Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm having a really hard time fighting the (not uncommon) urge to steal the Hot Pocket that's been sitting in the communal freezer for two months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My unfortunate emergency dental visit yesterday (to fix my ever-chipping front tooth) exposed me to not only this song, which is so wrong on so many levels it makes me a little queasy, but to a guitar rendition of the Carol of the Bells which sounded ominous enough to show up on a thrash metal compilation. It must have been the Bad Christmas Music All The Time station, because I was also treated to the Chipmunks song with the hula hoop and Feliz Navidad.

This explains why I left without asking the dentist to grind down the back of the tooth a bit more, because the reconstruction is slightly too large. Hopefully I’ll get used to it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My lack of team spirit was evident at last week’s office party when I confessed to not knowing the University’s mascot. (It’s a Great Dane; certainly not something I would’ve landed on if I’d tried to guess.) In the ensuing discussion of my ignorance, however, it came out that the sports teams used to be nicknamed “The Pedagogues.” While I can’t picture an appropriate mascot, that’s something I could get into cheering for.

(My schools have all been a bit weak in the mascot department. While U Washington had a dog of some kind, Alfred had a Saxon, and I don’t even know what Indiana dug up to represent a Hoosier.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

If this actually works, it's really cool. Though also a bit creepy. Anti-bot random-letter deciphering on websites is replaced by badly-scanned-literature deciphering, theoretically increasing access to electronic texts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I wonder what Alfie Kohn would think of this.

C brought home a worksheet from school. One of the questions was, “Would you want to be friends with the main character of this book?” His response, referring to Helen Keller: “No, because she couldn’t see a thing!”

S: C yelled at me this morning for telling him I put bread in the toaster for him. It went better than usual, though, because when I pointed out that I’d done nothing wrong, he just harrumphed at me rather than contradicting me.
D (with egregious British accent): “An argument isn’t just contradiction.” We have to show him the Argument Clinic sketch.
S: He wouldn’t get it; he doesn’t understand jokes.
D: But it’s still funny. Hand me the laptop so I can pull it up and show you.
S: You’ve already told me about it, which was probably a good deal funnier than having to actually watch it.

A: Here is a cow.
S: Moo.
A: Talk to me, not the cow!

A (mumbling to herself): It’s a catastrophe!

Golden Compass

The Golden Compass movie was visually exciting and included in passing some fun creative alternate-world-technology. Really, with the Panserbjorn and daemons, there was no way it could be a complete dud in the age of computer animation. But I suspect the plot would have been utterly baffling to anyone who hadn’t already read the book, and it was incredibly shallow in comparison- even if they’d been willing to make an overtly anti-religious movie (out at Christmastime at that!) there wouldn’t have been time to get it in.

I knew from the trailer that they’d made Lyra pretty, which I wasn’t all too thrilled about, but I was glad to find that they hadn’t completely whitewashed her character. Some of the casting was hard to take (Lord Asrael was a tweedy academic; he should have been much more imposing) but Mrs. Coulter, perhaps the most complicated character to try to portray, was quite well done.

The biggest shock though- they ended the movie a couple chapters early, so it concludes on an excited/ celebratory note. Not only does this completely change the story’s tone, but it fails to impart one of the biggest themes of the entire trilogy. If they’re planning to make the sequels, they’re going to have a hard time now; they’ll have to begin the next movie with a horrific betrayal with little space for setting it up, and given the downplaying of general evil in this movie (they avoided killing any children), it’s going to be tough to pull off.

Monday, December 10, 2007


In the past week I’ve learned that:

While eggnog-from-a-carton is indeed wholly disgusting, homemade eggnog is quite good. I’m too lazy to actually trouble to make it myself, but I’ll cheerfully imbibe if served.

Beating Meadowbrook Farms cream into butter takes about three minutes. Since local butter is only occasionally available at the food co-op, this is good to know. I haven’t weighed everything, but I think it’s cheaper than regularly-priced organic (non-local) butter, and about the same as on-sale organic butter. (Much more expensive than generic butter, of course.) We now have buttermilk to use up too, which is somewhat tricky because A can’t have it

A is nearly as disgusted by soy cheese as I am. I’ve never really seen the point of the stuff, but Dan thought she should have the chance to give it a try.

Sheep cheese is much more popular than goat cheese at all-women gatherings. Small sample, though, so I don’t know if I’ll let it affect my party-buying habits. (But who am I kidding- I never spend as much money on food as the single childless friend who served it did.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our company holiday party is this Friday. It's conveniently located in Delmar, so as long as I'm able to act sober for A's teacher conference I'll need to step out for in the middle, I'll be able to truly enjoy the wine. Only irksome problem- we're required to participate in a $10 grab-bag thing. I opted out of the gift exchanges at PRA, but I had backup- I talked two of my coworkers into joining me, so I didn't look as bad. Who DOES like these things? While I truly enjoy exchanging gifts with my family and friends, it's because I actually put some thought into what they might like- even if I end up being completely wrong, the process still gives me pleasure, and I hope that the recipient at least appreciates the thought. But coming up with something completely generic, which will randomly go to one of twenty people, half of whom I barely know- that's not fun.

Porn would be an amusing in-joke for about half the staff (those of us who attended an adolescent pregnancy prevention meeting last month) and generally appreciated by another 25%, but I'm afraid that the last quarter might take offense or consider it sexual harassment. From past experience I know that my best bet is probably lottery tickets, but I'm morally uneasy with sending my money to that system. I'm eager to support local businesses and artists, but the foodstuffs (chocolate, jellies, etc.) I can obtain for $10 would be fairly meager, and I'm wary of inflicting my musical taste on anyone. I think I'm stuck with the safe-but-boring route- maybe a blank book?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

what we've been doing-

- met some friends to walk around Washington Park to see the light show. Nothing says the holidays like an incandescent sphinx.

-went to the Chocolate Expo at the state museum; free samples, a chocolate fountain, vendors, and the Look-Alikes exhibit. Friends were providing music there, and Dan got the chance to join in and sing. Which was great except that his outbursts of “Green Grow the Rushes-O” continued for the rest of the afternoon.

-let the kids break out the holiday decorations. So now there are ornaments hanging on all of our drawer pulls.

-watched friends’ baby a couple times. While he was extremely agreeable and low-maintenance for a 10-month-old, it reminded us why the adults in a family should never be outnumbered.

-introduced C to Dickens by telling him about Ebenezer Scrooge, because we thought it would be less annoying to hear him shouting “bah humbug!” all the time rather than “garr!” or “beep!” or “I’ll never do anything nice for you ever again for the rest of your life!” It is, in fact, but the others are still in heavy rotation.

-attended the Four Corners Tree Lighting, which was preceded by a parade of two fire trucks, a trolley, and a vintage truck from the town sewage department. I’d never seen anything like the latter in a parade before. At the church we went to afterward for cookie-eating, C said “bah humbug!” to the extremely nice pastor’s wife who asked if he wanted to make a snowman mobile.

-stopped by a local craft fair, hoping to purchase exciting locally-made gifts. Instead Dan got some horseradish cheese for himself and C got some maple candies for himself while A re-arranged all of the necklaces carefully arrayed at the jewelry booths.

-questioned the appropriateness of a class field trip to Wal-Mart. All appearances to the contrary, we really do want to have a good relationship with C's school, but we just couldn't let it go.

-bought all of the materials to make all of our storm windows, and made a working prototype. We now have a plan and a lot of money invested and no time to actually get the rest of them done. The big one for C’s room, though, which is the most important, is well on its way.

Not everyone wears long johns?

Last night I went out with a group that included a recent transplant from Texas, who’s trying to adapt to the whole winter-weather-world. After everyone discussed cold weather car maintenance issues (which frankly, we’ve never really paid attention to), I wanted to ensure she knew about the really important day-to-day stuff, and asked if she had long underwear. She did, and we hiked up our pant legs to compare her cotton to my synthetic silk, while half of the rest of the group looked on in disbelief. A long-term resident (who had been complaining about always feeling cold) said in surprise, “I never wear long underwear.” She had some for camping, but that was it.

I’d been thinking that pulling on long underwear nearly every day was just a standard part of life in the Northeast, but remembered that I didn’t really start wearing it until college, when it was necessary because of the amount of time I spent walking outside. (Unless I wore my flannel-lined jeans instead.) After getting in the habit, I just kind of figured everyone did.