December 31, 2004

Kickin' 2004 out the door

You know, I had a nice New Year's Eve post all planned. I was going to reflect a bit on the year, thank all the people whom I now have the honor of considering to be friends made by means of our blogs, and how my life has been changed to some degree through this site and those people. To the list of titles we have and give ourselves -- woman, daughter, sister, friend, American, paralegal, petsitter, volunteer -- I have gotten to add "blogger" and have it mean something fundamental to me.

But all that went to hell in a handbasket after a couple bottles of champagne and celebrating to ring in the New Year. Instead of sitting here and pulling all my thoughts together in a nice, cohesive way, I spent the time swigging the bubbly and playing Trivial Pursuit, 90s edition, blowing on horns and popping crackers, watching the really dumb NYE shows, and wrapping it up with a malpractice-inducing round of inebriated Operation. Poor Shrek will never be the same.

So all that's really left to say is thank you to each of you who have helped bring a little life to One Ping Only...even when I had to harass some of you into remembering to read it. Oh, and Happy New Year to you all!

December 30, 2004

A little something on the side

I am the curious type and I'm almost always willing to try new things in the name of improving -- or at least trying to improve -- my blog, so long as they're:
a) cheap (as in "free");
b) easy (because, let's face it, almost a year later and I still don't know what I'm doing when it comes to HTML); and
c) interesting (at least to me).
And as there have been many times since I went to the one-post-a-weekday-only format when I've wanted to just put in a link to a news story with a brief comment, but do not have the coding skills to rip off Ernie's "mini-blog" format, what I'm about to introduce definitely meets the third requirement. Happily, it also meets the first two.

So, without further ado -- although, really, I don't see what's so wrong with ado, and maybe what the world needs now is more ado, sweet ado -- I'd like to introduce you to Ping on the Side. It's a bit of an experiment that I've embarked on merely to amuse myself...and because AOL decided to jump on the blog bandwagon (the blogdwagon?) and shoved the opportunity in my face with some goofy come-on that I was intrigued (read: bored) enough to check out.

I had no idea that they've had an "AOL Journal" available for over a year, though apparently it was something that until recently was only able to be viewed by other AOL members. But, being the egalitarian sort, they have now opened it up to the WWWorld at large and here I am doing their publicity for them. But really, I think the format suits what I had in mind and I consider it to be a supplement to this page.

Cool-ish things about it:
1. I can IM items to post to it. This would be very cool if I were able to get AIM to work through the firewall at my job;
2. It will e-mail me if someone makes a comment there, unlike here. I imagine that if I upgraded Haloscan, that would probably be available to me, but then I'd have to spend money; and
3. Did I mention it's free?
Should a particular day's OPO post bore you to tears, yet you still like coming here soooo much that you just can't bear to take off in under your usual 20 seconds...or you're too lazy to go find the link to the "Odd News of the Day" headlines elsewhere...or you're just dying to discover what news items I find fascinating and whether or not I'll actually fill in the "All About Me" section that some people seem to find so necessary to a successful blog and I have never cared enough about to enable here...or you find me mildly amusing on a semi-regular basis but think that I ramble on too much on a regular basis (Rita)...or are just bored enough to try something new, too, please go check it out and let me know what you think.

Once I figure out what to do with the link to it after today, kind of like a New Feature for the New Year sort of thing, it will remain there until it either dies a slow death because no one cares or I get too busy to continue it because no one cares.

So care, people, care -- or the innocent little baby blog that never hurt anyone gets it.

Update: Because LibertyBob is the only one who cares (even if he does think awful things about California), he went and played guinea pig on this for me. And what he found was a little disturbing: The stupid thing makes you sign in. That certainly wasn't my intention, as I don't think someone should have to give out info if they don't want to. Should have known this was too good to be true!

Anyone want to see if it will let you put in a BS address, like We could have some fun with that if it does. Like, for Norman! (Although he's so busy being Michele'd that he may not have time to visit the likes of me again anytime soon.) If not, or if it's just not worth it, that could be the shortest experiment ever.

December 29, 2004

Would you like a little wind to go with that?

Because I am not ensconced at home, cozily listening to the wind whip through the back patio covering and scaring the bejeebers out of me because I am sure that each 40mph gust is going to rip it right off, but am instead in the wilds of Los Gatos where high-speed Internet access is not at my disposal, this will be brief.

Earlier tonight, before the rain started up again, I went to see a movie. After being hounded browbeaten encouraged for weeks by my dear friend, Howard, to go see "Blade: Trinity" I finally had my chance. And I have to concur with his enthusiastic endorsement of it -- it was much better than the last one, it was funny and entertaining, and was a heck of a good movie. Need more? Ladies, here's your reason to go. Gentlemen, here is your reason. Trust me, they're both worth the price of admission. That lucky, lucky Alanis Morrissette...

Oh, and did I mention that it's still raining? And will be for about the next week? *sigh*

December 28, 2004

You're kidding me, right?

A clip show?!? First we get a "to be continued" episode of the Amazing Race last week, and now we get a freaking clip show!?!? Does anyone else think that maybe CBS is getting a little cocky and letting the show's success go right to their pointy little heads?

Don't give me "a special episode" of mostly retreads just because it's a holiday week and you're afraid people won't be watching -- I'm not the one who decided to delay starting the showing of this race and arranging it so that its midpoint falls during a dead period for TV! Oh, wait, let me guess, this will mean that the critical final legs of the race can be shown during the all-important sweeps period in February, right? That's right, it's ad revenue that counts, not your audience.

Okay, so in the midst of all my grumbling, I still managed to prepare The Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ because they did show footage that hadn't been aired before, and they did manage to rack up a fairly impressive baby/honey count in the doing. But I'm still pretty bitter about it.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: "A Special Episode" = 28

Other highlights: I enjoyed seeing more of the trials the participants faced with those ridiculously small cars in Hungary, especially Gus wedging himself into theirs while saying, "This ain't a lotta car;" Jonathan proving himself to be an even bigger ass with every word that he speaks (did you realize that they were in "Senegog"?); and deciding that Kris & Jon are the nicest couple ever and deserve to win this thing like no one else.

Lastly, we were treated to ads for two of CBS' upcoming reality shows for the new year. "Wickedly Perfect" looks like it has some potential, but it will really depend on whether the people they cast for it can make competing to be the next non-incarcerated Martha Stewart interesting. On the other hand, "The Will" looks like the absolute tackiest thing I've ever seen proposed for TV. I think it may even have FOX's upcoming "Who's Your Daddy?" beat in that category, though the only hue and cry I've heard has been about the adoption show. I do not plan to watch either of them to see if my predictions bear out.

December 27, 2004

Dig out the rubbers and slickers

I'm beginning to think it isn't going to stop raining here. It started shortly after I woke up today and I don't think it let up for more than a minute, but never fully stopped. Obviously, when there are parts of the world in utter chaos due to flooding, I'm not going to get worked up because my back patio is more marsh than solid and I'm a little concerned about the pool overflowing.

But rain most certainly dominated my day, so it's uppermost on my mind. And the fact that my LaunchCast radio station has now played "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival twice today has me thinking about all the songs that mention rain and, damn, there are a lot of them.

Off the top of my head there's "Who'll Stop the Rain," also by CCR (which I often confuse with the song above, for some reason), "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor, "Purple Rain" by Prince, "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby, "Here Comes the Rain Again" by The Eurythmics, "Red Rain" by Peter Gabriel, "No Rain" by Blind Melon, "Let It Rain" by Eric Clapton, "Laughter in the Rain" by Neil Sedaka, "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit, and the classic "Singin' In the Rain" as sung by the classic Gene Kelly.

Not counting the 400 or so I next found on Launch simply entitled "Rain" or "The Rain," mostly by artists I've never heard of, or those that are covers of those songs by other artists, there are many, many thousands of other songs about rain in their catalog.

Which favorite rain song of yours is my water-soaked brain forgetting or have I never heard of before?

December 25, 2004

Post-Christmas debrief

I love Christmas. (Well, to be more accurate, I love the secular celebration of Christmas.) I love buying just the right things for the people I care about, wrapping them up, and watching them enjoy what I've selected. I love the lights, the decorations, the music (or most of it), making up my little gift surprise for the people at work, and the whole anticipation of the day. And I love getting gifts. Not much to dislike, all in all, at Christmas in my life. Sure, having someone special to share it with would be pretty great but, lacking that, Christmas is one of my favorite times next to my birthday.

So imagine my surprise when the entire day of Christmas Eve sucked, hardcore. I'm not going to go into details here because...well...just because. But I'll hit the lowlights: nasal congestion galore; oversleeping; trip to the emergency room (not for me); lots of worry; lots of running around; getting locked out of a house; driving around looking for help due to being locked out; frustration; more running around; more worrying; not getting presents wrapped; falling into bed exhausted, not having done half the things you had planned to do. The single high point was dinner, which was enjoyed out at a lovely restaurant, La Pastaia.

The running around is typical for me this time of year, not because I'm still shopping but because I am almost always petsitting at least two places and they're never near each other. Usually I stay at one of the places and do drop-in at the other but this time, with all the craziness, I ended up not staying at either of the places so that meant a lot more driving. And I usually don't get locked out because I'm very careful -- in all the years I've been doing it, I've only been locked out once before this.

All this left me in an absolutely crummy mood heading into a day of expected happiness, and just about ready to hang up my keys for good, to boot. But, thankfully, all bad days come to an end and this one was no exception. Plans were modified, help was offered, patience was exercised, and things got back on track. Gifts were wrapped, animals were attended to, music was played, treats were eaten, and cares were forgotten for a while. And, finally, there were presents!

So, what was the best present you received -- either tangible or intangible -- this Christmas?

December 23, 2004

The light of freedom, sweet freedom

Last night, I was so freaking tired that I wrote the title here, then decided I couldn't do it, closed my eyes and went to sleep. I had worked really late trying to finish up some stuff I had committed to getting done before vacation and, if I didn't want to go in to work today, I felt I needed to stay and bang it out. The end result was worth it, because I am now free of responsibility until January 3rd. Wahoo!

Today didn't quite go as planned due to a minor family emergency, but it beat the 9 to 5 grind, that's for sure. And, with one final purchase late in the day, I completed my Christmas shopping. Wa-double-hoo!

Once back home, I had a chance to watch a show I had recorded on TiVo a few days ago from HGTV called Outta Control Christmas. If that's a channel you get, and you like Christmas lights and displays, this is the show for you; there's one more showing scheduled for Christmas day.

Usually, each year we make an effort to drive around and check out the lights in our area, sometimes planned, sometimes unplanned (and swervy) as someone catches a glimpse of glimmering lights as we're headed somewhere. But I have never, ever, seen anything like the stuff in this show.

I think one of the most impressive is done by a guy in Salt Lake City and he calls it Christmas Utah. If you don't get HGTV or you're just not into watching (it is a little corny at times), at least go click on the link and check out the photos for the 2004 display. The Harley-riding Santa is too cool, though it's better "in motion." This guy is good.

My least favorite is early in the show, and it's a guy who calls himself the King of Holiday Inflatables. I had actually visited the Web site earlier in the season and I, frankly, wasn't all that impressed then either. There's just something creepy about a yard filled with nylon like that. The pyramid of snowmen is pretty creative, though. But you have to wonder if, when all those SpongeBob inflatables started disappearing last month, whether the local constabulary decided to take a cruise past this guy's house first.

This is the first year since we moved back out to California that we were really able to decorate our house outdoors. We could before, but because we lived in the back half of a duplex, it really wasn't worth it because we had only a small area to work with and pretty much no one but us could see it. Because I was sick, we didn't get things up here as early as we would have liked, but we did get out there and get some decorating done before it was too late.

But, oh, the ideas I now have for next year! I may to have to start a fund now to pay for the extra electricity I think we may be needing next December...

December 21, 2004

Happy Winter. Now go away.

It is so late -- don't let the post time fool you -- and I am so tired, so this is going to be so short.

1. I cannot tell you how annoyed I am that tonight's Amazing Race wasn't a complete leg. I cannot begin to express how much I am now bordering on hating Jonathan, and I don't say that lightly. I cannot wait to see if Lori and Bolo are saved by a non-elimination round.

2. The Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ (this week brought to you courtesy of Ann) is one last gasp of autumn, as it is "Honey Pumpkin"-flavored. Or at least I think that's what Freddy meant when he called The Whiny One "Punky."

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 6 = 30

3. Wishing you and yours a very kitty Christmas. (With thanks to Rita for the link.)

December 20, 2004

Baking up a perfect storm

Tonight and last night were spent in a near orgy of holiday baking. Every year I make something different to bring in for all my co-workers right before our holiday break. I love to bake and such, but I don't do it that often, so this is my one big annual outlet for indulging in it.

Sometimes I get all Martha Stewart and creative and make something really unique. Other times, not as creative but even more yummy. (Right now, I can actually hear fat dude groaning and can imagine his eyes rolling so far back into his head that it hurts. But I don't care; there's nothing better than the gift of food, I enjoy doing it, and it makes me happy, happy, happy!)

This is a less creative, more yummy year. I started out planning to make pizzelles, but with my own little twist. After two test runs, however, it became clear that wasn't the way for me to go. In case you hadn't noticed through my writing, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and them damn pizzelles weren't coming out perfect enough for me. Too much batter in this one, too little batter in that one; this one isn't cooked enough, that one's too brown. So while they tasted good, they weren't up to snuff, gift-wise, and that plan got tossed. This is the second year in a row where my original idea did not pan out -- very aggravating.

Plan B turned out to be biscotti. I've made it before, but never with these recipes and never this many of them. There are still probably two batches to go (don't tell Mom -- I told her there was only one more), and then they have to be bagged and tagged. I never tell exactly what I'm making before I hand them out (the fact that this is sometimes because I wait too long to get started and I don't actually know for sure what it will be has, sadly, been true in years past), so I won't say yet what kind I'm making. But if anyone is interested in a killer recipe for a kind of biscotti I'm willing to bet that you haven't had before, let me know and I'll send it to you later this week.

There will be pictures once I'm done...if they all turn out perfectly, of course.

December 16, 2004

Black and white Bodie

There once was a girl from New York
who was sick and stayed home from work.
A friend was so kind
and sent a lovely picture to remind,
which gave the day a definite perk.

December 15, 2004

Amazingly sick, honey

I stayed home sick today. It was one of those times where, the second you wake up, you know there's no way you can go to work. Most of the time it's not like that for me. Usually I feel icky, but know that if I just get up and do the shower thing, etc., I'll feel better and can push through it.

But not today. Today was a "stay in bed and drink as much tea as you humanly can" kind of day right from the start. And I must say that if you don't have a spouse, lover, partner or otherwise day-to-day companion, I would highly recommend having my family around to take care of you. They rock. They indulged my illness-induced requests ("You think shrimp chow mein would be the perfect thing for lunch? I'll be over at 12:30, carton in hand.") and schedule ("Sure, I'll wait to have my own dinner until past 8:00 since you were sound asleep until after 7:30, then go get whatever you want.") with good humor and compassion, and don't seem to mind that I look like something the cat dragged in and then smacked around for good measure. Gotta love people who love you like that.

So, on to more interesting things for you, I imagine. Last night's episode of The Amazing Race had me sitting there wondering who on the AR6 staff had lost Jonathan's psych profile (and should be fired), because there's no way he should have made it onto this show. He has rage issues that are off the charts. Had I felt better, I probably would have been a lot more vocal in my reaction at the time, but it sure was hard to feel good about watching the end of the show. Oh, and speaking about rage, anyone else want to bitch-slap Kendra at least once? Just goes to further prove that "beautiful people" are not always so beautiful on the inside.

If you either don't watch the show and want to know more, or you follow it and want one of the best recaps ever, please visit this post at TVgasm. You can view the portion of the show (Quicktime required) where Jonathan shows his true colors -- and it's not the true blue of the stupid puff of hair above his collar -- and find it "amazing" too, just not for good reasons this time around.

I took some time to click on the Video link on the AR6 site and watch the Insider videos, among them "Phil's Diary," and I have to say that I am now even more disappointed in his reaction to the whole Jonathan and Victoria situation than I was during the show. He mentions how he felt he "had to say something" to Jonathan, but what he said was incredibly wimpy. He then goes on to say that the scathing comments Jonathan has for Victoria after humiliating her show how "focused on going all the way to the end and winning this race" he is. What an utter cop-out. I'm with B-Side -- Jeff Probst would not have left unsaid all the things Phil said only by the expression on his face.

In the end, my favorites, Don and Mary Jean, were sadly eliminated. They had their chances because there were a couple of time equalizers, as usual, but they just couldn't keep up. I hope to someday bump into them around here because I think Don is a sweetheart who loves his wife dearly, and you don't see enough of that anymore, it seems.

Last, but certainly not least, it's time for the Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™, this week with "Honey" flavoring. Surprisingly, it wasn't a very good week for "Baby," with "Honey" making such a strong showing (thanks, Hayden) that has to be included.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 5, "Honey"-flavored = 10

December 14, 2004

The one where you don't get to hear about the holiday party for work

Damn, this is going to sound wimpy, but I'm just too tired. Another good story down the tubes.

I'm feeling better but not 100%. I took a favored home remedy (Sorry, vics, there was no Woods navy rum at the liquor store I stopped in) and while it helps, it wipes me out.

I so rarely get sick that this is beginning to tick me off. Hope to be back tomorrow with more than just a bit of whining.

December 13, 2004

Holiday Catblogging (Kind of)

I'd planned on writing a great post about how I spent a good part of my evening pissing somebody off, purposefully and with great effect, demonstrating what a complete bitch I can be when given a compelling reason and hopped up on cold medication.

But then I came home, took care of household chores in between bouts of sneezing and blowing my nose, and promptly fell asleep in front of the TV once the cold stuff wore off because there was no one else here to help keep me awake. Oh, and there was nothing good on TV. I hate it when that happens.

Now I'm struggling to finish this in between bouts of throat-clearing and blowing my nose, while waiting for the next dose of cold stuff to kick in. My life is one big ball of excitement when I'm not feeling well, ain't it?

But before I collapse back into a heap and escape to peaceful oblivion, here is a most clever combination of catblogging and holiday celebration: An online advent calendar featuring a black cat named Tate. Pick your language and, when it loads, click on any of the numbers up to the current date. Once the little picture has loaded, click on "Play" to see what Tate is up to that day. My favorite thus far is the 8th.

Have fun. I'm passing out now.

December 10, 2004

Thanks for the memories

This has been a truly amazing week for me, blogwise. While the ol' Site Meter has begun the long but steady descent back into chirping crickets land, the number of people who have at least poked their heads on in as a result of the Weblog Awards (just for you Norman -- no link) has been a total trip. Some have even come back and that's the coolest part.

But it's pretty much all over but the shouting and the final tally, and as I don't normally post on the weekend, I wanted to take a minute to extend a heartfelt thank you to those of you who voted for me at any point during the process. Even my mom, who I don't think really sees exactly what the hullaballoo is all about, made sure she signed on once a day to go help keep OPO from becoming a tragic statistic at the bottom of its pile. I've garnered more than a whole percent and that's enough to put a glow on these otherwise pale cheeks!

Now, because just about every other blogger who isn't leading in an Awards category has mentioned it today, I'll do what I don't normally do and join the crowd.

I direct your attention toward what I think of as a reactionary but well-intended new alternative blog award that's just underway; an award competition for the little guy, the BOB. As one blogger put it, "It's an award for those of us that can't actually make a living at this." There's a bunch of unique categories and it's a good place to find some new blogs that aren't about politics! My favorite part? There are door prizes up for grabs for those who go nominate someone -- and we know how much I like free stuff.

So if you couldn't find just the right category for your favorite little corner blog over at the Weblog Awards, check it out and send them a little love today.

Now I've got two more days to figure out what to put up in the VIP section next...

December 09, 2004

A little gratuitous linking never hurt anyone

Well. Here it is, time to turn in for the night already and I haven't written a word until now.

I don't dare say that I don't have anything to write about, because: a) it wouldn't be true, I almost always have something to write about; and b) Fat Dude would figuratively kick my not-quite-figurative ass for saying it.

Instead I'll say "It's all his fault." There was a late-night party in The Village (and even though the beer was less than stellar, I stuck around), where I got distracted by a zombie, tripped over a guy walking around with a George Forman grill going "Here kitty, kitty, kitty," had a quick dance with a guy and his dog where I stepped on all five of their feet, warily watched another guy with a "Will poeticize for a decent beer" sign around his neck, and to top it all off my designated driver never showed up with the short bus, so I stayed too long to be able to write anything worthwhile...let alone "cultural."

Yeah, that's what happened. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

December 08, 2004

Plea of In-Vanity

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see or hear the word "vanity"?

Vanity Fair, the magazine? Vanity Fair, the book? (The movie? Probably not.) Vanity license plates? The cabinet that sits in your bathroom? Vanity the sin? Vanity the singer? Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities"? Carnival of the Vanities?

For me, it's none of the above. It's the oft-repeated line, "Vanity, thy name is woman." It's a very common saying, even though that's not actually the Shakespeare quote; it's "Frailty, thy name is woman." Which makes me wonder, are we women now more willing to cop to vanity than frailty?

Makes sense to me -- I'd far rather have someone consider me vain than weak. Vanity is almost the national pastime for the women of America. (It may very well be for the women of any or all of the other countries but it would be sheer hubris to assume I could speak for them.) Even if they're busy eschewing vanity, it's still a part of their lives. Find me a woman in this country who doesn't know what Botox is; whether or not she would ever consider using such a thing, I guarantee you every woman you know can tell you what its cosmetic purpose is.

Why am I going on about this? Tonight I made a change in my appearance. And while I try as hard as, if not harder than, the next woman to look after my appearance -- beauty queen I am not, but Vanity and I are well acquainted -- I am dreading tomorrow and all the comments.

I would prefer it if people didn't feel the need to say anything (or quite so much) about it. It's as though no one believes in the unexpressed thought anymore. We're all so busy looking after everyone's self-esteem that is has become almost rude not to say something complimentary -- or, at the very least, say something observational that can pass for a compliment -- when a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance does something in the name of Vanity.

Tomorrow, there will be only one person's opinion that I will seek out and truly want on this particular change. The rest will be naught but annoying chaff for me to wade through and brush aside with (perhaps) false modesty. Because it's not that I don't want people to think I look good -- Vanity dictates that I must -- but that I don't really need them to tell me that they think I look good. I don't handle that as well as I might.

Maybe because Vanity, once she has been assuaged, becomes her evil twin, Pride, and asks, "Does that mean we didn't look good yesterday?" Or maybe she's just a capricious bitch and there's just no making her happy. Who knows?

December 07, 2004

Is that a Roadblock, or are you happy to see me?

The title has absolutely nothing to do with tonight's episode of Amazing Race 6, but it made me smile and that was good enough for me. I wasn't feeling my best today, so the show was pretty much the highlight of the day.

I was thrilled to see Don and Mary Jean get saved by a non-elimination round, though I have my concerns about whether they'll be able to recover enough to not be eliminated after the next leg. You kind of have to admire how simply nice Kris and Jon seem to be; her peppy-but-not-annoying attitude won my respect tonight. Does anyone else find it as scary as we do that Jonathan is even thinking about procreating?

Unfortunately, this week's Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ is currently undergoing an official recount. The panel has differing results, compounded by the fact that there were so many "honeys" to keep track of -- a season high of 11 -- not to mention the "boo boo" and "sweethearts" thrown in for good measure. (Plus, Don tossed a "diddle" out there, which was so crack-up inducing that a TiVo replay for the few minutes after that is needed for the judges.)

But, until further notice, here you have it. One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 4 = 18

December 06, 2004

Caught in a Web of life

Sometimes it feels a bit like I live my life on the Internet. I've been happily cavorting around it for a full third of my life, and it has both taken me places and taken on dimensions that I never could have imagined.

For instance, do you recall the Sandra Bullock movie, The Net? I remember seeing it when it first came out in 1995 (I have a thing for Sandra Bullock, okay? This was post-Speed and she could do no wrong, so leave me and my girl-crush alone.) and while it wasn't exactly a cinematic masterpiece, there was one scene that stuck with me long after the movie, because I thought the mere idea of it was so freaking absurd.

Near the beginning, when we see that Angela rarely leaves her house and lives a lonely but successful life as a computer debugger working from home, she goes online to order a pizza to be delivered to her. I remember thinking, "Oh, come on, you must be kidding me! Someone actually ordering a pizza over the Internet...that'll be the day!"

Now, of course, not only do we (read: I) order pizza online, but our groceries, our adult products, our health and beauty items, our dinner reservations, our movie tickets and DVDs, and pretty much anything else we can imagine, without leaving the comfort of our homes or offices. We've even made a game out of it! And it all seems so commonplace now that I feel so naive looking back at my reaction to that part of the movie at the time. Ah, what a mere decade and a dotcom revolution can do.

But there are times when I trip over the littlest of things in blogland and it makes me feel like a complete e-novice. Example: w00t! I started to see it used really regularly a few months ago, and I was stymied by what it meant. Obviously, in context it was an expression of delight and excitement, but what did it mean? What in the WWW is going on out there that I have no clue about whatsoever? How can this be? Am I that old (quiet!) and out of touch all of a sudden?

But where there's a will, there's an Internet way. Last night, when querying my brother about its meaning (after all, he's a computer geek, I figured he should know these things), he practically slapped me upside the head and said, simply, "Google it." Duh.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what I did. And, demonstrating how amazing a resource Wikipedia is, it coughed up a comprehensive definition complete with origin theories, found here. (Why quote when one can link?) Of course, there was no great revelation in it for me -- it means exactly what I thought it meant -- but the simple comfort of knowing why the hell they put zeros in there instead of Os made my day. All is right again in my Internet world.

But right now I must bid you adieu, as I have some more Christmas shopping to go take care of tonight. Only 18 more days to go -- w00t!

December 04, 2004

Nights on the Town, Part 1

Okay, without further ado -- namely some very weird stuff going on with our wireless network at the homestead -- here is the "long awaited" Part 1. Woo-hoo! (Stop rolling your eyes, it's not nice.)

Wednesday was such a fantastic day it still makes me smile to think about it. The daytime part, while fun for me, you would find fairly dull to hear about so I'll skip to the afternoon, when a friend and I set out for dinner and a concert in The Big City.*

I had taken the entire day off from work in order to go up to San Francisco at a more leisurely pace and a far more convenient time than trying to drive north during the oft-nightmarish commute. I did research ahead of time on the parking situation because, in case you don't know it, parking in SF can be the equivalent of the fifth level of Hell and can cost you as much as a fifth of good scotch. And as I didn't really know the area of the city we were headed to very well, being somewhat prepared seemed like a good idea.

Thanks to a new feature on Yahoo! Maps called SmartView, I was able to see in two clicks exactly where the nearest parking garage was in relation to our destination. Knowing that I wasn't going to have to drive around for blocks trying to pick out a decent garage was a huge relief.

Since that was so quick and easy, I spent some time checking out the other offerings from SmartView, among which was "Food and Dining." Click! All the Japanese restaurants within a square mile. Click! All the seafood restaurants. Click! All the steakhouses. There were only two, which is probably why one caught my eye immediately. Two more clicks and I was at a site where I could make a reservation without jumping through a million hoops, and we were set for dinner. Knowing that I wasn't going to have to walk around for blocks trying to decide between a dozen different restaurants, then see how long the wait might be, was a huge relief.

With all this efficiency, we were up there and parked in record time. And far too early! We got there at 4:00 and our dinner reservations weren't 'til 6:00. We walked to the venue, which was less than half a block away from the garage, then walked to the restaurant so we'd know where it was, and still had an hour and fifty-five minutes left to kill. So we hung a right and started walking, then kept walking when we didn't find anyplace to kill that time.

In the first of two occurrences of a stunning lack of foresight for the evening, I had worn the single worst pair of shoes I own for walking around SF. I simply hadn't anticipated that we would be hoofing it for that long -- after all, I'd done all the planning so that the entire evening was to be within a mere three blocks! But when we continued to not find anywhere along our path to hang out for a while, we kept walking.

Now, here's another thing you may not know about SF. It is comprised of many diverse and often interesting neighborhoods, and the demarcation between them can be surprisingly brief. In other words, within a block, the entire character of a street can change, and not always for the better. You can turn a corner and wonder, "How did I end up here?"

Remember how I said this wasn't a part of the city that I was all that familiar with beforehand? Well, I committed the novice blunder of blunders in San Francisco and I walked us right out of Nob Hill and right into the Tenderloin. Nothing bad happened, but I could tell it wasn't an area where we were going to want to hang out as darkness fell. As soon as I figured out where we were, I did a mental head slap and got us the heck out of there. So we kept walking, making a loop back to where we started, slower and slower as my feet started to hurt more and more, but still got to the restaurant a half hour early for our reservations

Luckily, the terrific staff at Ruth's Chris Steak House was ready for us anyway. And, oh my goodness, what an experience it was. I have wanted to eat there for ages, but it had never happened. I could go on and on about every aspect of the meal and the service, but I will just say this: I had the single best steak dinner of my entire life and I have never received better service or had a better overall dining experience. That kind of thing comes at a price, but I think it was worth every penny.

Following a very long, unhurried meal, we made our way back the blissfully short three blocks to where the concert was being held, The Grand at the Regency Center. It's a relatively new, and somewhat unusual, venue for concerts and while it's beautiful, it's also acoustically and seating-challenged. As in, sound bounces around all the marble at a deafening level** and it holds 1000+ people but there is only room for maybe 200 to sit. Thus, the dreaded "General Admission" means that if you were not among the people who were already standing in line when we walked past to go to dinner, your chances of finding a seat were not exactly good. (As in, not a chance.) We made our way upstairs, which provided a decent view of the stage for short me and a wonderful escape route for the smoke of all the weed that was being fired up below us. Contact high, anyone?

But all that didn't really matter. We were there to see John Fogerty and the man rocked. Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up before I was born, but I love their music. And, let's face it, Fogerty was CCR. (His Grammy-winning "Blue Moon Swamp" is the only CD that never comes out of rotation in my car's stereo -- it's great driving music.) For two solid hours, he played with abandon, mixing up the old and the new and making everyone forget that he's almost 60 years old. He kept the talking to a minimum and let his guitar speak for him. It was a great concert and I loved every minute of it.

We tumbled back out onto the street with the satisfied crowd when it was over; chilled and slightly deaf but happy and humming our favorites. There was a long drive back home, but the car was warm, the company was great and the CD player was pumping out those favorites again, keeping us wrapped up in a haze of music and nostalgia for just a little longer.

*Technically, San Francisco is smaller than San Jose, both in population and square miles. But SF grabbed the bigger cultural marbles early on, so they get the moniker of "The City," much to the annoyance of Silicon Valleyites.

**This led to the second occurrence of my stunning lack of foresight for the evening: I neglected to bring ear plugs, which has become my cardinal rule for concert-going since I hit my thirties. My ears were not terribly happy with me by the end of the night, but they're stuck with me so we eventually kissed and made up.

December 02, 2004

Nights on the Town, Part 2

The mind is an amazing thing. I was practically forcing myself to stay awake for the last 20 minutes of the drive home from San Francisco tonight, and I was certain I would get in, hit the bed and fall deeply to sleep. Well, by the time I got ready to turn in, I had woken up. Once I checked a few blogs, I was raring to go!

The story of last night's adventure (Part 1) is going to have to wait, because it deserves a full treatment. (No one ever said I had to be chronological.) But tonight's, while fun, wasn't the same kind of experience. Through a friend at work, I got VIP tickets to the annual Concert for Kids sponsored by my favorite local radion station, KFOG. (Which, by the way, is one of the only stations still streaming live over the Internet. If you like what they call "World Class Rock," I recommend you give them listen sometime.)

The tickets also included entry into an pre-event that was being called a "Gourmet Soiree," i.e., free food and drink, at The War Memorial Opera House. And gourmet it was, but I'm not so sure about the soiree part. Standing in line waiting for a nibble of food, tasty as they were, is not necessarily my idea of a party. I have no idea how much people paid to get in to this part, but I hope it either wasn't a lot or they made up for it with all the free alcohol that was a lot easier to get your hands on!

Some of the restaurants whose delights I got to sample included Jack Falstaff, BIX, and Postrio, which served a killer dessert, and wines by Korbel and Cakebread Cellars. But "sample" was the key word there, and I had been told it was dinner. One nibble every 10 minutes, if I was lucky, wasn't going to cut it, especially if I kept going back to the Korbel table, which was serving some good stuff and was the only place to bring tchatchkes.

So, after poking our heads downstairs to see why "Buffet" and "Rest Rooms" were on the same sign, we headed back out into the chilly SF night for a real bite to eat. However, unlike in other cities, there aren't a plethora of restaurants right near two major cultural centers like the Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall. Unless we just walked the wrong way, of course. To make a long-ish, foot-aching story shorter, we ended up at McDonald's because it was there or "The All-Star Cafe," which I'm sure hasn't seen a star in...well...forever.

I had never been to Davies Symphony Hall, home of the SF Symphony (natch), before this, and it is a gorgeous place. Not knowing what to expect from our "Loge" seating tickets, we were pleasantly surprised by being in a box with an excellent view of the stage. We must have been in a box reserved for sponsors, because we were the only ones there for the first half, and only a few more people showed for this sold-out event.

Because we were there early, after ditching the Soiree early, we hung out in the Loge Lounge and found that we could reserve our table for intermission where, if we wished, there would be drinks waiting for us when we emerged from the hall. We wished, we paid, and it was so. It was pretty cool to sit there, drinks in hand, looking down upon the poor, huddled masses lined up at the bar beneath us. Okay, mean but cool and I hardly ever get to do stuff like that so I decided to enjoy it.

The show itself was great. Jamie Cullum was a surprise treat, because the boy is a born performer and he put on a hell of a show. I was familiar with only one of his songs before this, and I liked it, but it's nothing like seeing him live. He reminds me very much of Harry Connick, Jr., without the New Orleans polish. And, of course, Chris Isaak was great. From what I understand, he always is, and he didn't disappoint; a bunch of Christmas tunes, many from his new Christmas album, and all his hits. He's a real jokester and he has great audience interaction, which made for a fun time.

After the long drive back to Silicon Valley -- made shorter by biting the bullet and taking the dreaded Highway 101 home instead of the more pleasant, but nap-inducing, Highway 280 -- and much time spent here, it's now time for Dream Land.

Baby, baby (No, not the Amy Grant song.)

Between network problems at home and a suddenly quite busy social schedule, this is the first chance I've had to post since Tuesday night. I plan to write about a fantastic night I had in SF last night, but as I have another fabulous night in SF tonight, I don't know when that is going to happen.

But The Amazing Race 6 rocks on, and I would feel remiss if I didn't take the opportunity (on the company dime, for shame) to share this week's Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ with you, belated as it is. I find I am getting so used to hearing "baby" all the time, that I have now incorporated it into my personal dialogue. Mailman? "Good job, baby!" Bagger at the grocery store? "You can do it, baby!" My co-workers? "Baby, please!!!" I think I even called my mother "baby" the other day.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 3 = 25

With the Detour and Roadblock being real bitches for some of the teams, there was a lot of babying going on, up from last week. (Although Hayden says "honey" so often, I just may have to start adding that in to the count. Thoughts?)

How many of you would have chosen that insane counting challenge instead of the build it one? I thought poor Don was going to have a coronary adding up those little stuffed animals, but I loved how he tried to get the IKEA employee to take pity on him on account of his age! And I feel bad that the sisters tried so hard on the "Hay Fever" challenge and came away with naught but empty, bleeding hands to show for it. Sadly, now we'll never know if Lena would have had the chance to show off any of her striptease aerobics abilities later in the race.

P.S. You'll see that there is a logo over there to the right for the 2004 Weblog Awards, along with a link. Even if you choose to (break my heart and) not go vote for OPO to make it to the finals in the Best Culture Blog category, I highly encourage you to go check out the nominees in any of the categories. Last year I found some great blogs through these Awards, through some of which I found some of you!

November 29, 2004

David makes fun of Goliath

During a commercial break while watching Monday Night Football tonight, I saw a (dumb) commercial that reminded me about this article I read earlier today. I'm not even going to talk about the Bud v. Miller portion of it as that would be, frankly, a waste of breath over bad beer.

But the new NetZero ads really caught my eye over the holiday weekend, and I thought the discussion about their tactics was very interesting. I have to admit that I simply couldn't believe how dead-on the parody ads were, and how great a job they did at getting actors who look so much like those in the AOL ads, especially the admin in the lovely chartreuse blouse. That moment of "Ohhh" the first time you see one and realize that you're not seeing what you thought you were seeing is priceless because it sticks with you, which is what I'm sure NetZero was counting on in this series of commercials.

I agree that the AOL ads are pretty lame, and I'm sure people are going to have a field day making fun of both AOL and the ads, especially now. As I've mentioned before, I have been, I am, and I will continue to be an AOL customer. (Save it, I'm immune.) Yet I am aware as the next person that their incessant mailing of CDs is annoying, their ads with the little man were dumb, their prices are higher than they should be and they are now ubiquitous to the point of absurdity even when almost everyone seems to hate them.

But hats off to whoever came up with the concept for NetZero, and to whoever was in charge of getting it done and on the air so quickly. I do hope, however, that it doesn't spawn a bunch of copycats because it will get old fast.

Extra 1: Many bonus points to anyone who knows what the word "micturating" (found in a portion of the article that otherwise did not interest me) means without looking it up. Hint: Context is everything.

Extra 2: Did anyone else catch sight of a rather odd sign in the end zone of tonight's game following a field goal/PAT in the first half? Could a new trend be in the works?

November 26, 2004

Cotton candy -- It's not just for the circus anymore.

As Christina requested in the comments for my b-day post, it's time for a report on The Great Cotton Candy Experiment.

Can what is, essentially, a kid's toy do a credible job of producing that sweetest, most ephemeral of childhood treats? Or will it overheat, explode, and cause grievous bodily harm? Will I finally stop pleading to be bought cotton candy whenever we go to sporting events because I can make my own? Will I ever stop asking questions and get on with it already?

Because I have finally figured how to get pictures up here without using Hello (I knew keeping that Yahoo! GeoCities page would eventually pay off), I can tell the story with photos.

Looking remarkably like the picture that I posted the other day, except in my kitchen, here is the magic machine itself:

You can see that I decided not to waste any time and I went right for the purple, grape-flavored cotton candy, thoughtfully made available to me by Target while briefly fighting the holiday shopping crowds today.

After 10 minutes of surprisingly annoying, grinding noise to warm it up, it was time:

In went the fairy dust...I mean, purple sugar...and almost immediately spidery strands of sugary goodness began to appear in the bowl, to be swept up with an authentic paper cone:

That one "rounded teaspoon" of sugar made quite a bit of candy, more than I was expecting, but certainly not enough to share. And what good is cotton candy if you can't share it and get someone else all sugared up? So in went a second teaspoon, which didn't make quite as much as the first teaspoon; I think the inner workings started to get a little gummed up, but it still functioned.

The end result:

I couldn't really get it to stay on the cone very successfully -- I think that's all in the wrist and I need a lot more practice -- so I piled it into a bowl and brought it out for sampling.

The verdict: Delicious!

It really does taste just like what you get out at the stadium, but even fresher and a heck of a lot less expensive. There's a SF 49ers game in my future, thanks to a generous birthday gift from a good friend, and I think I'll be whipping up a big ol' bag of for that outing thanks to this cool gift from another good friend. Guess it's easy to see what I was thankful for this year.

November 25, 2004

Shortest. Post. Ever.

Can't write. Too full. Must digest. Find TUMS. Happy Thanksgiving.

November 24, 2004

They say it's your birthday.

It's my birthday too, yeah! And thus, another year passes into history and pushes another year further back into the memory banks.

But I love birthdays and this one was no exception. I had a great dinner out with family and friends, followed by a killer all-chocolate cake and a bunch of fantastic presents. There's nothing better than presents, especially ones you aren't expecting. Usually I drive my family nuts by guessing what things are before I open them, but this year they were ready for me and it was a lot more fun all around. And how many of you have one of these, huh?

In other news, because we got back so late from San Francisco last night, there was no time to watch Amazing Race until tonight. It was another great episode and the numbers are in for this week's Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™. (Brace yourselves.)

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 2 = 21

The contestants must have been a bit tired after the first leg when they babied themselves out, because the tally was quite a bit lower than last episode. On an up note, however, "honey" was a strong mover this time out and I think it may make a good showing next episode.

Other lessons learned this week: 1. "Senior discount" is a universal concept; 2. People who can't drive a standard car are pussies (and losers); and 3. Mirna and Charla were nothing -- this is the season where poor Phil is going to be assaulted regularly at the pit stops.

November 23, 2004

All I Want for Christmas... a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. This particular beauty is on display right now at the San Francisco International Auto Show. A good part of today was spent there with a couple of friends, and this was the car that captured my imagination -- my "If I ever win the lottery, I'm so going car shopping" imagination -- the most.

Oh, sure, the purple Mini Cooper was the one I got to play in and could actually see myself driving in this lifetime, but the McLaren Mercedes has Formula One in its bloodlines and that fired me up. Who needs a (compratively) cheap-ass Maybach that, in my opinion, is more foofy than fine? I mean, a refrigerator compartment? Please.

Want all the car-geek details? Go here, 'cause all I know is that it's a $450,000 ride straight from heaven.

November 20, 2004

"National Treasure"

None of the reviews I've seen for "National Treasure" have seemed very positive, but I really enjoyed it. The local paper's headline for their review was "Maybe this 'Treasure' should have stayed hidden," but I have to disagree. I didn't read the whole review because I didn't want to be influenced ahead of time, and I didn't care afterward.

This is just my kind of movie. I like it when there are clues to be figured out and followed, even when doing so requires an enormous brain with all sorts of knowledge your average person wouldn't possess. But that's the point, isn't it really? They're not supposed to be "average" people.

I'm not a huge Nicholas Cage fan or anything, but I think he usually does a good job in the movies of his that I've seen, and he was just right for this part. He brought a quirkiness to it that, if it were lacking here, might have made this a long, dull movie.

Two other good points were his cohorts, played by Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha. I don't recall seeing either of them before, but they all played off of each other quite well. Will it win awards? No. But I found it to be a good, entertaining flick that kept me interested to the end.

But, oh, tomorrow! Tomorrow is the day of days for me. Barring unforeseen circumstance, tomorrow I'll be going, at last, to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie! It's going to be the best day ever, I just know it.

November 19, 2004

Friday's Child drops the ball...again.

Another lame Friday for you, the reader. Sorry. It was another movie night and now it's quite late and I've got nothing. But if you drop by sometime tomorrow night, I'll have a few things to say about the movie, "National Treasure."

Otherwise, have a nice weekend and I'll catch you next week.

Oh, and since Norman won't be around for a while, I think we'll have some gratuitous cat blogging really soon. But in the meantime, here are what Christina at Inner Bitch called "many, many pictures of lethally cute kittens." Truer words were never spoken.

November 18, 2004

I'm ready, I'm ready!

I don't usually talk about highly personal things here. Oh, sure, I'll mention my family and some of the things I do, apart from work. But, you know, there are areas of my life I'm just not willing to put out there for the whole world to read about. (As if the whole world were actually visiting, but you get the point.)

I happen to think that getting glimpses of a blogger, their life and their personality, through their writing is more interesting than having a whole life story laid out for me or encapsulated in a little bio. Feeling that way, it's the approach I find myself taking.

But today, there is something on the horizon in my life that I am so excited about, something so anticipated, that I feel like I just have to let loose and share, share, share, even though it's a fairly revealing view of the person I am.

No, it's not that my birthday is a week away, even though birthdays are a big deal in my family. No, it's not that I've got six consecutive days off from work next week, though that is pretty thrilling to me. It's not even that I am so close to a huge milestone in my career with my current employer that I can almost taste it (more about that at another time).

Okay, so here it is. Tomorrow is a seminal moment in the lives of fans like me everywhere -- Friday is the opening day of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie! I am, unabashedly, a huge SpongeBob fan and I can't wait to get out there and see a full-length movie starring my favorite characters. I'm a little less sure of how David Hasselhoff fits into it, but I'm willing to trust that it will work.

If you don't know who or what I'm talking about, either click here and learn, or leave and never return. We don't want your kind here. And if you know exactly what I'm talking about and are scoffing, I don't care; you just don't know. Open up your heart and let that little bit of child back out past your cynical soul.

Well, I don't know about you, but I feel better after letting go of holding all that in. Excitement like this is always better when you share it. I hope those of you who are closet fans will step out into the light and join me in celebrating this day...and in line waiting for tickets.

November 17, 2004

The Great Smokeout '04

Normally, this article might not have caught my eye, but two things set it apart. Earlier today I read a post by Angie and an article she linked to that involved smoking, and, being strongly anti-smoking, I responded to it.

Then tonight I came across that first article and I had to link to it out of nostalgia. The dear, dear Poughkeepsie Journal. Or, as we used to call it, the Poughkeepsie Urinal.

Yes, I used to live in the Hudson Valley and The Journal was the only local paper of any size in the Poughkeepsie area. (For those of you who are wondering, it's "Puh-kip-see," not "Pogue-keep-see," and it is an Algonquin word meaning approximately "a little reed lodge by a water place." It's on the Hudson River.)

I grew up outside Po-town proper (thankfully); I lived in a charming little nearby burg called Hopewell Junction. (Raise your hand if an immediate vision of "Petticoat Junction" sprang to mind. Trust me, it wasn't like that.) It is also known as East Fishkill and is very much an IBM town. As a matter of fact, I'm the only one in my immediate family, and the older generation of my extended family, who didn't work for IBM.

One of those people was my dad, who was a technical writer for them. He was also a heavy smoker who, while now deceased, amazingly did not die of lung cancer. I think if a heart attack hadn't killed him at age 52, lung cancer probably would have been his fate. The thing is, we grew up with him smoking and, while it wasn't something that we were exactly crazy about, in those days it wasn't "a big deal." There just wasn't the level of awareness that there is now.

I was amazed to discover, after his death, how much my sense of smell had been diminished by growing up around a smoker. I had absolutely no idea how much the smoke had permeated our lives until the source of it was gone. I'm sure I walked around for two decades smelling like a used ashtray and never realized it. Maybe that's why I'm so intolerant of smoke and smoking now.

But I feel an unwavering certainty that, if my dad had been aware of the effect at the time, he would have tried to quit. For us. Because I think that the vast majority of parents would rather suffer themselves than hurt their child in any way.

So, if you're a smoker and you've read this far, I would encourage you to try (again, most likely) to quit. Do it for the people you love and the people who love you. We'll all thank you for it.

November 16, 2004

Baby, you can drive my (diesel) car

Oh, the game most definitely is afoot. I'm not even going to attempt an AR6 recap -- go to TVgasm for that because they do the best ones around and you'll laugh your ass off. But there are a few things I'd like to add to the fray.

Introducing the Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™. Yes, folks, we're your best and first source for keeping track of how many times the contestants utter, scream, cry out, cajole, cheer, whine, or simply say "baby" (or "babe") during the course of each episode. I thought the show might have reached its height of "babydom" last season, between Colin and Christie and Brandon and Nicole. But they're getting a run for their money this time around, and it was a challenge to keep an accurate count during the ice climb. So, without further ado, here we have it.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 1 = 44

Whew. I don't know about you, but it took my breath away.

A few other things: 1. My two favorite lines from this episode were "I'd rather put that ice in a martini," (Don) and "I'm so cold my implants are frozen!" (Lori); 2. I was sorry to see Avi and Joe go so soon because I was intrigued by Joe's vow to stay kosher on the Race, which could have made for some interesting food challenges; and 3. I cannot believe that yet again there was a diesel disaster. They really should make sure they put the word "DIESEL" in a far more conspicuous place than right inside the gas tank cover, shouldn't they?

November 15, 2004

It's Amazing! (The Race, not the post.)

Look how early it is (Rita)! I want to have time to get in a few (dozen) rounds of whatever game sounds good tonight on AOL, then get to bed early so I can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for work tomorrow. (Yeah, right.)

So let's keep it sweet and simple, shall we? ('Cause we're fresh out of pathetic today.)

Tuesday night is the two-hour premiere of The Amazing Race 6, which, as I've already mentioned, I'm looking forward to very much. If you're one of those people who "doesn't watch reality TV" or have just never seen it because it was on opposite something else you watched in past seasons, this is your chance to give it a whirl. It's not like any of the typical reality shows out there. For crying out loud, the show has won two Emmy Awards! (Okay, so has Everybody Loves Raymond, but still.)

Making it sweeter still, for me, is the chance to take part in TVgasm's Amazing Race Challenge. It prompted me to check out all the teams ahead of time, something I don't normally do. (I like to be surprised.) So here's my take on some of the teams.

The team I think I am going to like least: Jonathan and Victoria, married "entrepreneurs" who plan to tell the other teams they're not married. (Their best quote: "In our minds, we're super heroes!")

The team I think I am going to like best: Gus and Hera, who are a father/daughter team. (I think they're feisty but kind.)

The team I think will shake things up the most: Lori and Bolo, who are professional wrestlers calling themselves "Team Intimidation." (Their best quote: "We enjoy pissing people off.")

The team I think has the best chance to come in first: I'm not saying. (Because I want to win the Challenge myself!)

The team I will be rooting for even though I don't think they have a chance: Mary and Don. (They live less than 30 minutes away from me, but they're in their late 60s and call themselves "Team Medicare.")

The player I think TVgasm will have the biggest field day with: Adam of Adam and Rebecca. (Check out the hair!)

The players battling for the "Hottest Babe" award: Victoria (see above), a Playboy Playmate who claims to speak six languages, though I count only five in the bio; and Kendra (of Freddy and Kendra), a model with a "good sixth sense" and a killer smile.

So tune in and find out what your co-workers are talking about...and who the heck this "Phil" guy is.

November 13, 2004

Saturday Funny

A little treat for the weekend because I was lame last night and didn't post. I went to a late movie and was so sleepy by the time I got home that I just couldn't muster the energy. "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" was worth no more than the $3.50 my brother paid for me at the cheap theater. (What can I say, he's a nice guy.) These reviews at Rotten Tomatoes sum it up pretty well, though are perhaps more generally positive than my take: Pretty and evocative, but hollow and lacking emotion.

Anyway, on to why I'm actually posting. This video clip made me laugh so hard that I snorted and was practically crying by the end. I'm still trying to recover. (Via flea.)

November 11, 2004

What a player

Games. We all play them, or at least most of us who are honest about it do. What about when it gets out of hand, though? What about when the game becomes more real than the real?

Okay, I spun that out about as long as I could, which wasn't very long at all. I don't mean mind games or romantic games -- though goodness knows people play lots of those, too -- I'm talking about the proliferation of video and computer games. It never ceases to amaze me how so many people are so into them.

Not surprisingly, it has come to my attention again recently with the release of Halo 2. It seems like every few blogs I visit (or 8 out of 10 if they're written by guys) have had a mention of it in the last few days. Some people haven't been able to put it down. And I think some other people would be playing it non-stop if they could. Then there are the articles: Does it live up to the hype? It does. It doesn't. It kind of does. It really does.

Shooter games have never really interested me, especially since they have gotten more and more violent and more and more graphic. The commercials for the ones coming out now leave me cold, but then I'm not exactly the target audience. Ones like the latest Grand Theft Auto (the game and the commercial) I find absolutely appalling, though I suppose that matters to no one but me.

Not being into that kind of game, the array of platforms or systems or formats or whatever is always something I'm a step behind. I'm aware of the different ones, but I never know which game goes with which system, or what ones you can't play on a PC, etc. The reason I mention this is that part of me kind of has to cheer certain of these games, because the well-being of the company I work for depends on those games coming out, being "good," being popular and selling well, and driving the development of still more graphics-intensive games in order to spur sales of high-peformance processors. So I'm a little conflicted about them, which wouldn't so much be the case if they weren't almost all about killing and destroying. Trying to turn that tide would be like spitting into the wind, so I'll just be happy that I don't have kids and don't have to fight that battle, so to speak, in my own home. Oh, there's a Playstation 2 somewhere around here, and plenty of games, but it's not mine and my brother is free to play whatever he wants and kill all the CG bad guys he wants, so long as I don't have to be in the vicinity!

Before Halo 2, the newest version of The Sims was the thing everyone was talking about. I'm not into that one, either, but I also haven't tried it in ages.

No, I'm much more into puzzle games, word games and arcade games. Thanks to AOL (malign it if you must, but it does have some things to like) I can pretty much play a different one every night for free, and you have the chance, albeit a small one, to win cash from some of them if you hit a jackpot.

The thing is -- and I know this isn't a news flash -- they're like a drug. You get started and it's hard to stop. A real opiate of the masses, but on a one-on-one basis (I'm not sure if that's a contradiction in terms, but you get the point) and in every flavor. For instance, as I believe I've mentioned before, I tend to hop around while I'm writing a post -- it's rare that I just sit here and write, post and move on. Oh, no. It's write, surf, check e-mail, watch whatever I've recorded on TiVo in the last day or so, check another e-mail to see if anyone sent a pet picture (yeah, like that ever happens), write some more, watch more on TiVo, read a news article, surf for a particular link, write for a minute, watch TiVo, check e-mail again, and so on.

Well, add to that mix "compulsively play the game of the evening" and getting though the actual writing of a post is extended by about three times. Once I get into the groove of a game, the next level, that next jackpot spin, is too hard to resist. Case in point: That time down there? 11:23? That's the time I started, and that was about an hour after I began a new kind of game on AOL. It's now...well, I'm not going to say because a certain friend at work will give me a hard time about it...but it's a lot later than that and I'm still playing that game and I'm still not done here. Oh, wait, now I am.

November 10, 2004

Tempus Fugit Maximus

Apparently, letting loose with a week's worth of thoughts all at once has a curious effect on me. There's just not much more I have to say at the moment. It's kind of weird. Being at a loss for words is not something that happens very often to me! (Those of you who know me personally, feel free not to comment to vouch for that.)

There are only a few things on my mind, and they seem so benign compared to all those tumultuous thoughts:

1. Christmas is just over six weeks away.
2. My birthday is just over two weeks away.
3. The Amazing Race (yay!) will be back on in just under a week.

The thing is, the time between now and each one of those events will go by in a virtual blink of an eye. Age, getting older, that I really don't mind. The acceleration of time the older I get, however, bugs the hell out of me.

November 09, 2004

No catchy title

It wasn't quite this bad in my case, but I really did need some time to regroup and stop to smell a few roses amid the bitter stench of disappointment. And if, in your opinion, I took too long to "get over it" then that is too bad. I didn't spend the last week moaning or whining about it here. I run my life and my convictions on my timetable, not yours, and I'm entitled to as much time as I needed to reflect and gather my thoughts and my energies.

There are still some blogs I normally visit daily that I haven't been up to reading since last Tuesday, but I'm planning to ease into that this week. Hopefully, any lingering gloating or residual blue-state-bashing, if it was ever there, will have disappeared into the archives by that point because I really don't need that right now and I won't read it. I need more positive and less negative. Life is too short to get worked up over people whose point of view is so entirely different than mine.

On the flip side, some blogs have been really helpful to regaining my footing, notably Snarkcake for posts like this and this, and Inner Bitch for posts such as this that lead me to a site like this. So I thank you three for that.

I have been told by someone whose opinion I respect that I need to listen more to what those on the other side of the POV wall have to say now, instead of tuning them out in order to hear less. There is truth to that and I understand the reasoning -- "know thy enemy" and all -- but that is one hell of a difficult task as far as I'm concerned, and there are a few stumbling blocks down that path for me. Flat out: I do not suffer fools (and, by extension, stupidity) gladly...or well. It's a major character flaw, I'm sure, but that's the way it is. And listening to people spew one-sided rhetoric that is based on political, cultural, or religious dogma that I cannot relate to and cannot agree with is anathema to me.

As I stated a while back, I don't believe that there is real political debate any longer in this country, and I can't abide what passes for it on TV "news" these days. It's not that I am unwilling to consider other ideas, truly. I am willing, and I strive to be as open-minded to discussion as I can because persuing knowledge and understanding is admirable and worthwhile. It's that I find it nearly impossible to listen to the way the positions of the Right are presented and by those who present them at this point in time via the mainstream media. What I see there is not discussion or sharing or educating, it's more often sanctimonious ranting, character assasination, and intolerant diatribe.

The best I can do at this point is to read more about differing political views and positions -- because finding myself separated ideologically from half the country by such a wide gulf is very troubling -- and set aside my disappointment in favor of moving forward in whatever direction the country is headed. We may be doomed to repeat history if we do not learn from it, but learning from it means stepping away from it and not clinging to resentment over the parts that let you down.

So I will open myself up to learning more about the 51% of the country that sees our world so differently, where you're coming from and what you're hoping for as a result of this election. I don't see any other way for my 49% to work toward overcoming this enormous divide. But don't ask me to watch speeches, press conferences or other news programs that feature members of the current and/or forthcoming administration, or their sycophants, because I won't. I can't. Not yet.

November 08, 2004

Peri's Pet Parlor - Day Three

Mo had better get her act together because I'm running out of stuff to say.

My days are pretty much the same. My mom likes to nap almost as much as I do, so we do that a lot. I spend a bunch of time on patrol in my window, keeping our condo safe. I spar daily with a series of balls to keep my reflexes, and my nails, sharp. I eat and beg Mom for treats every once in a while -- I've gotten pretty good at catching them in my paws. Maura comes over a couple of times a week to go digging for gold in my Littermaid, then we play until I get tired of it and take refuge under the bed.

But that's about it. Not exactly an endless source of cat chat. So I'm hoping to lay low for a while, as much fun as the comments about mice have been.

Let's wrap this up then. Since there are only two people in the whole world we can count on to send us photos, I'm doing what Maura called "going back to the well." This is, of course, my good friend, Squeaky. It looks to me like she's laying on the most uncomfortable bed ever. I'm not sure what it is, but it sure is shiny.

Later, people.

November 05, 2004

Peri's Pet Parlor - Day Two

Here's a picture of my long-distance friend, Kitty-san. I think she's contemplating lunch at the moment. That or she just caught one of them tasty little moths that I love to hunt and my mom hates to see.

Maura's playing some game involving colored balls, which are great, but she's shooting them out of the sky instead of chasing them around the floor. That I don't really get. And I can't get her to stop, even to pet me and how can she pass that up?

Earlier I meowed her to death and was able to get her to check to see if anyone else coughed up a photo and she said I got something called "bupkis." I guess that's a no. They're pictures, people, not hairballs. It won't kill you. I'll even take ones of dogs.

November 04, 2004

Peri's Pet Parlor

Maura is ticked off about something. She started to explain it to me, but I didn't know what she was going on about and I yawned about five seconds in. That made her even more annoyed and she stalked off, tossing over her shoulder something about not coming back until she had calmed down. That could take a while from what I saw.

She gave me a break the last few weeks, so I guess I owe her a couple.

At least she put up the perfect picture before she left. (I just wish she would find a way to stop making my eyes blue. You ever seen a blue peridot? Me neither.) Yeah, that's me playing with my favorite new toy. I captured that stupid ball and I wasn't letting it get away anytime soon.

So, look, if I'm going to be doing this, I could use some pictures from you people. Maura's always dragging out that evil flashy thing so there's a bunch of them of me, and I guess I could just keep putting those up. I mean look at me, I'm gorgeous, so it's not like you can really complain or anything. But that guy who talks kinda funny that my mom is always watching on the TV said variety is the mice of life and that's gotta be a good thing.

Send me some mice, people.

November 03, 2004

Completely frayed

To say that I am not happy today would be a vast understatement. I spent the whole morning in a fog, trying to wrap my mind around things.

But I'm still processing my feelings and, for once, I don't feel like writing about them. Gary Bibb did an excellent job of capturing them (and he only misspelled one word in the process, so you know he really means it), only without all the swearing that my post would have had, so please go visit him.

Normal blogging will be suspended for the time being while I deal with this the best way I know how. Come back tomorrow to see what I mean.

Update: Sam nailed the more angry part of my reaction, so go visit him, too.

November 02, 2004

Tied up in electoral knots

I can't take it any longer tonight. It's almost 3:30 in the morning on the East coast and all they're doing is finding fifty different ways to say "We just don't know yet and we're not willing to guess because we're not getting it wrong this time around" on CNN.

And I sure as hell don't feel like giving up any sleep in order to wait and listen to that smirky bastard come out and start throwing around words like "mandate" or "moral victory" -- I'd use other words, but I think they might have too many syllables for him -- so I'm going to bed.

If I were a less optimistic person, I'd go cry myself to sleep.

If I were a more spiritual person, I'd go pray myself to sleep.

But I'm a person who's a dreamer, so I'll simply go off to dream about someday living in a country where I once again feel that I belong, and hope that morning helps me shake off these twin feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

November 01, 2004

A window on the spiritual world

We celebrated Halloween this year by taking a nighttime flashlight tour of the Winchester Mystery House, in San Jose. I feel a bit like a tour guide whenever I say this, but if you're in the area I do recommend checking it out. It's not a cheap ticket, but you'll never see anything else quite like it and there are some fascinating stories behind the various rooms. If you have no plans to ever visit The Golden State, however, and have no idea what the deal is with the house, read a bit here or here to get a flavor.

The flashlight tours are something they do only a couple times a year, every Friday the 13th and on Halloween, and the only illumination really is by the flashlights they hand out. The tour guide wouldn't let me pick my color, though, so that was kind of disappointing. I mean, why would I want a red flashlight when the blue one was so much cooler?

Anyway, we traipsed by and through 110 of the 160 rooms in the house, and I took a few pictures. Some didn't come out that great, but this one of the window was interesting. (I'm sure the people who go in for these kinds of pictures would find my pictures disappointing, because if there are going to be ghosts or "energy designs" to be captured, you'd think that Halloween would be the night to get them. Ooh, ooh, are those blurry, whitish images in the window ghosts? No, they're finger smudges from "gotta touch it" visitors.)

If you read the articles above, or any of the many, many stories and mentions you can find on the Web, you'll hear about Sarah Winchester's superstitious nature, her twice-daily seances to consult with the spirits, a fondness for building features in her house to confuse ghosts, and use of the number 13 in a myriad of ways. But there are some other themes and motifs found throughout the house, including daisies, which were reportedly her favorite flower, spider webs such as in the window that is found in one of the bathrooms, and one that I noticed but that never got mentioned, Celtic knots.

We completed our hour-long tour without incident or eerie encounter, damn it, and (after a trip through the gift shop, of course) headed back out into the chill of All Hallows' Eve with worn-out feet and nothing but respect for any lingering, restless spirits.

October 31, 2004

Scarecrows for Kerry!

Happy Halloween!

(Photo courtesy of Rita...whose porch is occupied by this particular scarecrow!)

October 28, 2004

The flutter-flit of little wings

This past weekend I attended a "butterfly release," which is something I'd never actually heard of, let alone participated in, before. A couple of hundred Monarch butterflies -- raised from eggs at a local butterfly farm (again, something I'd never heard of), numbered, tagged and gently folded into origami envelopes -- were sent on their merry way to the Santa Cruz coast. Once we each made a wish and they could be coaxed to leave their paper launching pads, that is.

This little guy decided to soak up some California sun first, however. It wasn't the warmest day, so we didn't have a huge liftoff in concert once the envelopes were opened, as might have been hoped. But eventually they all took wing, fluttering around us for a while before beginning their migration for the winter.

The tags are purportedly to track them (mine was #386, in case you were wondering), but I really have no idea how they're going to do that. Are there designated rest stops along the way? A check-in tree once they reach Natural Bridges? A guy whose job it is to walk around the grove with binoculars and a notebook? We may never know, since the Web site we were given to get "updates" on their progress has, thus far, been useless.

But I know my young lepidopteran friend has made it to the shore and is huddling in the eucalyptus trees with a couple thousand of his best friends. If you travel out this way between now and February, I highly recommend a stop at their winter resting ground. It's a beautiful and unique site. Tell my butterfly I said hi.

October 27, 2004

Feeling it...and not feeling it

What I'm feeling: Pain in my wrist.

What I'm not feeling: Like pushing said wrist to write very much tonight.

Since I've very happily spent the time before this answering the comments some of you were kind enough to leave (yay commenting people!), I will just leave you with a link a friend sent me.

Let's face it: Everyone, even the people who actually support Bush, know that he's a few arrows short of a quiver in the smarts department. And this little exercise tries to help rectify that situation. So go against the grain and help give Bush a Brain!