Sunday, July 29, 2007

All Hallowed Out

Oi, Potter fans! We've had a full week since the release the of the book. Plenty of time for those of you who plan on reading it right away to have done so. As promised, it's now time to discuss. (Don't worry, no spoilers ahead. But there are likely to be spoilers in the comments so tread carefully, you muggle lovers).

My favorite things about the book were:
  1. I sobbed my EYEBALLS out. I'm not talking about just a lot of tears. I'm talking about vocal, shuddering, heart-wrenching sobs. It was fantastic. I love having a good cry while reading a book.
  2. Even though I hadn't re-read the other books in preparation, I was still able to remember and keep track of most of the minor characters and magical objects that have appeared along the way. (v. clever to see most of them pop up again! At times, it felt like a curtain call. But in a good way.) J.K. did a nice job of reminding us what all of that stuff was without beating it over our heads.
  3. I did not finish the book feeling traumatized. I felt good.

If you'd like to discuss it or tell me your favorite parts, please leave a comment below. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks!

Friday, July 27, 2007

High Society

In days of yore humans were hunters and gatherers. Now that we rely on the grocery store for the hunting, all we have left is gathering. So we gather. We associate, we counsel, we socialize. And that's how we got Associations, Councils, and Societies. duh.

Living in Washington DC really takes this to the next level. Every time I turn around there's some new "National Association for ..." moving into the office next door. The truly amazing thing about all of these Associations is their specificity. I continually find myself saying, "Can you believe there's an association for that? That's just weird!"

For example, if you would like to only talk to really really REALLY smart people then you should join the Mega Society - a group for people who can prove that they are 99.9999% smarter than the general population. No more will your discussions on the Hoyle-Narlikar Theory of Gravitation stumble into done-to-death references to Newton. That is like so 1965! If you're a member of the Mega Society you don't even have to bother to invite members of the One-in-a-Thousand group to join your discussion. One-in-a-Thousands are only 99.99% smarter than the general population. So the Mega Society is like Too Mega Smart for them.

The Mega Society is plainly 99.9999% elitist and .0001% ridiculous. And ridiculous things intrigue me. Since Associations are clearly a hotbed of silliness, I figure it's high time I knew more about them!

Flexing my Librarian muscle I decided to do a little research and see if I couldn't find the most preposterous Association name. (Using those hot muscles) I heaved the four large volumes of the Encyclopedia of Associations off the shelf and started browsing. I was looking to see how granular each section was likely to get. The short answer is "pretty damn granular". I could easily see why some things had associations. Hobbies, historical trusts, famous persons, those promoting work standards, and anything that might at some point need to be lobbied for I considered valid. But there were a few that seemed just too specific to garner more than a handful of members. And if your entire membership can be fed and watered on a six-pack and a bag of Oreos I don't think you really need an association. Do you? The entire research project made me wonder how much pull in society the following groups could possibly have.

  • National Frozen Pizza Institute (membership entirely constituted by frat boys, of course.)
  • Neckwear Association of America (note that this group deals specifically with ties. Not scarves or any other type of neckwear. Just ties.)
  • Underfashion Club (for you pervs out there that want to talk about underwear all the live long day)
  • Coalition for Non-Violent Food (its dangerous work, but someone's got to keep food from fighting.)
  • Be Somebody, Be Yourself Institute (membership: 1)
  • Parents Against Tired Truckers ('Bout time someone besides Smokey was against Truckers. Damn convoys.)
  • Clutterers Anonymous; Messies Anonymous (no word on if you can have dual membership in Clutterers AND Messies Anonymous. But if so, I hope they give you a complimentary trash can.)
  • Good Bears of the World (Sadly, this is about collecting Teddy Bears. I originally thought it was to help distinguish the Good Bears from the Evil Bears. A much needed service!)
  • National Remotivation Therapy Organization (I'm thinking of joining this one myself, they promise to help motivate you. You think they could get me to the gym?)
  • Butter Pat Patter Association (Must I point out that this group is not even dedicated to full sticks of butter? Butter pats, friends, butter pats.)
  • Cow Observers Worldwide (aptly acronymed as COW)
  • AAAA - American Association Against Acronyms (ok, this one is fake, but all the others are real I promise.)

And then I found The One. The Ultimate. The group that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that if this is a legitimate organization then any gathering for any purpose, however farcical, can be legally codified and bylawed.

And so, it is to you, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, that I present the award for being my Most Favorite Ridiculous Association. You are the Yin to my Yang: I reject, and you accept. There is harmony in the world because you exist. And so, The Honor and (gratefully) The Fat is all yours.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Filling the Void

I just heard an interview with the author of this book, and he said an interesting thing. He said, "If you were to retire tomorrow, what would you do to fill the void? Whatever it is, that is what you should be doing today."

(His book is all about outsourcing your life ... work, cleaning, email, etc. ... so you can actually live your life. It's an interesting concept. I'm tempted to try it. For years I've claimed that I should have a personal assistant.)

His comment resonated with me because I find myself at a professional crossroads of sorts. My current job hasn't kept me busy or engaged for quite some time, and I've thought about going elsewhere ... but I'm not sure I want to stay in the same line of work. So I sit at the office all day and try to think of what it is I really want to do. Apparently I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. It's my age old problem of too many interests. There are a million things I'd really love to do. But can I focus on just one? And could I make a good living at it? How can I monetize the things I'm passionate about: reading, writing, music, fashion, and humor?

So now I ask myself, If I were to retire tomorrow, how would I fill the void? Anyone have any suggestions for me? I'm going to keep chewing over some ideas, but in the meantime, What would you do if YOU were to retire tomorrow?

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Reason I Have a Huge Grin on My Face

10 lbs of Freshly Picked Blueberries!
(Not freshly picked by me, of course. Let's get real.)

I froze 24 cups, and saved the rest to gobble hand over fist. Maryland doesn't have much in the way of really excellent produce ... but these blueberries ... MMMM! Can't get enough. I'll have plenty of frozen berries to use up, so if you have a favorite recipe, send it over. I'll post them on the Foodees site.

I'm hoping to start a new diet craze with The All Blueberry Diet. The idea is to eat as many blueberries as possible all day long. And Voila! Before you can say Doopity-Do you'll be Blueberryrific! It's been a success for me! Look at these results:

(Can't you just see Veruca saying, "Daddy, Why does she get to be such a gorgeous blueberry? I want to be a gorgeous blueberry too!" And Mike TV, of course, is totally speechless -- for once -- in the face of such radiance!) HA! Such a happy diet! Suzanne Somers eat your heart out.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be in the Juicing Room.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Tonight the Borders down the street from me hosted the second largest (after Borders in NYC) Harry Potter All Hallows Ball. Unable to resist a festival, I grabbed a sugarquill, a fresh roll of parchment, and went down to see the madness for myself.

Borders magically transformed itself into Flourish & Blotts by hanging a bedsheet above the door with the words "Florish & Blotts" painted on it. (If it's that easy, I'm hanging a bedsheet above my door that says "Buckingham Palace"). Perhaps the magic is in the stunning lavender "red" carpet leading into the store. Presumably all of this purple pomp is for the Wizarding Dignitaries that would be arriving to attend the All Hallows Ball. Folks like Merlin, and you know, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (pretty sure her schedule is wide open).

Other transformations were Ben & Jerry's into Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, McGinty's Pub into The Leaky Cauldron, and Marimekko into Madam Malkins Robes for All Occasions. Whole Foods was on hand distributing Butterbeer, which this young pirate(?) declared, "Not very good."

I took his word for it, and didn't wait in line. But I was still curious so I butt in to take a picture. You know, for journalistic purposes.

A little way down the street, the Ball was in full swing with this songster and his young Harry Helper who was rockin the jingle bells.

The street was crawling with Witches, Wizards, Muggles, Dumbledores, wand and glow stick distributors, and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Nameds. Here are but a few:

To look at these guys, you'd never guess that there were hundreds of people in capes parading by them all night. They are just that cool.

I'll be getting my book next week, and will probably fall off of the face of the planet for the few days it will take me to read it. We'll all discuss it then.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Sucker for Lists

  1. Were you named after anyone? No, not named after anyone. But my Dad wanted to name me Gertrude. Fortunately my Mom is the one in our family that appreciates the effects of childhood teasing, and she put a stop to that.
  2. When was the last time your cried? Cry, cry? Like when I had a reason? I can't remember. I cry for no reason in particular all of the time. Like if a Hallmark commercial comes on, or if someone does a particularly good job on So You Think You Can Dance.
  3. Do you like your handwriting? No. I consider my handwriting "impressionistic" - just giving the impression of what word it should say. I type at all costs.
  4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Turkey
  5. Do you have kids? Nope.
  6. If you were another person would you be friends with you? Heck yes!
  7. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Not really. I prefer irony, dry and on the rocks. Sarcasm is overrated, I think.
  8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes. The only thing I've lost is my wisdom teeth. That was miserable.
  9. Would you bungee jump? Oh yea .... that's on my Life To Do list
  10. What is your favorite cereal? Peanut Butter Captain Crunch or Shredded Mini-Wheats
  11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes, because I double knot them. Otherwise, I'd probably kick them off.
  12. Do you think you are strong? No. Not at all.
  13. What is your favorite ice cream? Strawberry!!! Strawberry!!!
  14. What is the first thing you notice about people? Usually whatever I'm obsessing about. Right now it's Teeth (since I've got braces). But if I approach from behind I also check for visible panty line. I really hate VPL.
  15. Red or Pink? Can I choose both? If not, pink.
  16. What is the least favorite thing about yourself? Right now, my toenails because they really need a pedicure and I'm too cheap to go get one.
  17. What do you miss the most? The days when I was busy and important at work. Good times, good times.
  18. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Blue jeans, barefoot (staring at those horrible toes).
  19. What was the last thing that you ate? Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms - perhaps the most nirvana-inducing, utopia-achieving food that has ever been packaged for the benefit of mankind.
  20. What are you listening to right now? Lily Allen
  21. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I'm feeling a little aquamarine right now. But I'm not sure what my permanent color would be. Probably something in the orange family. Because it's warm, but unexpected.
  22. Favorite smells? Freshly mown lawns. Herb gardens. Rain. And that buttery smell the heater in my car makes when it's heating up.
  23. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My brother Kevin. It's his birthday. Happy Birthday Kev!
  24. Favorite sports to watch: Motorcross! or any of the X-games, or those Strongest Men In the World competitions where they lift ridiculously heavy weights like cars or trains. Those are pretty awesome.
  25. Hair color? Before I dyed it the last time it was a dark golden brown ... but I think it was starting to darken into a full fledged "dark brown". Hooray! Goodbye mousy hair!
  26. Eye Color? Hazel.
  27. Do you wear contacts? No - I have 20/20 and am SO thankful for it!
  28. Favorite foods? Chicken enchiladas, Hot wings, a great Cheeseburger, hot dogs, instant mashed potatoes, and PIE - I love pie!
  29. Scary movies or happy endings? Definitely happy endings. I can't even watch scary movie trailers.
  30. Last movie you watched? Rented: Kinky Boots; Theater: Once
  31. What color shirt are you wearing? Hot pink.
  32. Summer or winter? Summer
  33. Hugs or kisses? Kisses.
  34. Favorite desserts? Pie. I love Pie.
  35. What book are you reading right now? "The Penderwicks", but I just got Shannon Hale's newest book "Austenland" from the library, so I'm super excited to read that!
  36. What is on your mouse pad? I don't have one at home - at work it's just plain black. I'm so boring!
  37. What did you watch on TV last night? Actually nothing. But I watched 11 hours on Sunday, so I think I'm set for a while. (If you want to know what's going on on the Lifetime channel I can catch you up).
  38. Favorite sound? A really good thunderstorm.
  39. Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles.
  40. What is the farthest you have been from home? Umm, I'm not sure. Which is farther? Cyprus or Chile? Probably Chile.
  41. Do you have a special talent? I'm pretty good at coming up with creative skits or ideas. I sometimes think I missed my calling, and should be in a more creative line of work.
  42. Where were you born? Loveland, Colorado. (Valentines Day is on a whole nother level in Loveland.)
  43. What superpower would you like? Teleporting. I'd be so convenient for local travel.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This is Why I Love July

July is National Hot Dog Month and today, July 18, is National Hot Dog Day. In honor of this prestigious event, and because 2.3 billion hot dog consumers can't be wrong, I offer a limerick.

Please to enjoy:

Hot Dogs! A great summer treat.
In fact, they're my favorite linked meat.
A grilled one piled high
With great toppings and fries ...
A hot dog for lunch can't be beat!

Happy Hot Dog Day everybody!

Celebrate by eating a hot dog (duh!) or by taking this Hot Dog Quiz, courtesy of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. If you do both you'll be chubbier and smarter. And my work here will be done.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Obligatory Camp Report

I'm back from my week of camping with 70-odd teenage girls (aka Girls Camp) and I feel like I should give you all a full report on the tomfoolery and shenanigans that went on. But you probably don't really care, do you? I doubt you care that my skin was practically pan-seared off of my body during the 100 degree/85% humidity days we had. Nor do you care that the bathrooms for our campsite were about 100 yards away, requiring a walk that resembled a Mario Brothers game: through a field, up a hill, across a road, climb over a fallen log, dodge several tree roots, find the only stall with toilet paper, and capture the princess. This made my 3AM trip with The Trots particularly memorable.

In fact, the only things I could tell you about this trip are rather embarrassing and therefore things that you'd be likely to use against me in the future. Wouldn't you? Like the fact that I abandoned showering by Tuesday, and by Saturday my hair was cemented into ponytail shape with 42 layers of sweat, sap, dust, grease, smoke and mosquito guts. Or that I voluntarily sang every camp song I knew, and even faked some that I didn't know. Or the fact that I manipulated my leadership powers to get my 9 twelve year old girls to do everything I didn't want to do myself like carry water, chop firewood, clean my dishes, and act like Sherpas bringing my camp chair and other belongings with us on all outings so I'd have somewhere to recline while they continued to do my bidding. I even made them practice their First Aide skills and dress some blisters on my feet. Feet that, given my state of dirtiness, should have required a bio-hazard suit before approaching. It was very good to be queen.

Perhaps most embarrassing though, are the cheesy little notes that I left in my girl's mailboxes. I really maxed out the cheesiness by liberally using scrapbooking paper, ribbon, multi colored pens, stencils, stickers, stamps, and shame of all shamefulness Lame Double Meanings.
  • "You're the 'Reisen' camp is so fun!" - attached to a baggie of Reisen candies
  • "High Five for Camp!" - attached to a plastic hand clapper thing
  • "Chews the Right" - attached to a baggie of gumballs
I'll tell you what, once you start down that Molly Mormon road, it quickly becomes a very slippery slope. I was glad there wasn't a scrapbook handy or there would have been some real damage done.

Suffice it to say, I did a lot of things that were outside of my comfort zone. I handled the cooking, cleaning, hiking, dirtiness, and usual camp craziness with style and aplomb. But dealing with the girls was a little more tricky. I found coddling girls that were missing their mommies particularly challenging. What do you say to kids who think 1.5 hours away from home is too far? I wanted to say, "Suck it up kid. You'll be home in 4 days, and your mom needs a break from your whiney face." Obviously I didn't say that. But I'm sure whatever drivel I came up with sounded pretty insincere. Sympathy isn't my strong point.

The best part about the Girls Camp though was the abject adoration of these little girls. They apparently loved being bossed around, and didn't mind being my personal slaves. In fact, they thanked me for it. And I got several notes such as these:
  • "You're a Flippin Sweet Camper!"
  • "You are the Best Leader at Camp! I love you!"
  • "I love you! You're the Best. And you will never look old."

That's right. I'm the Best and I will never look old. I think that just about sums everything up.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Mustard Takes a Holiday

Mustard and I will be back on Saturday.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Words I Would Say if I Were British

I'm a little bit tired of my normal American English phrases like "Awesome" and "Totally Freaking Awesome". And I sometimes wish I could toss in a few select British phrases to spice things up a bit. But I don't for two reasons. First, there's a strong possibility that I wouldn't be understood because Americans are widely recognized as morons, and Second, if I were understood it would be by people who would think I was a totally lame poseur and I'd be shunned from decent society. So I refrain. But oh, if I could possibly get away with it, I would.

These would be my word seasoning of choice:
  • Brilliant or Brill - "Penny, these new highlighter pens are simply brill!"
  • Prat - "That prat Roger called me again last night."
  • Git - "What an insufferable git!"
  • Sod off - "Sod off, Aaron, I'm not buying your appetizers."
  • Knackered - "I worked like a demon today and I'm completely knackered."
  • Veg - "What lovely Fruit & Veg!"
  • "Fill in the blank" for England - "You'd think Lucy was Shagging for England!"
  • Naff - "Britney Spears is so naff."
  • Love - "You about done with the copier, love?"
  • Do - "Are you going to Harry's Birthday Do?"
  • Spiffing - "Don't you look spiffing?"
  • Corking/Corker - "Poppy's new dog is a little corker."
  • Cock it up - "As usual, Ed cocked it up."
  • Take Away - "Care for a curry take away?"
  • Blimey - "Blimey it's cold in here."
  • Did do - "Well I guess you did do."
  • Pissed - "Roger, is that you? Are you pissed again?"
  • Bollocks - "Bollocks to him! ... Yeah, bollocks to him!"
Wouldn't it be brill .... I mean awesome?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Nap Attack

It's very important for me to be properly rested. Sadly, there's no wild-child lifestyle for me. No rocking out til the break of dawn and whatnot. Without my requisite 8 there can be no functioning. And I mean it. My body goes into active rebellion and there is NO FUNCTIONING. When this happens no amount of caffeine or exercise will stop the inevitable. The impending nap will not be denied.

Now, I'm not talking about your run of the mill Give Me 40 Winks and I'll be Ship-Shape Nap. Nor is it the I've Just Eaten the Entire Buffet at Circus Circus and Am Slipping Into A Food Coma Nap. This is a Mega Nap. A pending on narcolepsy nap. A "You better find someplace to lay down in the next thirty-two seconds or LIKE IT OR NOT you'll be crumpling to the ground like a bag of Jello and complete strangers will see you drooling in the middle of this grocery store aisle while you take this nap" Nap.

These naps are very serious business.

I remember one particularly violent nap attack in college. It was all I could do to withstand the remaining minutes of my class before I stumbled outside of the building and collapsed onto the grass, a mere 6 inches from the sidewalk. Oddly, while I was sleeping I could hear upperclassmen walking by and commenting on the spectacle I was making of myself, but The Nap would not be denied. And I had to just keep on sleeping until my body deemed itself to be back within "functioning range". I ended up sleeping there for about 3 hours. Waking up, I was glad to see that I only had an earring silhouette sunburn and wasn't covered in silly string as I had feared.

Clearly, this little napping issue of mine can be inconvenient at times. So like most disabilities I've had to learn to live my life managing it. The first thing, obviously, is to stay well rested. I am consequently an Olympic Sleeper. My duvet cover has a sleeping Bald Eagle and my slogan "Sleeping For America" emblazoned on it to cheer me on. But every so often I do still get spells in which a nap must happen. To manage these, I always scout out my places of employment for suitable napping spots. To be suitable, it must be easily accessible, weather resistant (or provide summer/winter options), and if at all possible my boss should never ever see me in it lest they be tempted to fire my ass for sleeping on the job. Even though, it's like totally not my fault.

In the past, these are the places I have resorted to regularly:
  • The most excellently comfortable couch on the Asian Studies floor (used to be the 1st floor) of the BYU Library
  • Under my desk
  • On the BYU, University of Maryland, or National Malls
  • The floor of any carpeted hallway (the Humanities Building at BYU was a great favorite)
  • The sound recording studio of the Humanities Research Center
  • The East Asian Studies room of the University of Maryland Library (despite the short couches)
  • My car in parking lots, drive ways, park-n-ride lots, highway shoulders, or neighborhood streets
  • Park benches
  • Empty office cubicles
  • Grassy flat spaces, such as those non-parks that urban planners put on busy corners
  • Grassy medians between highways/busy streets
  • And if I'm very lucky and I can make it home, my bed.

Libraries are a favorite for the obvious reasons: plenty of quiet, lots of places to tuck yourself away, and people expect you to be asleep. Especially in the Asian Study Rooms. This is but one of the reasons I became a librarian - built in nap rooms! If there's no library handy though, I'm a sucker for any flat grassy spot. If I'm not likely to get killed or mugged and it's flat and grassy, you can bet that I'll be asleep on it. I don't really prefer hallways or office spaces because they're loud and you're in the way ... which I always feel guilty about once the nap funk clouding my brain has dissipated and I can feel proper amounts of shame and self-respect again.

But ideally, the best scenario is to be at home in the peace and quiet of your own room. And I am very happy that today's nap attack was close enough to home that I had enough time to drive erratically down the block, peel around the corner, ride the elevator upstairs, get into my apartment, change my clothes and collapse into my bed before falling into a 4 hour episode. Standing in line at the bank, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it. Count. Money. Faster. IDIOT!!

I feel much better now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Please Let This Be True

Fox news is reporting that Michael Jackson is looking at real estate in Maryland. (On St. Michaels, if you're curious). Please please let this happen! We need more resident crazies to elevate Maryland from its non-memorable-state status. And is there anyone better or crazier than Wacko Jacko? Of course not! I hope he brings Prince Michael, Prince Michael The Second, and Blanket. Plus if he were a resident we could also adopt Billie Jean as our new state song. I love that song.

In a fitting twist to this story, he's reportedly looking at a house built by Mario Boyardee, son of Chef Boyardee. Could it get more perfect than that? Nasty canned pasta and The Gloved One together? It's like 6th grade is being recreated in its entirety for me, right here in Maryland.

People Wonder Why I Don't Entertain More

Since moving into my building almost three years ago I've seen some crazy things. I really, really like my apartment. Its got a great view, is fairly spacious, and since utilities are included in my rent I feel free to take ridiculously long showers and fall asleep with my light on. So I deal with the healthy portion of crazy that I'm liable to encounter once I go out of my front door. And, believe me, there's a whole lotta crazy going on out there. But crazy as my neighbors may be, I've never seen quite as much near-nudity as I've seen this week. I chalk it up to the opening of our pool. Or maybe the steamy heat is to blame. I'm not sure.

Join me on a single elevator ride that's destined to go down in the annals of You Think I'm Lying, But I Swear on Britney Spears' Shaved Head That This is All True. (oh why does my elevator attract such horrible behavior?):
  • Waiting for the elevator with a fellow in dirty white belly shirt and severely sagged white basketball shorts, resulting in a full view of not very clean tightey whiteys. I don't want to say "racing stripes" out loud ... but well ... yeah.
  • When it arrived the doors opened to reveal a guy zipping up his pants. I was glad that I hadn't been in the elevator while they were unzipped. But it certainly didn't make me feel very good about getting in after him.
  • Stopping at pool level we picked up a guy going back up to his apartment after swimming. Unfortunately he was using a pair of cut-offs as a swimming suit, and they sagged a liiiiiitle too low for decency.
  • Finally exiting the elevator on the 16th floor I see my heavy-set Latino neighbor taking his trash to the trash chute in only a tee-shirt and briefs.
  • At this point my eyes had been assaulted to such an extent that they spontaneously combusted, and I fumbled down the hall crying and swearing to forgo the elevator from now on. If I ever need to leave my island of sanity again I'll just repel down the side of the building instead. Much safer that way.
Don't get me wrong, I think my neighbors are pretty nice. Sure, they're crazy exhibitionists, but at least they are NICE crazy exhibitionists. I should look at this as a perk. There are clubs in Northeast DC where ladies are spending hard earned dollars on this kind of thing. Here, it's all part of the service: 1 BR, spacious, great view, utilities and peep shows included. Apply today!