Monday, December 31, 2007

what's your traditional new year's day food?

As far as traditional new year's day food goes, I'm strictly a pork-and-sauerkraut person. Not very Italian, I know, but my mother's side of the family is of German descent and I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country. So, pork and sauerkraut it is.

I also really love Hoppin' John, though, so I might have that too. Hey! What? There's no rule against lucky lunch AND lucky dinner!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

facebook rocks the birthday reminder

Yes, it's my birthday. Most of you know that already because you've sent me all sorts of birthday messages and superpokes and stuff...and THANK YOU for that! So much fun.

I think the "upcoming birthdays" feature might be my favorite feature in all of Facebook. I am terrible at remembering birthdays. I can keep maybe five in my head at any given time (six if you're lucky). But with Facebook I can just login and see whose birthday is imminent (if it's in a person's profile), and I can then be sure to send a birthday cupcake or whatever via a wall post. Super fun!

I know, most people just have a calendar, but whatever. I don't. I also don't have an address book. I finally got off my butt the other day and made an "addresses.txt" file but that's the extent of it. So I am thankful for the Facebook notifications [and the birthday wishes]!


Friday, December 28, 2007

so i had a bit of a scrabulous breakthrough yesterday

Anyone who has played Scrabulous with me on Facebook knows two things: 1) I have a shitty record and 2) I will always play, and I play often.

How shitty is my record, you ask? Through 124 completed games, I am 19 and 105. I am the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of Scrabulous. But I have not resorted to cheating to improve my record. Instead, I figured I'd wait it out and improve through the draft. Oh wait, that's the Devil Rays again. No, instead I tried this neat trick...

I read the rules.

You see, I have lost a considerable number of games within the last few plays (mostly to Billie, oddly enough). Then I lost a game yesterday to my nemesis after her last play, and I realized what I had been missing: the whole deduct-the-number-of-points-remaining-in-your-rack deal. Yeah. Never knew that. Read the rules. Now I'm good.

I have a strategy now! It consists of paying attention near the end of the game.

I've knocked off a few wins in a row, including one (soon to be two) against comebacknikki. I am still pretty sure I'll never beat Collin, and I'm never playing Derek because he is scary good. But everyone else? Bring it on!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

post-xmas haze

I've done a whole lot of nothing since xmas day. Well, I guess that's not entirely true. I did get my personal website (for classes and academicish projects) back online. And I baked some cookies from a mix I got as a present (mmmm!) I bookmarked some recipes to try, and I went to the grocery store.

But really I just feel like I've been sleeping all the time. I've done a lot of that...a cross between making up the deficit from the fall semester and storing up sleep points for the spring semester. Also, since it's so foggy and dark all the time because of the snow clouds, my body thinks it's sleeping time at 4pm.

I was a very social person on xmaseve and xmasday. On xmaseve I stayed local and went with our department receptionist/office person and her husband and sister-in-law to her brother's house. Her brother and his wife have four kids between them, and my friend's parents were also there, so the grand total of people in the house was 12. It was not chaotic. Everyone ate their food (mmmm!) and opened their presents in an orderly fashion, and there were games afterward. A good time was had by all. Nice folks!

On xmas day I baked a cake and drove 110 miles to a little town that's a suburb of another little town. The directions were pretty funny: drive 15 miles and turn left, drive 80 miles and note the rest area, drive 20 more miles and look for a right turn, drive 10 miles and look for a cemetery then turn left into a "driveway." I was good up until the "driveway" part. You see, it wasn't so much a driveway as it was a left turn into a wheat field that eventually had a house on it. But I suppose that's longer to type than "driveway," isn't it? Oh well. I did miss the turn because I was debating whether or not that was actually a driveway, but she also said that if I hit town I had gone too far...I did, turned around, crossed my fingers, and turned into the "driveway." Success!

This time I was going to Michelle-my-school-chum's house (hi Michelle!). At this extravaganza were Michelle, her husband, their freaking adorable four kids, and both sets of that's what, 11 people? Yeah. Again, no chaos...just lots of good food. Who knew there were normal families out there?

And then it started to snow.

Although I was born and raised in Pennsylvania (where it snows), I don't recall ever driving in snow while I was there. Dad did that. I lived in Durham during the Great Blizzard of 1993, but I walked to work. When a friend and I decided to drive the entire length of the state of North Carolina in said blizzard, to visit some friends of ours in Asheville, he did the driving. And, of course, I spent the last 13 or so years in California. In other words, my personal snow driving experience was quite limited.

But I had to be home to do my 5am thing for work on Wednesday, so off I went. Only two inches of snow had fallen, and it wasn't snowing anymore, so I was optimistic. The only problem was that I didn't have a good feel for underlying ice, so I went slowly down the slowly (35mph) that a few pickup trucks zoomed past me, impatient. Whatever.

Only three or four vehicles zoomed past me on the entire drive. From Washtucna to Colfax (50 miles) I was leading a caravan of three cars, all of which had drivers perfectly content to go 40-45mph insted of 65mph. If they knew that the leader of the pack (me) was driving a Mazda and was from California, they might not have wanted to follow...but it all worked out. It didn't get scary until Colfax, which is only 15 miles from Pullman. In Colfax, only a few cars had blazed a path on the roadway, and the snow started to come down again. Those last 15 miles were a little harrowing, but I made it. When I eventually turned onto my street, my car was the first one down it (it's not a well-traveled street), so it was kind of cool to make the tracks.

Then I went right to bed because I was exhausted. I've been doing a whole lot of nothing ever since.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

happy december holiday times!

Happy Chriskwanzakah! or Festivus, or whatever!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

i have conquered the mazda p5 low-beam lightbulb replacement!

Replacing a lightbulb in a Mazda P5 is a PAIN IN THE ASS. Seriously, it's a well-documented PiTA at the Mazda 24/7 Forums. One would think that replacing a lightbulb would be simple. It's in the owner's manual, after all, with a diagram and everything.

Except it involves clips and hooks, and the placement, especially on the passenger side, is pretty stupid—you have to wedge your hand between an overly-tall washer fluid dispenser. I have small hands and it was a problem for me, so I can only imagine how much hell men have to go through to work with the bulb and the clips and the hook and so on when you can't see what you're doing and you're looking at it all upside-down. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the engineer wasn't a woman trying to make a point about...let's call it "learning a new skill."

. . . . .

I tried to replace the driver's side bulb last year. I messed it up. I got the bulb out and thought the adapter was part of the bulb so didn't keep it around (in my defense, hardcore modder guys on the Mazda forum thought the same thing and felt just as stupid afterwards) and then obviously couldn't get a bulb to fit, and had to go to the dealer, and blah blah blah. The closest Mazda dealer to me now is in Spokane, so the 140-mile round trip plus parts and labor was something I wanted to avoid.

I went to the local auto parts store, got my $15 bulb, drove home, and spent 15 minutes in the freezing cold and the dark before I said screw it, I'll try in the morning.

It only took me 15 more minutes to take care of it this morning. Yay! Here's my contribution to the knowledgebase for such things: when trying to hook the clip in place after putting the bulb in, get the end of the clip under the little ridge and press inward on the sharp end of the clip—NOT the loopy part. There just isn't room to squeeze the loopy part to hook it under the ridge without losing hold of something else, so just put it in place and then push inward from the sharp end. It hurts like hell, especially in the cold, but it works.

edited to add: now the passenger side light is now much brighter than the driver's side. I will endeavor to replace the driver's side light bulb on another day so they're both the same...


Friday, December 21, 2007

cheese, redux

I did not anticipate the response to the cheese post from a few weeks ago. Who knew so many people would agree with me?

And then in a comment to my oh crap, I'm busy again post, a certain P/H was kind enough to remind me that hey! you were going to tell us about the cheese.

True enough. But look at what an awesome job of it Sara did! Sara loves cheese too. Sara is lucky enough to have several cheese-only shops nearby. Quelle surprise...Sara lives in Wisconsin.

When I lived in California, I took the cheese for granted. I knew I could get any cheese that I wanted at Whole Foods or a specialty shop. But what do I have in Pullman? Remarkably, a Safeway that recently upgraded itself such that it is as nice as the Super Safeways I was used to in California...which is to say certainly not a Whole Foods, but I can walk away with an entirely organic cart full of food if I try hard enough. Along those same lines, the Safeway also has a nice selection of cheese. Nice enough, I should say. Next time I go to Seattle, I'll still go to a cheese shop or a Whole Foods and shop around. But for now my needs are met. It helps that Tillamook has a lot of good products widely distributed in the Pac NW.

What are my needs, exactly? Remarkably basic.
* cheese for sandwiches: extra-sharp cheddar, havarti, muenster
* cheese for baguette toasts: brie, wine-soaked cheddar, havarti w/ herbs or seeds
* cheese for vegetables: gruyère, emmentaler
* cheese for pastas: parmigiano-reggiano, asiago, pecorino romano, fontina, mizithra
* cheese for cheese and cracker plates: mild/med/sharp cheddar, jack, colby, swiss
* cheese for salads: ricotta salata, goat, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino romano, mozzarella
* cheese for desserts: ricotta, mascarpone
* cheese for omelets: goat, med/sharp cheddar

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i hardly know what to do with myself

Now that all the items on my list are crossed out, I hardly know what to do.

Ok, that's not true. I have billable hours to rack up at the job job, a syllabus to string together for my course next semester (it's almost a template, so this isn't a huge deal), some books to read to get a headstart on the *cough*four*cough* seminars I'm taking next semester, my own academicish website to get back online, some academicish/computery projects to sketch out/prototype, more things I'm forgetting, and I'm a doing a 4th edition of this book in the 1st quarter of '08.

So yeah, I guess I know exactly what to do with myself: watch TV!

I kid, I kid. A little.


Sunday, December 16, 2007


Grades: submitted. Whoo hoo!

All that remains on my list the house. Bleh.

I hate cleaning the house. But I also hate living in squalor, I go.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

grading + fireplace = not so bad

If one has to grade, say, a stack of 97 essays (102 students minus 3 who didn't turn one in, minus 2 more that were turned in late so the prof graded them), I feel it is best to do it in a comfortable place with a couch and a table and a fireplace. Oh yes, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

I graded 41 of them this morning before I realized I had an enormous headache and should probably stop for a bit. The only other person in the room was a lovely fellow from Gonzaga who, like me, went to the coffeeshop to grade "so I wouldn't be in front of my computer."

So true!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

it's holiday card time!

Please drop me a line in e-mail ([name of this blog] or on Facebook ([firstname]_[lastname] if you would like a holiday card sent to you in the Real! Live! Mail!

I love to send cards. I would send one to every single one of you if I knew your addresses. In fact, I only know the addresses of something like five of you. :(

UPDATE: Keep 'em coming! I have a lovely list now. Need more stamps!


Monday, December 10, 2007

what i learned at approximately 2am

Cream of Wheat made with a spoonful of powdered cocoa is pretty damn good.

Also, writing papers while hopped up on Alka-Seltzer increases one's footnote output eightfold (which is to say I've never used more than one footnote in a seminar paper, and for the one I just finished, I used eight. I blame both the cold medicine and my friend EM.).

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

random bullets of writing papers while on cold medicine

* I really like Alka-Seltzer cold medicine. It's my favorite cold medicine of all.

* I am thankful for loose tea, hot water, and a thermos that keeps the tea hot so that I can dole out little cups of it for myself. Otherwise, as with coffee, I make a cup and let it sit and get cold because I have a short attention span. But little cups are good for short attention spans.

* I really like snow. I always have, and living in California didn't help with the whole "I like snow" thing. But every time Mount Hamilton would get a dusting of snow on it, I would get really happy driving toward it on my way home from somewhere.

* It should not surprise you that it is snowing right now, which is why I thought of the bullet item above.

* I have two particularly awesome classmates in my favorite seminar, and we are writing papers for other seminars right now. Independently of each other, we expressed the same thought: we really want to be working on our papers for the seminar we have together, because we love those papers. That's a neat feeling.

* Friday was a lousy day to get sick, but I could have predicted it. The good news is that I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. The bad news is that I'm behind on my paper-writing. The good news is that it will all work out. It always does.

* I have never wanted to clean the house more than I do at this moment. Sure, the house is kind of gross. But mostly a clean house will signal having completed my list of stuff.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

it has come to this

...a list.

Believe me, I would love to weigh in on the favorite cheeses question posed in the comments to this post, but I can't do that yet.

Instead, I have to post the to-do list to keep myself accountable and also for the satisfaction of crossing things off of it.

* JB paper
* AR paper
* Spanish exam
* RE portfolio
* grade 96 or so GenEd 110 essays
* submit grades
* clean the house from top to bottom


Wednesday, December 5, 2007


[Why yes, the increase in blog posts is directly related to the amount of scholarly writing I have to do in the next week.]

When I was doing the 7 meme, I thought of something that people might think is weird but I really and truly do not. In a random survey (of two people, both of whom I adore, so I guess that's not so random) I found that indeed this is not weird but instead is truly awesome.

So here's a fact about me: at any given time, my fridge will include at least 5, sometimes 7, and on a good day even 9 different types of cheese.

This fact, as well as my undying love for sushi, is why I didn't last as a vegan.

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sexy paper titles

I don't do sexy titles. I can joke about them with the best of you..."Is there a colon? There has to be a colon! Did you work 'hegemony' in there somewhere? Didya?" But when it comes to actually creating one for myself, well, not so much.

For instance, the working title for one of my papers right now is a variation of "[insert pithy title here]" and it has been that way throughout the draft/workshopping process. Naturally, suggestions have been made. Many of the suggestions come from our prof, who is a title machine.

She wants me to use "mud wrestling" in my title.

I'm not sure I'm ready to go there...that's a different kind of sexy (which is to say, for me, not sexy).

Seriously though. I actually have plans for this paper. I can't call it "Mud Wrestling [obligatory colon] [actual informative phrase]."


the 7 meme

If I am tagged with a meme, it usually dies with me. I suck at following along. The Pharyngula Mutating Genre Meme? Yeah, my species died out. Sorry about that.

But Kermit tagged me, and then my school chum Michelle said "I've been reloading your blog to see if you answered it," and I felt guilty so here you go.

I also had a hard time trying to think of seven random things about myself because, if you've read my blog(s) for any length of time, you know I'm totally random all the time.

Here be the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Per usual, I will be breaking the rules. If you haven't done this meme yet, consider yourself tagged. And if you have done it, consider yourself tagged retroactively. What the hell.

Random things:

1) I am what my best pal calls "predictably unpredictable." That is to say, you can count on me to to have an unpredictable answer for everything. This is especially burdensome to her, as she is also my boss. However, we have also been friends for a bazillion years (14), so she has a warehouse of "unpredictable" answers she attempts to use as predictors. It doesn't work. All she knows is that if she thinks she knows what I'll say, I end up saying something else.

2) I love ethnic food, including all sorts of weird Pennsylvania Dutch/German-influence cabbagy things and what not. The type of food I'm least enamored with is Italian—which just happens to be the ethnicity I actually am, more than any other. You see, I do not like red sauce—not on pasta, not on pizza. I'll eat it, but in general I am not a fan of warm tomato products.

3) I can't open wine. Ok, that's not true. I can. I just have performance anxiety. Yes, that's right, I have performance anxiety regarding opening bottles of wine. You see, the first time I opened a bottle of wine, oh so many years ago, I screwed it up and busted the cork into a bunch of pieces. Whomever I was with at the time (I honestly don't remember) made a big deal about how I screwed it up and ha ha isn't it funny that the Italian person can't open wine, and blah blah blah. So I never opened wine after that. A few years ago, another person (of Italian ancestry as well, actually) handed me a bottle of wine and said "here, open this," and I totally freaked out (internally) because oh my god what if I fucked this up too and wouldn't I look dumb. I handed it back and said "no, I can't open wine," got a(n understandably) strange look, and that was that. To this day, when handed a bottle of wine by someone or in a group, I get stage fright and won't do it. In my house? I can totally open wine just fine. So yeah, of all the things about myself that I could/should worry about, I worry about opening wine in public. Believe me, I know it's beyond dumb.

4) For someone who works in technology (or did, whatever), I don't own a lot of it. I haven't even hooked up my DVD player since I've been in Washington. The stuff I do own is not cutting-edge or anything like that. When it comes to software, I don't use a lot of new and "exciting" things because I know I can either do whatever I have to do faster without it, or I could build something just for me that does the job better and faster, so why bother with the expense (either of time-to-learn or of money)? I guess what I'm saying is that for someone who works in technology and still writes books about certain things, I'm really pretty damn ambivalent about it. There are plenty of people who have way more "stuff" than I do, and I'm cool with that.

5) I make a good cookie. Yes, I just ate one as I typed that sentence...and I was thinking "damn, seven is a difficult number to reach".

6) Given how I look and interact with others, you would be surprised to know that I watch/have on in the background Little House on the Prairie and/or The Waltons at least twice daily. Then again, maybe you wouldn't be so surprised (see item #1, above).

7) When I was a kid, I lived in the woods. We had a nice yard, but randomly scattered throughout the yard were these huge rocks (ok, huge to a kid) that I played on. I named them. One was the Texas rock because it was shaped like Texas. One was the Montana rock because it was shaped like Montana (notice a trend?). And one was the Millennium Falcon rock because it looked like the Millennium Falcon had crashed outside my bedroom and was stuck in the dirt. Yeah.


fitting in nicely

[click to embiggen]
This is Mini, the new cat, making herself at home on my work.

It's what cats do, isn't it?

At least it's what my cats have been known to do.