Thursday, January 31, 2008

Icy Morning

Well, the roads weren't bad this morning. It was wet, but not icy. Of course, at 5am, the air temperature was just above freezing, so I wasn't too surprised about the lack of ice. Nearly all the schools in the region were closed, so traffic wasn't as heavy as usual.

In contrast, my deck was frozen pretty nicely. The picture isn't all that great, but you can see icicles on the grill and the deck rail. The birdseed on the railing was encased in ice, but I figured it melted pretty quickly.

The rain continued throughout the day and turned to freezing rain for a little bit this afternoon. Freezing rain and snow are expected to continue this evening, but little accumulation should occur, unlike back in Champaign-Urbana where 8 inches are expected by tomorrow afternoon. Crummy weather days like that were always fun when I worked for the ambulance company. We actually got to work trauma/car accidents and the number of transfers between hospitals and nursing homes was very limited.

This evening, I am ensconced in my favorite chair, watching Donovan's Reef on DVD, drinking a big mug of decaf and trying to figure out what I want to knit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Windy Night

Not only was it rainy last night, apparently there was significant wind damage in the county when the front went through. There were several thousand folks without power and a couple people at the office had trees down in their yards or neighborhoods. The power at my house flickered a few times and made the UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) shriek, but never did go completely out or even make the alarm clock lose its time. I was a good girl though and shut down the desktop computer, just in case things did drop. All the trees at my house came through with no damage and no shingles were lifted on my roof. One of the gates in the wooden fence was blown open this morning (no damage, just open) and the lids to the compost bin had blown off, but that's not exactly damage.

Rumor has it, there will be freezing rain and sleet tonight, so the drive to work tomorrow could be "interesting". I'll get up a bit earlier than usual to give myself a bit of extra time. There may be some snow accumulation on Friday. It was already being discussed as a "Weather Event" on the radio and at least a few of the network TV channels are advertising having up-to-date school closing information announcements when the snow comes. I suspect White Death 2008 will end up being largely a non-event, but I'm going to avoid the grocery store anyway.

Taxing Days are Here Again
(yeah, ok. bad pun. shoot me.) I think I've gotten all the necessary tax forms from all the necessary organizations/agencies to do my taxes for 2007. Now I just need to track down the appropriate forms. Maybe this weekend I'll do a draft of my 2007 return. While I'm at it, I really ought to start up the Quicken stuff again. It was nice having my accounts listed and organized when I did it and not too much trouble when I kept it up to date. I liked having instant balance information to check against the online bank records and the tracking of expenses for budgeting was nice too. I've been putting it off since I moved 18 months ago.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rainy Day

It was a wee bit rainy today. It actually brightened up for the drive home, then the next line of storms rolled through. This was the worst of it, looking out the back door. It was raining sideways at the time. It brightened up again afterward, but I took the photo through the door, thus the distortion from the water on the glass.


Shoulder Update
The old shoulder seems to be getting a bit better. I've been working out most days and paying particular attention to working my back so as to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint. This seems to be helping. While I'm at it, I've been hopping on the trainer a couple days a week too. I'm about to the point where my seatbones are ok with spending a half hour in the saddle at a time, so that's good. I certainly feel better with the regular exercise.

There has been one casualty, however. My "lumpy" died. Somewhere between five and ten years ago I sewed a small pillow out of cotton canvas and filled it with raw white rice. Throwing this lumpy into the microwave for a few minutes yields a hot pack that stayed hot for at least an hour. It was the perfect tool for soothing muscle spasms in my neck, treating an aggravated shoulder or warming up cold feet. Earlier this week, I had put the lumpy in my bed to make a warm spot for my feet. While fidgeting and reading, it felt like there was grit under the sheets. I whipped the blankets back and looked, but didn't see anything. The next morning, there was a small pile of rather orange-colored rice. There was indeed a worn spot in the pillow that allowed what used to be white rice out. Apparently years of cooking dry rice in the microwave causes it to discolor. So the lumpy has been retired after many years of very appreciated service. I'll have to dig out some fabric and the sewing machine in the next couple of weeks and make a new one.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Foggy Mornings

Of course I don't have any good pictures of it, but today is a lovely foggy morning. Despite the clouds and fog, it's really quite bright out. This is the sort of morning I really liked when I worked at the track. You could hear the horses galloping, but you couldn't see them coming and then suddenly they'd emerge out of the fog. Sounds carry differently in fog, though I cannot explain why the extra moisture in the air would do that. It doesn't seem like rain causes sound distortion in that way.

I think the perfect foggy morning would involve a bay window looking out over a lake, a big mug of coffee, a comfortable chair and a good book. Alas, I have only two of the four necessities, but I did look out across the backyard for a while as I drank my coffee.

Biscotti Weekend
For some unknown reason, I got into a biscotti kick. I started with cinnamon biscotti, though I tried to out-think the recipe and nearly ended up with an inedible end product. The recipe said to form the dough into two logs. I didn't think there was enough dough to make two logs, so I made one, which then did not cook well and remained spongy after the alloted baking time. I was able to salvage things by baking a bit longer, then baking the cut biscotti longer than the recipe said. There was still a slight metallic/baking powder taste in the final product though this was obscured when I dipped the biscotti in my coffee. A second attempt at the biscotti was much more successful. Today I made triple chocolate biscotti (cocoa in the dough, plus chopped semi-sweet and white chocolate) and I have a batch of maple-pecan biscotti in the oven now. Add that to the remains of the whole-wheat peanut butter cookies, and it's a plethora of sweets!

Of course, what I really needed to make was a batch of anise biscotti and use up some of the anise seed I bought for holiday baking, but I didn't quite get to that. Maybe tomorrow night.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Discussion of Ice and Roads

Overheard at the grocery store: "It's 35 degrees and I didn't know when the bridges would freeze." Well, I don't know exactly either, but I can tell you they won't freeze until the air temperature gets to 32 degrees. Bridges do freeze before roads, but for any ice formation the temperature still has to drop to 32 degrees. Roads may not ice over until a lower temperature because the ground underneath the road helps keeps the road surface warmer. It takes longer for the ground temperature effect to be overcome by the cold air temp. Bridges freeze earlier because they have only air underneath them and are able to cool faster than the roads.

So, how do you drive safely on a potentially icy or snowy road? Contrary to local opinion, it's not impossible or else NYC, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cleveland, Buffalo, Denver, Montana and other places north would be completely paralyzed most of each winter. My advice: slow down and increase your following distance. The purpose of a decent following distance with bad road conditions is the same as with good road conditions: to provide you with enough time and distance to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of you. I realize that you are an excellent driver, have the reflexes of a superhero and can move your foot from the gas pedal to the brake at the speed of light, but I'm willing to bet your car won't go from 70 mph to zero in less than 20 feet. My *motorcycle* won't do that and it only weighs a couple hundred pounds. If you have a following distance that is shorter than your stopping distance, you're going to hit the vehicle in front of you if it happens to stop or even slow down suddenly for any reason.

What is a good following distance? For dry, clear road conditions, at least two seconds between cars and maybe three when following a motorcycle or truck. For wet or slick road conditions, I usually double that. When you're following a truck, you should at least be able to see the driver's side mirror and not just when you pull to the left side of the lane. While you're at it, refrain from passing trucks on the right and from hanging out in their blind spots. If you cannot see the driver in the mirror, figure they cannot see you. Despite popular rumor, you can indeed maintain decent following distance even in busy traffic situations. I've managed to do it in downtown Chicago during peak summer traffic, you can manage it in a city of 60,000 during the "rush hour". It's not a race. It's ok if other cars are in front of you.

End the lecture/rant/public service announcement for the day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Second Post of the Day, in which I Solve *TWO* of the World's Problems

First, I have figured out how to fix the US economy. It apparently needs stimulation and growth. The answer to this problem appeared in my inbox and the solution seems obvious: Viagra and Enzyte. That ought to get the economy up and make it more "enhanced".

Second, I have figured out how to pay for the "Economic Stimulus Package" (which again sounds like someone is in need of a larger penis or at least some batteries). Rather than spending tens of millions of dollars a week on the war in Iraq, either directly to the military or to contractors, a fraction of that money could be diverted to fix the economy. Besides, wouldn't you think buying ammunition and other war toys would somehow figure into *adding* money to the economy? Or perhaps this exercise is just proving that the only people benefiting from the war are the defense contractors.

(Which is not to say that I do not support the troops, because I do. I also think some leadership changes in certain countries needed to be made. OTOH, me thinks having a plan to end the exercise at some point might be a good idea, but what do I know.)

It's a shopping spree!

I was amused to hear that when the wall between Gaza and Egypt was blown up this morning, tens of thousands of Gaza residents streamed into Egypt to purchase various products in short supply in Gaza. The list of items observed in the NPR broadcast included cooking oil, cheese, other miscellaneous food items and cement mix. Cement mix? It seemed so out of place with all the other food items. I cannot imagine hauling 100 pound bags of cement more than 20 yards, never mind going to a foreign country to get some. Perhaps they intend to replace the wall once everybody has a chance to re-stock their larders.

The second bizarre NPR observation today:
"...this shows that there are philosophical differences between the two [main political] parties." Well, what sort of differences did you expect to exist between parties? I suppose there might be some socio-economic and demographic differences, but wouldn't the big differences be in philosophy? I never took a political science course, so I really don't know for certain but I thought that was amusing and a rather obvious, probably meaningless observation.

Odd Anti-viral Product of the Week
The Kleenex company has introduced an anti-viral tissue. It says it is "moisture-activated". I suppose that's the polite way of saying "snot-activated". I sincerely hope this new invention doesn't lure people into thinking they don't need to wash their hands after blowing/wiping their noses.

Oh, what a different age makes....
This evening, I stopped by the grocery store to purchase "feminine products". (Don't you just love euphemisms!) I quickly found what I needed, plus a package of frozen bagels, then went through the self-check lane. Everything worked smoothly. Until I got to the theft detection sensor at the exit door. Lights and bells go off. The door watcher breaks into a grin and says "What are you trying to steal?" I hold open my bag and say "Tampons and bagels." She laughs. Apparently tampons are a high-risk item when it comes to shoplifting. Anyway, this whole incident would have COMPLETELY traumatized me as a teenager. Heck, I'd have tried to avoid making the purchase myself if at all possible. Now I don't really care if the world knows I have a functional reproductive tract. Oddly enough one of the women at work was embarrassed when our clinic doc brought feminine products from home (he was cleaning out the bathroom cabinet since the newly ex-wife moved out) and asked if any of us could use them. It really surprised me that she was embarrassed about it.

I Have More Fashion Sense than a Four Year Old!
I wish I had a picture of this outfit. Here is what my sister described my niece wearing last weekend: blue jeans, a pink Disney Princesses PJ top, a flowered vest, Hello Kitty! socks on her feet, striped Disney Princess knee socks on her hands/arms and her brother's Spider Man hat on her head. I would have never worn that outfit. You should *never* combine multiple cartoon characters in the same outfit. She should have just stuck with the Princesses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I am a cheese junkie

Yes, when I have a less than spectacular day. I want CHEESE. Today I drove in to town for the express purpose of buying the makings for a cheese sammich. Two cheese sammiches later (sharp cheddar, dill pickles and mustard on dark rye), I feel a whole lot better. Of course, I figure out what I really wanted more than halfway through the day, but better late than never.

In other food news, the vegetable soup I made yesterday doesn't taste very yummy. It isn't bad, but it's not something I'm going to want to eat every day for the next week. Of course, I have LOTS of it, given that soup made in a crockpot seems to quadruple in quantity after it is taken out of said crock. I'll have to peruse the cookbook collection to see if I can somehow transmogrify it into something else. Dumping a bunch of chili powder into it would at least turn it into a sort of chili. Chili with potatoes and carrots, but still chili.

And I didn't bake any bread, but I do have whole wheat peanut butter cookies in the oven at the moment. Does that count?

Superbowl Plans
I'm no longer horribly excited about the upcoming Superbowl. I had hoped that Green Bay would win last night, but the Giants prevailed in overtime. The Packers just couldn't move the ball down the field and I don't think I saw more than a handful of passes end up complete. I don't want the Patriots to win the Superbowl, but I"m not sure the Giants can defeat them. Of course, the way Green Bay played last night, I'm not sure they could either. Then again, the fact that the temperature was -4 degrees last night might have some impact on the performance level, though one would assume that the Giants would also have been negatively impacted.

There was a hilarious fumble recovery attempt in the 4th quarter. There must have been four or five players who pushed, bumped or kicked the ball on the ground, but were unable to actually grab it, thanks to numb, uncooperative fingers. Finally everybody just dove onto the ball and the first body over it got the recovery. Nearly all the players on the field ended up in the pile so I suspect at least some of them only dove in to take advantage of group body warmth, not to actually capture the ball (which was already underneath four or five other players). The officials seemed to have some difficulty breaking up the tackle pile, which also makes me think it was a warmth thing.

Of course, despite my disappointment with the line up for the Superbowl, I will still watch the game. Well, to be precise, I will be watching the commercials. I will listen occasionally to the game, but will only stop whatever else I am doing to watch the commercials. With any luck this will be a good year for them. Last year was somewhat disappointing, even for the Budweiser commercials.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Noisy Birds!

Only two "birdies", but they did fly straight over the top of my house. I came out the back door and looked straight up at the belly of the first one. I *love* the sound of low-flying Hueys! The side doors were closed so I didn't wave.

I have gotten most of my "work" done today and now have two days left to goof off. I had planned to have my usual weekend breakfast out this morning, but the Perkins parking lot was packed so I skipped it for today. Maybe tomorrow. I did cook hashed browns at home and maybe I'll make pancakes for dinner, so I'm eating the same food I'd have eaten out anyway. I do have a big pot of vegetable soup in the crockpot and I may bake bread tomorrow. The house smells yummy!

An Interesting Perspective
The other day, I overheard someone state that a woman's wedding day was the most important day of her whole life. My mind boggled. I guess I figured there would be larger accomplishments in a woman's life than wearing a dress, having dinner and eating cake. I suppose it boggles the mind of people here that shopping, the right outfits and hair/make-up aren't my highest priorities.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I am a *bad* girl

You see, I failed to tell all my co-workers that my mom had elective surgery last week. Apparently this is a Big Deal. Mind you, my mom didn't seem to think so, given that it went well and it's not like it was an emergency or something wrong. So today I got "yelled" at for not telling people until over a week later and the office gift fund is sending my mom flowers. We got a chuckle out of it when I called to let her know to expect a delivery and to make sure she'd be home.

In local culture, it's apparently not "normal" for family members to go out of town without notifying everybody in the known universe first. It's apparently also not completely normal to not speak with one's parents 6-12 times a week. I've already heard the nasty things my co-workers say about the "ungrateful, horrible children" who don't call their relatives as often as the consensus seems to say they must, so I imagine I'm one of the "bad ones" there too. We've always managed to get along just fine with an average of one phone call every week or two and mentioning weekend trips within a week after they're over. With cell phones, it's not like anybody's really unreachable these days. I figure if we're all ok with the present system and it works for us, who cares what other people think?

RIP Dr. Macleod
I learned today that another of my favorite professors has passed away in the past year. Roderick Macleod taught Immunology for many many years and retired in 2001 after 43 years of service. His class was incredibly interesting and he was an engaging lecturer. The lectures combined basic information with information from research papers published just a week or two before the lecture was given. He was particularly fond of telling people that their immunology textbook was out of date before they ever purchased it, even if it was only published two weeks ago, because the field is constantly changing.

The exams Dr. Macleod gave were challenging and inevitably asked questions about journal articles we hadn't read, but the questions were structured in a way that if you knew the basics of immunology, you could figure out the answer to the question. I remember struggling in one exam with a question about some new discovery regarding the immune system of horses, in which we were supposed to hypothesize how we thought a particular pathway might work, based upon what we knew about the JAK-STAT pathway. I had a long several minutes of frustration and panic during which I nearly convinced myself that I would never be able to answer the question, when I heard Dr. Macleod's voice in my head ask me what I knew about JAK-STAT. So I wrote that down and then looked at what other small chunks of the question I knew something about. By breaking it all down, I was able to actually reason my way through the question and ended up with the same hypothesis that the investigators posed in their paper. In other words, the exams actually tested what you had learned and expected you to think, rather than vomit memorized factoids onto the page. Because of this, the majority of the students hated the class and considered it to be impossibly and unnecessarily difficult. Several cellular biology students I knew were greatly relieved when Dr. Macleod retired and they didn't have to take the class from him.

The semester I took immunology (spring 1996), Peter Doherty and Rolf Zinkernagel won the Nobel Prize in medicine for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defense and how the immune system recognizes cells which have become infected with viruses. Dr. Macleod lectured about their discovery and explained how it worked. (Dr. Macleod was particularly fond of "sexy macrophages" and "sexy T-cells".) Later in the semester, Dr. Doherty gave a lecture on campus about his work and I was proudly able to understand the entire lecture because of what I had learned in Dr. Macleod's class. I also had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Doherty, along with several other grad students in my department, and even asked some reasonably intelligent questions about his research and subsequent discoveries in immunology (or at least he said they were good questions). All because of what I learned from Dr. Macleod. I still occasionally hear his voice (and that of my calculus professor, Dr. Heinie Halberstam) when I get stuck on a problem and try to tell myself I'll never be able to solve it. Then I look at what parts of the question I can answer and chip away at it until I get the whole thing solved. Thank you Dr. Macleod.

Dr. Macleod died September 3rd on the Isle of Lewis. He was 70 years old.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vocabulary Pet Peeves

Do not make fun of people who say "aks" instead of "ask" if you say "excape" instead of "escape".

It's not a "thermal infrared camera". That would be redundant. It's either thermal *or* infrared. You'd think a show on the National Geographic Channel would know better.

I caught about 30 seconds of "Flip This House" this evening and managed to hear the word "relitor" instead of "realtor". I wonder if that has anything to do with the owners/flippers being unable to sell their house?

"Jewlery" instead of "jewelry" is the other word in common usage that drives me crazy and don't get me started on "nucular". Every time I hear someone say "nucular" I hear Professor Dale Van Harlingen tell those of us in his physics 101 course that he'll flunk us if we say "nucular" instead of "nuclear". I really wish Prof Van Harlingen would get a chance to meet President Bush.

I do believe that one of the reasons I don't watch much television. The inaccurate use or pronunciation of language just drives me bonkers.

Oh, My Aching Seatbones!
But it's a good thing! I spent 20 minutes on the bike last night and had a good workout. Tonight I stretched really well and I'll do some crunches. I'd like to do pushups but ye olde shoulder still doesn't like them. I tried stretching out my shoulder last night while laying on my stomach and it's unhappy with me today. I think I will have to break down and see a doc about it. It's been a couple months and doesn't seem to be getting much better.

Go Ender's Shadow!
I highly recommend this audiobook if you're at all a fan of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. There are four voices in the Ender's Shadow audiobook and it's very well read. It's just like storytime!!! Right now Bean, the protagonist, is tormenting the adults by refusing to play their psychological games. It's interesting to see/hear a different perspective on the events at Battle School during Ender's stay there. I spent five hours listening last night and will probably get in at least 3 1/2 hours tonight. It's great as a backdrop to my knitting and I would much prefer to listen to audiobooks than to watch television.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

*SQUEE*!

I have the evening to myself and one of my favorite movies is on TCM--The Bridge on the River Kwai. I get to watch Sir Alec Guinness be incredibly British and slightly insane. It's a wonderful reminder to me of the perils of absolutely doing your best under all circumstances. In case you hadn't seen the film, Sir Alec plays a British army officer who is a WWII POW held in SE Asia. The detainees are being forced to build a railroad bridge for the Japanese. Sir Alec's character, Colonel Nicholson, figures out that the bridge is not being built properly and cannot tolerate the possibility that a bridge built by British army engineers might fail, so he re-designs it and takes over the construction project for the Japanese camp commander, thus ensuring that the Japanese military will have a workable train line through the jungle. The dawning realization of what he's done and the horror on his face make this one of Sir Alec's best performances.

Watching Sir Alec as Colonel Nicholson reminds me a great deal of the character Higgins that Jonathan Hillerman played on Magnum, P.I. Very proper and absolutely expecting that things will be done just so. Short of death, there appears to be no acceptable excuse for failing to do anything properly.

I believe I will knit on my sorely neglected Swan Lake stole for the duration and fix a nice pot of tea, since we have a bit of British cinema.

As an aside, the autobiography of Sir Alec, entitled My Name Escapes Me, is a pretty good read if you like to read memoirs.

What is it with lists?

When I have a lot of things to do or that I want to do, I need to write a list to keep on track. While I am rather a technophile and have access to leaving lists on e-mail, websites, blogs and my handy dandy smartphone, I much prefer to have a daily to-do list on a piece of paper. There is something viscerally satisfying about crossing something off my list that an electronic check box simply cannot provide. I have even been known to write down things on my list that I have already done, but failed to put on the list at the beginning of the day, just so I can cross them off. I guess I like to demonstrate that I have indeed accomplished something with my time and energies. That physical evidence as a result of time spent is part of what I find rewarding about knitting. Perhaps it's my way of making some sort of visible dent in the world, even if it is just a list of things to do.

Yet, there is something about cleaning jobs and lists that makes them somehow incompatible. Invariably when I have a lot of cleaning to do, I don't do as much of it when I write it down on a list. Somehow the act of writing the cleaning tasks down makes them seem more like work and less appealing. I will, in fact, do even nastier cleaning tasks to avoid whatever is on the list. Today I cleaned the inside of my car's windshield and the dash/console. On my way from the garage back into the house, I washed the window in the garage/kitchen door, the door itself and the door frame. Then I moved on to the back door and it's windows and frame. Next was the pantry door, the coat closet and then, for a reason that is still not clear to me, the baseboards on the right side of the hallway. I really need to go back and do the baseboards again with a toothbrush since the accumulated dust and dirt were pretty resistant to a cloth and cleaner.

So, what was on my cleaning list for today? Vacuuming the house, cleaning the bathrooms (which really is mostly dusting in the guest bathroom) and sweeping/mopping the kitchen floor. And I'd rather detail the baseboards. No, I haven't put "clean the baseboards and doors" on my list. Yet.

Audiobooks of the week
I spent most of the week listening and re-listening to a couple of HP Lovecraft stories at work. I kept finding myself tuning out occasionally and missing bits so I ended up going back and re-listening. At the moment I'm listening to Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card and learning the origins of the character Bean.

Tonight's Dinner
I will make an artichoke and root vegetable gratin from The Vegan Planet with a big leafy green salad and some toast. This is one of the two dishes I bought the ingredients for about two weeks ago, but never got around to cooking. Well, it's time to get the cooking done before the veggies go bad. Shallots are expensive, you know. The other dish is a saute of winter squash and adzuki beans. The beans soaked overnight and now just need to be cooked. I'll use the cooking water from parboiling the gratin veggies to cook the beans to add a bit of added flavor.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just because we're short on rain

DOESN'T mean we need to make up that deficit in a single day!!! Several inches of rain fell here this morning. Some of the roads were reportedly covered by 18 inches of water. Of course, several of us were out driving in it doing a site visit. (Well, I was driving, but several of us had to zip between car and building in the rain.) Now the yard is all squelchy, which makes it kind of fun to walk around.

HBD to me!!
Yesterday was my birthday. I have completed yet another trip around the sun. A cyberfriend "sent" me a cake. I took myself out to lunch at a yummy sandwich shop where I had a grilled portabello mushroom wrap. When I got home, there was a small package from my Dad and stepmom waiting for me (earrings and a lovely bar of lavendar soap). I caught up on phone calls with my sister and my mom, then wrapped up the day opening the box that Twitchh sent me. That box turned out to be half full of DVDs off my wish list and half full of t-shirts from this year's SuperComputing conference. Yay!

D*** the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!
I've given up on making excuses for my shoulder. I'm just going to start working out. I'll do as much as my shoulder will tolerate and work around its abilities. I will not delay working out any longer. I can either use lighter weights to prevent causing more trouble for that shoulder or I can focus more on cardio workouts, if necessary.

I also have devised a new evening schedule that incorporates working out. I used to always think I'd get up early and workout before work. This happened occasionally but not regularly. I realized just the other day that I have about 5.5 hours every evening to do with as I wish. That ought to give me plenty of time to get in a workout PLUS reading/website work/knitting. I really can't make excuses any longer. Rather than picking which days of the week I will workout, I'm going to follow my buddy Twitchh's approach and just focus on getting in 3-4 days per week on whichever days work best for me. That way I cannot beat myself up for missing any given day since I don't have a specific schedule. I think this plan has a high probability of success.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Original Bumbling Detective

Inspector Clouseau, of course. Turner Classic Movies is showing four of the Pink Panther movies this evening. I'm presently watching my favorite of all the Pink Panther movies, The Pink Panther Strikes Again. At the moment, the Inspector's former boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfuss, having recently escaped from an asylum, is bent on trying to kill Inspector Clouseau. By the end of the movie, Chief Inspector Dreyfuss (played most excellently by Herbert Lom) will soon vaporize the U.N. building. ("I want a crater! Twisted wreckage!")

Although Austin Powers has certainly achieved greater, or at least more recent, popularity, I believe that character is neither as well developed nor as well-presented as Inspector Clouseau. Clouseau is inept, yet also successful with the ladies, without having to resort to crude jokes and situations. The various disguises that Peter Sellers uses (hunchback, utility worker) aren't terribly clever in appearance, but he plays them so earnestly and charmingly. The sight gags and physical comedy, particularly the sparring sessions with Cato (played by Bert Kwouk), are hilarious. If you haven't at least seen The Pink Panther Strikes Again, you should rent the DVD. It's certainly not a cerebral movie, but it is definitely entertaining.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Think Someone Didn't Understand....

quite what this sign meant. Or else had a "target fixation" problem.


When it was first run over, the fire hydrant standing there was laying in the ditch about 20 feet beyond the sign. The hydrant was replaced the same day. The sign has remained as you see it for a couple weeks now. It's a wonder, I suppose, that other people haven't missed the curve since the sign isn't able to do its job very well.

In other driving news, the cement pillars at Wal-Mart/Sam's were all vertical on Friday, having been re-set to their proper vertical orientation and position. I predict that at least one of them will be mostly horizontal by the end of the week.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Book and Health Food Fix!

I had a bit of a road trip today. I hit the "local" Borders and then went to the Wild Oats store which is a couple miles further down the road. ("Local" here is defined as being a 90 minute drive.) I successfully returned two books and then picked up three more books, a calendar, a magazine and a CD. I now own Veganomicon (a vegan cookbook), two CSS books (that's cascading style sheets, which are used in websites), a small Van Gogh calendar for work, the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Handwoven and the Allison Krauss/Robert Plant CD. At Wild Oats, I had a yummy grilled veggie sandwich for lunch. I also picked up a couple pounds of wasabi peas for snacks, plus spelt flour, whole wheat bread flour, raw pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and steel cut oats. I thought about getting some tempeh or some cheese, but decided against it.

When I came out of Wild Oats, I found a "friend" hanging out on the windshield. I thought he'd fly off once I started moving. He didn't. Then I thought he'd fly off once I hit the freeway. He didn't. He hung on at 70 mph for about 50 miles before he disappeared. I expect he met the front of the semi-truck that was following me. :-(

After I got back home, I opened up all the windows in the house to air things out since it was 70 degrees today. Then I played my favorite MMORPG for about four hours while I did a couple loads of laundry. Now I have clean sheets fresh from the dryer on my bed and I'm ready to dive into a new book (The Lies of Locke Lamora). It doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Nearly Human

I went to work today. I thought about staying home when I woke up with a slight headache, but it went away with a long hot shower. I felt pretty perky as well and didn't have much of a cough, so I figured I'd give the work thing a try. If I got too worn out by lunchtime, I could always come home. I did better than I thought. I had a good bit of energy the whole day and only had one bad coughing fit when my throat got dry. As long as my cough continues to abate, I ought to be almost 100% by the end of the weekend!

Productive!
Work was even productive. I got a couple of piles of paperwork filed and the rest of it sorted out for filing next week. I didn't get to the data entry, but that's ok. It'll still be there next week. Instead of doing data entry, I helped make a mess of someone else's cube by pulling out old files and making room for some of the new mess. It's something that has needed to be done for a while and we got started on it today.

This weekend will be sort of productive. I've already got the shopping and most of the errands done for this weekend. Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to see The Golden Compass. Sunday I'm headed to my "local" Borders bookstore to use up the $15 in Borders Bucks I've earned, to use the 30% off coupon I have and also to return a computer book I purchased while travelling a couple weeks ago. I thought the computer book was a bit more advanced than it is. I don't know what I'll purchase instead. It's always hard for me to pick the right book when I go book shopping. I want to pick something that really is good, not something that appears to be good early on but really is just mediocre once you spend some time with it. I suppose it's not unlike picking someone to date. Certainly getting rid of a book you've had for a long time can be just as difficult as getting rid of a significant other you've had for a long time.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I'm Officially Sick

I'm definitely sick. I even stayed home from work today. I spent half of last night coughing myself silly and decided that a) I didn't need to take my viruses to work for others to share and b) that if I was tired enough to need a nap after taking a shower I really didn't have the energy to go to work. So I didn't. I didn't have the slightest urge to even look at knitting. That might have required moving too much and I didn't feel much like moving. I ended up setting up my new e-mail client and playing computer games.

Part of me says to not go to work tomorrow and have another long weekend to recuperate. Part of me says I'll go stir crazy if I don't do that and would also feel guilty for taking the day off. We'll see how rested I feel in the morning and if the newly developing headache goes away.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cold Update

My voice is definitely still not my own. The hacking cough started today, so I picked up cough syrup and cough drops on the way home. My head isn't terribly stuffy and the drainage seems to have stopped. I'll have a bit of Benadryl and some cough syrup before bed to keep the sneezing and the coughing at bay while I try to sleep. We'll see how things are in the morning.

Morning Mishaps
Speaking of morning, the power went out here just after 6am. Ordinarily this is about when I get out of bed for my shower, if I'm not bothering to workout. I decided to wait on the power to come back before taking a shower. Not much point in getting all wet when I can't dry my hair and there's no heat in the house. On top of that, I can't get my car out of the garage if the garage opener isn't working. I figured I'd wait it out. About 6:30 I decided that if the power wasn't back on by 7am, I'd call in to work and let them know I'd be late due to no power. And then the power zipped back on at 6:40. I did manage to get to work on time and even had time to eat my breakfast at home.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Cough. Sneeze. Sniffle.

Yep, I've got a cold. I'm trying very hard to not cough because my throat is sore. I don't quite have Barry White's voice, but it certainly isn't my voice either. My stomach can't decide if it's nauseous from the goo draining into it or if it's hungry. I had some toast earlier. I'd really like some coffee, but I forgot to pick up nonfat dry milk powder at the store this week. (I like it better than the non-dairy creamer in my coffee and it doesn't go bad like regular milk.)

In the meantime I'm watching football and trying to decide if I have the mental ability left to knit or if I should just play computer games. The former would be relaxing and feel productive. The latter would involve some social interaction with friends, even if they are 400 miles away. The latter would also involve bashing bad monsters to death, which is always therapeutic. Since I can't decide, I've been laying on the couch making fussy noises. I'd send me to my room for a time out, but I don't think I'd stay there.