Sunday, March 29, 2009

Random playlists from this week's workouts

Every morning, I get up around 5 a.m., strap my iPod onto my arm, and stumble down to the exercise bike for 30 minutes (plus or minus) of cardio to start my day. I typically let the iPod offer me tunes on shuffle, some times I skip one, some times more than one. Last week I decided to write down the tunes I let play to see if I could get some insight into my mood for the day. Since I don't feel like I have anything profound to share right now, I thought I'd share this weekend's playlists (45 minute sessions):


  1. Aqualung by Jethro Tull

  2. Small Things by Blink 182

  3. Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde

  4. Gangster Tripping by Fat Boy Slim

  5. China Girl by David Bowie

  6. Never Say Never by Queens of the Stone Age
  7. nice cover
  8. You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall and Oates

  9. Walking Contradiction by Green Day

  10. Dirty White Boy by Foreigner

  11. Hot Stuff by Donna Summer

  12. The KKK Took My Baby Away by the Ramones


  1. Longview by Green Day

  2. Murder by Crystal Method

  3. Pink by Aerosmith

  4. I Don't Want to Dance by Eddy Grant

  5. Voodoo by Godsmack

  6. Hey Jealousy by Gin Blossoms

  7. Tell Me What to Say by Black Lab

  8. Jungle Love by The Time

  9. Counting Flowers on the Wall by the Statler Brothers

  10. Splish Splash by Bobby Darin

  11. Jump by Van Halen

I'm usually faced with musical dilemmas during these shuffle plays. Songs have to be up tempo enough to fit in with my pace. Also, I sometimes skip totally appropriate songs due to over exposure (the iPod likes to give me songs that it knows that I like sometimes too much of the same song).

I'm sure there's a great volume of data/postulation out there on why the iPod offers us some of the stuff that it does during shuffle play. I've noticed that there are some songs that the iPod almost never offers me, while there are other songs that it loves to offer me nearly every session ("Press Darlings" by Adam and the Ants). I was even offered "China Girl" a second time during yesterday's workout.

I'm looking forward to a new download being offered, though it may not be up tempo enough for a workout: "Re: Your Brains" by Jonathan Coulton, recommended by my friend Cobwebs over at Shadowmanor. The song fits in well with the following that she also posted (pardon the blatant thievery):

Other recent music downloads/rips that I'm pretty happy about: the soundtrack from Henry Poole is Here, the soundtrack to Crime and Punishment in Suburbia, the soundtrack to Bones (tv show that I've never watched) and the score to Twilight (the movie). On the Henry Poole soundtrack, I'm particularly fond of the Eels tune "Love of the Loveless". They've appeared on numerous soundtracks now, and never a miss in the lot.

Probably will see Monsters vs Aliens next weekend. Trailer looked great, but we were way too busy this weekend to get around to it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Cylon are you?

I'm still wallowing a bit in the ending of Battlestar Galactica. I stumbled on this quiz, and thought it would be fun. Considering the results, I'm a bit frightened (grin):

Monday, March 23, 2009

Brilliant! Order me a vindaloo!

The funniest SF show ever, and maybe the funniest BBC show ever, is getting a chance at a comeback ... of sorts. Though it's been ten years since the series ended, they're finally making The Red Dwarf Movie

Here is one of my absolute favorite short bits from the first episode:

For some insight to the new movie see:

And the segue between the series and the movie:

I cannot wait!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quick link share for crafty/designing people

I stumbled on this link in a magazine article: Design Sponge.

The following is a snippet from their About page:
Design*Sponge is a daily website dedicated to home and product design run by Brooklyn-based writer, Grace Bonney. Launched in August of 2004, Design*Sponge was declared a “Martha Stewart Living for the Millennials” (NY Times, 2008) and features store and product reviews, city, product, and gift guides, diy projects, before & after furniture and home makeovers, home tours, recipes, videos and podcasts, and trend forecasting. In addition, Design*Sponge features a unique section dedicated to covering student design, national and international design shows. The site is updated constantly throughout the day (with an average of 6-10 posts a day), and attracts a core group of devoted readers. Design*Sponge currently has 40,000 daily readers. Click here for PRESS on design*sponge.

I particularly like it for the do-it-yourself section. Nothing earth shattering here, just fun and simple projects.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Laid back but tiring day

Let's consider this evening's blog post to be a compilation of all the Twitter posts that I was too busy/distracted to make today.

This morning. Got up around 8 a.m. (very decadent of me). However, due to chronic pain issues, staying abed that late is never a good idea. It took me about three hours to lubricate my joints enough to be somewhat functional. Over the course of the morning, I caught up my financial records in Quicken, attempted to program my new Logitech universal remote control, and finished burning "Pebble in the Sky" to CD so I can listen to that during my commute next week.

After I got my aches and pains calmed down, I wandered down to the basement for a 45 minute stint on the bicycle. Took a shower, and then went out to lunch with Goblin. After lunch we went to see the new Nicholas Cage movie, "Knowing". In short: interesting, good, and way weird. After the movie we went off to do our weekly grocery shopping at the super Walmart. We picked up the DVD of Twilight and U2's new CD while we were there, along with a few cheap t-shirts. The diversity of retail therapy options is one of the reasons I like doing our grocery shopping at the evil W-empire.

When we got home, we had a nice little dinner while watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. No spoilers here, but ... pretty nice shutdown. I may actually have to get all the DVDs now.

I still have some major items on my weekend 'to do' list. Hopefully, I can attack them productively tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What are they feeding you?

Our cats are utter chow hounds. Boose, our younger alpha cat, is constantly on the prowl for treats, leftovers, and anything unattended that he can steal. Over the last few months we have learned that he has VERY weird food preferences. He particularly likes things like pasta, cookies, breads, and cakes.

This afternoon, Goblin shared some Triscut crackers with Boose. (Weird cat)

This evening, Goblin enjoyed a plate of plain pasta with butter, which Boose gladly licked clean afterwards. (Not too too weird.)

Later, I had a was enjoying some mushroom and kale soup (no cream, mind you), along with some pepper jack cheese. I had my leftovers on the table beside my lounge chair in the living room. We were watching television. I heard licking and thought that Boose had stolen some food from somewhere. When I turned to see what was being licked, I was shocked to see our older cat, Zoey, standing on her hind legs licking the end of the pepper jack cheese block.

Argh! I took the cheese away from her to put it away. I figured that I didn't want the bit she had been licking, so I cut off a 1/8th inch slice and decided to indulge her by giving it to her. The slice actually came off in multiple pieces. Both cats pounced on the pieces of pepper jack cheese and sucked it up. For added grins, I put my mushroom soup bowl in the floor and Boose licked it dry.

WEIRDOS! This brings to mind one of my favorite Phoebe songs from Friends:

You Tube won't let me embed this, but here is the classic Phoebe Buffay song from Friends: Smelly Cat

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And, he's off

Grendel leaves today, from school, for a five day trip to Maryland. He and his FIRST team are going to the Chesapeake Regional competition. He's been looking forward to this trip all year. I think the prospect of five days away from home with his friends was a major motivating factor in joining the FIRST team.

On Wednesday, they're going to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. He's highly amused by the fact that there is a tropical rain forest on top of the aquarium. He doesn't see the connection.

On Thursday, they'll do a lot of set up and practice matches at the Naval Academy arena. Then, on Friday and Saturday they'll compete. They'll spend all day Sunday on the road coming home.

They're supposed to spend the bus ride(s) and Wednesday evening doing homework. They're supposed to get some actual sleep in the hotel. (Grendel says he's going to try to sleep since he's actually a key part of their competition team.)

I'm sure he'll have a great time. I'm very happy for him. We'll have a nice break from each other too. (I really hope he gets his school work done... *sigh*)

Friday, March 13, 2009

She was a vampire, I tell you

Italy dig unearths female 'vampire' in Venice

Maybe she was just talkative and her husband figured the brick was his only chance at getting some peace and quiet finally?

Only three more episodes left

Last night's ER had a nice surprise. All season there had been talk of whether or not George Clooney (Ross) would make an appearance in one of the final shows. Last week's episode showed that Julianna Margulies (Hathaway) and Eriq La Salle (Benton) would be joining Noah Wyle (Carter) this week in farewell appearances. They did not show Clooney, but one had to wonder with Margulies appearing if ...

Susan Sarandon also had a guest appearance, as did Ernest Borgnine. A very charming episode. It's a shame Hathaway and Ross didn't find out that the kidney recipient was Carter. Probably not kosher for them to know, but that would have been wicked cool.

Next week is Neela's goodbye episode, and it looks like Abby might make a brief appearance.

*sigh* I was a late comer to ER (4th season, I think). But then I went back and watched all of the shows I missed since they were in syndication by the time I came in. While the show has not always had the quality of its early years, there've still been some pretty good episodes and great moments.

I'll probably blog after each of the next few episodes. I'm going to miss these guys.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A parent who doesn't understand

My son, Grendel, has fabulous grades. One B+ and the rest A's of one sort or another. However, if I dig into the guts of his grades, he regularly gets zeros on one assignment per class in a 3-4 week period. Upon further inquiry, it turns out that he doesn't get zeros on the work that he's done, he's simply failed to turn the assignments in. He can't seem to find them. He vaguely recalls doing them, or at least receiving them, but can't recall what happened to the assignments.

How can he be getting A's in all these classes while regularly missing entire assignments? (Hello, teachers???)

I know how he's losing track of them. Grendel has ADD. In the last couple of months he's missed taking his medication about a third of the time. We recently figured this out, so we're back to counting pills and severely monitoring his medication. We all let it get away from us because he was doing so well in school overall and was very busy with his FIRST Robotics team.

However, we've started putting his daily meds in one of those seven compartment M-T-W-Th-F-Sa-Su pill boxes. He needs this so he can take it on his FIRST trip to Maryland next week. He needs to stay on his meds to keep his focus for his team's competition. He knows this and is motivated to take his meds on the trip.

Powerschool, the computer system that the school uses to track student grades, was down for a couple of weeks. It just came back on line a couple of days ago. Grendel wanted to spend Friday night at a friends house. I said that I thought that it was ok, but that I needed to check Power School to give him my final answer.

Bah! He's taking six classes. In the last week, he's gotten a zero on an assignment in each of three classes. So, I called him into my office and showed him the grades. I told him 'no'. He shrugged and said 'ok'. He did not seem surprised that he was missing work in three classes.

I reminded him of the deal we made with him about the Maryland trip. The trip is costing us $250. Since he's going to be out of school for 3.5 days, he needs to make an extra effort not to miss any assignments. The deal is he is not allowed to have any zeros from 3/11 until 4/1 (one week before thru two weeks after the trip) or he has to pay us back for the cost of the trip. After I reminded him of this he stared at the ceiling thoughtfully for a moment and said, "ok" and then walked away.

I'm guessing he's figuring out how long it will take him to pay us back, at this point. *sigh*

Oh, and the biggest thing I don't grok at this point. The only class that he hasn't missed a single assignment or gotten a grade below a 95 on: English... The class he says he dislikes the most and has the most trouble with.

To quote DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, "Parents just don't understand."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Can I be quiet for a week?

I don't mean absolutely quiet, but pretty darn close.

I am contemplating (pun intended) taking a week long vacation by myself this summer to Star Island for a meditation retreat. I've wanted to do this for a very long time. I even found a friend to room with. She's going to Star Island for a Unitarian Universalist Regligious Education retreat, which she does every summer.

So many of my UU friends gush about what a great rejuvenating time they have at Star Island that I decided to look into it.

There were a couple of conferences that interested me, but the meditation retreat struck a chord. I have tried meditation various times in my life. I think I need an immersion to make it a behavior that I can stick with. Anyone who knows me knows that I am wrapped just a wee bit too tightly. I would like to figure out how to loosen the wrappings somewhat, as it were.

Though we are financially precarious right now, I think we can afford this. Plus, I think it would be good for the boys and I to have a break from each other.

A week seems like a long time. I'm afraid that a week on a disconnected island away from my family and all of my touchpoints might make me anxious. Then again, it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Work promises to be quite stressful over the next few months. We may still be in the throes of some of it when I am planning to go to Star Island. That will probably be a good thing for my mental health.

And, another photo:

Monday, March 02, 2009

She's crafty

It's not just a Beastie Boys song. I do occasionally play around with craft projects.

I have been wanting a small table for the living room, to sit beside my chair, where I can put all the remotes while we're watching television. Two weeks ago, I noticed an empty wooden cable spool at work. I passed it several times before deciding to snag it. When I decided that I really wanted a second one, I mentioned it to one of the technicians who does a lot of our cabling. A few days later a similar spool showed up on my desk.

Since one of the spools had some bolt heads sticking out of it, I needed to adjust how I was going to join the two spools to accommodate the slight gap. Goblin helped me screw the two spools together, after I glued some slim balsa wood spacers in between.

After the two were joined, I needed to identity an appropriate top to assure that I had a flat surface. I thought about using an album cover (we still have some vinyl records in the house). In the process of playing around with the album cover, I discovered that the album itself was a perfect fit.

I covered the bottom with felt, to make sure that the table didn't scratch our wood floors. Then, I went to town with magazine images and paint.

I'm quite happy with the resulting product. I may just have to make something else!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Farewell Paul Harvey

Broadcasting pioneer Paul Harvey dies at age of 90

While I grew up as a member of the television generation, my mother was a big radio fan. I grew up listening to Paul Harvey's distinctive voice and style. His warmth and insight were beacons during troubled times. I always enjoyed his "The Rest of the Story" pieces.

In an age of shock jocks and political fringe talk radio, such talent and spirit stand out. We could use someone like Paul Harvey now. He will be missed.