Monday, March 31, 2008

-- transition period

It has been difficult to admit this to myself but I am going to have to change the way I am doing things with my freelancing. I have been fantasizing about it for a while but I really love the independence of running the whole show -- the challenge of learning new things, the creativity, the sense of accomplishment -- but the schedule I'm trying to keep is killing me. My Dad was a business owner, running a biz is in my blood. I can't completely give it up.

Nobody owns me if I own myself.

I like having one foot in both worlds, the world of the employee and the employer. The latter is much more stressful but also exciting. But the excitement is going to kill me if I keep this up.

More on this later as I have to finish up that website that is launching tonight.

Image from

Sunday, March 30, 2008

-- never fell asleep designing web pages before

So I finally did it. I fell asleep while designing a web page. (Here's a screenshot of it.)

I had a visitor from California over for the past few days and we planned to go to the movies last night. I struggled with a web project during the day and then launched back into it at midnight. It had to be done yesterday. No, weeks ago. Weeks!

Hours passed and around 3am I was using Dreamweaver to create links by clicking and dragging this little utility when I realized that I had fallen asleep and only dreamed that I created all the links -- none of it was done.

Yeah, I think I'm sleep deprived.

Friday, March 28, 2008

-- crazy Friday

I had this intense craving for hot & sour soup at lunch and rushed out to buy some when I realized I couldn't find my wallet. This worried me because now I didn't know where it was -- did I leave it at home? Was it stolen? I couldn't do anything about it missing and was halfway to the restaurant so instead I just scoured the car for change. I found $6 thinking "oh cool, I can get a really nice lunch with this. Soup and even something extra for dinner."

Then I glanced at my dashboard and realized I was on "E" -- no gas. Actually it was below "E."

I pulled into a gas station and divided my $6 up so that I could buy 1 gallon for $3.25.

Here, for your enjoyment, is proof of the first time ever that I bought 0.998 gallons of gas. You know, even after I bought one gallon, which gives me about 30 miles, the needle was only a little below E? I must have been riding on fumes, only a short distance from completely running out!

-- the dog will not wear mittens

(I sent this to a friend earlier but am reposting it here because it sums up my morning:)

This morning I had to put a sock over Tycho's paw to protect it while he went out. Then I stupidly got in the shower, not supervising the makeshift mitten. Of course when I got out, it was gone. Now there's a random pair of socks tied in knots somewhere around the yard. Lovely. I have just stepped a little closer to the "could maybe live in a trailer" threshold.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

-- The dog's latest fit-induced injury

The dog is a spaz. His prey drive is so strong that he goes insane at the sight of small animals and nearly bashed in a toe over a squirrel. Last week's gash is healing nicely but this wound needed vet care.

So off we went. His toe was shaved and x-rayed to see if there was a small fracture but luckily it was just a soft tissue injury.

Now here's the care regimen, twice a day:

-5 minutes of soaking in a mixture of peroxide, salt, and warm water
-antibiotic/steroidal cream. The vet said as long as I can distract him for 5 minutes from licking it, he'll be ok. It's safe to eat they say.
-antibiotic & anti-inflammatory pills

He hates all of it, except the pills, which (as long as they're wrapped in cheese), he'll gulp down readily.

-- Jiffy Lube scam

Great. I brought my car in for an oil change at Jiffy Lube and realized they never vacuumed or cleaned it as promised. So I went online to look for the corporate headquarters to write them when I found this video footage of Jiffy Lube caught slacking off on camera. How do I know that didn't just happen to me? Next time I get an oil change, I'm going to ask for all the old parts so I can make sure. I don't trust anyone now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

-- largest strawberry I ever saw

I was driving at night, munching on some strawberries when I came across this huge gem. The only way to prove it was the size of my palm was to take a picture with my crappy cell phone camera. So here you go! The largest strawberry I ever saw.

Monday, March 24, 2008

-- I swear it looked like worms were in my food.

So I'm cooking this premade mix of hot & sour soup, feeling an unjustified sense of accomplishment at finally making something that's been sitting in the cabinet for a year, when I notice a jumble of weirdly elongated shapes undulating strangely in the furiously boiling water. It was not unlike piles of worms I've seen in freshwater streams, moving creepily in the current. I realized the water was causing movement but I've seen worms in old cake mixes before (a VERY disappointing find, I might add) and just couldn't be sure.

There's only one way to find out. I had to see if it had segments. It took a good 5 minutes and several different samples before I was able to confirm on my flat wooden spoon that no, there was not a pile of worms in my soup. They were just shredded mushrooms. (Active shredded mushrooms that are just the right size and shape of roundworms, but no signs of actual worm anatomy. Whew.)

But tell me this does not look like worms!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

-- quote of the day

"Why is there so much month left
at the end of the money?"

~John Barrymore

Saturday, March 22, 2008

-- beach-loving dog

Tycho at the Jersey shore (Long Branch, NJ). We drove up last night for a whirlwind trip and it feels like I just fit three days into the last 24 hours.

Friday, March 21, 2008

-- bird & wildlife rescue links in Maryland

Driving home I saw a beautiful robin in the road, felled by a car. I pulled over but it was too late, the poor thing had a broken neck. My heart weeps every time I see scene like this.

Because it's springtime and birds are gearing up for nesting, they're less cautious then usual and will sometimes fly into traffic in a mating chase. Please be especially watchful when driving. If you do find an injured bird, don't handle it directly with your hands but use paper towels or some other barrier.

Links to wildlife rehabilitators:
U.S wildlife rehabilitators
(searchable by state)

Maryland wildlife rehabilitators:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
1-877-463-6497 or 410-260-8940
*24 hour line that provides names and numbers of licensed wildlife rehabilitators

Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
(Directory of people who are certified in animal rescue -- sometimes you can bring an animal or bird directly to someone's house instead of a facility.)

Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary
Davidsonville, MD

Second Chance Wildlife Center
Gaithersburg, MD

It is polite to offer a donation to help with the burden of expenses.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

-- beautiful moon tonight

I was getting in my car after work when I noticed the moon -- almost full with just a sliver of blurriness at one edge. It was so breathtaking that I gasped out loud. I love it when it's low in the sky and looks so close. Tomorrow night it will be completely full. More info on's nighttime sky calendar.

The moon as drawn by Galileo. More information at the American Institute of Physic's page on the Start of Scientific Cosmology (part of their History of Scientific Cosmology web exhibit).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

-- terrible morning... bird hit by car (& nonprofit orgs to donate)

oh no. I am shaking inside. On my way to work this morning, I saw a bird get hit by a car and there was no way I could stop and help it. A beautiful black-capped chickadee fluttering and struggling mightily to fly out of the road but its wing was damaged. Right about when I saw it happen, as I was desperately trying to figure out where I could pull over (no shoulder, busy roadway, right on an exit ramp), I saw in my rearview mirror the cars behind -- they likely rolled over it. I couldn't watch. I just sat there, fist against my mouth, feeling so awful and helpless, my heart aching. I've run out in traffic before to save birds, some of whom died in my hands as I cried, but at least I tried. Not even having the chance to even try is just killing me.

To make myself feel better, I am going to make a donation to a bird organization this morning on the little chickadee's behalf.

American Bird Conservancy
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
National Audubon Society
The Songbird Foundation

Monday, March 17, 2008

-- ruined my favorite shirt

Somehow I washed a load of clothes with gum and didn't realize it until I got to work and discovered that I had weird green stains all over my favorite shirt. My first thought was, "omg, I haven't dropped any food on me today, where did this come from?" Then I realized it was bright green, like... wintergreen. Minty wintergreen gum, stashed away in some pocket, disbursing in protest of the impersonal mastication of a machine. I have no idea how to liberate fine cotton fibers from its hold.

I should stop getting dressed in the dark!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

-- flowers are coming up!

I love springtime.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

-- pix of my dog

So I finally made it to the store and stocked up. Also took the dog to the dog park for some fun. Here he is, playing with a ball, 65 pounds of unstoppable fluff:

Tycho is half samoyed, half Australian cattle dog. He was a rescue dog that we got from Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescue; they were pulling dogs from a collector's house (the polite term for nutjobs who have more animals than they can care for; in this case, sixty dogs in one home). The house was covered in filth and feces and was a terrble environment for both humans and animals.

A few days after they rescued the first batch of dogs, one of the females gave birth to a litter of puppies. Tycho came from that litter. Because there were 3 separate fathers there was a big variation in what the puppies looked like. I had no idea it was even physically possible for one female to carry pups fathered by more than one male but apparently that's what happened (and can be more common than most people realize).

-- there's nothing to eat in this freaking house!

I've been too busy to foodshop this past week but consoled myself by ordering online. There are at least 2 grocery delivery options and while their food is nothing like HomeRuns (a dot-com casualty) convenience outshines quality. I'll take what I can get.

I scheduled a delivery for Tuesday evening, and then... promptly forgot about it. The van showed up, groceries in tow, but I was still at work. They left an angry message and hauled all the items back to the store.

So I rescheduled delivery for Thursday evening but this time THEY forgot.

So now there is NOTHING to eat except celery, leftover canned peaches and some juice. Not even any cereal to pour soy milk onto.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

-- example pix from the Naval Safety Center on how NOT to do things

The Naval Safety Center has this great photo-of-the-week archive where they portray examples of how NOT to do stuff. Here are some classics. I'm copying their text and linking over to their site if you want to see more.

Fridge Mover

Some folks sure are optimistic, aren't they?

Personally, I wouldn't assume this precarious position for a trip across the street, and even then I'd want some assurance that the load would only tip over forward instead of backward, and I had a big mattress between me and that refrigerator, and I was wearing a helmet and knee pads and elbow pads, and I had a couple other guys holding back traffic.

Not sure where these brave lads were headed, since this image arrived without commentary. But you have to wonder: Had this guy ever tried riding anything, anywhere, while standing up?

A correspondent in Mississippi found this fire extinguisher at the worksite of a roofing crew that was putting down some hot tar. These civilian contractors were repairing hurricane-damaged roofs on a naval base.

Usually, safety seals or tamper indicators are made of very light wire or plastic, not this heavy-duty zip-tie. Nothing like having to run around looking for a knife when the smoke and flames start rising.

“I have no idea what they were thinking,” our contributor wrote. I often feel the same way, until I realize that they weren’t.

What Happens When Nobody Will Help Push

Y’know, this probably isn’t all that unsafe, but boy, does it look futile. Are there no helpful neighbors nearby? No pedestrians willing to take five minutes to lend a hand? The street looks flat and that red car isn’t very big. What kind of engines do they put in those scooters, anyway?

On the plus side, we like the little red flag hanging behind the scooter. That will help when a distracted driver comes speeding down the street, talking on a cell phone, drinking a cup of coffee, and looking in his rear-view mirror.

-- funny new blog I found

This post cracked me up, from Squares, Cubed:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

-- dobweed, my only search engine success story

So earlier in the week I was fumbling over how to cuss out some idiots for crappy parking. "Dipweed" seemed overused so I made up my own word: Dobweed.

Well apparently now if you type "dobweed" into Google, my blog is the first link. Yay. A search engine success strategy that I didn't even try.

So here's my advice. Want to rank number one for a keyword? Make it up. That'll do it! lol.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

-- who is signing my high school "guestbook"??

There are 35 people who've signed my guestbook on classmates and I don't recognize 90% of them.

I got curious, thinking maybe some names had just changed -- people got married, whatever -- and tried looking them up to see if I could recognize them. I found maybe one person I'd forgotten about, the rest were still a mystery.

When I looked into it further, I found a good chunk of people that not only hadn't been in my class, but they hadn't even gone to my school, AND had graduated 20 years earlier than me. Why are they signing some stranger's high school page?! Classmates isn't like Facebook or MySpace, you're supposed to know these people. It's creepy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

-- reading "Environmental Disasters"

(I see a theme here... relaxing things to do before bedtime...)

So I've got this 200 page text on environmental disasters and open it up to read about the event pictured on the cover, where a huge cloud of dioxin (the toxic ingredient in Agent Orange) poured out over the countryside in Seveso, Italy.

On July 10, 1976, a chemical plant malfunctioned and released about 4.5 lbs of dioxin. (Dioxin is so toxic that less than a billionth of a gram is fatal to guinea pigs. A billionth!)

Locals were accustomed to the chemical smells frequently arising from the plant and didn't think anything of the increased odor on this particular day, and the plant didn't say anything.

Then animals began dropping dead and little kids playing outside developed angry blisters and skin eruptions. This got worse and worse until finally the company had to admit that something terrible had happened.

They began an emergency evacuation for locals and advised those outside the danger zone not to eat local food (um, too late!).

Initially, it was thought that only 1500 people were thought to be affected but this figure grew to almost 100,000 as the effects of this disaster were revealed.

Dead animals everywhere, people sick with internal ailments, liver disease, chloracne, pregnant women advised by doctors to abort their fetuses (even while the Vatican vehemently disagreed)... an absolute mess.

I'm trying to imagine waking up one day and discovering all the produce I've eaten in the past week from my own garden was toxic. Of finding dead animals littering the region -- I get upset enough when I see even one highway casualty.

I can't imagine what it was like for these people. Truly awful.

Environmental Disasters: A Chronicle of Individual, Industrial, and Governmental Carelessness, by Lee Davis.

Friday, March 7, 2008

-- recurring dream but different outcome

For years now I've had this recurring dream where I'll be driving and suddenly approach an impossible situation -- the road turns into an upside-down loop, like a roller coaster, but somehow this is completely normal. The laws of physics don't apply, somehow the road is packed with other people calmly circling in arcs. I'd get closer and closer and start freaking out until eventually I'd wake up in a cold sweat, absolutely terrified. (It would look just like this picture too, except it would be an asphalt road.)

Once I was awake, I'd realize it was just a dream and fall back asleep pretty quickly. Still, I'd be puzzled because in real life, I'm a roller coaster fiend and I've never had a problem with driving.

But last night something different happened. I started approaching the loop. It was in a parking garage (as opposed to a highway like the last several times) and so everyone was inching slowly upward. And then it happened -- I went over it.

I had the sensation of the world going upside down, could see it beneath me, and then made it over.

I woke up immediately afterwards and thought, wow, that's the first time I ever actually scaled one of those things.

I'm guessing that in dreams (or at least mine) a car can symbolize control. Maybe the loops symbolize something in life I'm scared of "scaling" or doing, thinking I can't do it even if everyone else can. Maybe going slow is significant because I finally get it, that I can do it (whatever "it" is) if I take it easy on myself or go at an slow & steady pace.

Also missing from the dream was the usual fear. It was really bizarre.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

-- The definition of "impromptu" is "impromptu"

I am not making this up:"Impromptu: something that is impromptu."

Thanks. That was extremely helpful.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

-- apparently I'm a dobweed parking magnet

This happened two days in a row! I guess I did ask for it to happen again...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

-- great parking job, dobweed

Thanks for parking next to me like this and making it so easy to get into my car with my backpack, umbrella, and several bags. Your kindness and thoughtfulness reverberated outward from even this, the tiniest of parking maneuvers. I can only imagine how thoughtful you are on the road. I especially appreciate the help getting myself in shape and practicing exercises for flexibility. It was no trouble at all that I had to scrape against my car to get in, dropping my badge and almost setting off the alarm. Please do this again tomorrow, it was so fun the first time.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

-- relaxing bedtime activity, gluing linoleum

I was washing up for bed when I just snapped. The linoleum floor in the bathroom has been peeling up around the edges for months and all I can think of is how the moisture and constant dog-bathing are going to result in an activity I can't afford: new floor buying. I had tried caulking it a number of months ago but the truth is that it needs to be glued down first and THEN caulked. Funny how a simple repair can take so long (mostly in motivation-hours, not actual time). Now the house is full of noxious glue fumes, so I can get cancer as I sleep. Great.

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