Friday, March 28, 2008

A feast for cannibals

One of my all time favorite stupid jokes:
One cannibal looks at another cannibal and asks, "Does this clown taste funny to you?"

How many cannibals could your body feed?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Announcing the next diet craze

Recently, I watched a show on the Food Network which was filmed in some asian country. The host of the show had gone out on a fishing boat with some locals. They would catch fish by using cormorants. These pelican-like birds who had their wings clipped, so they couldn't fly away. The birds would dive underwater to catch fish, but would find that they couldn't actually swallow their catch because the fishermen had clamped these annoying ties around their necks. The fishermen would then reach into the birds mouths and retrieve the fish. The still-hungry birds would dive to try to catch more fish.

I think I have stumbled upon the next big diet fad: a device that keeps you from swallowing your food. Admittedly, unlike the cormorant, humans chew their food turning it into really small particles. So, a simple noose or ring around our necks wouldn't prevent us from swallowing food. Maybe I could develop a surgically implantable strainer in the back of the throat that would keep all but the most microscopic food particles from reaching the gullet?

This really isn't a unique concept. People who go on marathon wine tastings typically taste and then spit out their beloved liquids. I just want to transfer this concept to the realm of the food lover. Yes, I realize that bulemics sort of do that. I just think puking really negates the pleasurable experience of tasting the food.

I really don't like to puke. I really enjoy tasting and chewing delectable bits of food. I suppose that swallowing could be made optional, and I'd still be pretty content as well as much slimmer.

Maybe I missed my calling. Maybe I should be a food taster for public figures. Then again, they want you to actually swallow the food to see if it's going to kill you. So, as long as the food doesn't kill you, it still has the potential to make you chubby.

Maybe I should become a bird. After all, the lucky little devils do get to consume multiple times their body weight each day. And, as parents, they chew up their food and spit it into the grateful expectant mouths of their chicks. I could really get behind that. Sadly, I don't think I could get my human son to agree to the practice. Besides, he really doesn't like as many foods as I do, regardless if they've been pre-chewed or not.

In addition to coming up with the cool throat-sieve, I should come up with a catchy name for the diet craze it'll spawn. The Cormorant Diet? That's probably more market-friendly than The Chew and Spit Diet.

Besides, the later kind of reminds me of one of my favorite modern children's books: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The story focuses on the town of Chewandswallow, where various weather patterns bring a variety of food from the skies. Yup, my kind of town.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Meme> Things I have done

It's been a while since I did a meme. I like list memes, probably because I'm in love with list making. I think I will start posting more lists. In the meantime, I liked the list over at A Summer's Day.

I've bolded the things that I have done on the list. Considering the mishmash of positives and negatives on the list, I'm not sure how I feel about being able to claim so few.

  1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

  2. Swam with wild dolphins

  3. Climbed a mountain

  4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

  5. Been inside the Great Pyramid

  6. Held a tarantula

  7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

  8. Said “I love you” and meant it

  9. Hugged a tree

  10. Bungee jumped

  11. Visited Paris

  12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

  13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

  14. Seen the Northern Lights

  15. Gone to a huge sports game

  16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

  17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

  18. Touched an iceberg

  19. Slept under the stars

  20. Changed a baby’s diaper

  21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

  22. Watched a meteor shower

  23. Gotten drunk on champagne

  24. Given more than you can afford to charity

  25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

  26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

  27. Had a food fight

  28. Bet on a winning horse

  29. Asked out a stranger

  30. Had a snowball fight

  31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

  32. Held a lamb

  33. Seen a total eclipse

  34. Ridden a roller coaster

  35. Hit a home run

  36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking

  37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

  38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

  39. Had two hard drives for your computer

  40. Visited all 50 states

  41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

  42. Had amazing friends

  43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

  44. Watched whales

  45. Stolen a sign

  46. Backpacked in Europe

  47. Taken a road-trip

  48. Gone rock climbing

  49. Midnight walk on the beach

  50. Gone sky diving

  51. Visited Ireland

  52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

  53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

  54. Visited Japan

  55. Milked a cow

  56. Alphabetized your CDs

  57. Pretended to be a superhero

  58. Sung karaoke

  59. Lounged around in bed all day

  60. Played touch football

  61. Gone scuba diving

  62. Kissed in the rain

  63. Played in the mud

  64. Played in the rain

  65. Gone to a drive-in theater

  66. Visited the Great Wall of China

  67. Started a business

  68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

  69. Toured ancient sites

  70. Taken a martial arts class

  71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

  72. Gotten married

  73. Been in a movie

  74. Crashed a party

  75. Gotten divorced

  76. Gone without food for 5 days

  77. Made cookies from scratch

  78. Won first prize in a costume contes

  79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

  80. Gotten a tattoo

  81. Rafted the Snake River

  82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”

  83. Gotten flowers for no reason

  84. Performed on stage

  85. Been to Las Vegas

  86. Recorded music

  87. Eaten shark

  88. Kissed on the first date

  89. Gone to Thailand

  90. Bought a house

  91. Been in a combat zone

  92. Buried one/both of your parents

  93. Been on a cruise ship

  94. Spoken more than one language fluently

  95. Performed in Rocky Horror

  96. Raised children

  97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

  98. Passed out cold

  99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

  100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

  101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

  102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

  103. Had plastic surgery

  104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

  105. Wrote articles for a large publication

  106. Lost over 100 pounds

  107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

  108. Piloted an airplane

  109. Touched a stingray

  110. Broken someone’s heart

  111. Helped an animal give birth

  112. Won money on a T.V. game show

  113. Broken a bone

  114. Gone on an African photo safari

  115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

  116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

  117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

  118. Ridden a horse

  119. Had major surgery

  120. Had a snake as a pet

  121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

  122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

  123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

  124. Visited all 7 continents

  125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

  126. Eaten kangaroo meat

  127. Eaten sushi

  128. Had your picture in the newspaper

  129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

  130. Gone back to school

  131. Parasailed

  132. Touched a cockroach

  133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

  134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey

  135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

  136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

  137. Skipped all your school reunions

  138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

  139. Been elected to public office

  140. Written your own computer language

  141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

  142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

  143. Built your own PC from parts

  144. Sold your artwork to someone you didn't know.

  145. Had a booth at a street fair

  146. Dyed your hair

  147. Been a DJ

  148. Shaved your head

  149. Caused a car accident

  150. Saved someone’s life

Friday, March 21, 2008

Totally frivolous use of a huge hard drive

A few weeks ago, I purchased a wonderful 750GB external hard drive. We have TiVo and I use my desktop computer as remote storage for shows that I want to save. I mean, after all, my TiVo only stores about FORTY HOURS of programming. ... Yes, I know that's a lot. However, last year we recorded two entire seasons of "Star Trek: Voyager", and we sometimes record movies that we've been meaning to watch which aren't readily available at Blockbuster.

OK. I know I'm rationalizing here. But here is the ultimate frivolous, TiVo-related, use of this grotesquely large hard drive:

We do not subscribe to any of the premium cable channels (HBO, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, etc.) This weekend, HBO and Cinemax are free. So, we're basically recording about 60 hours of movies and off-loading them to my hard drive periodically. This way, we have a little library of 'on demand' programming of our own design. No driving to the video store. No waiting for the movie to arrive in the mail. No paying to buy it (even used). We have over twenty movies queued up to record this weekend. Most of them are movies that we've been wanting to see. Some are flicks that we'd consider picking up if we noticed them in the video store.

We do get Encore and Flix, and we've started gathering a little stock pile from those two channels. After the writers' strike, we truly appreciate having a stock pile of things to watch. With the new hard drive, I could easily stockpile over 500 hours worth of movies and still have room to back up photos and music files. ... I wonder if I should have sprung for the full terabyte?

We are SO indulgent.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Maybe I don't exist?

I decided to take today off from work to do some minor errands and what not. One of the things that I had hoped to accomplish was to apply for my passport.

I managed to get the appropriate photographs taken at my local AAA office. I filled out the form completely. However, when I examined my birth certificate, I realized that I have never actually laid eyes on my honest-to-goodness validated birth certificate. The crumbling and torn certificate that I have carted around with me for decades is a "Notification of Birth Registration". It lists my birth name and date on it and the file number of my actual birth certificate. However, it is not embossed with a raised seal (like an office birth certificate would be) and it does not list the legal name of my mother or the place of my birth.

The document was valuable when I was in public school since it listed all my inoculations on the reverse. And, it has been good enough to establish citizenship for every job change I have effected in the last two decades. It also was sufficient documentation to prove my citizenship when applying for my security clearance a few years ago. However, it is insufficient to get me a passport.

So, I did accomplish something else productive today. I mailed off for two validated certified copies of my birth certificate from the city of Baltimore. I look forward to seeing what the official document says about me. A long time ago, my mother mentioned that she did not list my biological father on the document. It's no secret who he is. However, at the time, she did not want to link him with my birth.

Many times, I have officially listed his name on official documents recording my official identity in all its subtle nuances. If his name is not actually on my birth certificate, does that make me subject to fraud charges? (Due to certain family circumstances, I doubt that he'd offer to amend the document if he is not listed. That's a very long and somewhat painful story.)

Additionally, I have listed my paternal half-brother on legal documents as such. Without a legal document (ie, my birth certificate) backing up my claim that T is my brother, does that additional claim constitute fraud?

So, while I need this silly embossed/certified/validated document to prove my identity to the Department of State, I am highly curious what else it reveals about me. Well, at least the 'official' me.

I KNOW who I am on an existential level, so no bit of bureaucratic flotsam is going to change the real me. It just increases my curiosity regarding the 'me' that is documented out 'there'.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The latest parenting experiment

For several years before high school, K was interested in playing tennis on the high school team. He took group lessons a couple times a week. He attended a couple of summer tennis camps. He made friends with the high school tennis coach. He asked for tennis-related gifts. Then, after starting high school he lost interest. We dropped the private lessons last fall, but encouraged him to go out for the team in the spring any way.

Today, I ran into the high school tennis coach. He introduced himself and asked me why K had not come to the team's informational meeting a few days ago. I was surprised that there had been a meeting. But, I explained that K was going through a somewhat lazy phase right now. His school work is kind of erratic and he's not overly interested in anything. This is supposedly typical for high school freshmen, the coach informed me. I told him that I would talk to K about the team. He hoped that I would and said that K would probably be his strongest player if he decided to participate.

As I continued my workout, I hatched a plan that may help motivate K with his school work as well as encourage him to play tennis. In the fall, K tried to get us to agree to let him get a job. We said 'no' because we wanted him to really focus on the challenges of high school, at this point. Plus, I wanted to make sure he had the flexibility to play tennis in the spring. K is highly motivated by cash.

When I got home from the gym, I asked K why he had not gone to the informational meeting for tennis. He said that he had decided not to try out. I then told him what the coach had said about how valuable K would be to the team. He thought about it for a few minutes, and asked me when the next meeting/practice was. I told him and he said that he would go. I then made him an offer.

In that past, we have rewarded K for good report cards at the end of each quarter. Consequently, its a long time between payoffs for good effort. So, I decided to change the game a bit. If K plays on the tennis team and gets nothing worse than a C on any assignment in any given week (while maintaining an overall 'B' average) I offered him $20/week for his efforts, in addition to the $5/week base allowance he already gets. This got him VERY excited. He said that constant monetary incentive was a good motivator.

I pointed out that playing tennis would make it that much harder to maintain his grades. He concurred. I suggested that he would need to maximize the use of his free time by studying/doing homework after tennis while waiting for his ride home. He said that would work for most classes, but that he needs Internet access for his Civics class since he has to do a current events report every day. He then suggested that it would be helpful if we got a daily newspaper. Score! I liked the fact that he came up with his own reasonable solution to a challenge. So, I put in for a subscription to USA Today for the next 13 weeks, which coincides nearly directly with the end of the school year.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ready to try again

I had a meeting with my college adviser last night. I wanted to make sure I had the right course plan in place going forward so I could graduate from this program in the next two years. Things look pretty good.

I dropped the class I was going to take this semester due to stressful work commitments. However, I need to get back on the horse. So, tonight I registered for Legal Issues in Business and Management. Classes start April 5th.

I think I'm ready to get back to it. Work is still stressful, but we cutover the new system on 3/22. So, by 4/5 most of the dust should be settled.

Oddly enough, I even talked to my adviser about potentially teaching some courses at the school. Apparently, you just need a Masters to teach in NH. I think I could teach an online class. I've been kind of thinking about teaching for a while. UNH has a continuing education certificate program called "Train the Trainer". I hope to talk to my boss about this. He and I have talked about me doing more presentation and seminar type stuff, so this would fit in with that. I want to design an Internet Security Awareness program for our organization.

Life is never boring.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The shortest weekend of the year

Thanks to Daylight Saving Time this is the shortest weekend of the year.

I wanted to make the best of it, but it did start off a bit wrong. I ended up working a bit late on Friday evening, and the reason for it made me a bit grumpy. However, I think I salvaged the rest of the weekend pretty well.

As usual, I did not accomplish everything that I wanted to. However, I did get a fair amount done. Saturday, I went shoe shopping. Mind you, I am not one of those women who revels in shoe shopping. But, I do love to find a comfortable pair of shoes for a reasonable price. I ended up buying a comfy pair of black Merrel slip-ons AND a comfy pair of slip-on Keen ankle boots. It's been wicked wet the last week or so, and I'm tired of stepping in puddles with my regular shoes on.

I also discovered a great online source for hot sauce (and such). I ordered about half a dozen sauces, salsas, and dip mixes from Tears of Joy. I went for the Sgt Pepper's Pumpkin Chipotle Sauce, but came away with some other delectable sounding concoctions.

Later on Saturday, we all went out to see '10,000 BC'. Pretty cool special effects. The teenager ended up liking it, though he said it looked boring from the previews. So, THERE's a recommendation, huh?

After the movie, we went to Best Buy and picked up a 750GB external hard drive. I hooked it up today, and I'm now in the process of migrating my TiVo archives to it. Color me a happy camper.

I successfully ran a couple of errands today even though my bank and I are going to have a discussion about their electronic payment processing system as a result. My debit card wouldn't work at most of the stores I went to today, or on the web site after I came home. I wrote checks when it didn't work while I was out. It did seem to clear up later in the day when I tried again on I do vaguely recall my bank having issues in the Fall on the Sunday of the last time change over. I can't wait to hear their explanation.

Overall, I am content with the outcome of the shortest weekend of the year.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Addicted to audiobooks

Last month I did something that I rarely do any more: I actually read a physical book from cover to cover. Don't get me wrong. I love to read. However, my eyes and brain are usually too tired to absorb much by the time I get home from work.

Over the last few years, I've fallen more and more in love with audiobooks. I usually listen to at least one a month in the car. In the last few months it's been at least two. I 'read' one for my book group and another just for me. This month, I'm on my second already and I haven't even started the one for my book group yet.

My family got me bunches of books on CD for the holidays. I also bought myself several as a reward for doing our taxes (and getting us a nice refund). Then, I bought a slew of programs (books and otherwise) from

Here's some of the stuff I've listened to recently that I have really enjoyed:

  • The World Without Us - by Alan Weisman

  • The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit - by Jill Conner Browne

  • Only You Can Save Mankind - by Terry Pratchett

  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter - by Jeff Lindsay

  • The Alchemist - by Paulo Coelho

  • Water for Elephants - by Sara Gruen

  • The Tipping Point - by Malcolm Gladwell

Along with a number of short stories and novellas by James Patrick Kelly, again courtesy of

So, while I really do hate commuting in my care for 50-75 minutes in each direction, sometimes I really don't notice the time thanks to audio programs.

In (humorous) honor of Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax, the originator of Dungeons & Dragons, died earlier this week. In honor of him, my favorite Internet geek comic strip payed homage to him. I loved it and had to share:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Coffins by Costco?

Thank you, Cobwebs for bringing this oddity to my attention.

OK, folks, I find this tres weird: Costco sells coffins. I'm supposing this is cheap and convenient for those do-it-yourselfers out there who are trying to save a buck by pulling together their own funeral. Then again, maybe this is for the small business person who does a few funerals a year, in addition to running the town gas station and car wash. If one did a significant number of funerals, I'm sure you could get a better deal through a coffin distributer, right?

What's extra special creepy is they also sell cremation urns. I'm guessing this is for the bereaved to bring to the crematorium, and not to have on hand after a backyard do-it-yourself bbq.

What I really want to know is: What? No headstones?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

School vacation is over, but a work vacation means productivity!

Our son arrived back from TX this afternoon. It was kind of nice not to have to deal with a teenager for over a week. Of course there was fall out from his absence. First, while trying to renew the security software on his computer, I discovered a number of minor crimes in his room (some of our CDs tossed about willy nilly, food wrappers and dirty dishes when he's not allowed to eat in his room, and just a general state of ... YUCK!). Also, while he was in the air, his grandparents called to report that he'd left his winter coat in Texas. They're going to mail it back. During the meanwhile, he can shiver on the bus stop wearing a couple of layers of sweatshirts.

All the same, I did kind of miss the little rat. I'm glad he is home.

This week will be pretty busy at work as my big project sets to launch. I have numerous last minute items to get done with deadlines throughout the week. The one nice thing about this week is that my acting team lead is on vacation. He handed off a few high priority, high visibility, tasks before he left. I like that he has that kind of confidence in me. I also like that I will be even more independent that normal this week. He said himself at our final team meeting on Friday that we are a very self-directed team. He said if we needed any management assistance in getting things taken care of, to bring in one of the other managers. However, he doubted we would need any assistance since we're very good at getting things done.


Actually, we're even better at getting things done since our former team lead left in January. And, we always got a lot done whenever she was out of the office. We go like gangbusters when we're empowered to act on our own. So, look out world, here we come again!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Two DVD retro themers and a theatrical movie

We watched several movies this week while our son is away. On the DVD front, we rented Far From Heaven and Fido. Both movies have similar surreal 1950s settings.

Far From Heaven is about the seemingly perfect and shallow lives of an American family, where things are not as they seem. The husband, played by Dennis Quaid, is struggling with homosexual feelings while the wife develops a taboo friendship with a black man. In the homophobic 50s, it was still better to be gay than to cross racial lines.

In Fido, an average American family's life is complicated when they try to keep up with the neighbors by getting a domesticated zombie. This is far from your typical zombie movie. It's more like Leave It To Beaver meets Shawn of the Dead. Billy Connolly is fabulous as Fido, the zombie. Carrie-Anne Moss (of The Matrix and Disturbia) is wonderful as the very proper mom. The side characters are great as well, including a neighbor who treats his female zombie as his girlfriend and the little girl neighbor who hates ballet but is an excellent marksman. The later is key when you have zombies outside the town in the 'wild zone' and when anyone who drops dead will turn into one in a flash.

While watching Far From Heaven and Fido as an in-home double feature has its merits, Fido probably would be better paired with Shaun of the Dead.

Speaking of Shawn of the Dead, we ventured out this afternoon to see Penelope, which included a minor appearance by Shaun of the Dead's Nick Frost ('Ed'). We really enjoyed Penelope. A nice and light uplifting flick. Poor Penelope was literally cursed at birth with the ears and snout of a pig. Supposedly, the curse can only be broken when one of her own kind accepts her for who she is. When she reaches adulthood, her parents hire a matchmaker to find her a suitable blue blood mate. Every one of the potentials runs from her on sight. When a reporter hires a down-on-his-luck blue blood to get a picture of the poor girl, the real romance begins. But, all is not as it seems in the relationship or the curse department. The flick has a satisfyingly happy ending.

All three movies are recommended.