Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

-- please do not ever throw up near me, and 24 other random things about me

I'm snagging this from a Facebook list I made last night. Some random things about me. You next?

1. Food must be kept separate. I will not sample around the plate; must consume all of one item before beginning another. (One exception: salad.)

2. Sometimes meat skeeves me out (especially chicken). Seafood's ok though.

3. I require complete darkness at bedtime. I'm a vampire. Light seeping in from the window makes me thrash and burn and thus I sleep with a covering over my eyes.

4. That being said, I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime with any amount of noise or ruckus. That's how tired I usually am. Once I slept like a baby on the hard wooden planks of a ship at dawn in street clothes while people mopped around my unconscious form. No, I was not intoxicated, just exhausted. (The thing is, I can FALL asleep easily but won't STAY asleep unless dark.)

5. I do not understand why woks must retain a "patina." That is muck which should be scrubbed off with brillo.

6. I've never smoked a cigarette. Hated others smoking as a kid and this repulsion exists even today.

7. I cannot hold onto a styrofoam cup without giving into the pleasure of sinking my nails into it. Eventually I will end up ripping piece by piece off just to feel it under my nail bed until I finally begin tearing it to shreds.

8. I am generally very congenial and understanding but if you throw up on the outside of my car and have nothing to clean it off with but a single McDonald's napkin, I will make you do it anyway. (Sorry, G.) If you throw up on the inside of my car, I will make you buy it.

9. I've only vomited twice in my life: once around 10, and again around 20, almost two decades ago. Due to inexperience, this is the most revolting thing I can think of and may be why I don't have kids yet. Or why I'll be so mean about #8.

10. I can watch blood being drawn and vaccinations plunged into my skin, surgeries on tv while eating and pop someone's giant boil while enjoying a sundae and it doesn't phase me. Just don't throw up.

11. One of the most comforting sensations in the world to me is falling asleep sprawled out on the backseat of a car during a long car ride. Even thinking about it makes me smile.

12. Peaches make my mouth itch.

13. I hate touching doorknobs.

14. My car is pretty organized. So is my filing cabinet, closets and projects.

15. I have a hard time picking up black stringy lint even when I KNOW it is not a spider.

16. I need time alone the way the parched need water.

17. If the dog horfs on a throw rug, I will just toss it and buy a new one. It is totally worth the money.

18. I love to read. Favorite time to do so: when eating and before bedtime.

19. Even hearing someone throw up makes me sick. If someone is somewhere throwing up and I know about it, I will be ill.

20. I almost never finish all of a meal in one sitting.

21. I took Spanish and French but am much better at the former as I can practice it with friends.

22. I hate swiss cheese. I'm the only person on the planet who probably orders a reuben with american cheese melted on top.

23. I'm a back sleeper.

24. I don't like the taste of water, generally. But force myself to drink it anyway.

25. Hmmm. About 1/5th of this list is dedicated to vomit. This tells you what a huge amount of resources are invested in its avoidance...!

More? In response to the "memememe!" memes going around, I also made another list of 100 things about me, and then 7 more....

-- one downside

One downside to having a president from Chicago is that nasty weather does not deter him. We had an ice storm last night and this morning (in effect until 6pm tonight) that was so treacherous that ambulances in some cases were having to call in salt trucks just to get in and out of neighborhoods. Most everything is closed today in DC, Maryland & Virginia. But my work is open. Go figure. Never a snow day for me when I need it most.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

-- snow dog

Tycho loves the snow. Here he is, running around in today's white stuff:
Ever hopeful that the ball might just kick itself.

Here I cracked open the door and yelled "Rabbit! Squirrel! Rats and mailman!!" because I like to tease him like that.
Starting to calm down but still moving.

Finally at rest, faithful ball by his side.

I almost had a heart attack this morning when he took off and bolted down the street after Dan's car, something he'd never done before. He didn't even flinch when I called him back. Panic ensued. In my PJs, slippers and no glasses (blind), I began scraping my car as fast as I could so I could take off after him. My heart was racing, all I could imagine was this nearly-invisible white streak racing towards traffic on roads too slippery to stop short. I got halfway down the street before Dan returned with the dog in tow -- thank goodness he noticed Tycho in his rear view mirror and scooped him up before anything bad happened. I think I'm sporting some new gray hairs from this morning's drama!

-- putting up walls...

Have you ever heard of Hal Brindley? He's an amazing wildlife photographer. He just put up a new site to catalog his latest travels. He says:
Have you ever wanted to leave it all behind (your house, your job, your ex) and go traveling to an exotic land with a perfect stranger?

Happens to me all the time.

But this time I decided to write about it.

And so did she. (The perfect stranger that is)

The journey has begun. We're both keeping a journal online and we've both agreed to never look at what the other has written. Only one person knows the whole story. You.

One request. Please do not tell me anything she has written. No matter how horrible or embarassing it may be.

We've named it Putting Up Walls. You can piece together the real story for yourself at

It's fascinating. I just checked out the his & hers diaries and can't wait for more...

-- 10 things about me (and you?)

I got this meme from Snappy Mom:

1. What were you doing 15 minutes ago?

Looking at CSS code for someone else's blog.

2. Are you any good at math?

I used to run from it until I went back to school to confront my fear and ended up acing calculus. I loved math then. I remember thinking that I could imagine solving math problems for fun the way some people would dive into a crossword puzzle. I knew then that that wasn't completely realistic outside of a classroom setting -- you really need to have someone to go to if you get stuck. Now it's been so long since I looked at math though I'm afraid I've forgotten a lot.

3. Your prom night?

I never understood why the prom was such a big deal. I went to two, they were both awkward.

4. Do you have any famous relatives?

No, but my grandma's sister was supposedly very rich and left all the money to a cat hospital. No idea on the details.

5. Do you know the words to your MySpace song?

I hate MySpace. I don't have a page.

7. Last thing you received in the mail?

Student loan bill.

6. How many different beverages have you drank today?

Only one, water.

7. What is out your back door?

A lifeless dirtscape trampled barren by the dog.

8. Have you ever been to a planetarium?

Yes, many times. I loved them as a kid.

9. What is your favorite flavor of JELLO?

Black cherry. It can't be healthy to eat that much red #5 though.

10. Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed?

Closed. Always closed my whole life. I hate when I have guests over and they sleep with their door open. And when I visit my mom, I close her door while she sleeps. All doors must be closed!

Friday, January 23, 2009

-- username FAIL

In my inbox tonight... look, if you're going to create a spam account, at least TRY a little harder!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

-- interview with filmmaker Joe Falcione (part of my interviews series)

In last night's post, I muttered something unintelligible about being restless over many unfinished projects. Well, one of them has just been completed: interview with independent filmmaker Joe Falcione about his current movie in production, Despondent and his previous projects.

I'd always wondered what it takes to produce a movie -- it's so complicated. You have to come up with the script, actors, location, cameras and equipment, and that's not even including the funds or the know-how to write, act, operate everything and use computers and software... the whole production just sounds so impossibly intricate to me. And yet Joe wears all the necessary hats -- from writing to acting to editing and still somehow manages to do all this while working many hours and juggling a beautiful family. He was kind enough to answer my many questions about what it's like to be a filmmaker.

See interview with Joe Falcione -->
Joe Falcione has won several awards at various independent film festivals including awards for the music he helped produce. The music for his movies mostly have been composed by Roger Hooper. Read on for more, and to see the trailer of his latest upcoming film, Despondent.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I have a special interest in social documentary. Basically this means I love stories about people.

It started when I discovered Po Bronson some years ago, falling in love with his book What Should I Do With My Life? about varied career paths people have chosen; what it's like to embark on one plan only to find your passion lies elsewhere (like the one woman who had gone to medical school only to find she hated being a doctor). And then what if you don't know what your passion is?
It was a fantastic read; between that, Ira Glass's This American Life, the birth of StoryCorps (an independent project of ordinary citizens interviewing eachother, stored at the Library of Congress), and my inherent love of questioning, my own citizen documentary hobby was born.
I have a few other interviews posted online as well. If you know me, chances are I have even thought of interviewing you one day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

-- restless tonight

A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.

~Charlotte Bronte
(image from

And so here I am, desperately wishing I could have been asleep hours ago but needing even more to make headway on some work. Although I'm finally settling down for the night, I feel dormant projects shifting, turning, tugging at the edges of my consciousness and threatening to cross the great divide and nag me in my dreams.

Usually I have no problems falling asleep but tonight I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

-- Obama's speech online, and crowded metro pic

L'Enfant Plaza metro stop line, 2pm

Metro to Baltimore pic, 3:45pm
Both pix from CarFreeJan20 on Twitter

Here's a view leaving the Metro station headed to the swearing-in ceremony: a journey that normally takes 15 minutes took almost 4 hours! -- Inauguration 2009 Contributor Kathleen Hicks, Fort Worth City Council member
Look at this crowded mess! As of 5:30 am, the Greenbelt, Branch Ave and New Carrollton metro station parking lots were FULL. It took one twitterer 5 hours to go from VA to DC late morning (what normally takes a 20-30 minute commute) because the metro stations were absolutely mobbed. Estimated capacity was about 100,000 people an hour on the metro this morning. One woman fell on the tracks but she is ok. Also Senators Byrd and Kennedy were rushed to the hospital during lunch... hope they are ok too.

Over one million people rode the metro today. Average ridership was about 100,000 per hour. (See Metro Ridership Tops 1 Million, Shattering Record from the Washington Post.) Wow! On the other hand, one friend of mine that rode the bus had the best possible commute -- he arrived and departed with no delay whatsoever. I think more people relied on the metro than buses.

Text of Obama's speech -->

-- live web cams of Washington DC

So about a half hour ago I was driving past the Greenbelt metro station on I95, craning my neck to see what the station looked like. There were a fair amount of cars there at this late hour even though I thought they weren't even going to open the station for parking until 3:30am.

I'm probably not going. Dan is still sick and it's not realistic. I can't sleep because I'm so excited, so I gathered some links in case you're like me and want to see what's going on downtown from the comfort of your computer. See what DC is like with upwards of 4 million people roaming around (at least that's what they're expecting):
Live web cams all over DC: For some reason, this link MUST point to the I395/14th street Bridge camera first but click around to see more. I love this camera, I'll probably be parked here tomorrow. Zoom in on the map and click around (a good place to start is The Mall) to see what's going on.

Live web cam of Capitol and Union Station which rotates/zooms. I'm imagining many people will walk from Union Station to the events so check this out for kickin' traffic.

Live web cam of Capitol, Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool and Mall, but you have to watch a commercial first before it "clicks on" (just once though). From the Washington Post.

Another live cam of the Washington Monument further away at a distance. Also from the Washington Post, but no ads.

Inauguration DC will be twittering from downtown, check for frequent updates. They operate the official Inauguration website which (if you scroll down) also has news updates.

Monday, January 19, 2009

-- Martin Luther King day, Free at Last (video)

"...I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal"...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." (video, 17 minutes)
"...when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
. August 23, 1963 speech in Washington DC. Full text of speech-->

Tragically, Martin Luther King was assassinated about 5 years after he made this speech on April 4, 1968 when he was about my age -- only 39. He might have been alive today to see tomorrow's momentous occasion....

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twitter updates

This has moved here:

-- chicken soup shortcut and other mundane Sunday stuff

So Dan's been sick. We were foodshopping when he started to go downhill again fast so when we got home, I made some of the fastest chicken soup ever. Here was my secret to getting a pot ready in 1/2 hour:
  • chicken broth
  • lime juice
  • cilantro cubes I had in freezer
  • sauteed thinly-sliced onions in garlic, olive oil and white wine
  • dried mushrooms
  • frozen spinach
  • carrots, steamed in microwave and sliced into soup (normally they take forever to soften)
  • frozen chicken meat (from the last time we had a ready-made chicken)
  • rice
  • salt & pepper
Boil all up and season broth to taste. The lime juice adds a nice touch, I like my broth flavorful and tangy.

Then we watched Dumb and Dumber (a movie I originally avoided because it sounded so stupid until multiple friends vouched for its hilarity). They were right, I recommend it as a fun watch.

Believe it or not, one of my 2009 goals is to... get this... watch movies! Catch up on flicks that everyone knows about but me. I almost never watch TV or have time to get to the cinema so I joined Netflix. (Somehow this is an easier resolution than dropping 10 lbs....)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

-- should I or shouldn't I go to the Inauguration?

Photo from Reagan Inauguration where about 500,000 people attended. Up to 4 million people are expected for Obama's Inauguration.
Trying to decide if I should go downtown Tuesday to see the inauguration. Every mode of public transportation that would be easy/comfortable is basically sold out: MARC train, Amtrak... the only thing left is the metro. And the metro home page warns loudly: "expecting CRUSH-LEVEL traffic".

So this is what I picture:They're opening at 4am, parking lots open at 3:30am. Not all stations are even open and not all streets will be accessible. I live about 16 miles from the city, not exactly an easy stroll, and so I am trying to figure out how to get down there. Some links:
So that's it folks. Let's see....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

-- about flight safety, again

So in light of yesterday's post and today's Hudson River crash, I had just been reading this post on flight safety from BoingBoing and wanted to share:
As we're taking off from Newark, we have a spectacular view looking eastward across Manhattan and Brooklyn. And in the distance, at the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean, we can see flames and a plume of dark smoke billowing out from a spot on the Rockaways. I say to my wife, "That's a very ominous location for a big fire -- it's right in the departure flight path out of JFK."

My suspicions, unfortunately, turn out to be correct. That black plume was American Flight 587, which crashed after takeoff when its tail fin snapped off over Jamaica Bay. Interestingly, our pilot doesn't mention it until after we land, explaining that the authorities quickly identified the crash as an accident and not terrorism-related.

That was seven years ago. I bring up this story now because American 587 was the last fatal crash on U.S. shores involving a full-size jetliner. That is an incredible run, and for some reason it is almost never talked about. Seven years of a perfect track record is more than just a statistical anomaly; we have clearly taken what has always been a safe form of transportation and made it into a staggeringly safe mode of transportation. In an age where we are bombarded by fear media at every turn -- from the household menaces of local nightly news ("Something in your kitchen may be killing your children -- tune in at eleven for more!") to the endless scaremongering about international terrorism, you'd think there would be an appetite for news about how ordinary life just got a lot safer. Yes, if it bleeds it leads and all, but still, if you look at the history of aviation accidents, seven years with no fatalities is much more unlikely (and thus newsworthy) than a crash or two each year.

So it was heartening to see in my hotel copy of USAToday that the latest good news -- zero fatalities on any US commercial aircraft in the past two years, a first in our jet age history -- managed to get on the front page. My favorite quote was this:

[MIT Professor Arnold] Barnett calculates that it's more likely for a young child to be elected president in his or her lifetime than to die on a single jet flight in the USA or in similar industrial nations in Europe, Canada or Japan.

Those of you still suffering from a fear of flying might think about those odds next time you hit a little turbulence. And for the rest of us, let's just savor a little good news about the modern world for once...
It's amazing that all 155 passengers got off the plane safely. Incredible.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

-- bad things that can happen on flights

Have you ever seen a plane's wings ice up? Or seen jet fuel (purposely) expelled? Dan's latest two posts describe this, complete with pictures, from his recent trip. Read more-->

Sunday, January 11, 2009

-- product of USA or Mexico or Brazil or Czech Republic or...

This post from Bubblecheese absolutely cracked me up. She bought a package of gummi bears from the airport and the label reads: "Product of USA or Mexico or Brazil or Czech Republic or China or Indonesia."

Well then! That about narrows it down, doesn't it. See picture on her blog -->

-- crazy cat antics video

This is cracking me up!

-- kids get it

My 11-yr old nephew is one of the funniest people I know and also one of the greatest kids on earth. My sister sent out an email update about how she was sick of all the broken furniture & stuff in her house and was getting rid of all of it and he writes back:
"...half the stuff that u think is broken....I'm probably going to break it more or "dissect" it to "learn" from it."

He's also incredibly flexible, as you might have guessed.

Thanks, Michael, for the laugh!

You might be wondering who the other greatest kids on earth are. That would be my 2 other nephews and niece:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

-- thanks, cat.

This morning began with the usual frenzy. I was all set to rush out the door earlier than usual when I realized I didn't have my glasses on. HOW exactly I didn't realize this until the last minute escapes me but whatever. I figured they're easy enough to find because I often set them down in predictable spots.

I calmly checked all the usual places but no glasses. I checked again.




Checked four more times, zilch.

I started to panic after about 20 minutes of this because I realized I was going to have to leave without them or be late. Being late at my job is not an option, not really. We get in trouble if we're even 2 minutes past sign-in time, but that's a topic for a whole different blog post.

Since my vision is 20/200 (which means I can see at 20 feet what the normal person can see at 200 feet) it's not a great idea for me to drive without them. I have NO backup pairs right now, the one pair I did have is at the eyeglasses store getting repaired.

Did I mention it's not so easy to LOOK for glasses when you can't see?

Time was running out. I started dismantling the entire house, ripping apart the bedroom, pulling chairs and tables back from walls wondering if they'd somehow fallen behind or under furniture.

I was about to take the very mature problem-solving stance of dissolving into a fit of cursing and tears when suddenly I found them. Of all freaking places, you know where they were?

On the floor by the dishwasher.

For frak's sake.

I had put my (NEW, mind you) glasses on the counter last night, piquing the cat's attention. She decided to investigate her nouveau toy while I blissfully slept, playfully batting them to the ground into scratch and crush territory.
And that was just how my day STARTED.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

-- dog and cat at home

At home with the dog and cat today...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

-- language FAIL

This is freaking hilarious:From the FAIL blog.

Here's a clip of what the lyrics are *supposed* to be:
Can't Live, from Mariah Carey
No, I can’t forget this evening
Or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way this story goes,
You always smile....
But in you eyes your sorrow shows
Yes it shows

I cant live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
Can’t live
If living is without you
can’t give,
I can’t give anymore
I love at the end: "What language was that?" "English." Ha!

Friday, January 2, 2009

-- what to do in DC

Visiting DC? I'm posting two great links to find out what's going on, from comedy to arts to museum exhibits to music:

What's on City -- TONS of stuff, just about everything in the city is here: every museum & historic building, music, ice skating at the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden, activities, etc. Click on the calendar date and then a page will appear with a whole slew of classes, events, tours, galleries, shows, music, etc. on the right hand side.

Washington City Paper Arts & Events section -- search by date, keyword or browse talks, lectures, theatre, music, etc.

To get around once there, see maps of DC (includes maps of parks, landmarks, museums, monuments, the Mall and all Smithsonian museums and the metro map for public transportation).


Thursday, January 1, 2009

-- updated post: blogs you voted for

Just wanted to mention I updated the blogs y'all recommended (scroll down to "Added 1/1/09" to see). And thanks for telling me about your faves!

-- the key to inner peace in the new year

Heh. One of my resolutions (aside from not making any) is to finish what I've started in 2009, unfortunately not as simple as this joke:

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed, 'The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished'.

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Kaluah, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now!
And I am also resolving to write everyday this month (signed up for NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, again).

Happy New Year!

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