December 29, 2005

Is that a gun or are you just happy to see me post?

I had a chance to do something today that I've always wanted to do: Go to a shooting range. It was one of those things that I always knew I'd get around to eventually and, thanks to The Best Brother in the Whole Wide World, today was that day.

We went to Reed's, which I just learned when finding that link is the largest indoor range in the SF area. It was surprisingly low-key and, well...I guess the best word is normal; there was no "Soldier of Fortune" feel about it, which put me a lot more at ease, as did the guy behind the counter who looked more like someone I'd expect to be helping me at Micro Center than explaining how to load a revolver.

Anyone who knows me well might think that this was an odd thing for me to want to do because, as they have all seen, loud noises make me jump. A lot. And jump I did (especially since the only other guy on our side of the lanes when we started appeared to be firing a small cannon), but it was still fun. I ended up going back out to the counter to get a pair of earplugs to wear under my big, bulky ear cover thingies after the fourth jump and that helped.

I have a decent sense of aim, so it wasn't a terribly difficult thing to get the hang of doing. It was harder to remember all of the rules of the place -- rules that make sense and are absolutely necessary when dealing with items that could, you know, kill you or someone else -- but there were a lot of them. Judging by all the holes in the ceiling that were practically right overhead, a lot of people don't pay as much attention to those rules as I did! Once I had a grasp of the ettiquette, though, it was pretty much load, aim, fire and repeat. I gave the gun my brother had rented a whirl, which was a semi-automatic, but the recoil made my formerly broken shoulder ache a bit so I stuck with the .38 revolver they'd selected for me. It was fascinating to see the shells from his rounds go flying over his shoulder -- making me take a few more steps back behind the observation line -- and the flash from the barrels as they were fired by others, not to mention watching how people approached the whole process.

All in all, it was a very interesting experience and I'd definitely go back again. And probably on a Wednesday since that's "Lady's [sic] Night" and there's nothing I like more than a bargain, though I somehow doubt that I'll wear a dress when I go.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not running out tomorrow to join the NRA or get myself a gun or permit and I'm all in favor of the gun laws that are in place -- as a matter of fact I'm in favor of stronger ones. This was a very controlled environment that was about sport and (hopefully, eventually) skill, not violence or hunting or fear. If you want to know the truth, I looked at it like a slightly more expensive version of a bowling alley. You go, you rent the equipment and accoutrements, you rent a lane, you take aim and let it fly, you keep score (well, you can, I didn't), you laugh over your mistakes (like, I didn't really mean to put a hole in the ear of my target's silhouette), and when your time is up or you're tired you hand over your gear and your money, then you leave. Only there are no ugly shoes worn by hundreds of other people to give you the heebie-jeebies and no disco music.

December 24, 2005

A Christmas Eve Day's Nap

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas from me and Finn, in sunny and not-very-wintery California!

December 22, 2005

Completely apropos of nothing

I am no longer a Red Bull virgin. Before today I had never even tried the stuff, one of maybe a handful of people in the world at this point, I figure.

The reason is fairly simple: when it first came out, there was no clue what kind of beverage it was. The commercials just told you it "gives you wings" and that wasn't much to go on. Then there was the name. Red Bull. Right away I thought it was some kind of tomato-based drink. Think Clamato crossed with "Rocky Mountain Oysters" and you have a pretty good idea of where I was at. Not terribly appealing.

Time passed and I heard it was actually an "energy drink." Cherry-red Gatorade-like stuff with carbonation, maybe? Mmm, nah.

More time passed and I learned that it was being used as a mixer in alcoholic beverages, and what I was hearing didn't sound like new-millenium Bloody Marys, so I warmed up to the idea, but never got enthusiastic enough to do anything about it.

About four months ago, maybe more, after talking with a friend who had also never tried it, I bought a single can of the sugar-free variety because it was on sale and I was starting to get curious.

That can sat in my fridge, nearly forgotten, until today.

Why today? Because, after two weeks of 9- to 12-hour workdays, it seemed like a good idea. (Those same workdays are also a large part of why there has been no posting, btw.)

Did it give me wings? Not exactly. But I have to say, it tasted pretty good after the initial shock of tartness, it was refreshing, and it certainly wasn't a bad experience. Well, unless you were in the car hearing me sing along, full volume, with the all-Christmas-music station for the next half hour, that is.

Red Bull effect? Who knows, but it certainly helped chase away any lingering workday blues.

December 11, 2005

OPO's Gift Guide - CB2 Much Good Stuff

Less than two weeks to Christmas and you're still looking for that fun, unique gift? I may have found just the place for you, with no time to lose. Go take a look at CB2, which is a new online offshoot of Crate & Barrel. It has all kinds of cool stuff, and much of it the kind of stuff I love, at really decent prices. If you're looking for that "Where on earth did you find this?" gift without spending a fortune, go check it out; there's still time to get it to you before the holidays.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Snatch - a fast-paced, Scrabble-like game that comes in its own tube for easy storage and travel, and that is very reasonably priced. The idea is that you build on already placed words in order to "snatch" your opponent's points.

Aluminium sports car - Already bought your man scale replicas of all the cars he loves but will never own? Try this sleek number that he can have on his desk and not be pigeonholed by just one kind of machine. It's universal and equally unattainable, but fun to play with when he's on an interminable conference call.

The SAT words shower curtain - Want to make sure your high schooler is out of the house and off to college in a few years? Consider putting this little beauty under the tree and watch their IQ zoom! Everyone knows people have their best ideas in the shower -- now their best ideas can use multisyllabic words.

Point it picture dictionary - This one is for the clueless but persistent world traveller. Really want a cold beer but don't know what the Polish word is for "beer" and you're stuck in Krakow? Whip this little beauty out and point at a tall, frosty one until someone takes pity on you and points you to the nearest bar...then walks away muttering about crazy Americans.

By the way, Santa, if you're reading this, I'm sure you already know that all I really want for Christmas is my very own Uglydoll, right?

December 02, 2005

From The "Someone has too much time on their hands" File

It's a very holiday-oriented entry for The File, but I think you'll agree that this endeavor (or endeavour for any so-inclined spellers), while impressive, definitely belongs in the category. You may need a high-speed connection to get the full effect. It puts me in the mood to go out and do some light display peeping this weekend.

November 30, 2005

OPO's Gift Guide - Roll out the holidays

Is your sweetie, sibling or dear friend someone who loves to bake? Then get this for him or her this holiday season and I think I can guarantee you'll be their new hero:

Of course, if that person is a "him" and a more traditional sort, he might be more comfortable with this version (or one of the other colors it comes in, available at Sur La Table or Domus. :

In case you can't tell, the barrel is covered in silicone, which is the thing in baking right now because nothing sticks to it. They have gone so mainstream they even have silicone baking pans in the grocery stores -- they're the floppy (usually red) ones that don't look like they'd stand up long enough to bake anything in, but they do.

How do you know if this is the right gift for the baker in your life? 1. Do they have a Silpat or similar silicone pad...or five? 2. Have they ever thrown, or threatened to throw, their regular rolling pin through the nearest window because their dough was sticking to it like glue? 3. Do they just love the latest in kitchen gadgets? If the answer to any or all of these is "yes" then you've got a winner.

Oh, and not to put too many options out there, but if your baker is a real pro (or thinks they are) and uses a French-style rolling pin, they've got those, too. There's even a scaled-down one for the junior baker.

Such choices! Give it to the right person and you could be "rolling" in delicious goodies in the New Year!

November 28, 2005

Something I am thankful for...a little late

This article is an extremely good example of why I don't fly over the holidays and I'm very glad that I don't have family scattered across the country (or world, for that matter) compelling me to do so. I'm sure something like that happens on a very small number of flights, but I sure as hell don't want to be on the "lucky" flight where some drunk idiot causes a ruckus like that. Because you know he'd be in my row, if not sitting right next to me, making me crazy.

I hope you all had a good holiday weekend, I know I did. My birthday and Thanksgiving were on the same day this year, and they were both wonderful and relaxing. The only really non-relaxing thing occurred on Friday night, when my food whore of a cat got into the (covered) leftover birthday cake I'd set out on the kitchen table and proceeded to eat all the remaining frosting flowers off of it! That was my piece, my flowers, damn it!! There were little chocolate kitty pawprints all over the table, at the scene of the crime as it were, and a hyperactive cat running around like he was being chased by demons until about midnight. Finn will eat anything he can get in his mouth, I tell you. I'm beginning to wonder if someone was doing experiments with canine genes in felines or something, because in so many ways he seems more dog than cat.

Anyway, I've been having connectivity issues at home and have been too busy to get around to calling my new cable Internet provider to find out what is wrong with it. So I haven't given up on the gift-giving guide, I just haven't been able to post the next installment yet. Anybody find any great buys over the weekend that they can actually comment on?

November 22, 2005

OPO's Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

It looks like I'm going to have to just hop in with both feet and submit myself to the whim of a market force more powerful than I: Halthankmas.

You may not be familiar with the term, but you know exactly what I'm talking about; the way Halloween candy and decorations appear in stores before kids even go back to school, then Thanksgiving cards and magazines touting strategies for preparing the big meal show up a few weeks before Halloween even hits, Christmas ornaments are in stores before you even buy your turkey, of course, and you're swept up in the flurry of day-after-Thanksgiving shopping. (And if you're not swept up in it, you're grousing about it.) It's Halthankmas season from the time that first pumpkin-shaped chocolate gets placed on a store shelf until the last roll of Santa wrapping paper sells for 90% off in the clearance bin.

Now Black Friday is almost upon is and it will not be denied. In our Internet-driven world, we also have Black Monday to add to the stable of Halthankmas milestones.

In the interest of making the next month slightly more interesting for me and (hopefully) slightly less insane for you, I'm planning to share with you those unusual, offbeat or just neat gift ideas that I come across while doing my own shopping, window or otherwise. As I am a big fan of the bargain, you can expect that they won't break the bank. And because I like spending other peoples' money even more than my own, please feel free to ask for suggestions on gifts for those hard-to-shop-for people on your list. I can't guarantee you'll rush out and buy/order what I come up with, but I can guarantee that I'll come up with something!

Since, let's face it, one of my favorite things in life is food -- especially from the essential chocolate food group -- it's fitting that my first tidbit relate to that. From Sur La Table, may I present a chocolate-covered strawberry glass ornament for your gift-giving consideration:

How freaking cute is that? And, at under $10, it's a steal. Go forth and shop.

November 19, 2005

It's a housewarming for Finn! BYOC*

It took me a long time to find just the right cat tree to get for Finn -- I'm picky and it seemed that all of them were too short, too tall, too expensive, too chintzy, too ugly or just plain didn't have the features I wanted. Today I found the one that came closest to matching all my requirements. It's not perfect but he doesn't seem to mind. (All photos are courtesy of Ed.)

This is him checking out the new pad and gradually getting used to being up that high.

This is the look I typically get from him when he's tired of me taking his picture.

Here he's checking out things below and
strangely reminding me of Batkitty.

It's a loooong way down to the bottom from up there.

Hey, is that a mouse down there?

That Stefani chick ain't got nothing on Finn
when it comes to Luxurious.

What the hell are you doing down there?

He enjoyed exploring it so much that he didn't realize for a whole half hour that his dinner was out, which if you knew how ravenous and obsessive Finn is about his food you'd realize is quite extraordinary. It has been great for letting him get his ya-yas out and expending some of that excess kitty energy. Worth the money already!

*Bring your own catnip.

November 07, 2005

Hey! Where the hell have I been?

You know it has been too long since you blogged when your mom starts asking if you're "ever going to post again" and she only remembers to read it now and again. (You also know it has been too long when you hit "publish" instead of "preview" by accident, mid-way through your triumphant return post. Duh.)

I've been around, but mostly uninspired would be the best way to put it. There have also been the occasional Internet-related miscues that thwarted some attempts when I actually was in the mood to write. My living situation has changed somewhat, and there was a period of time when connectivity wasn't certain. During my "time off" I also took a week off from work and ended up being somewhere I couldn't get online. I didn't know such places still existed. They do.

Dear cbeck (who posts even less frequently than I these days) enquired as to whether an earthquake had gotten me. Happily, no. Unhappily, however, it's about the only natural disaster left on FEMA's checklist, isn't it? The phrase "it's only a matter of time" has been on people's minds around here, I do believe.

Speaking of people around here, if you live in California, I have only one request/demand/plea/whatever-it-takes for you:

Thank you. We will now return to our regularly scheduled catblogging.

October 20, 2005

There she is just a-churnin' up the Gulf

Anybody have any clue on what the hell the world has to do to catch a break for a few weeks? I don't know about you, but I'm frankly exhausted by it all and I'm approximately one earthquake/storm/mudslide/volcano/flood away from complete burnout.

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, if we're all nice to each other for the weekend -- you know, really put our hearts, minds and souls into it and spread some love, kindness and good cheer wherever we go, whatever we do, whoever we meet -- we could qualify for some kind of amnesty program?

All takers please report back on your progress on Monday and we'll see what happens.

October 18, 2005

Dumb Online Game Monday...a day late

I was just so tired last night that I couldn't even think about blogging. I like you people, but I likes my sleep even more.

This week's game is a lot easier than last week's game. It's a form of that old chestnut, the memory game "Concentration," using photos found on Flickr. It's called Memry, and when you click on the link it will ask you to "write a tag." I wasn't bright enough to click on the little blue "?" to figure out what they meant at first so I just pressed "play!" and let them select one for me.

The idea is you enter a keyword, like "flower" or "Denmark" or "Jane" or such, and it searches Flickr for photos that match that tag. You have to turn the photos over, two at a time, matching them into pairs. You can have a 4x4 grid or a 6x6 grid -- I suggest not going with 6x6 because the pictures are a lot harder to see and therefore match. It will count how many turns it takes you to complete each game; my average is 26. If you get sick of it, just click "finish" to skip to the end.

If you find a photo you particularly like or can click on it and it will take you to the original picture on Flickr. The matching them up part isn't all that unique, of course, but it's seeing what pictures will come up from the word you enter that makes it different. Some are easy to understand, others not so much. Plus, it underscores how many bad pictures people are willing to put out on the Internet.

Happy matching! (If anyone finds any, feel free to leave a link in the comments.)

October 14, 2005


How was that for a jump start?!? Yeah, that's what I thought, too. (I'm surprised that people seem to be having such a hard time with that game. I have a glidepoint instead of a mouse, so I wonder if that's the difference. Anyone doing well with it?)

The thing is, I keep ending up so uninspired each Tuesday by the current "Family Edition" of the Amazing Race that I'm disinclined to post about it and it bogs me down. I will say that TVgasm is doing a bang-up job of putting out some great recap posts about a less-than-stellar show, so I recommend that if you're strugging through this AR season, too, you go check them out instead of here each Wednesday. Don't miss GravityPhil!

Let's see, what else. April and I went to see The Eagles on their California Tour on Monday, but she was more diligent in writing about it and covered it so well that I had little more to add. The only difference is that I don't dislike "The Boys of Summer" or "Smugglers Blues" as much as she does! And, as I said to someone who asked me about the concert, I was really impressed by the perfect balance they struck between sounding like the songs from the records and improvising and improving on them without interminable, overblown guitar solos and the like.

Aside from all that, the only interesting thing occupying my time is my dear Finn, and I promised that this wouldn't turn into catblogging central. But then, it has been a few weeks, so I guess it's safe. Caption, anyone?

October 10, 2005

Dumb Online Game Monday

Since I've been next-to-useless when it comes to blogging lately (no real reason, btw, just haven't had much to share), I decided it was time to come up with a new "feature" to jump start things.

We've all been forwarded dumb online games that, even though they're dumb, you just can't stop playing until you either master them or go insane. The golf one I mentioned in a post a while back comes to mind. In that spirit I present Balance the Baguette.

You just need to move your mouse back and forth in order to help Monsieur Boulanger keep his crusty baguette balanced on his pudgy little hand for as long as possible, while avoiding the croissants that are inexplicably dropping from above. (An angry Madame Boulanger wanting her shiftless man to get back to baking? A crazy neighbor complaining about the quality of his wares? Who freaking knows with the French?!?) If the baguette tips at a dangerous angle, Monsieur turns a very unhealthy shade of red to let you know he may drop the precious bread -- or have a brief heart attack. Mon Dieu!

The text is in French once you lose, but you should get the gist that it gives you your time and what your best time has been thus far. "Rejouer" is "Play again." Which I think, oui, you will want to do! My best time is in the low 30s and I'm sure many of you can beat that with one loaf tied behind your back.

Have you gotten a dumb online game you want to share and make everyone else waste time playing at work when they're supposed to be working on their TPS report? Send it to me at my Gmail account (not that one over at the right -- I never remember to check that one), which is moburns [at] Gmail [dot] com, for a future post.

October 03, 2005

Definition: Real Monday Blues

Being pragmatic when making the picks for your football pool and going against your two favorite teams, having both teams lose, and winning the week in the pool but feeling completely miserable that you guessed right.

September 28, 2005

With families like these, who needs enemies?

I really did plan to start off the season of Amazing Race: Family Edition with a recap, but then I read B-Side's "live blog" post of the premiere and realized that there is really no point.

Aside from not noticing that the guys manning the hot dog cart were the great team of Drew and Kevin from Season One of TAR (who, I might point out, the Best Brother in the Whole Wide World recognized immediately), he pretty much nailed it, from Phil's eyebrow in overdrive at the start to how heartbroken the little kids from the Black family (you know, the ones who are, thus the only minority presence) were when they were eliminated.

But, not willing to let two hours' worth of notes go to waste, I'll hit on some highlights that stood out for me:
  • The Brother and I each picked a team during the family intros that we thought would be the first ones out. He picked the Schroeder family, who came in fifth. I picked the Weaver family, who came in third. We apparently suck at first impressions.
  • The team that came in first was the four sisters (whose last name I can't spell, let alone pronounce), who also earned the distinction of acquiring the most nicknames during the first episode: the "Desperate Housewives," "The Pink Ladies," and (more or less) "Team Silicone," from a catty comment another contestant made. If you look at their team photo in the link above, you can understand why eventually "The Pink Ladies" won out. They are from Illinois and have a very annoying accent. Oh, and they scream and squeal a lot.
  • Other team nicknames bestowed either on the show or by us last night: Team Rugrats (the Gaghan family); The Sopranos (the Paolo family - we just couldn't resist that one, especially since the dad's name is Tony and he works in "waste management"); and The God Squad (the Weavers, who invoke his and Jesus' name just a whole lot too often).
  • Most ridiculous quote: "Don't let the flag touch the water, honey. It's sacrilegious...or something." (From Mama Schroeder during the "Cross the Delaware River" task.) Last time I checked,the flag wasn't sacred nor was patriotism a religion...except in the red states, maybe.
  • I learned a new saying from Mama Soprano: "About as down as a pregnant ant to the ground." This described how they felt when they knew they were falling behind. I don't know about you, but trying to visualize a pregnant ant just isn't working for me.
  • This season we unveil a new Amazing Race recap feature: The Dude Count. Now, "dude" is an expression I would cheerfully eliminate from the American lexicon, so maybe it stands out more to me than the rest of you, but it was the clear choice after last night. The most blatant offenders are the Linz family, one of two all-sibling teams, three of whom are guys. This just isn't a "baby" crowd, so that count is out...for now.
    AR:FE Dude Count Episode 1 = 6. (This number may be an underrepresentation -- it took a while to emerge as my choice, and I was too tired to go back and rewatch the whole two hours!)
Who are you rooting for at this point? Rooting against? Thoughts on the whole "family style" thing?

September 27, 2005

Good night, sweet prince

Because I know you were all dying to know, this past weekend I finally bought a new alarm clock. I was amazed that I found one so quickly after getting fed up with my old one again -- I have actually been looking for a new one for a couple years. Yes, I'm quite picky and this one met all of my requirements, plus one I hadn't even anticipated.

This picture doesn't really do it justice, but here it is:

This has a pretty good description of it, though I bought it at Target (natch), not Kohls. What sold me wasn't the MP3 line-in (I don't have a player) but that you can select the color of the LCD display from a rainbow of hues. It keeps changing colors until you tell it to stop. Not surprisingly, mine is set to a lovely shade of violet.

My other must-haves were a loud alarm, a sleep radio function, a big snooze button and time setting buttons that weren't anywhere near that big snooze button. Oh, and inexpensive.

This baby's got 'em all.

I mention all this not just because I just knew you all wouldn't rest until you knew whether or not my alarm panic mornings were over, but because I'm about to reach over and set the sucker for the night.

I had planned to do an Amazing Race: Family Edition recap but, as much as I want to do it, I'm tired (early for me) and I'm going to sleep instead. I'll let Finn show you exactly how I'm feeling at this exact moment:

So, good night.

September 26, 2005

A bad influence

You know the saying that dogs and their owners eventually start to look alike? Well, I don't think that's true for cats and their owners (thankfully), but I do think that perhaps some of their characteristics start to rub off on us.

Case in point? Ever since Finn came into my life, I seem to want to nap more and more. We even like the same couch for napping.

So I present to you this tableau: Portrait of a Bad Influence.

September 22, 2005

Survivor moment that didn't air tonight...

...and, if I were Steph, I'd probably wish it had stayed that way.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm now thinking that "grinding the corn" might be a Guatemalan euphemism. Those Mayans were a wild and crazy people, you know.

September 20, 2005

Reality check

Tonight was a somewhat sad one for me: the season finales of both Big Brother 6 and Rock Star: INXS aired and each was won by the person in the final two that I didn't want to win. Damn.

This is what's known as "Reality Show Letdown" syndrome. And the only cure for that? A new reality show! (...or two...or, okay, three.)

Yes, thanks to copygodd doing recaps on it for TVgasm, I have been sucked into watching The Biggest Loser, a "new" show for me that I can really ill-afford to add to the lineup, but it's a force beyond my control. Go Jen!

Of course, Survivor: Guatemala started last week with a bang (and, if you check out the new feature "Survivors Strike Back," you'll see that Jenna Morasca agrees with me, though I wrote it before I read her first blog post) and a barf bag or five. But if anyone can tell me what the second twist we were promised in all the commercials was, I'd appreciate it. Obviously, having Steph and Bobby Jon join the teams was one, but what the heck was the other?

Then next week is the premiere of The Amazing Race: Family Edition, and even though I'm skeptical about having kids involved (and the fact that they'll only go about a quarter of the distance as the regular version, but will still win as much money), I'm looking forward to regular doses of Phil Keoghan in my life again. I do wonder what happened to Rupert from Survivor and his family being a part of it, but then CBS has tapped into the "returning reality stars" barrel quite enough already.

I'm sure that there are as many of you who are anti-reality TV as there are those of you who are into it. The former group: stuff it for now. For the rest of you, did you feel the same kind of letdown tonight? What reality shows are you into or are looking forward to most this season?

September 16, 2005

Not a good start to a Friday


Blind panic.

Blink at the clock in disbelief.

I'm supposed to be to work in 3 minutes.

I'm rooted to the spot on the edge of the bed as this reality sinks in.

Work is a minimum of 20 minutes away if I were ready.

I'm not.

I'm, a...well, advanced state of dishabille.

I've got a kitten to see to.

I've got bagels to buy to bring in with me.

I'm screwed.

Grab the phone and start calling in.

No one answers.

Look at laptop for reasons unknown.

Blink at the screen in disbelief.

Boundless relief.


Note to self: Buy a new alarm clock immediately, one on which the time cannot be changed by the slip of a hand reaching out with your eyes closed.

September 13, 2005

Trying to be positive...and failing

I nicked this link from copygodd: 25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath. (Personally I'd put #2 in the #1 spot because it is far and away the one that makes me maddest.)

Normally I'd just send you to his site for it, but he has this clown theme going on right now -- he changes blog schemes like the rest of us change our hairstyles (women)/underwear(men)/furniture(Rita) -- and, as I've told him, it's freaking me out so I can't do that to any faithful readers who might feel likewise.

Anyway, on a related note, because just enough time has passed for the scum to ooze out of the woodwork and find a way to take advantage of the basic goodness of people*, we have our first Katrina relief scams up and running. Lovely.

Because I'd like to end this on a happier note, however, please join me in wishing the best to Heidi Klum and her husband, Seal (one of my favorite singers), who just welcomed a baby boy into the world. (See, Flavio "Fuckwit" Briatore, there are famous-and-wealthy-but-decent men in the world who don't cheat on and dump a woman they've gotten pregnant, you jerk. Damn, so much for the more positive ending -- I just can't stand that prick.)

*Don't get me wrong, I still think the vast majority of people are terrifically stupid, but there is a level of goodness that occasionally manages to rise above the average duh-ness they exhibit on a daily basis, such as after a major disaster like this.

September 10, 2005


Don't run away -- you're in the right place, the decor has just changed a good bit.

Yup, thanks to the magical workings of two of my absolute favorite bloggers, copygodd and Bibb, the Ping has a brand new look! My favorite way to describe it is "purplicious," and I couldn't be more excited.

Sir copygodd ever-so-politely told me that my site rendered like crap and we were off and running, since he was willing to come up with a new scheme. I pulled Sir Bibb in by asking him to do a long-ago-offered new banner for me at the same time. It's not like these guys don't have enough to do on their own stuff, so I'm really indebted to them both and I hope you'll let them know if you like their efforts. If not, well, blame me because they both gave me editorial control and I approved it all.

I know posting here has been pretty light lately. I've been pretty busy and it has left me kind of tired at night. Plus, frankly, it's a lot more fun to play with Finn at the end of the day than to stare at a screen. Hmm, that reminds me, I have some great new pictures a friend took of him to post sometime soon...

In other news, I've finished my post-fracture physical therapy as of yesterday and I got a very good grade in my progress. I've still got a couple weeks of self-directed exercise to do, in order to improve the one area in my range of motion that's still got a hitch in its giddyup. Put your left arm back and up high like you were reaching for someone on a ladder to hand you a hammer or something -- though why you would do that is beyond me -- that's what I can't do. So I've got these nifty little bands to exercise with to help it along and we'll see how that goes. I still don't think there's much rock climbing in my immediate future, however.

September 04, 2005

Sir? That's a player's trophy, not an urn.

Thanks to the generosity of a good friend, today I got to go to the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. It was one of those rare days on the links, where the fog had cleared, it was sunny but not hot, and it was breezy but not overly windy. In other words, damned near perfect.

What made it even better was that it's not yet a huge event, which means there aren't huge crowds. We started at the classic 18th green, and I was astonished at how few people were there. I've only been there before at big events like the US Open and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am where there are throngs everywhere, so it was a real treat to be there and have the place "to ourselves."

It was a Champions Tour event, which I guess means that it was all senior players so we weren't dealing with the "hot" players of today but instead the older players who've still got it, and probably a few who don't but are still out there swinging. They are paired up with junior players who I think qualify in various tournaments...I'm not clear on the details, okay, I was there for the sake of just being there.

Anyway, I got to see Gary Player, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange and Arnold Palmer, fairly up close and personal, and who knows when I might get a chance to see some of those guys again? (Arnie's about to turn 76, after all, and this might have been his last competitive round at Pebble Beach.) I also got to walk down the 18th fairway when the final group was on the green -- that was a treat because being out there is something you generally have to pay a couple hundred bucks, swing at little balls and walk around in goofy pants in order to do.

But a few downsides:

- It took more than half a tank of gas to get there and back, which will now cost me at least 30 cents more per gallon to replace. (Is everyone else enjoying that super-fun game of "Who's got the 'cheapest' gas in town?" by the way? If so, check out this little animated movie.)

- I had a wardrobe malfunction wherein I wore a pair of shoes I've never worn before in place of my customary weekend sandals (thinking with the weather there so iffy that I might need more on my feet than those), and ended up with sore feet and a bunch of blisters in places I don't normally get blisters. Not only did it impede my enjoyment of walking around as much as I would have liked, but the big one on my heel burst mid-stride and that's a pretty icky feeling.

- Even though I'm generally an "obey the rules" kind of person, I did bring along my little digital camera just in case there was something that just had to be recorded and wouldn't get my camera confiscated. Plus, since there were no A-level players there, the rules seemed to be a little relaxed and there were a lot of pictures being taken anyway. But I ignored the little "low battery" icon one time too many and my perfect shot of Arnie on the 17th tee didn't happen because the batteries were dead. I would have had a great (non-cat) picture to post with this, damn it.

- While on the 18th fairway, near the green, watching Hale Irwin finish up his winning round, this guy took a huge plastic bag out of his army jacket with one hand, while clutching his can of beer in the other, and started scattering the ashes of a dearly departed friend on the grass. That was distracting enough, especially when he ran out into the sand trap next to me to see if he could get away with dumping some in there, too, but remember that breeze I mentioned? Yeah. I kept hearing him vigorously brushing off his pants behind me and I didn't even want to think about where else the swirling air might have carried any stray bits o' Buddy.

- I put on a new moisturizer in the morning, which I thought had sunscreen because I usually only buy moisturizer with a minimum SPF15, but which had none. So I got a bit of sunburn on my face and neckline and my nose is a nice shade of too-rosy at the moment. Thankfully, it doesn't hurt much.

- I got the crap scared out of me by the Michelin Man. Yeah, there's a story there but I'm getting sleepy, so suffice it to say that I yelled at him and moved on.

Regardless of all my bitching, it was a great day (especially once I got back to the car and put my sandals back on!) and a really fun time all the way around. If you're a golf fan and want to see a nice event without the crowds and the mindless screaming of "Get in the hole!" after every swing, I would try to check it out next year.

Just wear comfortable shoes, for the love of all that's right and good in the world.

August 31, 2005

Somewhat soggy spirits

With all the terribly tragic news and images emerging yesterday and today in the wake of Katrina, I haven't felt much like whipping up any helpings of useless drivel, which is all I could come up with when contemplating it. I do have a funny story to relate, but now doesn't seem like the time.

I also don't feel like it's necessary to comment more on the situation other than encourage you to give either money or blood, or both, to disaster relief efforts if you can. I think those of us whose employers will match such monetary donations especially have an obligation to take advantage of it and enable that little bit more to go where it's needed.

Given all that, I decided there would be nothing better to lift my spirits than some gratuitous catblogging. Hopefully some of you will feel likewise. So here's a new shot of Finn, who I swear gets bigger daily.

August 28, 2005

"Attention shoppers, we have a special on 'foot in mouth' in aisle 3."

Overheard in the dairy products aisle of the supermarket:

Woman shopping for cheese - "That's not right. Two for seven dollars is three-fifty each. Didn't you go to high school?"

Clerk helping her, very quietly - "No."

Woman - "Oh."

*awkward silence*

Woman - "Sorry about that."


Reporting on eavesdropped conversations is territory covered well and enduringly by In Passing... so I've resisted doing it here. But this one was too good to pass up. The woman's embarrassment was almost palpable.

August 25, 2005

Faked out

I thought I had something to say and I'd do a post. Turns out, I didn't. Oh well.

Have a lovely weekend.

August 22, 2005


This may very well have been the highlight of my weekend:

Catnapping with Phineas Fog

Friday we settled on a name and we spent the rest of the weekend trying to get Finn used to his new moniker. I believe that at the moment he thinks "Finn" actually means "treat," but I think it will eventually sink in. He is a complete whore for the treats that came in the little package of goodies provided by the woman who had been his foster mom and it's the only thing I've found that will lure him out of his favorite hiding place -- inside the family room couch. He's so small that he's found a way to actually climb in the back of the thing, and it's nearly impossible to get him out otherwise.

Saturday I was laying on the living room couch and playing with him while he was on the floor. After a long while I turned on my back because my arm was getting tired and, after contemplating it for a moment, to my surprise he leapt up and snuggled in between my feet. We both settled in for a nice afternoon catnap, and it was just such a thrill for me because he didn't need to be enticed into coming up or staying where we were both so comfy. We've bonded pretty quickly and he has this way of looking up at me and holding my gaze when he's curled next to me, kneading my arm or leg like crazy, that just melts me. Yup, it's love.

To any literature purists who are thinking about kvetching over the name, he's not actually named after the character whose name you think I'm mangling. We'd already chosen Phineas and I added Fog (with one "g") because of his color and his ability to come and go like a mist. If anything, he's more like Huck Finn because he's such a rascal.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the last post with such nice things to say and some name suggestions. A couple of them were actually under consideration, but none of them, or any of the ones I'd originally come up with before he arrived, really fit his personality. Phineas just clicked for us more than the rest, and Finn it is.

Coming in second on the weekend highlight meter was going to see "March of the Penguins." What a good movie. Although if the semi-wasted chick one seat over from me said/moaned, "Ohhhh, they're sooo cuuuuute," one more time, I was going to have to learn over and smack her...hard. Yes, they're penguins, they're waddling around, they're cute; they're always cute and we all know it. Shut the hell up and let Morgan Freeman tell the story, dimwit. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, pick a hot day and go into the nice, air-conditioned theater and watch a very well-done movie wrapped in ice. And cute penguins.

August 18, 2005

And the big news is...

I'm a mom!

Okay, no, not the way you first imagined when you read that. I think even I, who's not that into sharing personal information, just might have mentioned it if I were going to have a baby.

My new little one is an as-yet-unnamed kitty cat all my own! After spending the last two hours trying to wear him out a bit so that we'll both get a good night's sleep and in order to get a decent picture of him not in motion, I finally prevailed.

Please say hello to [Insert name here]

If you've been reading here at all for a while, you know that my family's cat is Peri, who I adore but who doesn't live with me. I decided it was time to have a furball here at my place, too, and just recently started looking.

You'll note that both Peri and The Nameless One are grey cats; I definitely have an affinity with them more than other kinds of cats for some reason. Nameless, however, is completely grey; there's not a spot of white on him anywhere and the darkish bands you can see on his legs in the picture aren't really visible in regular (non-flash) light.

He is a bundle of curious energy, but he's a lot more social and willing to approach people than Peri has ever been. That didn't stop him from wigging out a little when he first got here and he demonstrated that he sure can hide something good! But once he calmed down and settled in a bit, it became clear that he's a little lovebug and it has taken me even longer than normal to write this because he keeps coming over for a bit of snuggling and petting. And who can resist that?

Right now I imagine Norman running for his wet bar for a very strong martini, fearing that this will be the start of non-stop catblogging from me. I don't think that's going to be case, but he'll certainly be making the occassional appearance here, especially to celebrate once we've settled on a name. (Which I think will be soon.) As he has now fallen asleep under the air hockey table -- for kitty exercise those laser pointers are the best! -- we'll close the book on him for tonight.

In other news, The Sling is (mostly) off. Yay! I got the all-clear from the doctor to taper off its use, as the fracture is healing quite nicely and should be pretty much be all knitted together in another three weeks. Physical therapy to work on flexibility and strength will last about that long, too. It was very nice to sleep normally last night, even though the shoulder gets a bit achy from time to time. Let's hope that pretty much closes the book on "Mo Takes a Fall," too.

August 16, 2005

Something's coming, something good...

Actually, I think it's something pretty damned great. But, as far as I know, the song doesn't say anything about "pretty damned great" and I do like to try to be accurate.

I'm not all that superstitious, but I'm leery of spilling the beans before it actually happens in case it, well, doesn't happen. Tune in later this week to see what has me all worked up. If you give half a damn, that is.

In the meantime, the following is a blogger public service announcement:

Have you found yourself wondering what blogging really means to you and whether it's actually worth posting? Have you thought about throwing in the towel and picking back up your sugar packet collecting hobby instead? Have you looked at your own posts and felt torn between nausea, anger, and indifference?

Maybe it's time to take a good hard look in the monitor and see whether you're suffering from Blog Depression. Please click on the link for a handy pamphlet on a growing problem that could affect you.

The first step toward recovery is admitting that there's a problem. The second step is blogging about it.

There is a way back, let us be a part of your recovery. And let those innocent sugar packets stay in restaurants and diners where they belong.

August 12, 2005

I was a happy, happy girl today

We did it!

Kaysar is back in the Big Brother 6 house after a landslide vote made him "America's Choice."

Thank you thank you thank you to those of you who were kind enough to vote for him on my behalf, especially those of you who have no interest in the game and just did it for me.

We were part of over 82% out of over 5 million votes that put him back in there to make the game interesting again.

I had planned to say a bit more about it, but there's been a little twist to my own reality show, the one called "Mo Takes a Fall."

After 2+ weeks of being the supporting actor who's doing all of the work and getting none of the attention, my right hand has declared "No más." This afternoon my wrist finally gave out and is very painful.

Ice, Tylenol, topical lidocaine, Vicodin; it's so inflamed that nothing is touching it just yet. I took two Vicodin and about 15 minutes ago it "hit" everywhere else, and my head is swimming a bit, but the wrist? No different. So now I get to sleep not only with my left arm in The Sling, but my right arm in my brace. Lucky me.

As I need to give it a rest for a while (most especially from the keyboard) if you want to go read something new from me, please go visit my third guest-blogging effort sometime this weekend. I've contributed a short diatribe about Donald Trump to Fat Dude's Summer of Secrets "The 26 Most Annoying People of Planet Earth" over at Fat Eye for the Skinny Guy.

Have a lovely, and pain-free, weekend.

August 10, 2005

The Sling: Week Three

So this is the long-ago promised memento from my visit last week to the doctor. This is the initial x-ray from which they made my diagnosis. They process and evaulate all their x-rays on computer now, and he had a piece of ordinary paper with a copy of it for me. I had a hell of a time getting it into a format that I could use here, but The Best Brother in the Whole Wide World flexed some of his geek prowess and helped me figure it out.

The arrow I inserted points to that skiiiiiny little line running diagonally across top portion of the bone -- the greater tuberosity of the humerus, in case you were wondering -- which is where the actual break is. Such a little thing, so much trouble. From what I've read, it's a fairly common injury when people fall with an arm outstretched; but that's our instinct, to catch ourselves.

Today marks the start of week three in the sling, and I have to say I'm pretty tired of wearing it already. They can't really keep you in it for much longer than three weeks without risking a frozen shoulder, which can be even more of a pain in the ass, I understand. So next week it's back to the doctor for more x-rays and the start of physical therapy. I'm wondering whether they'll want to see all the little tricks I've learned in manipulating my arm without causing pain, but allowing me to do the things a girl needs to do on a daily basis. Ponytails don't just make themselves, you know, and I've found that it's very difficult for someone else to learn how to do it for you if they've never had to do it before. No, you're right, they probably won't want to hear about that.

So, I've more or less mastered driving one-armed (including parallel parking!), one-armed dressing and grooming, one-armed eating, and getting through the workday one-armed. I'm still struggling with one-handed typing, though, and at this point I'm pretty regularly cheating because I just can't stand it. (Like now.) It's like being forced to crawl after you've become a master runner.

Anyway, the best parts of my day are when I get to take the sling off and do some little exercises, and just give it a little break (no pun intended) from being strung up like that for the rest of the day. If you think kicking off your shoes at the end of a long day feels good, follow that with shrugging out of piece of cotton that can feel like it's strangling you, and you will know joy.

August 05, 2005

Ready. Aim. Bullseye.


Just thinking about it gives me a little thrill. Going there makes me smile. Strolling the aisles gives me a little zip and can honestly lift my mood on a bad day. Can't explain it, it just is. I've mentioned it before, I know, but I don't think I really conveyed the whole of it.

And I didn't know there were other people out there like me. But there are, there are. There's even a name for people us. I'm proud to admit that I, too, am a Slave to Target.

I really didn't think that I would ever be inclined to mention this, let alone offer up proof, but finding that site has inspired me, and I have a little anecdote from my big trip back in May.

Now, even though I didn't blog much about the actual trip, you know I loved going to Yellowstone. I enjoyed getting there, I enjoyed the stops along the way, I loved the animals and flora, I even loved the rain and crazy weather that dogged us. I enjoyed trying new restaurants and hotels. I loved the geysers, the mudpots and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I loved traipsing around fireswept vistas, and valleys surrounded by bison that were, by turns, scary, adorable, and awe-inspiring.

But even when I was out there being Nature Girl, taking tons pictures of anything that moved and a whole bunch of things that didn't, finding bison chips charming and bison jams amusing, there was still a part of me that wondered, "When do I get to shop?" Not gift shops, those are like being a hamster on an overpriced wheel. Therapeutic, take-my-time, see-what's-new-and-exciting shopping. (I've lost about half of you by this point, haven't I?) Just that inner voice giving me a bit of longing, nothing more.

Then we took a day away from the park and went to Bozeman, Montana. Now, you would have had to be there to understand why simply going there was funny to us, but apart from that it was a neat day. We went to the Museum of the Rockies and spent hours wandering around there, soaking up the displays on dinosaurs, the Lewis & Clark trail, the geology of the area, women in rodeo, frontier life, and the Native American culture.

By the time we stumbled out of there it was past time for lunch and we were terrifically hungry. With mere instinct and quivering stomachs to guide us (since the AAA Tour Book wasn't giving us jack), we found our way downtown and discovered a totally fantastic place for beer and pizza, the MacKenzie River Pizza Co., where we had a great meal in a fun setting. I highly recommend it if you're in the area (and be sure to visit the restrooms).

Sated, tired and happy, it was time to figure out what to do with the rest of our time there. By this time my allergies were giving me a lot of grief and I really needed to buy a pillow sans dust mites. In a situation like that, the thoughts of a woman like me naturally turn to...Target. It's just where I tend to go first to buy those kinds of things. We asked our waiter if there was one in town and, lo and behold, there was. So off we went, in search of the red bullseye.

I didn't realize until we pulled into the parking lot how excited I was about this little detour. I got out of the car and, I swear, my first thought was "I'm home!" I must admit, that startled even me a bit, but it didn't slow me down. See:

I really wasn't planning on having the first-ever picture I posted of myself here being, um, from that particular angle, but it's real, it's honest, and I think it really captures the moment. I call it "Maura Returning to the Mother Ship."

So now you know. I'm slavishly devoted to Target, I'd rather shop there than most anywhere else and, well, let's face it, Target could call me its bitch and I don't think I'd have much of an argument against that.

Right now it's time for a good night's sleep. Big day tomorrow. There's some shopping I need to do.

August 04, 2005

Random act of (self-motivated) kindness

Do something nice today for your favorite temporary cripple, won't you? Pretty please?

Consider taking one minute and going here. Just select the button under the picture labelled Kaysar and click on "Submit My Vote."

That's it! No filling out forms, no supplying any personal information, no resulting spam.

Even if you aren't a Big Brother fan...or you aren't much of a reality show fan...or you actually really hate the whole genre...but you don't hate me...please go, right now! You can do a nice, simple thing and I'd consider it a personal favor.

I'd be so grateful, in fact, that there might be something in it for you.

That's right, if you go before next Wednesday at noon (Pacific time) and vote to send Kaysar back into the Big Brother 6 house, then come back here and tell me you did it, you could get one of two prizes of free iTunes downloads.

I've got two codes, one for three downloads, another for one download. Just leave a comment to tell me you voted and say "Enter me!" After the results of the vote are announced on Thursday, I will do a drawing from all the names of people who voted (honor system here, folks) and are interested. The first name drawn will get the three songs, the second name drawn will get one.

Plus, find one other computer to vote from, come back and leave another comment and you'll get a second entry. Send a friend who has never commented here before (who tells me you sent them and has a valid e-mail address) to say they voted and you'll get a third and final entry. It has to be done in that order and only one prize per person.

I know some of you are iPod freaks and you could make good use of a few free downloads. So you help get my favorite houseguest back into the BB6 house and I could put some tunes in your head. What a deal.

August 03, 2005

The Sling: Week Two

Yup, one week down and, as it turns out, another two to go. That kind of sucks, as I was really hoping it would be only one more.

I had a follow-up appoinment today and it was so quick it almost made my head spin. The doctor was very nice and, first thing, fixed The Sling that, apparently, I hadn't been wearing properly. No one told me there was a right way and a wrong way; they strapped the sucker on and sent me on my Vicodin-induced way. Kind of would have been nice to have been doing it correctly from the start, but that's water under the shoulder at this point, I suppose.

He gave me a few other tips, talked about pain meds and exercises to keep the arm from stiffening up, ordered a course of physical therapy for me, told me what to expect in terms of regaining my range of motion in that arm (it will never be 100% again), and said see you in two weeks when we'll take some more x-rays.

He never actually made me feel like he was rushing me, but I swear, it was over so fast that I can't say for certain that I could pick him out of a lineup mere hours later. I do remember he was good-looking, but that's about all. Welcome to healthcare in the 21st century, eh? I have no issues with my provider (I really like it overall), so it's not like I'm griping about it. I just wonder about the little someone taking the time, oh, say, a week ago, to adjust the strap on this thing so that it was doing the most good...and where they've gone when it comes to our health. It's as though we've been trained over time to expect less and less.

But I digress. I did get a little momento from my oh-so-brief checkup today, and if it pans out I may be able to share it with you tomorrow. I'd hoped to do it tonight but that whole "work" thing kind of got in the way, and now hopefully we'll all just have something to look forward to.

Well, "look forward to" more than your next physical at least , I promise.

August 02, 2005

A Very Special Referral

Most of you know I'm a big fan of TVgasm and have been for a long time. I've been honored to be on their list of links for quite a while and if I weren't such a procrastinator I would try to get a gig writing for them. There's only so much TV they can cover on their own, after all, and they have been adding contributors recently. I would have loved tackling this last season of the recently completed "Average Joe." Maybe one day I'll get my act together enough to...nah, who am I kidding?

Anyway, Copygodd, a great friend of The Ping, is not a procrastinator and, though I don't quite know how he finds the time to be as prolific as he is (check out his list of "Offsite Labs" -- he writes for all of them!), he is also now writing a weekly recap for TVgasm. Please go check out his latest offering, as I feel a bit of pride for having "led" him to the site and thereby contributed slightly to his new, higher profile. (That site gets hits like you wouldn't believe.)

And if anyone can come back and explain to me what the hell he's talking about, I'd appreciate it.

August 01, 2005

A glimpse of the SJ Grand Prix

Ah, the promise of it all.

Street course racing in beautiful, sunny California, right here in my town. So much hoopla, so much anticipation.

This was about as much of a view of the actual race that we got to see:

That's the car of Sebastien Bourdais, the leader for 95% of the race and the eventual winner.

But a lot more of it was like this for us:

Please note that those photos were taken about 1-2 seconds apart. (See how the people haven't moved an inch?)

Those cars haul ass, even with the streets being as narrow and, apparently, as bumpy as they were. If you check it out, that article does a really good job of summing up the frustrations of the weekend. (The only thing he doesn't mention is how hot it was out there.) My favorite line, from one of the drivers describing his feeling about the course: "'I am riding motorcycles since I was 2 1/2 and I've never screamed like I was screaming Friday' during practice."

I have to admit, it wasn't all that I hoped it would be -- and I'm PISSED that they messed up with the tickets and they re-sold our seats to someone else as a "reward" for buying ours early -- but I'm glad that overall it was considered a success. Not perfect, by any means, but it looks like they'll have a chance to fix some of the missteps and host it again next year.

I managed to spend hours down there and not have anyone drop me to my knees with an ill-timed bump, I didn't get sunburned and my ears didn't hurt afterward, so from that perspective, it was a personal success, too.

But my heart still belongs to Formula One.

July 30, 2005

The Sling: Day Three

[Note: No, I don't plan to do this for every day I have to wear it, just until I, umm...have something else to say!]

So as mentioned below, today I went to the San Jose Grand Prix and I was in full arm-protection mode. Silly as it may sound, I grabbed one of those little freebie fans on giant popsicle sticks and whenever I got into a crowd situation, I would hold it out in front of my sling like the flimsiest of shields. It either got peoples' attention because it was unusual, or it served to brush against people before they bumped me and they moved aside enough to avoid it...and thus me. It actually worked, and I had a convenient fan to wave around when it was needed.

But my little moment of ingenuity couldn't overcome one force: my own instinctive reaction. When I finally got near the track for the first time and a car went by at full speed, it produced a gust of wind that lifted up some leaves and debris from the area between me and the track, and it blew something right up into my face. And I reacted without thinking - I lifted my hands, both my hands, to protect my eyes. That move was an eye-opener, and I couldn't speak for a few minutes afterward for gasping with pain.

The day went by without additional incident, and suddenly it was time for dinner. (How's that for a transition?) I decided to try a new restaurant I'd read about in the local paper called Rio Adobe. It's a Southwestern/Mexican kind of place with a simple menu and, as it turns out, really good food. A friend went with me and we both chose burritos, mine a delicious concoction of plump, delicious, lime-marinated shrimp, tomatoes and rice. I took a few stabs at cutting it and eating it that way, but I soon tired of the cutting part and did what I often do when the tortilla part isn't working for me (usually when it tastes like cardboard, or is too thick or not cooked enough -- not the case here, it was completely a matter of circumstance), I dumped out the filling, scooped out the good stuff, and started mixing it up with the yummy black beans on the side.

As I'm in the process of slowly doing this one-handed, I overhear the pompous guy at the next table comment to the woman with him, "Oh, that's why I never order burritos, they just stuff them with rice to fill them up." I rolled my eyes but I didn't look over because if he had nothing better to do than make observations while watching me casually take the filling out of my burrito, it was his problem not mine.

But wait, there's more. He crosses his arms superciliously and goes on to query, "Do you know what burritos remind me of?" Now, my mind drifted in a totally different direction for a moment here because of my theory on how burritos got their name, so I didn't hear what the brain trust with him said, but it wasn't the "right" answer. He pauses for effect and announces: "Haggis." There is silence from the chick while she digests this (so to speak), but I drop my hand and fork to my plate and turn to gape at him with astonishment and disgust because this is MY dinner he's talking about. Turnabout is fair play, however, and he ignores me while he goes on to ask her, "Do you know what haggis is?" (If you don't know, go visit Keeme.) Of course she doesn't, so he starts to explain while I tune him out and go back to getting my very non-haggis-like meal ready for me to eat more easily.

When what I really wanted to do was throw the remaining guacamole at him, call him a sanctimonious prick and tell him to keep his eyes on his own damned table.

But the guacamole was really good and that would have been a waste.

July 29, 2005

The Sling: Day Two

Today was all about adapting and figuring things out. Exactly how far can I push the arm to give me some mobility before that snap of pain lets me know "too far"? How do I deal with a head of hair by myself? Which kinds of shirts work best with a sling wrapped around my neck?

Lessons learned:

1. Don't jostle me. Out in public, I find myself feeling a great deal of fear of someone bumping against my arm. That's when I'm glad that the sling isn't transparent. But I know it's only a matter of time. People are so oblivious so much of the time, and add to that how half the population can't seem to go anywhere without a cell phone pressed up against their ear, and eventually it's going to happen. And I'm going to scream. Loudly. Not because I want to, but because I won't be able to help it; it just hurts that much. I bumped my arm against the wall of the shower this morning and I involuntarily let out a scream that hurt my own eardrums.

Saturday and Sunday I'm off to attend the San Jose Grand Prix, so we'll see how it goes in an actual crowd. Please think nice thoughts about invisible force fields and a sudden epidemic of mental awareness on the part of my fellow citizens.

2. Eating is a chore. Goodness knows I enjoy food and it's rare that I don't look forward to a meal, but it's difficult to find things that are easy for me to eat when eating out. Sandwiches seem like an obvious choice, but pick it up one-handed and a lot of the filling falls out. And you can only have so many sandwiches. If I pick something that requires cutting, I'm going to be the last one at the table because it's a slooooow process. The upside is that eating slower = eating less and that's generally a good thing.

3. Hand over the pain meds every 4-6 hours and no one gets hurt. I've always been an Advil girl because it's the most effective at dealing with my frequent headaches. (Well, second-most effective, but Orudis KT has become so difficult for me to find that I was using it for only the worst ones 'til I ran out.) But now I worship at the altar of Tylenol. I take the Vicodin (which, as you probably know, has the same base ingredient as Tylenol) only at night because it makes me so sleepy and I have get myself around during the day, and the "regular" Extra Strength pills seem to do the trick the rest of the time, so long as I take them on schedule. I'd become a fan of the Rapid Relief kind but, well, I ran out of those, too.

So be nice to the next person you see strapped into a sling, and don't get between him/her and the drugstore, okay?

July 28, 2005

The Sling: Day One

I see that I neglected to mention that my left arm is in a sling, though you may have already assumed that. Well, I wish like hell that they had invented an invisible one because apparently seeing one sparks a Pavlovian response in people. "Maura! What haaaapened?"

This is followed by the Pit-Bullian response, wherein they aren't satisfied with the answer "I fractured my shoulder," (or, to break the monotony, "I broke my shoulder" -- couldn't decide which sounded less bad, so I alternated) or the answer to the inevitable follow-up question, "How?" which was "I fell." One person asked "Where?" and I don't think he was pleased by my answer of "On the ground."

Oh, no, they want the gory details or, as I think of it, the NOY(F)B details. So they start guessing. I got "Did you get into a fight?" (Seriously. Got that one twice.) "Did someone push you?" "Rock climbing?" "Did you fall down some stairs?" "A little too much [insert hand motion indicating drinking]...?" Sheesh.

I know they mean well and it's their way of expressing concern, but I also think they'd know by now that I'm only going to tell them as much as I want to tell them, and that they more they pry, the more I'm only going to stymie them. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that I can be contrary, and I especially get that way when I feel pushed. To me, prying = pushing.

But I got through the day, with only one invite to arm wrestle, and aside from all the questions the hardest part was working on the computer. Being on the keyboard so much, I've become a speedy typist, and being limited to only one hand was (and is) making me nuts. My hands work in concert like fine instruments so automatically that it is a huge effort to keep my left one from reaching up to play its part. And my right hand isn't exactly enjoying being a suddenly solo act.

Finally I took one of those squeeze balls, which the doctor had encouraged me to use once in a while so the arm doesn't get too weak, and just kept it clutched in my left hand so it couldn't touch the keys. But damned if I didn't look up once in a while and find it sitting on the desk, with no memory of having placed it there, and my left index finger manning the Shift button! Sneaky damned impulses.

Well, Mr. Vicodin is telling me that it's time to get some sleep, so I'll bid you goodnight. This weekend is the San Jose Grand Prix, some of which I'll be attending, so hopefully I'll have some interesting observations to share from there.

That is, if being shoulder-to-shoulder with a couple thousand people while nursing a broken shoulder doesn't prove to be a bad combination.

July 27, 2005

When I fall, I fall hard

Alas, it is not love to which I refer in this case. No, I mean literally.

Last night I took a tumble and (long story short) I fractured my shoulder. For at least the next two weeks, I can't use my left arm worth a damn. Thankfully, I am right-handed so I can type, albeit slowly. But, as I am discovering, there are a whole lot of things you really need two arms to accomplish. Getting ready in the mornings is going to be...interesting.

So, if posts are short for a little while, that's probably why. Doesn't mean I can't read all the comments you can throw at me, however!

July 20, 2005

Ticket for one on the road to Hell

Boy, best-laid plans and good intentions and all that, and no post after all. Not that anyone really seemed to notice. (Aside to those of you contemplating a blog hiatus: Be careful what you wish for.)

Yesterday I got home from work to find in the snail mail that I had won tickets to an advance screening of "The Bad News Bears." If you know me, you know that if there's something to be won, I'm a'gonna be entering. So yippee, yay, I won and all that, but the screening was last night. Advance screening? Yes. Advance notice? No.

There went the plans for the evening, because I did want to see the movie and see how well they did re-making it, as it is one I remember with a great deal of fondness from my youth. And, hey, it was free. No one else was available to go with, so off I raced back along the way I'd gone home, as the theater it was at is about five minutes away from work. Grrr.

Then, because I hadn't had enough sports for the evening, I went to cheer the softball team The Best Brother in the Whole Wide World plays on for their 10:10 game. That's right, the geniuses behind the scheduling have games that start after 10pm during the workweek. I would respectfully submit that they might want to re-think that, especially if the performance of their ump was anything to go by. But I digress.

By the time I got home, it was already what many of you (Rita) would consider late. But there was reality TV to watch and I really wanted to see what had happened on two shows in particular.

So, yes, I guess the upshot is that I stood you up for crap TV. I suppose I should feel bad about that, and maybe my fatigue during the day wasn't punishment enough, but damn, I did enjoy the entire evening.

Would now be a bad time to mention that I have also started watching "Rock Star: INXS," which is on three times a week? (My punishment for that is having "New Sensation" running on a continuous loop in my head whenever I'm not actively thinking about something. You try hearing "Live, baby, live/Now that the day is over" as sung by someone who ended up killing himself and see how much you like it after the first few dozen times.) Not all of the music is to my liking, but I'm hooked. (Aside to Mark Burnett: If you decide to do a reality show along the lines of "Paralegal by day, Blogger by night," please look me up. You make just about anything interesting.)

July 18, 2005


There are three entities responsible for the lack of a "real" post tonight:

1. Target
2. TiVo
3. GSN

Target - Man, do I love that store. I go in there and it's like a theme park for a thrill-shopper. By that I mean there was very little I actually needed, but I spent waaaay too much time in there anyway, walking around, checking things out, comparing prices and picking up nifty little things to buy. Like the really cool "silicone-coated lightbulb" that is now illuminating my room in a slightly eerie purple glow. Necessary? No, but it's the first time silicone has ever made me smile.

TiVo - Oh, I've gone on about this before so I won't elaborate, but there were so many goodies on it dying for me to watch them, and I couldn't say no. Case in point? See #3.

GSN - It's really all their fault. They've started showing The Amazing Race from season one, which I missed completely the first time around, and they have a "new" episode on every night. That makes for a bit of backlog with a one-hour show. And they're going to show all seven seasons. I guess that could count as a warning. Maybe I need a TiVo with a bigger hard drive...

Anyway, since I actually did have something to write about tonight, maybe tomorrow night's post will spill from my fingers like a waterfall of wonderment. Yeah, right.

July 15, 2005

Not Afraid

Do you remember Sorry Everybody, the site that caused a post-election stir with members of the "other" half of America apologizing for Bush's re-election? I know I felt a lot better knowing that many, many other people felt the same way I did and I checked out a lot of the submissions.

Well, inspired by that, post-7/7 we now have We're Not Afraid. It's a similar collection of message-laden photos and images, letting the world know that we are not afraid of terrorist attacks. Some are a little silly, some are cute, some are simple but effective, some are sweet, and some are inspirational.

This one I find particularly compelling. It doesn't tell you on the site, but the guy in it survived one of the subway attacks.

Will it change anything? No, likely not. But if it makes people feel better to express themselves in reaction to something so devastating, I say go for it. I'm a big believer in not letting fear rule you as a result of these kinds of attacks. I was supposed to get on a plane a handful of days after 9/11 and if they had let any flights leave by that time, I would have. I truly believe that our fear gives "them" the power, and I'm not willing to contribute to that.

To the right you'll see (hopefully!) a button they have available, which I have linked to the site. It will move down to the Bloggy Misc. area in a few days, in case you want to visit in the future. And if anyone has, or decides to, submit a picture, please let us know where in the gallery it ends up.

July 13, 2005

It's a Summer of Secrets!

I feel so guilty. Ever since the end of the last Amazing Race (a.k.a. the start of my sabbatical), I have neglected one of my favorite sites, TVgasm.

I don't watch any of the shows they were still covering after that point and, like so many blogs that I haven't been visiting like I used to, I let them fall a bit by the wayside.

But, oh, baby, they're back and better than ever! Yes, Big Brother has begun its sixth incarnation and the 'gasm recaps are hitting their stride. For Big Brother 6, CBS has abandoned any pretense of including "regular" people, like any who are older, or freakish, or who don't look killer in a swimsuit. (Don't believe me? Click on that last link and check out the cast photos at the top. Then wait for just a minute as the main photos rotate through 'til you get to the one with the huge title "How We Love Howie," and I think you'll see what we're dealing with this time around.) This year's theme is "Summer of Secrets" and you can bet they're going to beat that one into the ground. There are secret alliances, secret rooms, secret safes, secret videosscreens and (no doubt) Secret deodorant as a potential sponsor of a secret sweepstakes.

And, as if that weren't enough, there's a new feature on CBS's site for the show. Former houseguests are blogging about their experiences and observations on this season. Not sure how it qualifies as "Revenge of the Houseguests," but it's somewhat interesting.

But honestly, for every bit of eye-rolling goofiness on (or simply about) the show, there's a treasure-trove of gems about each moment in the recaps. Plus, there's always the Chenbot; there's a wonderfully Chenerific montage up right now. Having TVgasm's recaps truly makes watching the show so much more fun. Hope you'll tune in soon and then stop by to see how B-Side will crack you up with the best screen captures and commentary this side of...well...anywhere.

July 12, 2005

Piece of cake

Ah, inspiration, sweet inspiration. So elusive and so ephemeral, here one minute and gone the next. And, contrary to Liberty Bob's prediction, it wasn't someone pissing me off that finally gave me some inspiration. No, it was a Twinkie. Well, sort of.

It started with a purple cupcake, actually. In connection with the upcoming "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movie, Hostess came out with Chocolicious Wonka Cakes, which they claim are "purplicious." How exactly was I supposed to resist that, can you tell me? Right, I couldn't.

So, one recent evening at our local 7-11, The Best Brother in the Whole Wide World generously sprang for a package of these violet wonders when I mentioned that I looked forward to trying them. I got them home and held off for as long as I could, but they were calling to me from the bag. I thought I heard them say, "Don't touch that squirrel's nuts!" but I could have been imagining that part.

Anyway, I finally unwrapped them with delight, took one out and admired the strange hue of the icing on top, which we all know is always the best part of Hostess cupcakes. At long last, it was time for that first bite. I made sure I took a big enough bite in order to reach into the cream center, to get the full flavor and experience.

And it was awful. All I could taste was the icky fakeness of the food coloring they'd used. I dipped my tongue into the center just to see if it was as bad as it seemed, and it was. Then I peeled off a bit of the top icing to check if it was as dull and lacking sweetness as I thought, and it was. I couldn't even enjoy the chocolate cake part. What a disappointment. I felt so let down by the promise of the purple. It was a sad moment.

Then today a banner ad caught my eye, which is a fairly unusual thing. Generally I ignore them almost completely, but this one finally pulled my eye upward enough times that I had to read it. It was for none other than the Wonka cakes, and even knowing that I hated them, it drew me in and I clicked on it just to make the orange curlicues stop rolling across my screen.

It took me to the Hostess site and I was completely sucked in. Did you know there are recipies for Twinkies?!? I think I would feel a mite cheated if someone actually served me a Twinkie wedding cake, but apparently not everyone feels that way. And how about some Twinkie sushi? I am seriously tempted to whip those up next time it's my turn to bring goodies in to work and see what the reaction is. Or the pink Sno Balls Caterpillar? (Does anyone else wonder why they displayed this one on what looks to be an actual bit of asphalt?)

But then it got even better, as I stumbled onto Planet Twinkie and my, oh my, talk about reliving one's childhood! You can send e-cards with the different Hostess cakes "retro characters" like Captain Cupcake, King Ding Dong, or Twinkie the Kid, play games, learn weird stuff about Hostess products, and even buy products like the Hostess Snack Oven, which has a much higher cuteness factor than a plain ol' Easy Bake oven.

All this had me wishing that I snagged a snack from the cupboard at home before I left for work, and I'm planning a trip to the nearby Hostess outlet to calm this sudden craving.

Which begs the question: Which, if any, is your favorite Hostess snack cake? If you're more a Little Debbie fan or Drake's Cakes afficionado, please substitute your favorite of those. I'll enjoy reviewing your answers over a couple Ho-Hos and a tall, cold glass of milk.