Saturday, December 31, 2005

Introducing the 2005 Intense Christmas Sweaters!

Stopped at the South Bay Galleria and found two sweaters covered in beads and embroidery. Then my daughter found one she insisted I get for its novelty value. The one with the tree covering the entire side is the one she picked.

It's been pouring rain today and the drive from my family's place back to my daughter's place was a bit more stressful than I like, but we're all home safe and warm now.

I want to say hi to a new friend that I hear has read my blog and answer a few questions she had.

Not married - I've been living with my boyfriend for almost 15 years. Tried being married once - that didn't work out so well. Would I do it again, sure. He has to ask though *smile*

I work full time outside the home. Right now I'm doing "vendor management" for a large high tech company. The vendors are mostly technical consultant suppliers.

I'm 48.5 years old.

What's my worldview. Good question. Politically I'm more libertarian than Republican but that doesn't really fit either. I'm socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I'd like to see less government where it doesn't belong and more of it where it can do the most good. As a life long reader of Science Fiction I have read about thousands of possible futures. I don't think we're headed for dystopia a la Philip K. Dick but I don't think we're headed towards a Star Trek future either, unfortunately.

As it's New Year's Eve I'll hope that 2006 is supremely better than 2005 was for all of us. If I brought anyone a smile last year then it was a good year. I hope to keep bringing smiles next year as well.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Helping Spread a Different Kind of Meme

Nope, it's not Monday and it's not silly but it does come from my association with Absolute Write. Jenna Glatzer (editor and chief of Absolute Write and kind hostess of the Water Cooler forum attached thereto) has a blog and on it she has posted about a pledge she hopes many will sign - over 300 already have.

It's recently popped up on Joanne's blog as well as Macallister Stone's - I want to help spread it further. You can read more about the pledge and her reasons for starting it on her website.

Here's a teensy excerpt (teensy because I want you to go to her site)
My brother is the coolest person I know. He's nice to everybody, and he can always make me laugh, even if I'm feeling down. It hurts us when people use words like "retard" and "retarded" in the wrong way, because it makes him feel like they think he's stupid. He had to work very hard-- harder than most people-- to learn how to read, write, play the piano, and use the computer. He has graduated from high school and works at a nursing home. He deserves to be respected, not insulted.

A dear, longtime friend has a brother with Down Syndrome. I believe she feels much the same way about him and hurts like Jenna hurts when people toss cruel words about without thinking. For her, and for Jenna, I signed the pledge and I hope you'll consider doing the same. Thanks.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Pacific Between - A Review

By Raymond K. Wong, available at Ray's official site and, where I would have liked to have posted this review, but apparently can't right now, and Barnes & Noble, where I have posted this review, but it may take a few days to show up.
In The Pacific Between we are introduced to Greg Lockland who has recently lost both of his parents. He is in his thirties, unmarried and coping with this loss without the support of an extended family. He has come back to California for the funeral and re-connected with Kate, the daughter of his parents' close friends, after ten years of growing steadily apart.

Greg's longtime friendship with Kate seems to be on the verge of becoming something more, but before Greg can truly understand that for himself, he discovers letters and pictures that bring up more questions than answers about his past, his father's relationships, and ultimately, whether the woman Greg really loves is Kate or Lian. Without explaining why he must go, or what he is feeling, to Kate, Greg leaves for Hong Kong to confront Lian with what he thinks he's learned.

The Pacific Between artfully moves between scenes from Greg's past and the present. Greg's search for Lian is also his search for understanding about himself and his relationship with his father. Woven throughout the book are scenes with other friends and acquaintances of Greg's that expose for us the boy he was, the man he has been and the man he is becoming.

The secondary characters are full of life and personality; each scene with them is just as important to the book as the scenes with Kate and Lian. Equally compelling are Raymond Wong's descriptions of Hong Kong that fully envelop one in the sights, sounds, and smells of the island.
He truly has a fantastic way with words. I was transported to Hong Kong - it was colored by my memory of Tien Mou, Taiwan, and my more recent trip to Singapore, I'm sure, but I really felt like I was seeing it thru Greg's eyes. I want even more to go to Hong Kong after reading this book.

The Pacific Between is so tightly woven I'm hard pressed to uncover one extraneous bit of dialogue or description. The shift from chapter to chapter is effortless; the ending lives up to the rest of the novel in that it is the honest outcome of the journey Greg has made.

Ray, I hope I did ok with my review and didn't give away too much - I truly enjoyed your book and hope it is a great success.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

She's Gone Off Half-Crocked!

I'm not much of a homemaker, I'll be the first to admit it. There's a lot of stuff I should do more regularly and just don't. One of the things I don't do much is cook meals. There's a lot of work involved! Deciding the menus, buying the ingredients, actually putting it all together instead of forgetting about that pound of meat in the freezer for several months and having to toss it out. Work, work, work.

However, the last few days I've spent some time in the kitchen actually preparing meals that took more work than popping in the microwave for 5 to 7 minutes on high.

Christmas Eve I did a lovely beef stew in the slow cooker - I chopped veggies and added spices and everything. Christmas day I baked a ham. These meals were served with side dishes as well. (hey, it's an achievement, don't smirk)

Today I was a bit lazy and tossed a Banquet Crock Pot Classics bag of Chicken and Dumplings (although how they can claim those noodles are dumplings is beyond me) in the crock pot - it wasn't bad tasting and saved me having to cut up chicken breasts and veggies. A small step above nuking a frozen dinner at least.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring but I'm thinking I want to do something with the wok. There's a great oriental market down the street...maybe I'll do a nice stir fry. I'm betting the SO is wondering what's gotten into me. The kids are gone and I finally get domestic?

Well, I should have been better with that when they were around. It's one of the (many) things I regret about how I raised the kids. We ate too many microwaved, frozen, delivered or drive through meals. I won't go into any rationalizations, it was just weak, lazy and bad of me. The upside might be that my grandchildren will be better fed as my kids decide that their kids won't eat like they did. I can only hope.

Then granny will come visit and subject them to the evil that is Taco Bell and McDonalds. What are grandparents for, anyway?


Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day!

Or, as it's known here in the States, "Huge Discounts on Seasonal Items! Stores open early, don't miss out!" day. In years past I have been one of the brave souls driving through thick Tule Fog, which settles upon Bakersfield this time of year, at 6 or 7 a.m on the 26th to shop at the Valley Plaza on Ming Ave. (featured in Trekkies, by the way - it's the mall that the young man, Gabriel Charles Köerner, whose dad has the shuttlecraft car, visits), especially at Robinson's/May - newspaper coupons in one hand and my Robinson's/May charge card in the other.

If I'm depressed at all today, it's because I'm not there filling my arms with wonderful sales items. Yep, I'm actually getting weepy. Where will I find next year's highly embellished Christmas sweater at 75% off? The tears are streaming down my cheeks now. It's not that I've succumbed to the commercialization of Boxing Day. For me it's the death of another personal tradition that crushes my spirit. You'd think that weighing the benefits (no charges to pay off, no risking life or limb driving in killer fog, an extra hour or so of sleep) of not going, against the relatively small payoff of a couple of sweaters would make me feel better but it doesn't.

I have lifted my spirits somewhat by finding two Christmas sweaters online, on sale. Hope they get here before Thursday.

I saw a meme over on Making Light. If you miss the you can do that one. Even if you don't do the meme, you should make a New Year's Resolution to read Making Light regularly. Highly literate comments to thought provoking posts. Sometimes so thought provoking it makes my brain hurt.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What Do the Gifts In My Christmas Stocking Say About Me?

I was reading a thread on AW about the “Best Christmas Gift” and was hard pressed to come up with one; I have received so many wonderful gifts throughout the years. What was easier for me was to recall other gifts – ones that made me wonder if there was a deeper message to the gift than just "Merry Christmas." For example:

Personalized jewelry. So, what's the message in that gift? The giver thinks I'm a narcissist? Wants me found by a stalker? Has trouble remembering my name so they hoped I'd wear the gift and spare them embarrassment next time we met? As an aside, nothing is weirder than having a stranger call you by name making you wonder, “how do they know me?” then remembering that your earrings are spelling it out for them in quarter inch high block letters.

“Jeweled” pocket calculator. ‘Cuz, you know, “Math is Hard,” so let’s make it pretty. I think the real message was that the vendor got a lot of 100 at a really cheap per piece price and handed them out to all their female clients. I bet the men got booze. Damn.

A “ladies” electric shaver. It was pastel and shaped all curvy, created especially for women. Women with silky fine down-like feminine leg hair that’s probably so pale you could forgo the shaving all together and nobody would notice. The stubble on my legs is at least as tough to shave as any man’s beard. It is also black – deep dark midnight black. Sadly, but truly, I get a ‘five o’clock shadow’ – from my knees to my ankles. Was this gift given in a state of denial about my need to use a fresh bladed razor daily?

While I’m on the subject, does anyone remember the “Epi-lady”?? a 40,000 rpm spinning spring that snagged and yanked the hair out of your legs….I’m convinced a sadistic misogynist came up with that device. But I stray…

Heated eyelash curler. Now those are just scary. I’m convinced something will go wrong with it and set my eyelashes on fire, which will then ignite my eyebrows and from there, “Good bye hair”. I’m sensing hostility in this gift.

Further along those lines – tweezers. Not a grooming kit that contains tweezers, just, specifically and all by themselves tweezers. At this point while emptying my stocking, I’m beginning to think that people are not satisfied with my grooming or there’s a werewolf somewhere in the family tree and this is their subtle way of getting the message across.

“50 Colors!” eyeshadow sets – they look like fun but only two or three of the colors are attractive on me and there’s not enough shadow in each of them to do my eyes for more than a week. I once experimented with different combinations of colors and was mistaken for a confused football fan. “So that eye wants the Raiders to win and that one is for the Bengals?” I think this gift says “Go wild! You’re boring.”

Scented bath set – you know, the ones with the soap, powder, and lotion to match some perfume you’ve never heard of? If you apply all three items, after your ablutions folks will smell you coming a mile off and avoid meeting with you in person (although that might be worth considering). If you don’t use all of the items you’ll get the “Why is there still a full bottle of that lotion I bought you at Christmas?” talk sometime around the Fourth of July. This gift is either saying “I stopped at Walgreens this morning on the way to our Christmas get together and this is all I could find for under $20.” or, “You smell bad.” (no grammar lessons here, please – it’s dialog and that’s how people talk about you when you are odiferous).

“Sampler” boxes of candy. For some reason I seem to get boxes of candy from vendors and the guys get the boxes of real food, with beef sticks and cheese and nuts. There are a number of those candies that I dislike intensely and some I can’t eat at all (I can’t eat anything with shreds of coconut). Here, I’ll make it simple – if it has to be candy I like the Ghirardelli Chocolate squares with caramel and See’s peanut brittle, or those See’s dark chocolate suckers. All the other candy gets eaten by everyone else, so how is that a gift for ME???? If you want to give me food for a present, I like Hickory Farms beef sticks (the Cajun flavor is great). Although after a long day shopping I’m tempted to ask for the candy filled with liqueurs. I think the hidden message here is “My cousin is a dentist” or maybe a heart surgeon.

Here's a gift I have saw online and pondered with amusement and had to share - in case you have a 'message' to put in someone's stocking next year:

The “Miss Army Knife” It’s PINK! Quote from the ad copy: “comes with 15 must-have female emergency items — including a flashlight, needle and thread, nail file, scissors, a pill box, mirror, safety pin, tweezers (there those are again) and even a secret compartment to put an emergency bottle of perfume!” I’m tempted to ask for this for next year. Someone else can figure out what that says about me…

I hope your stockings are full of interesting stuff and no coal this year. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2005

AW Monday Meme #3

This meme comes from Veinglory's blog. I loved it (almost as much as the gay zombie penguins, but not quite). So, in the truest tradition of meme-ing I'm passing it along to you. (and, yes, I did post my 'memory' in Veinglory's comments. You'll understand what I mean when you read on.)

This is a bit like a writing prompt. You are being asked to compose a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and someone else on AW or your blog-roll. It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. Identify who the person is and link to their blog or AW Profile as well. Feel free to tag them to pass on the meme if you'd like.

Now, if you want to propagate the meme, as part of your post you should include the following text:

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

As always, I'd love it if you'd use the 's tag.

I've gotten some comments about that tag - that folks have used it and they're not showing up on Technorati. Since I'm not an expert in how it works all I can suggest is that you manually ping Technorati that you've updated your blog. If you want me to drop by your blog and see if you've done the tag right, I'm happy to do so. Just ask me in comments, on the AW Monday Meme's thread or PM me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nope, didn't do it after all

It has been raining all day. I hate being out in the rain. I hate driving in rain. I decided not to go out, after all. Guess that means I'll be joining the last minute shoppers on Friday as I have that day off.

I ordered two Hawaiian shirts, one for me and one for the SO. Mine will be red like the picture, the SO has the same print but on a black background. What you might not be able to see well from the picture, is that the shirt design, in addition to the pointsettias, has red "Woodies" with a surfboard sticking out of them, sitting on large leaves. It's priceless. And for a Southern California Christmas, perfect.

I'm re-reading The Fountainhead and doing laundry.

Don't forget, tomorrow I'll be putting up the last Monday Meme of the year.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Survivor - Shopping Mall

I am too tired to move. This morning I went to the mall. Got there at 9ish, great parking spot right near the door. Mall wasn’t too busy, either. That would change in about 90 minutes.

I needed to get a number of things that my daughter had mentioned on her Christmas list. I also had the SO to shop for. That wasn’t as much of a success, but I did find a couple things I’m happy with. I can’t say what because he knows about this blog and could come reading.

The bad news is that I need to go back out tomorrow. I was too tired to go on after 5 hours so I came home – but I wasn’t done. So I go trudging off again tomorrow, early.

The other thing I was going to see if I could find is this year’s Christmas Sweater. I wanted something really flashy. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. I eventually bought a sweater but it’s practically, cringe, subtle.

I will keep looking. Last year my best sweater was found at an after Christmas sale. One of the advantages of doing the family Christmas late is the opportunity to shop at the after Christmas sale for 1) the sweater and 2) cool gifts for the family at half price.

Looks like the family get together will be on New Year’s Eve this year. I’ve booked the flight down to San Diego, reserved a car and a hotel room (and yes, this time I double checked the date). I’m all set.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Wherein Dawno Attempts a Pome

Unique has tagged me. Here is my response.

The two of us are
following separate paths,
spinning contrariwise to the other,
a howling, discordant wind
uprooting things along the way
disregarding them as valueless.

Occasionally we’ll almost collide,
travel beside each other,
together - for just a little bit.
Perhaps then the sound of our passing
is less cacophonic to stander’s by,
it’s certainly more harmonious to us.

, wanna give this a shot? :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

May I Recommend for Your Blog Reading Pleasure...

In my Seven Things meme, below, I mention that I cannot knit. I love knitted stuff. I own lots of great knits – including some St. John stuff I shouldn’t have bought, but hey, it was from the outlet and on sale!! Anyway, I need to draw your attention to this site and to this post in particular. Maybe it’s ok that I don’t knit. Gotta get that site into my blogroll soon.

I got a phone call from my daughter and a visit from my son tonight. My SO made sure that both of them know what the new present that appeared under the tree today is. My son was very impressed. Now I’m really curious – but I’ll wait for Christmas.

I need to go shopping. Yep, this year I wasn’t good and got it all done early. Saturday morning I’m getting up at oh dark hundred, as they say in the military, and hitting the mall. I think it’s too late to get anything from online delivered in time.

I have no idea what the family Christmas plans are. Another result of my deepening depression over a number of aspects of my life spiraling out of my control is that I keep forgetting to do certain stuff – like call my family. I wish they either posted on AW or blogged. Absent that, they could at least email. *sigh* I must call Dad soon.

Don’t forget – if you know anyone who wants to hire a professional caliber organizer, I’m willing to work cheap to establish credentials. *smile*


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seven Things Meme

Mark Pettus over on his blog The Bluff tagged me. Just me. It’s a singular honor. *snirk* I made a pun…

I enjoyed thinking about it and writing it quite a bit. However, because I subject all my AW cyberspace friends to the weekly AW Monday Meme I hesitate to tag any of them, so, if you like this meme, I encourage you to do it and propagate it.

Seven Things to Do Before I Die:
  • Go back to Ireland and see the places I didn’t see the first time

  • Go back to Australia and actually snorkel off the Great Barrier Reef

  • Completely humiliate my children by including my grandkids (currently only in my imagination) in my second childhood

  • Find work I’m passionate about and do it till I go completely senile

  • Take a cruise – I think I want to take an Alaskan one

  • Perform in a musical – community theatre, I have no aspirations to being on Broadway

  • Get published
Seven Things I Cannot Do:
  • Wink (I lost the ability after my recovery from Bell’s Palsy

  • Stay mad at someone, no matter how they test me

  • Knit. I can do just about every other form of needlecraft – I can tat for goodness sake! But give me two needles and I fail.

  • Stay productive when I disagree with what’s being asked of me

  • Touch a picture of a bug, unless I don’t know that I’m touching it. Give me a book with a bug on the cover and I either put a book cover over it or remove the dust jacket.

  • Eat raw oysters

  • Be alone
Seven Things I Say (or write!) Most Often:
  • I Love You

  • Thanks!

  • Just (I edit that word out of more sentences than any other)

  • Disappointed (this is the word I use a lot with suppliers at work who’ve screwed up royally – I’d rather say “you screwed up royally” but instead I say “I’m very disappointed in…” they’re not fooled – they know I’m very upset)

  • But (as in, “but did you consider looking at it from another angle?” I’m saying that more and more these days. See 4th bullet in the list of 7 things I can’t do, above)

  • So (another word I edit out of all kinds of things I write. It’s a bad habit of mine to start a sentence with “So, yadda yadda”)

  • Dawno (I sign a lot of stuff that way – on top of the occasional ramble, a la Bob Dole, wherein Dawno talks about herself in the 3rd person)
Seven Books (or series) I Love (this one is so hard – I could go on for pages):
  • Everything Stephen King – but especially Dark Tower as a series and The Stand – my most re-read book ever

  • Discworld series (Pratchett)

  • Everything Asimov

  • Star Trek books (except for Voyager and Enterprise)

  • Pern series (McCaffery)

  • Dune (Herbert)

  • Valdemar series (Lackey)
Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again:
  • The Shawshank Redemption

  • When Harry Met Sally

  • Sleepless in Seattle

  • French Kiss (and no, it’s not Meg Ryan I have a thing for)

  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

  • Star Trek: First Contact

  • Dr. Strangelove

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Having Thoughts About a New Career

Having Thoughts About a New Career

I am fanatic about organization – a bit compulsive, to be honest. I have gone through a number of different calendaring systems in  my life, from simple stuff I did on graph paper to make sense out of my college schedule to things like DayTimer, Franklin/Covey, the venerable ol’ Filofax, Priority Management System (spent a couple hundred of my own dollars on that one), my current favorite is Circa (more later on why that’s important).

I didn’t use to be quite this, uh, deranged. It got started in the second quarter of my first year in college. I had tested out of my freshman year so I was already a sophomore and I was determined to graduate in 3 years, but still have fun, and work ten to fifteen hours a week as the Student Assistant to the English Dept. Secretary. I often joked that I was engaged to the ditto machine and cheating on him with the Xerox copier. I got about 5 hours of sleep a night. On a ‘lazy’ night, that is.

I was in choir, drama and taking a full load of academics in the Honors at Entrance program. I had already declared a double major in English Lit. and Political Science. I was cracking under the stress.

I went to the bookstore on campus and found a little book about time management. I read it through. I got some highlighters and read it again – this time I started highlighting the things I was going to do. I went out on a shopping trip for supplies the next day. I won’t go into details but it saved me. And, I’ve never looked back. I’ll just say one thing – I scheduled myself in 15 minute increments. Every thing I did, all day – I even scheduled sleep…ok, that was a euphemism – let’s just say my boyfriend didn’t know he was on a schedule.

And how does Dawno organize her life today?

I have color coded, alphabetized, tabbed and labeled folders for everything I do at the office. Red is personal (reviews, promotion letters, awards), yellow was employee relations when I did HR, purple are completed projects, green are vendors under consideration for one program, blue are the vendors in phase one of a different program, orange are the ones in phase two. There are more colors – I’ll just stop there, though.

I use these folders with multiple inside dividers and two-hole punch brads at the top – in all the available colors, as well. This is for when I have multiple document tracking to do on a specific project.

My computers have dozens of folders. My work email has dozens of mailboxes and filters. My personal Gmail, well it does a good job all by itself so I don’t have to organize it.

I have Post-it notepads in all sizes and colors. I use them for huge wall mounted project maps.

I think you get the point – I won’t bore you with the closet…but just think about what one can do with organizing by color, short vs. long, seasonal vs. year round…shoes! Oh, goodness…excuse me, I need to fan myself.

Back to Circa. I need some paper refills for my Circa notebooks. I go to the Levenger catalogue. I decide to peruse the other pages and see something I want to put on my wish list. I also go to this page thinking I might just buy it for myself and tell the SO to get me the other one for my birthday (Christmas is already shopped for).  Now, scroll down a bit on that last link’s page. There’s a graphic in the middle of the page. It says “International Association of Professional Organizers.”  *faint*

I revive myself. Why had I never heard of these guys before? Could I be turning my obsession into a profession? I’m a teensy bit excited now. How I would love to spread the joy of compulsive color coordination and evangelize the best organizing choices for pen drawers (By color? Size? Width of point? How about by length? Am I deranged? You do have a pen drawer, right?)

I don’t like the idea of doing home organization for people. But business organization – be still my beating heart. Seminars – evaluations – consulting…oooh, I’m nearly dizzy just thinking about it.

And, if I did go this route – I could WRITE organizing books!! I’m inspired.

Monday, December 12, 2005

AW Monday Meme #2

Only 13 more shopping days until Christmas. Less if you give gifts on the Solstice, slightly more if you give gifts on Chanuka or Kwanzaa (my calendar says Chanuka starts on the 26th and Kwanzaa is on the 26th as it right?) but you're going to be fighting those crowds at the After Christmas sales.

What does this have to do with the meme, you say? Ok, I imagine you're saying it. No, I'm not off my meds and hearing voices.

If you've been out shopping you've been hearing holiday songs. Often the same ones, over and over and over. My poor children both work retail (let's hear it for my daughter, Abercrombie and Fitch's newest employee) and they get to hear them all day long, every day of work. My son claims to know many of these by heart now. Involuntarily. He whistles sometimes and without thinking about it he's started to whistle holiday songs. When he catches himself he says naughty words. I know this because I heard it happen a couple times Sunday while we were out shopping with him.

So, this got me an idea for today's meme:

List the holiday songs you know by heart, but only the ones where you know more than just the first verse.

You you can list as many as you want - could be bragging rights at stake here...;) Certainly feel free to quote any verse you're unusually proud you know. Like the third verse of Adeste Fedelis...I'd be proud if I could remember it, but I only know two by heart.

By the way, a "holiday song" is any seasonal song you sing. Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or even Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer...

I'd love it if you'd use the Technorati tag - and if you'd link back to the AW thread.

My List:
Song/# of verses

Silent Night/2
Jingle Bells/2 (there are 4 verses, I looked it up - and I don't think I've ever heard the last two sung)
Joy to the World/2
Adeste Fidelis/2 (aka Come All Ye Faithful and I only know two verses in English as well)
The First Noel/2
O Holy Night/2 (strangely the first and last only. Wonder why I don't know the second verse - I went and looked this one up because I thought it had more than 2 verses.)

I'm beginning to think that my various choir conductors only had us ever sing two verses or I'd know more of them...

I think know all of Silver Bells - seems like 3 verses when I sing it...Deck the Halls - six really short verses there.
I seen to I know all of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" as sung by Andy Williams. I blame it on the radio station that plays holiday music 24/7 that I've been listening to in my car. Seems to play that one alot.
I know all of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" too - probably for the same reason.
I know bits and pieces of "Holly Jolly Christmas" but I think out of order and certainly missing spots.
This is harder than I thought it would be! I'm going to stop here before I strain my brain any more.

:-) I look forward to yours.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh Tannenbaum!

Yep. The tree went up and the ornaments will be going on it as soon as we get the tablecloth out of the's kinda hairy (the cats liked to get under the occasional table it covers and they left quite a bit of fur on it). We've been using a pre-lit artificial tree for several years now (that picture is from last year) and it's about 4 foot high so we put it on top of a little table that for the rest of the year holds a lamp and a glass chess set.

I've put out the greenery on the mantle and shelves, and the wreath is on the door.

But the thing that really indicates that the holiday season is upon us is:

Dawno Gets Out Her Christmas Sweaters

I have 13 of them now. They are all what a friend of mine called "intense." For example - last year's sweaters:

I don't think I've been collecting them for 13 years because occasionally I get two, but I've been doing it for at least the last 8 or 9. It was a thrilling year for me when I finally had 5 sweaters and could wear a different one to work each day the week before Christmas. Hey, I look for excitement where ever I can find it and I set the bar low enough not to miss.

I am taking my son to the mall tomorrow since he doesn't drive and he wants to shop for his girlfriend, so he can't very well ask her to give him a ride. Yes, yes, I could tell him to take a bus. I want to tell him to take a bus - but it's Christmas so I'll do it. Even though I hate shopping in malls this time of year most of all. The upside of it is that while I'm there I can shop for a new Christmas sweater. Hopefully there will be some good intense ones left.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

'Tis the Season for Business Gifts

I’ve held a lot of jobs through the years where folks who have done business, or want to do business, with my company during the year feel an impulse to celebrate this ‘relationship’ with a token of appreciation.

Like today, I got a gift basket in a big cardboard box shipped directly from the warehouse to my office. Nothing like taking a moment to personally browse a catalogue! When I saw the box I got a bit excited – it said “Wine Country Baskets” and I was thinking “ooh Napa Wine!!”

No such luck. It’s probably the first of many highly impersonal gift baskets full of stuff I don’t like that I will break up and pass around the office. The weird dried fruit things and the ‘cashew roca,’ along with the raspberry bon bon candies and some ‘cheese nibbles’ are sitting at the bagel spot in our office with a sign that says “Help Yourself – Happy Holidays”

I admit, I did bring home a few of the items for myself and the SO. He has already consumed the butter cookies and the summer sausage. I think the sesame water crackers and La Region Des Vignobles Camembert Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread will be left alone for me to nibble. I’m hoping one of the baskets I get this year will have a big bag of pistachios; I love them and nobody else does.

I’ve also in days of yore, received gift items that initially look really thoughtful and classy – like a leather padfolio – until I opened it and saw their big embossed gold leaf logo inside the cover. I deal with lots of companies, so I don’t want to seem like I favor one over the other. I guess I could try to remember to swap out my notepad from my plain leather padfolio into their embossed padfolio when they visit – but it’s a bit of a bother. First time I got something like that I tried to take off the gold leaf with nail polish remover. Not recommended for real leather. I actually thought it was ‘faux’ and was mistaken. Live and learn.

I wish it wasn’t gauche to just say “How about you forget the embossed items and donate the money to a charity?” I sent a bunch of these guys an email from my personal account (so it wouldn’t seem like my company was involved) telling them all about Stories of Strength. So far two of them have mentioned that they were buying copies for clients. Alternatively, if you have to get me something or your boss will fire you, I’ll take a nice mid-priced bottle of Merlot. Either way, someone will get something that makes them happy.

I used to be an account rep. I was a vendor to the company that I currently work for before they lost their minds and hired me during the dot com frenzy. I had a couple special clients here that got personalized gifts. Everyone else got a nice corporate card that said a donation was being made to some charity by my company in their name. But the special clients – I knew them, I’d spent time with them during the year and learned things about them that I bothered to remember. And every year in early December, I’d go to a bunch of places and hunt down about $50 each worth of items that would be special and meaningful to them. For example, one of my clients was a British ex-pat. I always put a box of “crackers” in his basket. Not the kind you eat, but those tubes of paper with little toys and a paper crown in them that you pull apart and they go “Pop!” There were other little things – English biscuits, jam, teas…stuff like that. I think he appreciated the personal effort more than the gift – and that was the point. He and I are still friends. Every year I buy him a “Demotivators” calendar for Christmas (we both share a rather cynical sense of humor about work) and he puts it up in his office, so I’m pretty sure he appreciates it.

Well, I guess I’ll know who the reps are that think of me as a special client – they’ll either be sending out Stories of Strength and letting me know about it or I’m in for a very Star Trek holiday.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Best Blogs 2005

Weblog Awards 2005 - no, I'm not a contestant. But Making Light is - if you haven't been reading it and you're a writer or like writers or like writing you should be reading it.

BitchPhD. is up for best liberal blog. Yes, I'm letting you know my preferences here - it's my blog after all. My blog that's not even a dark horse grass roots write in candidate.

There's a category, as well, for best conservative blog. I haven't read any of them but I'm going to check out Right Wing Nut House.

Not to leave my friends in the Great White North out of it, there's a best Canadian blog category, too.

I didn't see a best writing/author blog. Too bad. Neil Gaiman's blog (on his website it's listed as "Journal") is wonderful, he writes regularly and deserves the notice for his willingness to let people into his live and world.

On another note, I submitted a 450 word humorous piece to the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Monday, December 05, 2005

AWMondayMeme - Inaugural Post

Feeling rather holiday-ish tonight I thought the first AWMondayMeme should be: what are the 10 books or sets of books you most wish you could find under/beside/in your {insert appropriate holiday decor/object}?

Get creative - whether it's a signed first edition or a illuminated manuscript, anything goes - it's just a meme!

Here's mine:

1. An original UK published edition of Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (and signed would be sweet!)

2. The entire 1920's set of Book Trails that I think my dad has in a box at his new place - if he didn't already give them away to one of my siblings.

3. Any one of the SF books I read from the Edwards A.F.B. library as a kid, complete with library card with my signature on it and the funny plastic covers they used. An Asimov or Heinlein would be nice, but any of them would be fine.

4. A leather bound deluxe set of Stephen King's Dark Tower books

5. Early edition of Alice in Wonderland with the original illustrations

6. All three of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle books in Hill House editions

7. Ray's The Pacific Between (it's not due out 'til after the holidays)

8. Oxford English Dictionary

9. Hattie, Get a Haircut (Amazon says it'll ship on Dec. 13th)

10. That copy of The Silmarillion my dear friend from High School gave me that is in some box in storage in Bakersfield, buried under all the other stuff piled up ten feet high, ten feet wide and ten feet deep.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Just Gotta Share...

OK, so I'm doing a bit of research for something I'm writing and I start Googling stuff about the London Underground (that's the subway, not a group of WWII freedom fighters) and I come across this blog all about, you guessed it, the London Underground.

All activity has ceased as I read it because I am a dyed in the wool totally drooling fangirl Anglophile. I LOVE that blog. I wanna go live in London.

OK, back to work.

Monday Meme

The first AW Monday Meme will be posted here (and on Absolute Write) sometime before I go off to work tomorrow morning. Even if you're not an Absolute Write member you're more than welcome to play along.

I'm asking everyone to tag their posts with a Technorati tag (you can pick up the HTML at that link). If you don't blog on Blogger you might need to do a 'manual ping' (I don't really understand all this stuff, I just follow directions) to get your tagged post on the list.

If you decide to join Please use just this tag so all the meme posts will show up under the same search. Thanks!

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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Meme Virgin Tags Dawno - Fifteen Book Facts

Self proclaimed MemeVirgin, emeraldcite, did his first meme and tagged me. The request is "list 15 facts and personal preferences about books."

Without further ado:

1. I taught myself to read sometime between age 3 & 4. I was already reading well beyond grade level when I started Kindergarten. My favorite books were my family's set of "Book Trails" from the 1920's and I practically had the first book (For Baby's Feet") memorized, I had read it so often.
2. My first Science Fiction book was Robert Silverberg's Lost Race of Mars, Scholastic Book Club paperback edition purchased in 1964 when I was in second grade.

3. I have collected every Star Trek novel written except for the Voyager and Enterprise series. I'm particularly fond of the ones that are about Vulcan history and culture.

4. I mostly buy hardbacks. If someone introduces me to an author who's been writing a series I'll get the previous books in paperback if that's the only way I can find them but any new ones, hardbacks.

5. I refuse to read a book out of sequence if it's in a series. I'll put it aside until I've found every previous book and read them all first. Imagine my frustration at having to wait for special orders on a series that goes back over a dozen years and althought the books aren't out of print, for some reason Amazon took FOREVER to get them to me. Worth the wait.

6. I have been sorely disappointed in several award winning literary books lately. I'm not an unintelligent or non-critical reader, but does literary have to be the same as STUNNINGLY BORING???? Sorry. I'm sure there are literary books that aren't. I will continue to try and find them.

7. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius wasn't.

8. I don't use the library. I can't bear not to own books I've read and enjoyed.

9. I have a few signed first editions - but very few. I'd like to have more. I'm very glad I got to see Terry Pratchett and get a signed copy of Thud.

10. I love to read out loud.

11. Like emeraldcite, I usually have several books going at once.

12. Also like emeraldcite I re-read constantly. I have a couple of series I take regular 'pilgrimages' through. McCaffery's Pern books, Bujold's Vorkosigan books, Pratchett's Discworld books, Stephen King, the aformentioned Vulcan themed Star Trek books, Silverberg's Majipoor books were recently added and I'll be re-reading the Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomincon by Neal Stephenson one of these days. I really wish I could afford the deluxe Baroque set from Hill House. At $200 a pop I don't think it'll happen soon.

13. I'm interested in everything about books. I read the "about the typeface" stuff some books put on the last page. I get a giddy fan girl rush everytime I read something that even hints of 'insider' info. I subscribed to the Publisher's Weekly "PWdaily" email update. I don't understand but a fraction of who they're talking about but it's cool anyway.

14. I'm disappointed when someone I like doesn't like the same books I like. Even worse is if they don't read at all.

15. The most memorable moments I've had were seeing Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (c.1410) and a Gutenberg Bible (c.1455) at the Huntington Library and The Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin (c. 800).

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Monday, November 28, 2005

1003.4 Miles Later...

Yes, I'm home from the Big Move South. I'm not weeping too much, too often. Although I have spoken on the phone with my daughter 3 times so far. She's gonna start screening my calls... (Oh, btw, ignore the date on that picture - at some point the batteries died and the camera re-set itself to the factory default date. I've yet to fix that, as you can see.)

It's been a real comedy of errors - Dawno style.

We were supposed to head south on Saturday but it got moved to Sunday due to SailorBeau having a family. I *told* my daughter to consider an orphan boyfriend - fewer of those pesky relatives to get involved with...but no, don't listen to Mom.

It took us from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to reach the South Bay of Los Angeles from the SF Bay - my Dad just moved down there (my sister is about three blocks away and my brother is down the road a bit - they live pretty close to the airport, so in the future, I may rack up some Southwest Airline miles rather than drive) and I said we'd stop by briefly on the way. That's actually really good time for a 12' rental truck full of furniture. Our visit lasted about an hour. Dad's new digs are lovely. It's weird to see all his and Mom's furniture in a new place, but it looks very homey.

We left Dad's at about 2 - got to San Diego at 4:30 - again, excellent time - no real traffic at all on this trip, and I was so worried about L.A. We hit a slow patch just past Six Flags Magic Mountain (which wasn't open so that's not why it was slow). My daughter had bought walkie talkies so we could stay in touch on the road and there was much chatter about passing trucks and taking pit stops. They were a good purchase. I had trouble with changing channels and at one point I think the batteries died so I put in new ones I had bought at a truck stop for about 5000% above normal retail cost. They really gouge you at those places. Gas was 10 to 20 cents a gallon more than I was paying at home.

So, we've made it to San Diego and we all flop on the couch, exhausted. We decide to have dinner before we try to move all the stuff in - even though it's getting late and it means they'll have to move stuff in the dark. I order a "Giant Pizza" for the kids at their request. Giant is no exaggeration. If it had been two inches wider in diameter it wouldn't have fit through the door while being held parallel with the floor - seriously, there was barely any clearance. For reference, my daughter, holding the box, is 5'4".

After dinner, my daughter's SailorBeau and his friend carried up a ten gazillion ton steel framed queen sized sofa bed up a flight of rickety wooden stairs under my supervision with many helpful suggestions and a bit of lifting support. Fortunately they didn't have a major incident which would have crushed someone - I had visions of Navy Med-evac helicopters. Both my daughter and I also, I'm proud to say, managed not to yell "Pivot! Pivvvv-ot!" even once. (If you didn't watch Friends religiously you might not get that reference - season 5 "The One with A Cop")

Everything made it through the trip safely into the apartment except for my daughter's favorite Cheshire Cat mug from Disneyland that I broke getting it out of my car, where she had put it for 'safekeeping.' That was the beginning of my bad luck streak.

First bad luck: I had asked, when we rented the moving truck, if we returned the truck lafter business hours, would there be a way to park and drop of keys. Gal in NorCal who rented us truck said, yes, just park in the lot and drop keys thru door. Got to drop off place around 8:30 pm Sunday. It was behind 10 foot, barbed wire topped, double chained and padlocked gates. No place to leave the truck or keys. Area is within walking distance of Petco Park (formerly Jack Murphy park, were the Padres play baseball) - Not a great area to just leave the truck on the street, besides which, where would we put the keys? We call Penske - they say to SailorBeau "Your contract says you were going to drop it off on the 26th." I have a copy of my online reservation form - where I said 27th. See:

The gal in NorCal was a stone moron - but I didn't double check that she had the dates right, she was working off of the online reservation, I thought. I was so tired of waiting for the hour it took her to figure out how to rent us a truck that when she finally finished I was giddy with relief. She did an 'inspection' and missed the fact that someone had gouged a hole in the driver's side door in an attempt to break in - and SailorBeau told me about it while we were still up north, so I believe it came to us damaged. Thank goodness I bought the insurance that covered that. The guy at the San Diego store said I would have had to pay quite a bit, otherwise.

Back to the phone call with the SD Penske folk, SailorBeau is a charmer, I bet he's part Irish. He tells the guy he's in the Navy, new in town, the gal in NorCal was mistaken with the days. The guy on the phone says if we turn it in tomorrow before 11 we might get the fee for 1 day waived and for sure not have to pay for 2. We took in the online confirmation printout hoping to get both days fees waived but that's later.

Second Bad luck: Get to my hotel. Pull out hotel confirmation paperwork - apparently I was dazed by over-endulging in turkey and AppleThing on Thanksgiving night, the night in which, at 9 p.m. in NorCal, I went online and reserved my room in San Diego - either without changing the default dates on the online reservation calendar or did change them and there was a system glitch. I'm not betting heavily on the system glitch.

Anyway, because I was a no show on Thanksgiving night - a night I was blissfully playing Clue with my SO, daughter and her SailorBeau, and unaware that I was supposed to be sleeping in a hotel room in San Diego, I get charged for the room. Here's photo evidence of the Clue game. Too bad the date is wrong, huh?

I give the front clerk my sob story, she brings out the night supervisor. The hotel is only 14% booked tonite, no prob getting a room. She'll talk to the main manager and see if she can work anything out about the extra night's charge or reducing my rate for tonite. I will show the manager the print out that says I reserved it at 9 pm Thanksgiving night and maybe they'll add it all up and take pity.

Misc little bad luck-ettes: Broke 4 fingernails and banged up my left hand enough to get out the Band-aids. Later after the check in crisis, I get to my room and there's a guy sitting in there watching tv. He's got several phones with him. Apparently he is going around fixing the programming on the phones and was waiting on a call back on my room phone to see if he got it right. If the phone doesn't work, I'm supposed to call I'll just holler down 11 floors to the lobby. Good thing Embassy Suites is built around an open central atrium - the lobby would actually hear me if I did yell. Anyway, he was nice and left quickly. That wasn't so much bad luck as just weird.

I decide to go online. I try the wireless access portal stuff several times. Finally I call down to the desk - uh, how did you spell my name when I registered? (the portal requires that your name match the hotel system's record) My name has a capital O'B at the start of it...they spelt it with a capital O, no apostrophe and a small b. I try this - I'm in. I post something much like this blog post on AW. (I'm copy/pasting and editing from that post - yeah,I'm lazy, so?) Then I go to bed.

Next morning I get up much earlier than I thought I would, having awakened the previous day at 4 am and not gotten to bed until 11 pm. I take my time, go online for a bit, get dressed and grab some breakfast then go down to the desk and ask about the no show charges - I give the nice fellow the print out and point out the date at the top that shows I made the reservation at 9pm Thanksgiving night. The day guy goes to the back room for a bit. He comes out and hands me a biz card. He says they'll remove the no-show charge, if it shows up on my bill just call the guy on the card and he'll take care of it. Cool. I must have earned some good Karma somehow. Now it's time to see if the Penske thing works out as well.

I had gotten directions on how to get to the hotel from the kid's place although I didn't use them due to the whole truck thing. Instead of dropping the truck and giving the kids a ride home I just drove to the hotel and they drove the truck back to their place. I look at the directions and start following them from the bottom up. It's 9 am on Monday and I'm driving through downtown - where's the traffic jam? I think I love San Diego. I'm out of downtown and figure I'm getting close so I start looking carefully for Fern St. which is supposed to cross the street I'm on. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that Fern turns into 30th somewhere over there, and I'm driving, driving, driving looking for Fern. I get to 47th street and with a lovely view of everything east of San Diego in front of me, that I can't remember ever seeing before, I figure I've missed my turn - clever, huh? I call SailorBeau (my daughter has serious difficulty with directions so I know not to call her) SailorBeau reminds me that Fern turns into 30th. Oops, gotta go back 17 blocks. No Prob. I find the place, we caravan back to Penske. By the way, it's about 70 degrees and sunny at 9:15 am. Did I mention I love San Diego?

Guy at Penske is wonderful. All extra charges are to be waived - he makes us listen to some stern advice about double-checking, calling the service # etc. but it's worth saving $100 to listen. I'd listen to him evangelize at me about a snake-handling cult for $100. He goes and inspects the truck and tells me about the damage I mentioned above and tells me what a good girl I was to buy the insurance. Yes, I am so glad I did that, can I kiss your ring? I'm near bankruptcy with all the stuff I'm paying for to help the kids, I didn't want to pay for a new door on that truck. When I do go under the kids get to take turns taking care of me. I'll spend the winters in San Diego.

I drive the kids home, hug and kiss and threaten ("You take care of my little girl SailorBeau or you will get no rest before AND after you die hideously...")and I drive back to the hotel to pack up and check out.

The rest of the trip home - fodder for another post!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Time Has Almost Arrived

My daughter leaves tomorrow morning for her new home. I will be following them in moving truck. They bought walkie talkies with a 10-mile range. I get to have one of them tomorrow. Joy. We'll stop in L.A. to visit Dad. If we leave early enough we just might miss the worst of the traffic - but I'm not going to bet on either leaving early enough *or* that leaving early will help that much. It's going to be 8 hrs just to get to L.A and then another 3 or 4 to San Diego. We're gonna be wiped out - and that's before they have to move furniture and boxes up stairs to the apartment. Yes, up stairs. ick.

So, I'll be on the road all day tomorrow and all day Monday. Although my hotel will have internet access chances are I'll be too tired to post. Unless something really noteworthy happens and I just have to get it documented for posterity. I'm hoping it will be a very dull drive.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Roll Me Off the Couch Please

I'm too stuffed and lazy to do a decent post. How about an "open thread" post where you just put whatever's on your mind today in the comments? I don't expect that, like over at Making Light, there will be over 300 comments, but I welcome as many as you'd like to post. To make it easier, I'm turning off comment verification until tomorrow. Maybe the spam will be interesting, too.

You may talk about your dinner, your indigestion, your relatives, how you managed with the shopping craziness of today, news of the world - whatever floats your boat so long as it remains within the bounds of decency, as decided by me.

Oh, only one thing to share otherwise - a troll posting on AW was recently 'translated' into Swedish Chef dialect. I asked for the link to the site that the translator, Richard, used. Feel free to post dialects, too, for giggles.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dinner is Over - The Feast of Leftovers Begins Tomorrow

We're all stuffed to the gills. Turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole with french fried onions baked in and sprinkled on top, seriously candied yams and 'apple thing'. Oh, the rolls. We always forget the rolls until we're seated. This year, at least, they weren't smoking up the kitchen, although they were a bit crispier than I like.

'Apple thing' is a favorite around here. I never would have guessed when I first tried it out last year but it was well received and back by popular demand this year. As to how it got stuck with the name 'apple thing', I made the mistake of writing down 'apple thing' on my list of steps to take (so everything would finish at approximately the same time) and times to take them. I place the list on the counter. Everyone who goes in the kitchen reads the list. Now everyone calls it apple thing. I bet there's a real name for it. Don't tell me. I'm happy with it as is.

As a public service, I give you the Apple thing recipe:

Pour two cans of apple pie filling in a round pyrex lidded bowl and top with crumb cake topping and cook it with the turkey for the last half hour. (you can do it in any pyrex dish so long as there's a lid - I just happen to have a round one I like.)

Topping: pour out a mound of Bisquick into the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl, don't ask me how many quarts or what, just medium, and the mound - well lets say a couple cups. It doesn't quite fill half the medium bowl.

Add 3/4 of a stick of butter, about a half cup of brown sugar, a generous dash of cinnamon - mush it up 'til it's all clumpy. Pour it over the apple pie filling.

Should I write a cookbook or what? I think it would go well with icecream. Serve warm or cold. We like it warm.

Things I really need to buy at Williams Sonoma:
  • A ricer, I heard a chef on NPR say that was the best way to make mashed potatoes
  • A good oven thermometer, I have NO IDEA when my oven has pre-heated. My old stove had a little light that went out. This one has no such indicator. I just turn on the gas and wait about 20 minutes
  • A gravy boat, I'd like one in my china pattern, but Lenox has discontinued the McKinley pattern from its Dead Presidents line of china so the only way to get a gravy boat is to buy it from a discontinued patterns place which, right now, doesn't have any gravy boats. We used a large melamine bowl and a spoon for the gravy. Classy.
  • A knife block
I read that a nice Zinfendel (the red stuff, not that pink stuff) goes well with turkey. I don't like Zinfendel in any color. With dinner my son and I had Merlot. His girlfriend had some Chenin Blanc. My daughter put Coke in her wine glass, the SO put his Snapple Iced Tea in his. We toasted to a Happy Thanksgiving and everyone dove in.

My son put about 3 cups of dressing on his plate. He ate most of it. He wanted to take the left over stuffing home with him. I like to whip up a plate of hot turkey with gravy and stuffing after Thanksgiving, so I suggested he make his own and gave him a box of Stovetop to go. By the way, did you hear that Ruth Siems, who is credited with inventing Stove Top Stuffing in 1972, passed away the other day? She's one of my culinary heroes.

We had a 12 lb. turkey and there's a nice lunch or two left after the 5 of us finished dinner. My daughter's beau is having dinner with his folks, so he'll be over a bit later for pie and to help the girl finish packing. The drive down got moved to Sunday and I'm completely dreading the traffic. I wish we could have kept with the Saturday plan. We're gonna hit L.A. and it's gonna be gridlock the rest of the way south unless we can get started at 5 am or thereabouts - and I'm not even sure we won't hit bad traffic anyway. I probably won't blog on Sunday.

I hope those of you in the US had a lovely Thanksgiving and for those of you elsewhere, I hope you had a lovely day as well.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Saw HP&GoF, Got Thanksgiving Dinner, In the Morning, I Become a Tornado of Cleaning

I will not be reviewing the Harry Potter movie - not like a real review anyway. I never thought I'd be more into a young person's book series than my children, but I haven't been able to infect them with my voracious appetite for reading. My daughter has one of the books upstairs, so *maybe* she's read or is reading it. I just like the story a lot.

I like the movies a lot, too. Could be that I adore Alan Rickman. At any rate the movie didn't disappoint. Darker, older, more intense, I think, than the previous ones. The audience tonight had very few children in it. I'd hesitate to take kids younger than 9 or 10. Dumbledore shows a much more angry and powerful side of himself in this one, too. I'd give it 3.5 sparkles out of 5 if I was doing that kind of thing...

At the theatre, during the scene where Harry is in the lake, my son calls. Twice. I've got the phone on vibrate but the second time I go out and take a bathroom break then call him back. He needed a ride home from work. Have I mentioned that my 20 year old son doesn't have a drivers license? Not for lack of taking the permit test (I told him I wouldn't let him drive my car until he passed the permit test). He wants to be a policeman. I think he'd better get that driver's license before he applies, don't you? "Well, I could be one of those cops on a bicycle, sir." Bet that would go over well.

After the movie I went to pick him up, and since he lives right behind the shopping center with our neighborhood grocery store, I decided it might be a good idea to just get my Thanksgiving shopping over with. Since most years we have had Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's home I haven't cooked many of my own. Sometimes I do a small one for just the SO and I due to the timing of the family gathering - and I usually order a pre-cooked meal and just add my own touches. The pre-cooked turkey is a life saver. You still have to put it in the oven for a while (3 hrs?) but no defrosting or basting. I'm just not domestic enough to want to go through all that.

I'm almost all set for our traditional feast. I even bought marshmallows for the yams. I really hate marshmallows on the yams but the SO and kids like them. I do need to go back and pick up a few little things I forgot, but at least this year I won't be picking up the pre-ordered meal *and* shopping for side dishes Thanksgiving morning. Yep, that's been done a couple times.

This year the thing we won't be doing on Thanksgiving is taking the traditional drive down to Southern California like we've done for the past 9 years. Up till now we've all packed up and gone down to Bakersfield the night before the family get together. Sometimes due to travel and sibling in-laws we have our meal the day after Thanksgiving. That means we arrive in Bakersfield Thanksgiving night and the town has rolled up the sidewalks.

Dinner is from whatever we can find open. If we're early enough it's MacDonald's. One year we got in pretty late and it was the AM/PM mini mart. We take a couple hotel rooms with an ajoining door and fall exhausted into bed. The next morning it's off to Mom and Dad's. Some years ago Dad used to cook the turkey in a Weber Kettle BBQ. I loved those turkeys. Especially the skin. My sister in law always brought the fixings for this great cranberry/whipped cream thing and everyone had a chore - the food prep was always delegated by my ex-miltary Dad. As the kids got older there were always a lot of busy hands. At least he'd make up a list and let us pick what we wanted to do. And the list had the times we had to do everything, too. The meal always came together precisely. Amazing guy, Dad.

My dad always had the place all decorated for Christmas - tree up, Dickens' Village displayed (that's an entire blog to itself - but 'village' is a misnomer - he had a real metropolis). After the meal we'd play a game or two that my brother would bring - those games that made you think, not board games. I can't remember the names but there was one that you got clues about a crime and had to solve it and other brain teaser type games like that. When it got late we'd head back to Bakersfield, fall exhausted into bed and then get up early for the drive home. The SO knows how to make time on the I-5 so we're typically home by lunch.

Like I said, this year with my son's job and my daughter's move, we're not going south. I will try to make it a nice occasion and hope that we don't miss the family too much. I know none of us will miss the drive or the hotel. I feel a bit sad that the first year without Mom, Dad will also be having Thanksgiving without me and mine, but since neither of my siblings bothered to ask what my plans were and if there was any way to accomodate them, I'm thinking that I won't be much missed.

I took today off so I could do a couple things. One is pick up the moving truck for my daughter. The other is clean. I'm not a great housekeeper so it will be less than Herculean but more than "just a little tiding up will do it"

I hope you all have wonderful Thanksgivings. Blessings on all of you, I'm very thankful we've had a chance to connect.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Aluminium Foil Hats, Chat Rooms and NPR

As often happens in chat conversations*, the topic leapt to 'tinfoil hats' the other night when a group of Absolute Write people, all jonesing because the board was being moved to a new host, had gathered to commiserate in the AWChatRoom. Some of the overseas members were a bit puzzled by the reference and various folks pitched in with explanations. (* I'm not kidding here, I can't tell you the number of times it's happened. Maybe it's because I keep bringing it up...)

I had just heard it said that morning on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", the NPR news game show that airs on my local public broadcast channel every Saturday at 11 am, that a study on the efficacy of aluminium foil helmets had been conducted-- somewhere, by someone, but I missed the details because I was coming in from the car and it took me awhile to get settled and turn the radio back on.

See, Wait, Wait has this part in the program where the three panelists each share a news story and only one story is real, albiet usually strange and a bit hard to believe, and the other two are completely made up - often sounding more real and reasonable than the real ones. If you are the contestant and you guess the real one, you get Carl Kasell doing the outbound message for your answering machine. It would get me to cancel my current service and buy a machine...anyway, that part is my favorite part of the show. I've "won" it many a time listening to the show in the car on my back from Morgan Hill where I'd dropped off the kids for a weekend with their dad who lives further south - Morgan Hill is the midpoint for us. Reminds me of those spy exchanges at the center of "no mans land" when there was still a Berlin Wall. Oh dear, I'm really wandering around today...back to the tinfoil hats.

So, that morning on Wait, Wait the contest's "real story" was the one about tinfoil (ok, aluminium) hats. Thus, whilst I was in the AWChat room, I was also frantically searching the NPR site for the story. I couldn't find a link to it! Dang. I was at the right place but the details of the show were all wrong, and I realize today (as I go back to grab the link for this blog) it's because they don't post the link to the show I heard on Saturday until Sunday. (by the way, you can listen to the whole show or just a particular segment. I recommend the segment featuring Dan Savage (it's not the one with the aluminum hat story, though).

Tonight, however, I'm surfing around and go to visit Making Light. They have an open thread and I was reading the comments which is what open thread is all about (and which are always wonderful and make me wish I could have stayed in college for the last 27 years so I'd be as smart as they are. I feel quite dumb to be honest, when I read over there).

ANYWAY (sheesh, Dawno, get to the point) 'bout midway thru the comments someone posts a link to a website titled: On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study which I'm pretty sure is the study that was featured on Wait Wait. I am so happy to have found it that I just have to share. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't compare aluminium to tin. Perhaps some other student will take that on. Closure is a fine thing.

A parting note: I invite all of you to check out the other blogs I mention over in the sidebar in my AW blogroll It's a wonderful group of writers putting out these blogs. I'm sure you'll enjoy visiting as much as I do.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Eighteen Years Ago Today

I was asleep when the first contractions started, about 4 am. I dozed for another hour since they were pretty far apart, then woke my husband. The baby was a couple days overdue so he'd made sure that his calendar at work was covered if he had to call in, but I could tell he was wishing the baby had waited just one more day. He called my parents who drove in from their home about 45 miles away to watch my son who was 2 years old at the time.

It was all over by 11:30 and we had a plump and perfect daughter. I blew out the capillaries in my eyes pushing and looked a bit demonic, but otherwise, I was fine and my little girl was too. It was a Friday and normally I would have checked out of the hospital the next day but my husband had a partners meeting at the law firm where he worked so I got to stay an extra day in bed with people fussing around me. I had visitors from the church, my siblings dropped by, later the nurses brought in a very nice meal for my husband and I. My sister came by and she, who wouldn't have her first child for another two years, announced that I had given birth to a Chinese red lizard. Yes, I come from a strange family.

Now, today, that 9lb. 13oz. baby is 18 (and weighs a reasonable amount for her height but don't think I'm gonna tell). She's sharing this milestone occasion with her boyfriend and best friend at the other end of the state. Although I miss getting to throw her a birthday party, I understand why she wants to be there instead of here. I documented one of my favorite parties, her 16th over on my other blog (now pretty much abandoned). Watching how people react to a sizeable group of teenagers all dressed up in formal wear in the middle of the afternoon, having a party at Taco Bell, is an experience to treasure. I'm glad I wrote about it so I can go wallow in nostalgia.

She'll be back for a few days over Thanksgiving and then she's off with boyfriend and her rental truck full of stuff to start her adult life. I am still debating about driving down as well. It's a loooong trip all alone, behind a truck, down the most boring highway in the world. And I know they'd probably rather not have me trailing behind all day. *sigh* If I do go it also means a stop in LA to see my dad and his new home. It will be very odd seeing him in a new place.

I won't see my daughter again until Christmas. I'm trying not to think about it since it's nearly too much to bear. This is the down side of having a nearly perfect relationship with her, if we were fighting all the time I would probably see this as a blessing, a chance for her to mellow out and for me to appreciate the good things about her from a distance, as I imagine my folks had to do (oh my, but I was a handful to raise). But noooooooooooooo (think Steve Martin - SNL in the 70's), she had to be the perfect kid...

I feel very fortunate that I went off to live in the dorms at a college when I was her age. I got to ease into the whole growing-up and being-responsible-thing much more gradually than she will. The college was a safety net of sorts - with its professors and counselors to help guide me, I managed to graduate. I also felt ready to be truly independent. I wasn't, but at least I felt that way.

Well, enough of this. AW is still out of commission and I'm jonesing for my fix. I've had a horrible headache all day (a combo of ibuprofen and Coke has helped) and I've managed to accomplish very little this weekend in the way of new writing or even research on markets. I have, however, done the laundry. I should get a medal. Or at least a sticker of one.

Thank goodness it's a short week next week. Busy on my days off, but that will help keep my mind off my miseries. Thanks for reading this far! I think tomorrow I'll find something interesting to write about that's not about me. Although I find myself fascinating, so who knows!

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Signs of the Holiday Season: A Mailbox Stuffed with Catalogs

'Tis the season to have a mailbox full of catalogs. It seems like every time I order online from anyone other than Amazon, they send me a hard copy catalog. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I ordered it ONLINE the one and only time they ever heard from me. Perhaps that should be a clue that I don't order from paper catalogs? Come on folks, save a few trees!

I only miss one catalog. That's the Sears Wish Book. Every year, when I was growing up, we'd get one. My sister and I would spend hours pouring over each page. We lived out in the middle of a desert on an Air Force Base 30 miles from the nearest town and over 100 miles to the nearest 'big city mall' - when they finally had those.

I ordered stuff last year for my mom from the online store of one of the ten billion paper catalogs piling up at my parents' home. Dad circled something in the catalogs, cut out the pages and stuck them to the side of the fridge. Then, last Thanksgiving, we kids picked off what we were going to get for Mom - it was a clever idea that got her things she wanted and avoided duplicate gifts from her children.

Now I get that catalog and all it's cousins. The target audience for these is about 20 - 30+ years my senior. I don't need orthopedic shoes. I'm not interested in a wide selection of cotton-poly blend snap front printed housecoats with matching slippers and babushkas. Business casual hasn't devolved that far yet where I work. Dilbert teeshirts and jeans are ok if you're a techie. Me, I stick with nice polo shirts, sweaters and dockers most of the time.

The other thing is the knick-knack catalogs. I guess the prevailing mail order wisdom is if you've shopped from The Tog Shop, you like knick-knacks, too. These catalogs, unlike the clothing ones, aren't quarterly (spring, summer, fall, winter) they're bi-monthly. Honest - they might come under a couple different names, but I think it's one huge porcelain conglomerate.

If I were into decopage of Hummel figurines I could have covered my entire house by now with the cutouts from the catalogs I get. Or blown glass animals. Or "Precious Moments".

How many baskets of fruit a month is too many? I also get catalogs about cheese, steaks, nuts and chocolate. I suppose if I ordered the "gift a month" from all of these *and* the wine catalog I'd never have to go to the grocery store again. Hmm. Strike that, I don't get a catalog with a 'toilet paper of the month' club.

Finally, let's not talk about that one catalog with the great deals on support hose, trusses, bifocals and other kinds of, um, gear for the seasoned citizen - I'll be needing that stuff all together too soon and I'm in denial.

This Christmas I'm either getting it from Amazon or sending a Visa Debit gift card. I think the nephews will like that they can choose what to buy and where they buy it from. Maybe next year I'll get some extra room in my mailbox and recyling bin.

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Dawno Thinks About a Backup Strategy

I'm happy to report that I'm composing this on my darling little Sony VAIO laptop. The SO replaced the hard drive and re-installed Windows. He's going to work on recovering my data from the corrupted drive tomorrow. He's hopeful he can recover all my docs. Since I had ALL my writing in this machine I am definitely chewing my nails over a successful recovery effort.

So I'm thinking about my backup strategy now. I have a private Live Journal that I started for the express purpose of storing versions of a story I was working on so I could work on it from any computer, anywhere. I think I'm going to use that as one place to save my stuff. I just have to hope that Live Journal stays around. Actually, I need to utilize multiple resources. Burn CDs regularly, etc. I could also send anything I compose to myself at Gmail using one of the accounts I created that I haven't given out as an address yet. With two G's storage for each account, I can save a lot of drafts. This also has the advantage of being accessable from any computer anywhere. (Yes, I created a number of my own Gmail accounts. They keep giving me all these 'invites' so I just keep inviting myself and coming up with new email names. I think I wrote them all down somewhere, too.)

Any other suggestions are very welcome.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Maps! Chairs! Dawno's VAIO Health Report! Comments!

I've added a new link down in Stuff and Such in my sidebar. It's a blog called "Google Maps Mania" I read about it this morning on C|net in an article about "mashups" (defined in the article as ' "mashups"--hybrid software that combines content from more than one source') The article is #5 in a special report series called Taking Back the Web.

So, let's say you want to know the weather and time in LaPaz, Bolivia. There's a mashup Google Map you can check. Are you looking for where to buy beer in Toronto? US cities with weird names? This blog has links to these and many, many more.

This one is one of my top 10. Shoefiti tracks the locations of shoes hanging from powerlines.

This may end up cross posted in the blogging forum on AW - If I can ever get back in, again.

Followups: There is information about the AW board downtime posted at AW. I encourage anyone who hasn't complained to the hosting company to send an email. Also, if you ever are in a position to recommend a hosting company or in need of one, may I suggest you avoid Host Excellence.

The SO is working on the VAIO - I may not have lost my data, but he might not be able to re-install Windows XP - apparently there are issues. Is it time to learn Linux?

I am sitting in MY NEW CHAIR! For the past month and a bit, since my son moved out, I've been using one of the kitchen table chairs at my desk. It's a ladderback chair with a cane seat. Even with a seat pad it was seriously uncomfortable. I now have a new high backed leather executive desk chair. I'm in love. Smells good too.

I got a note from an AW member and new blogging colleague about comments. The note said, "If people don't comment on blogs, do you take it personally, beg, or what?" Me, I don't take it personally.

There are many times when I am just alert enough to read a blog but too tired or brain fuddled to leave a comment so I just imagine there are others like me out there. Sometimes I chalk it up to having said something that really doesn't lend itself to comments other than "yep, I agree" or "nice post" and lots of folks don't comment like that. They want to say something substantial.

Me, I don't care if you just say hi or "dropping in to let you know I'm reading" but that's me. Maybe it's not good 'blogiquette' I'm not sure. (hey, they made up the word nettiquette!)

I would discourage begging :-) Keep blogging, keep commenting on other blogs - people will want to connect and you'll get comments.

Oh, ending with a question that folks could answer may elicit comments, or posting something really contraversial and inviting opposing opinions. Bottom line, people comment when they have something to say about what you've said.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The VAIO is Down

This could be really really tragic. My faithful companion, a smallish Sony VAIO (I got the small one because it was cuter) has been blue screening and today when I got home it was blue screened again. I tried shutting off and re-starting. Got a message that I should pick one of a few options and try to start it. So I tried Windows Normal - nope. Tried Windows Safe Mode - nope.

I sure hope the SO (a sysadmin) can save my data even if the poor laptop is toast. No, I haven't done a back up - was thinking about it. *sigh*

I could use some computer *mojo* right about now. I actually have some work in progress stored in there and if it's gone I'm not sure I can re-write it.

I'm definitely going to do religious back ups from now on if the Computer Gods will have mercy on me.