Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Obligatory Review

It's time for my annual review... of me.

In lieu of making resolutions I knew wouldn't be kept, I decided last year to start looking back at the changes I'd made in my life that year to support my long-term goal of Doing the best that I can at the time.

The changes I'd made then still hold today, although I will confess that I'm getting sloppy about the plastic bags and I do buy Diet Coke, I just don't drink it every day.

In addition, in 2008
  • I lost some weight.
  • I started running again.
  • I switched to decaf coffee.
  • I stopped using my beloved Splenda.
  • I cut way back on meat and dairy products.
  • And, uh... I started using real glasses and silverware at work instead of plastic cups and disposable cutlery.

As you can see, I did pretty well in the areas of personal improvement and 'make less trash'. I did not, however, satisfy my pseudo-resolution for 2008, which was to have enough leave to take the 26th off. But I was spared the foul aftertaste of failure because we got it off anyway. Ha! Better lucky than clever, you know?

Also, I'll be doing the Burning Ceremony tonight. What? You haven't burnt your emotional baggage before? Give it a go. Trust me, you'll like it.

I'm off tomorrow for another statistics conference. Wheee! I'll be back next Thursday, although I'll post from the trenches if I can.

Have a safe & happy New Year's!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Third attempt

I've written and discarded two posts today, both full of complaints about the stupid things that are making me crabby this week. Long story short, I'm crabby and stupid things have been happening.

'Nuff said.

In other news, Lovely Daughter met Alan Alda last weekend. He attended the play she's doing in Philly. I heard there are pictures but I haven't seen them yet.

That's Alan-fucking-Alda, people!

All those hours I spent watching M*A*S*H in my teens and early twenties, I never dreamed that someday, decades in the future, Hawkeye Pierce would be in the audience watching my daughter on stage.

Although, according to Wikipedia, the final M*A*S*H episode aired almost exactly three months before Lovely Daughter was born.

Hmmm... Coincidence, or fate? You decide.

(Remind me sometime to tell you how the Star Wars movie releases coincide with major turning points in my life. Fascinating stuff.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something a little different

A different version of this tune enjoys regular rotation on my favorite radio station this time of year. I was pleased to find the original to share on this post-holiday edition of Friday Rocks!

Stop the Calvary, Jona Lewie

Stay warm, and I'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday Weirdness

Here's something fun. Wednesday Weirdness posts a list of questions each, uh, Wednesday. To 'play', simply answer the questions on your blog and leave them a comment with the link.

Since it's Christmas Eve and I'm bored to tears at work with 2.5 hours left until I can leave, I figured I'd give it a go.

I used to make a few larger donations to my favorite charities each year. This year I made smaller donations (< $100) to several charities that caught my eye as I strolled through the interwebs. I just hope I can find all the receipts come tax time!

I had a fairly chaotic childhood and in some ways had to grow up too fast. Even so, I always wanted to be an adult so I could have at least some control over what happened to me. I would've liked to have a childhood more like my kids', but then I wouldn't be the piece of work that is me, I guess.

Hell, it was so long ago I don't remember. Probably cookies and I don't remember seeing anyone eating them.

I haven't seen my cousins for decades! I have no idea. I can think of a few of them I'd probably get along with, if we met now.

Geez, there are so many that I generally blank them out as I go along. One that sticks with me was my 'muffin visit' with Neighbor Lady last year.

Cash. Lots of cash. Like, several tens of thousands. A hundred grand would take care of a lot of outstanding issues, IYKWIM.

It's a go, if I'm sure we can get away with it. I really would never want to embarrass anyone.

8.) DO YOU HAVE ANY TRADITIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS? (ie opening one gift Christmas Eve and saving the rest for Christmas Day, opening them all Christmas Eve, listening to a particular holiday CD while opening gifts, preparing a special breakfast, ETC)
All my traditions changed a couple of years ago when I divorced so I'm in the process of reinventing them. This year we're trying out a Christmas Day movie marathon (Star Wars, the original three) with sushi and udon noodles for dinner.

Lingerie. Sex toys. Not to say I wouldn't be a little intrigued, but I would definitely be embarrassed!

I collect crap. Old computers, paperback sci fi/fantasy books, boxes (might need to ship something, you know), and anything that I might need someday. 'Cause ya never know, ya know?

Hey, that was kind of fun. May have to do that again sometime.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plane, trains, and automobiles (and busses, too)

We made it! The 30-minute flight was 4 hours late, and in a brilliant stroke of luck, we managed to get our luggage just in time to catch the next airport shuttle to our town.

An hour and a half later, we stood at the drop off point, a gas station about a mile from Mr B's house. The time: midnight.

Well, there was nothing for it but to walk. It actually was a nice little hike: not too cold, streets quiet, everything covered in snow... except it was midnight. But twenty minutes later it was all over.

Today's problem was how to get to my house, 3 miles away, with Mr B's car parked at the train station an hour south of here. Lucky for me the Ex is a very good sport, volunteering to leave work and pick me up in his Very Big Truck.

I got home and immediately attacked the foot of snow in my driveway. I knew there had to be a car in there somewhere! Eventually I prevailed and managed to get myself into work, only to be greeted by a very grumpy technician who had shown up four hours earlier to work on some equipment. Hey, if he'd've called me, I'd'a told him I'd be late. Sorry, man.

Meanwhile, Mr B caught a ferry to catch a bus to his car at the train station and is probably getting home right about now. And that, boys and girls, is an explicit illustration of how a quiet little birthday weekend away plus a snowstorm equals a huge, fucking hassle.

p.s. Did I mention the forecast is for another four to six inches of snow tomorrow? Did I mention that we generally don't do snow around here? Good times.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It seemed so simple. We would take the train down Friday evening, spend a nice weekend away, then take the train back Sunday afternoon*.

Oh, but no!

HUGE winter storm. Snow totals unseen in these parts for decades. Doom! Gloom! AaaaAAArrrGGGgghhh!!!

First clue came when we got a call from Amtrak Sunday morning telling us all service had been suspended. We couldn't even get a seat until Tuesday at the earliest.

We bit the bullet and paid $150 each** for a one-way flight, first thing Monday morning.

Uh, sorry. Canceled.

Rescheduled for Monday evening, and here we sit. Flight is already delayed 1.5 hours....

Anyone willing to place a bet?

* Note: We're not talking a long trip here. This is a 3-hour car ride under normal circumstances.

** Merry Christmas, Sweetie!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa Baby: Awkward Moment #6,874

Break out the mink, my pretties! We're Rockin' this Friday with Eartha.

Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

This brings to mind a disturbing episode from just a few years ago.

I used to belong to a Unitarian Universalist fellowship. Every year they would ask folks to sign up to perform at the Holiday Music Service. Mostly it was singers, guitar players, and other instrumentalists; a pretty talented bunch overall.

Well... this particular year, the two young daughters of one of the members signed up to perform. They were maybe 10-12 years old at the most.

Come Music Service time, those two innocents stood in front of the entire fellowship and sang along to this very rendition of this very song. Their mother sat in the front row beaming encouragement as the rest of the assembled fellowship writhed in agony while these two prepubescent girls mimicked Eartha's sensual - dare I say 'earthy? - performance. It was every bit as awful as you might guess.

Boys and girls, can you say 'inappropriate'? I knew that you could.

I love this song, but now every time I hear it, my stomach clenches. I can only be grateful that they didn't show up in costume. There wouldn't be a pencil big enough to poke that image out of my mind's eye.

Mr. B & I are headed out of town for the weekend to celebrate the beginning of my 50th year. As Lovely Daughter used to say, Happy to Me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day!

Apparently I can't blog at home. How strange.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Indispensable Bag


This attractive and function bag is an absolutely indispensable tool for the Liz-on-the-go. It holds all of her shit, including her lunch (lettuce in the zip-top bag) and important paperwork (goldenrod-colored form that was due back at Young Son's school yesterday) as well as about three months worth of paid bill stubs in the capacious back pocket. It's also sturdy enough to hold about $27.00 in loose change, which allows it to double as an effective self-defense weapon as well as an easy way to build upper body strength.

Its hard-wearing black vinyl blends in with just about any decor, including the crap-filled second desk in her office, as shown here surrounded by an ever-handy roll of paper towels for those inevitable spills, a banana about to take root, and a 3.5" floppy disk*.

You may think that a bag this amazing would be out-of-reach of the average shopper, but you'd be oh, so very wrong. This treasure was purchased at the local W*Mart, and for less than $20.00 you can own one, too!

** WTF?!?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear (your name here)

Found this inside a Christmas card tucked under my door mat yesterday. I have no idea how long it had been there.
DEAR NEIGHBORS ____Liz______

My last knee replacement surgery went well. The right knee is now going to be replaced.

I leave here December 22 for overnight in the city. I must be at the hospital at 6 am on 12/23. I should leave the hospital 12/27 for the care facility in town for physical therapy. Home in early January.

I will not be driving for while. Fortunately I have friends who will drive me to continued physical therapy until the surgeon says I can drive.

I may need your help getting the garbage cans out or fetching my mail. I hope I may call on you for that help until I can do it. Last time I was driving 4 weeks after surgery. This time it is my right knee - the driving knee - so I may be house bound longer.

My great niece will have a garage opener in case she has to get in. If you see anything wrong - broken windows, smoke coming out, etc., please call 911 and inform my niece at ###-####.

I will stop the mail and newspapers.

Neighbor Lady*

Neighbor Lady is a sixty-something extremely overweight single woman who has seasonally-appropriate plastic animal decorations and a large kitty flag decorating her front porch at all times. She invited us over for muffins shortly after I moved in last year and it was the most awkward and uncomfortable 20 minutes of my entire life. If I remember correctly, Mr. B got the distinct impression that she was not a huge fan of men. I might be making that up.

After that, she attempted to generate a friendship, but as I am fairly anti-social, the most I could handle was a smile and wave across the cul-de-sac.

This is not the first such directive I've received from Neighbor Lady. She handed out an almost identical letter (sans holiday cheer) earlier this year before her first knee surgery. I wish I'd saved it for you -- that one referred to her breast cancer surgery in 2000 and the assistance she required from her neighbors at the time. To establish precedent, I suppose.

I admit, I'm feeling rather put-upon. I doubt I'll be offering to take out her trash or collect her mail. After all, that's what friends are for. I figure the ones driving her to physical therapy should be able to cover it.

I know, my place in hell is already reserved.

*Not her real name

Monday, December 15, 2008

Perhaps one of his later works?

Mr B sent me this link today. We're not convinced it's Maxfield Parrish. What do you think?

Just in case you think I'm lying, check it out. I lack the Photoshop skills to make this up.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Yes, Virginia, Fridays Rock! Especially when the Kinks show up. Don your protective headgear and let's have at it, shall we?

Father Christmas, The Kinks

I think we can all relate, this year even more so.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More fun at work

Not one to miss an opportunity to one-up Mr B, Evil Twin sent this recollection of an event that occurred a few months after 9/11 at her workplace (another Federal agency).

Once I opened a document in the mailroom that dispersed a large cloud of particulate matter. The phone call went something like this:

"State HAZMAT team. What is your emergency?"

"I just opened a large envelope. It had white powder in it, and now the powder is on the floor!"

"Yes, ma'am. Are you alone in the room?"

"No. I grabbed a co-worker, and asked her whether she thought I should call you! She did."

"Do you have an evacuation plan in your building?"

"Uh, I don't think so . . "

"Go to your fire alarm, and pull it. Get all of the people out of the building. Close the doors to the room you are in, and get undressed."


"You and the co-worker who is also contaminated, must strip down, and get ready for the HAZMAT team, which is on the way. You will be taken to an outside shower for decontamination."

"I'm not getting naked!" (Cue co-worker to go ape-shit)

"Ma'am! You must do this for your own protection! If you have large packing tape, use it to seal off the bottom of the doors."

Well, don't you know that we taped off the bottom of those doors, but we did not get naked -- even if it was going to kill us. No one else in the office knew what was going on, because the fire alarm had sent them outside.

Suddenly the HAZMAT team pulls up, puts on their little moon suits, and comes inside to find the two frightened, stunned federal employees that did their civic duty.

They banged on the door, and we let them in. They started doing their swiping and dusting and sweeping and swabbing while they ushered us outside into the nifty little shower they had set up.

By this time, the fire department had shown up, and once they learned it was a possible hazardous exposure, they kind of kicked back and watched, since this was pretty new to all of us.

Outside, the entire office was standing around waiting to see what was going on, when we emerged from the building and were escorted to the white tent.

About an hour later, we came out of the shower tent, all pink and shiny and smelling faintly of fungicide. My, we had an audience.

So, the bottom line was, the HAZMAT team didn't find anything suspicious in that powder, but they got some valuable practice. The fire department got to spend an hour watching someone else do the hard work. The people in the office were happy to see someone else screw something up.

When the company that sent the document was called by the HAZMAT people, they replied: "Oh, yeah. We get that a lot. It's the talcum powder we use to keep static out of the binding process."

The only people REALLY pissed were the daycare people who found out when the little tykes said, "Mrs. Clancy! There's an alien in the parking lot!" I guess someone should have told them.

I learned to let the mailroom people do their job, and if someone tells you to take your clothes off, you don't HAVE to do it.

Wait. When someone on the phone tell you to take your clothes off, you don't have to do it?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fun at work

Mr B, a federal employee, forwarded this to me with this note:

I'll bet this hardly ever happens in your building.

He's right about that!

From: Someone
To: Everyone
Subject: URGENT: Full armor drill today
Importance: High


[REDACTED] Building

Federal Protective Service will be in full armor today
with machine guns and all the battle gear to conduct a
DRILL on their readiness.

There will be plain clothes officers and additional
officers at both entrances and lobbies in full gear
including weaponry TO INCLUDE MACHINE GUNS.

We want to make sure you are aware of this exercise to
minimize confusion.



Please share this information with those that may not
have access to email. We do not want to alarm anyone.

Thank you for your patience during these few hours.

Designate Official, [REDACTED] Building

I particularly enjoyed the phrases in all caps. Very thoughtful.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This is the essence of me

It really is. I am not even kidding.

Oh, and here's one I made using a photo ET sent me a while back:

Want to make your own 'Demotivator' posters? Visit's Parody Motivator Generator.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's not bad, it's just written that way

It's almost time for the Annual Receipt of the Letters of Obscene Oversharing!

I don't have any examples for you (yet), but I've been thinking about what makes a Christmas letter so bad it's good (read: hilarious.) After countless hours* of research and careful analysis, I've concluded it comes down to violating one or more of these two simple concepts:
  1. Less Is More

  2. Consider Your Audience
Face it, people write Christmas letters because they're too lazy to write customized letters tailored to each recipient. I know this because that is why I write them. Instead of considering the individual on the receiving end, they (read: I) put in every single piece of information that might possibly interest any one of the recipients. Holiday buckshot, if you will. Ding-dong-ditch with a flaming bag of poo.

Yeah, it works. Problem is, most people don't care. Most people don't care about your dog's wacky hijinks or the biopsy results of the polyps in your stomach. True, some might, but if they really cared you probably already told them when the news was fresh.

I hesitate to come down too hard on the Christmas letter offenders because I really do enjoy reading their efforts and I wouldn't want them all to come to their senses. That would be sad, indeed.

If you don't want to find your missive mocked** on a blog like this, just keep the two simple concepts in mind and you'll do fine. But if you get any good ones this year, send 'em in! I'll post the juiciest bits.

* I spent a whole 15 minutes thinking about this. That's a long time for someone with the attention span of a toothpick.

** Mocked with loving-kindness, but mocked nonetheless.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's that time

Time to start Rockin' the pre-holiday Fridays! Yep, my radio station has started in with the holiday music. Luckily, this little gem in in rotation.

Merry Christmas From The Family, Jill Sobule

How many weeks, again? Three?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hater Whoonu

We had fun on Thanksgiving playing a warped version of a clean, wholesome family game. Why do I get the feeling this doesn't surprise you?

The game: Cranium Whoonu

The objective: All players (except one) are dealt cards from a stack naming completely random things (salsa, poodles, eBay, sundaes, nail polish, rock climbing, etc.)

Each player picks from his/her hand two cards representing items s/he thinks the last player likes the best and slides them into the Secret Envelope.

The Secret Envelope Person then orders the items from their most favorite to their least, with the most points awarded to the person who picked the most favorite, etc.

Well, we made it through one round of that before we rebelled. We wanted to pick the two things the Secret Envelope Person liked least = hated most. Most points awarded for most hated.

You know what? It was a lot more fun. But then again, we're just that way.

BTW, this is for ages 8 and up, and Young Son loved it. It's a great game to play with kids that won't drive adults nuts. Especially the Hater version.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Will you be ready?

OK, OK... wait a minute here... I have to stop laughing long enough to type.

Just found this and had to share. Mominatrix over at Imperfect Parent has the perfect way to celebrate the upcoming inauguration. Click below to get the whole story.

Might be NSFW for, uh, frank language, maybe?

Here's one for ya: ET will be here visiting on the Big Day. The mind boggles!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

That's why they call it...

...the Post-NaNo Blues.

Bleh. I've spent lots and lots of money online in the last 36 hours. I have no idea what I used to do all day, before November. I think I've forgotten how to blog.

This is not good.