. And then I made a horrible discovery.....I have *no* yeast. Mind you, I discovered this about 30 minutes after returning from the grocery store. DOH! The dry ingredients for oatmeal toasting bread are patiently waiting in my big mixing bowl. I'll pick up yeast at the store tomorrow during my lunch break, then bake tomorrow night. So I'll go make a batch of blueberry-oatmeal pancakes now instead. I had "brunch" about 11am (bean burrito). It's time for late lunch/early dinner.

Grocery Store Adventures
The closest grocery store to my house does not carry regular tofu, just silken tofu, which I don't like nearly as much as the regular stuff. Silken tofu is ok in soups, but that's about it. They do, however, have a pretty decent produce section, including fresh herbs and lots of different lettuces (not pre-package) and a NICE cheese section. That particular Kroger, however, does not have much in the way of "health" food though it does sell Amy's cheese enchilada dinners and pizzas. The store closest to work has a whole aisle for the organic, whole grain, "health" food stuff. I don't remember what their tofu or frozen vegetarian food selections were like. I think the produce section was pretty standard, but I didn't look that closely.

Lazy Monday
I'm having a pokey sort of day. There is a Foster's Home marathon on today (or so it appears, being that it's been on for four hours in a row now). If the guys at Pro are running their behinds off today, it is NOT because I'm watching Foster's. That "curse" only worked when I worked there. I hope. Since it's once again a rainy day (and the temp is expected to drop into the 30s by dinner time), I'm spending the day indoors. I have a couple of books to read and lots of things to knit or spin. I just need to pick out what it is I want to do. The temperature has started to drop. It's supposed to get down to freezing tonight. That could make the drive to work tomorrow morning a bit "interesting". Note to self: leave an extra 10 minutes early...

Local Wildlife News
There were six cardinals hanging out eating sunflower seeds this morning. I'm seeing lots of house finches too and a couple of species I don't recognize. More of the birds are using the bird feeder now, instead of just eating the seed off the ground. I haven't seen bluebirds hanging out lately, but since they're mostly bug eaters, that doesn't surprise me. I have two more bird feeders that I can put up. I don't know if I'll put sunflower seed in them too or put a different sort of seed in there, like thistle seed, for the finches. I was planning to put the other feeders up in different places in the yard, but may re-evaluate that decision.

Cricket Census
Found another Cricket #2 last night. We'll see how long this one lasts.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hemlines

There is something I just don't understand. Are women today unable to hem a pair of pants? The trend these days is to wear long jeans with heeled boots. Nearly every woman who does this is wearing jeans which are long enough to get stuck under her heel (thus wearing a hole in these undoubtably expensive pants) and to suck up whatever water and dirt are on the sidewalk on a rainy day. It takes ten minutes to pin and sew a hem at the appropriate height on a pair of jeans. If you are not particularly sewing-minded, hemming pants is an alteration that costs $5-15. The end result is a much nicer line to the pants and a neater overall appearance. I don't know about you, but if I was wearing a $150 pair of jeans I'd want them to be the right length and not be grinding the end of them into the ground. Of course, I only ever wear $40 Levi's and never with heels, but we all know that I'm not particularly fashionable.

Cropped pants. This is another fashion item I don't quite get. Capri pants I can understand in the summer, at least. But not dress pants that come somewhere between ankle length and knee length. The first time I saw them my first impression was that the wearer of these pants had accidentally put them in the dryer. Now it really reminds me of the pants worn by the crew of the original Star Trek series, esp since most women wear them with boots, just like in Star Trek. I am also reminded of the "high water" pants that were ridiculed when I was in grade school. You know, the pants that were way too short because you (or someone else) had a growth spurt and your family couldn't afford to replace all your jeans right away.

I have often wondered if designers who determine what will be fashionable just make up ridiculous stuff on purpose to see if the public will fall for it. Certainly nobody actually LOOKS at the clothes to see if they are flattering in appearance, cut or style. It gets published in Vogue and other fashion magazines, therefore it must be purchased and worn. No wonder kids laugh at what their parents wore when they were younger. And I laugh at the silly stuff that gets dreamed up every season. It amazes me that women bankrupt themselves to purchase what they're told to buy, whether they want, like it, need it or not. It's this season's fashion so they *have* to have it. I don't get it. I guess I'm just too much of an independent thinker to wear something just because it was in a magazine.

Food and other things

I've decided to eat my way through the Fat Free Vegan website's recipes. Not all at once, mind you. It's part of that expanding recipe repertoire thing. Tonight I'm going to make mini meatloaves and mashed potatoes/turnips. Other things on the menu this week include millet with greens, miso coleslaw and New England Baked beans. None of these happen to be from the FF Vegan site, of course.

Cricket Update:

Found another cricket #2 yesterday who again ended up dead today. The big cricket is now missing a hind leg. This would, of course, prevent any sort of chirping. I wonder how he lost it. Probably some sort of dangerous reconnaissance mission to the top of the drapes.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Recipe Repertoire

Last night I was very tempted to pick up some steak or ground beef at the store last night, fire up the grill and have a carnivore fest. I resisted successfully. Yay!

In the past month or so I haven't been doing a very good job of planning meals or grocery trips. This has led to rather unplanned dinners and a rather unsatisfying dining experience, not to mention a dearth of good leftovers for lunch. After a long, tiring day at work, I really don't have the energy or the mental creativity to come up with some sort of dinner idea, then cook it. Ideally, I would accomplish the planning on Thursday or Friday night, then shop either Friday on the way home or on Saturday morning. What I've been doing is going shopping for staples on Saturday morning, then picking up some ingredients that look good but without any sort of plan in mind. This is not working for me.

I don't mind buying some things on a whim and working them into my menu or meal plan. The problem is that lately I'm buying a bunch of disjointed items without much plan, figuring that I'll just work out the details later. This makes it hard to prepare a meal. What actually happens is that I don't really have time during the week to figure out meal plans in advance. I have the time to cook and usually have the energy to cook too, but not time or energy to plan from scratch *and* cook. So I end up with really good food going bad before I use it. I also end up eating a lot of peanut butter samiches and oatmeal or Scooters for dinner.

My new plan is to develop a repertoire of recipes. I had been on a roll with that for a while earlier in the fall, but got out of the habit. Fortunately I have the list of recipes from the previous planning. I just need to go through the stuff in the pantry and fridge so I have something to work from in the planning process. I have quite a bit of food in the house. I just need to find some way of pulling it together into meals. It's really no different than having a closet full of clothes and needing to find ways to pull them together into outfits. Of course, I'm horrible at that. Food I can handle. The wardrobe, not so much. :o)

The Dog Whisperer
I *love* this show. Cesar Milan has a thorough understanding of dog behavior and the difficulties that dogs get into when their owners don't understand dog behavior. Invariably the people involved are trying to treat the dog more like people than like dogs. People need to be the leader of their pack and with a dog as part of their environment, they are part of a pack, whether they like to think of it that way or not. And sometimes the people with the dog hasn't any idea what the characteristics of their dog's breed are. You can't expect a retriever breed to not have urges to retrieve. You also can't expect a dog without sufficient outlets for its energy to be very happy for very long. Dogs in that situation tend to *find* outlets for their energy, which may involve eating your shoes, chewing your furniture and jumping all over everybody.

In this particular episode of The Dog Whisperer, Cesar will work with the family who owed Marley, of Marley and Me fame. Apparently their current dog, Gracie, ate one of their other pets (a chicken). As you might expect, this is causing some disharmony in the household.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Weather Woes

Well, I'm not particularly woeful. Unlike the people on the radio, I personally don't call a high temp of 40 degrees anything even close to being "arctic". The weather we're experiencing isn't really winter to me, you see. The daily high temperature exceeds freezing. Heck, it exceeds 45 degrees most days. *And* the sun comes out.

Winter to me is a high temperature in the 20s or just barely exceeding freezing. Cold enough that your nostrils stick when you inhale deeply. Cold enough that wet hair freezes, then rattles when you shake your head. Cold enough that snow squeaks. Snow which may accumulate to 4-6 inches and stay for a week or so before a warmer day melts it away. Gray, dirty snow to match the gray skies and drab, dull landscape. That was the part I didn't like. The dirty, drab, dull gray landscape that seemed devoid of all color. By February it seemed to drain the life out of a person. And it didn't actually snow all that often, just threatened to do so thus the gray clouds. Perhaps if I'd lived some place cold with mountains or better winter weather (e.g. more sunny days), winter wouldn't have seemed to drag on quite so long.

Then again with "winter" temps here in the 40s, I'm going to be mighty impatient about the arrival of spring since according to my internal thermometer, this is April weather. We're not even to the SuperBowl yet. Though at least the sun is still up at 5pm now.

In the meantime, I'm still waiting for winter to arrive here. I don't think I'll be using the snowboard or the cross-country skis any time soon....

Cricket Census
Back to one cricket again. Cricket #2 and Cricket #3 didn't make it through the night. Which is causing me to wonder if perhaps Cricket #1 emits/secretes some sort of anti-cricket substance that just knocks off all his "competitors".

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You Know You're Weird When....

you are given a 7000 line spreadsheet at work on your birthday and you think that's just about the greatest thing since sliced bread. The good news is that the actual number of individuals in that spreadsheet is closer to 2000, which is a slightly more manageable dataset. The bad news is that removing duplication in the list will be rather time consuming.

On the other hand, a co-worker has informed me that she will indeed kill me if I ever say that I'm bored or need something to do. Hee hee hee!

Birthday Birthday!
Technically, the big day was yesterday. Dr. G congratulated me on turning 5 years old and insists on telling everybody I'm *old*. He turns 5 years old next week. I figure if I act one week more immature than he does we'll be even, though I would be giving up the age advantage in bullying.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MICHAEL TOO! I haven't a clue if Michael is older or younger than me, being that he's one of those inscrutable Asians.

Better than Sliced Bread
It's sliced peanut butter!!

Pet Cricket Update

The current cricket population is 3. I'd started out with one. THen found a second cricket over the weekend, which died on Sunday. Yesterday I found another second cricket, which I think may also be about to die (it's very sluggish). Last night while looking at Cricket #2, I found Cricket #3! Still no chirping. Cricket #1 still goes all over the house. He must be some sort of ultramarathoner to be touring all the rooms in the house some days *and* climbing drapes.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Morning

Today's Entertaining Quote:
There was an interview with Jon Bon Jovi this morning on CBS Sunday Morning. He owns an arena football team. Someone asked him what position he'd play. He replied (laughing), "Quarterback, of course. I'm an egomaniacal leader of men." When asked if that means he can take a hit, he quickly responded "NO!" It was pretty funny. It's nice to see people not take themselves too seriously.

"Good" Debt?
I'm trying to figure out how student loan debt is considered "good". When that payment is taken out of my checking account, I don't see much good about it. I suppose I should get used to it, since I owe 6 figures worth of student loans. I suppose I should have chosen a career with major salary figures, instead of a career that I like. I really don't see how a single person can make their way financially in the world today. I don't have the luxury of pooling savings or splitting expenses like mortgage and utilities. I have absolutely no retirement investments and in theory I'd retire in about 25 years. Needless to say I'm not sure I'll ever actually get the luxury of retirement. I suspect I'll need to work until I die to make ends meet. And here I thought that putting in 12 years into a college education and finally graduating was going to actually help my financial situation improve. So far, there's no significant change.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Avalanche!

US Hwy 40 is now closed through Berthoud Pass, Colorado. Due to a bit of a snow roadblock. Estimates are the main avalanche area is 15 feet deep in snow and about 100 feet across. It's not clear if any vehicles were swept off the road or, if they were swept over the edge, how many were involved. That would be an interesting insurance claim to file. Cause of accident: avalanche. I'd bet the insurance adjusters don't see that come across their desk very often.

Idiot news person quote of the day:
"I guess they said it came from the top somewhere." when she commented on the avalanche path. Apparently in newsgirl school they didn't discuss the law of gravity or its application in avalanche conditions. Hint: avalanches do NOT flow UP HILL.

Interesting Road Viewing Today:
There is a semi turned on its side on the bypass today. I'm not quite sure how they managed to do that. It's on a straight stretch of road. They were off-loading the stuff on the truck when I drove by. It looked like cases of Coke, but I didn't exactly slow down to look. I'd say the truck either swerved hard to avoid hitting some silly driver or there was an issue with wind, though I don't recall it being windy last night and I doubt they'd have left the truck lay there since Thursday night, blocking two lanes of traffic.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bad CSI!! Bad! Bad!

"This is pupal stage three, the third stage of metamorphosis from a larva." Pupa does not equal larva. There can be multiple larval stages. There is a single pupal stage. The writers need to do a bit more research. I wonder if they're hiring....

Low Key Weekend
I figure I'll do the errands first thing in the morning (groceries, take books back to library, pick up my iPod from the office), then wash and vacuum the car (barring any rain). If the weather is good, perhaps I'll hang out on the deck. It's been raining pretty hard the past two days, so yardwork is out of the question. I suppose I could plan my garden and other landscaping for spring. I am looking forward to not doing much of anything for most of Saturday. I'll plan Sunday when Sunday gets here.

Cricket is presently climbing the living room drapes.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

TA DAAAA!!!!!

I so *totally* rock! The work I have done in the past two weeks was praised by several different people from two different state agencies. *squee*! :o)

This is all wonderful, but we all know the reward for good work, right? Yep, that's it! *MORE* work!! I was going to do most of the work already and only really had just a few extra tasks given to me today. Conveniently, most of the work I need to do depends upon getting a bunch of data sent to me already mostly formatted in a way that I can use. It would be much quicker if I had access to their databases and wrote the queries myself, but I can wait a few days to get the complete dataset I need.

I guess it's a good thing that I love what I do. It's always easier to do lots of work when you think it's really just playing and you can't believe that people will actually *pay* you to play. (Before you ask, I already know that I'm wierd.)

San Quentin is *CLOSED*!
Starting around December 28th, 500 inmates and 6 staff developed gastroenteritis. Yep, you guessed it. NOROVIRUS strikes again! It's not just for cruise ships any more! No visitors, no intake, nothing. Officials expect the facility to remain closed for the next week.

Tonight's CSI quote:
"I'll be back in four weeks. Stop hugging me!" from Grissom after Nick hugged him good-bye and thank him for teaching him so much stuff. What made it really funny was the rather "wet cat", annoyed way in which Grissom said it. Grissom is going on sabbatical. The lab has been speculating that he won't be coming back. I guess we'll have to wait and see whether he does or not.

This week's news flash:
Congress will now work *five* days a week! I guess I can see the appeal of having been in Congress up until now. You didn't have to put in a full week and you could accept whatever "gifts" you wanted to take from whomever you wanted. Heck you could even steal postage! Now that the ethics committee is cracking down on things it kinda takes the fun out of it for the career Congresspersons, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Full Moon!

Look what I saw this morning when I got up! The moon was rising as I drove home tonight. I think I'll be able to get a good night's sleep even if it is a full moon tonight.

Still No Knitting
I did finally steam block my lace scarf, if that counts for anything. It does look a whole lot better now. I had initially just wet-blocked it, but not steamed it. Once I wore it, it curled up. The end result was that it formed a narrow tube about 3 inches across that was 12-18 inches longer than the original scarf. Now I have a scarf that is about 7-8 inches across and isn't a mile long. I don't know how long it will stay that way, but for now its quite nice. I do think I will choose to wear it folded in half with the ends tucked through the loop rather than just winding it around my neck. I think that will help it hold its shape.

My Kiri is sitting forlornly on the table waiting for me to get back to it. I still haven't fixed the error from last week. I think it only needs just 2-3 more repeats before it will be as big as I'd like it. It's not that I'm not motivated to work on it. It's that life has gotten in the way lately. I get the daily stuff like dinner, laundry and blogging done and suddenly it's nearly bedtime or I'm too brain dead to work on it without messing it up. Perhaps next week I'll squeeze in a bit more time. I think I can finish the shawl in the next couple of weeks.

Next I'll hammer out a few more hats for the Dulaan Project. I had knit two hats, but then discovered that the larger of the two fit my nephew Ryan. I just stuck it on his head at my Mom's house to see if it fit. He wore it for a while, then pulled it off. Later, when it was time for him to go he pulled it back on and then went looking for his coat. That was good enough for me. If it fits and he'll wear it, it's his. It's not like I can't make more of them. :o)

I don't know what I will pick as my next major project. I suppose I could finish any of the three pairs of socks that are in progress. I haven't worked on any of them in weeks. All of them are first socks too. The red lace ones have been in progress for at least two years. It's either work on the socks or pull out one of the winter sweaters that I've got started. I'd like to finish up some WsIP before I start something new like another shawl.

Cricket Update
Cricket is still wandering around. I accidentally threw him across the room over the weekend. He had climbed to the top of the bedroom drapes and when I pulled the drapes open, I threw him to the floor. He crawled away and didn't seem to be affected by this bit of adventure, despite falling what would have been several hundred feet to a human. Last night he was hanging out in my pile of clean laundry and had to be shaken off one of my new dishtowels so I could fold it. Later in the evening he was back in the living room checking things out. Still no chirping.

More Geekage
I got caught reading on my lunch break. It's not that it was a bad thing that I was reading since it was my lunch break. It's that my colleagues asked me about the book I was reading and offered to find me something else to read if I was reading my chosen book for fun, rather than for work. I said I was reading it because I needed to be able to mess with a server since I'm the webmaster for several sites. They all started bowing when I said "master". Now, if only I could get the servers to listen that well.... The book? Unix for the Impatient. I wonder what they'll say when I take in learning perl or Linux System Administration and Networking. :o)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Good Bit of Advice

"If you're going to cook food, it's really important that you don't scratch your butt."

I caught that bit of advice when channel surfing past "Real Housewives of Orange County". Slade was trying to explain to his 5 year old son why said son needed to wash his hands again (after washing them just 30 seconds before he scratched his behind). Son's reply was "But it was itchy!" I don't know how Slade kept a mostly straight face while agreeing that his butt probably was itchy and still managed to impress upon his son that he needed to wash his hands again anyway. I'd have been laughing. It was a cute moment, but also a fine opportunity for learning and I think Slade capitalized on that.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Not a Good Start to Things

Spent most of last night and today trying to install software so I could game today with the group. Ran into all sorts of troubles. (I find it "amusing" that Windows XP says that MS's very own DirectX is not safe to install.) I *finally* got the game to run right and even ran around a little bit. I just can't install any of the plug-ins that would enable me to cast my own buffs or see what loot is on corpses without searching them. Sent e-mail indicating that I was having trouble to the group (which includes the three biggest geeks I know) and asked for help. Got no response.

Gaming was supposed to happen today "afternoonish". It's now after 5pm. If I had to guess I'd say the guys decided to game and didn't bother to tell me about it. I had really been looking forward to doing something interactive with someone besides myself and looking forward to gaming with the guys for the first time in probably two years. I am apparently supposed to magically know when to jump in to the game and where to find people. This is the same issue that came up repeatedly when I lived in the same town as everybody else. They would manage to contact each other and arrange for a group meal, but they were unable to call me or send me e-mail that gaming is about to commence. I truly do not understand how one additional phone call or e-mail is such a terrible burden. I really wish I could convince people that I am *NOT* psychic.

My head is killing me and I'm in a foul mood. What a great way to start a new year. Yippee. And I haven't gotten any knitting or spinning done. I think this makes an even dozen of crummy starts to the New Year. At least I didn't get any phone calls last night or today telling me all about the party I didn't get invited to. Ugh.