Monday, December 31, 2007

Just what I've always wanted.

This will be my last Christmas Obsessing Post, I promise, but I really wanted to share my awesome Christmas story. For years now I have been filled with disappointment over Christmas. My family, all of whom I love and get along with, cannot have a calm and pleasant Christmas. They just can't. I think maybe it is too many assertive people in one place, but the bottom line is that Christmas starts with buying crap for people just to buy something and ends in bickering and returns to Macy's.

My entire purpose in uprooting my life in Philadelphia and coming home was to be with my family. September 11 changed my values. Seeing my panicked NYC native friends looking for their loved ones, unable to get back to the city was horrifying. This isn't to say that I'm afraid the same thing would happen here, but part of me just realized that I needed to go home; that becoming a fancy NYC lawyer would not bring me the satisfaction and joy that I require in life.
Since I've been here I've made amazing friends and become even closer to my Uncle, Auntie, cousin Sean, and Grandparents. I am glad that I made the choices that I did.

But Christmas has been a colossal blunder every year. Fights, boredom, general discord, and of course my continued kitchen slavery have made everyone not look forward to Christmas at all. Maybe it is because we have too few children to sustain the magic, I don't know. Every year I've come up with a new plan to improve Christmas- this year's was a zen-like mantra: it is one sucky day out of 365 perfectly fine ones, suck it up and walk it off. This mantra is not really effective though, because I know that Christmas does not have to suck.

This year something new happened. I was invited to join a Christmas party held by a group of friends that I had not really gotten to know until the last few months. We had a full Christmas dinner (which I did not cook), a present exchange (in which people actually put forth effort to buy a gift that would actually be appreciated), and time afterwards to loll around and play games. I know I was hard to shop for since not everyone in the group knows me too well, and I decided to make treat boxes since I also was not certain of what to get everyone and wanted to give them something that I at least had to put effort into. (In related news I may not make another cookie until next December.) But it was not the presents which were important, this time it was actually the thought that counted.

This is the best Christmas I have ever had. There is something beautiful about a group of people who actually care about each other and can show it so perfectly by treating each other with such care and respect. This was the Christmas I have been waiting for, one that made me laugh for no reason, and one which I was sorry to see end. This is how Christmas should be.

I want to thank you guys for giving me the best present I've ever received: a perfect Christmas.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lacadaisical is accurate...

but greatly reminds me of a name of a bland popsicle.

I've been pondering my 101 List and when I look at things on there, I'm finding more things that I should do, rather than what I want to do; and things that have arbitrary completion. For example finding silverware or a new table requires participation on the parts of stores and designers to provide me with pieces of interest. It also seems contrary to my goal of reducing my huge piles of knick-knackery and reducing my commercialistic life style. They also require that I have money to spend on these items, when my desires and needs shift without relevance to lists that I just made up. So I've decided to adjust my 101 list at some point. I've left all of the long-shots, things I probably won't do or can't afford, but deeply want to do, just as goals for myself.

I know that it is against the rules to change the list, but this is my blog, the only realm over which I am the all-powerful, so you'll all have to live with it. I actually believe that doing things that you want to do is the spirit of the 101 project. So nya.

In other list related thinking:
I'm not a person who really believes in the list thing, I think maybe you can figure that out by reading the previous section of this post, but I think maybe I should write down the things I really want in my life. Maybe instead of turning in circles bemoaning my lack of future plans, I should be working harder to discover them.

If anyone has any other ideas of ways to find direction in life, I welcome suggestions. It's funny, I'm busy trying to motivate my tutoring kid to get good grades, to get into a good culinary school, to become a chef, when I can't even figure out what to do with myself (but we'll just keep that our little secret).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Goals and Whatnot- Emphasis on the whatnot.

I have decided on two new goals for this year (as I am about to finish my 101 list goal of keeping obsessive records of spending):
1. To keep a record of what I actually do, read, and watch for 6 months. For those who just can't get bored enough, Smart People on Ice. (For some reason I feel weird about you guys reading SPOI, so if it disappears, sorry!)

2. To purchase only used items (within reason) from January through March. (To this end I purchased new undies last week; as used undies are technically available used, but blech.) This should both give me new perspective on how spoiled and wasteful I am, while simultaneously reminding me of how most of the world lives and shops. (In other words, I think it would be neat.)

Discarded idea:
Could I go one month without eating out? And would it cost more or less? Would I eat more or less?

In unrelated news:
someone Googled "larp sluts" and found SUC. I feel that I'm filling some sort of important niche for creepy larpers. Bring me your disenfranchised smellies who want to be sexily ravaged by zombies or suck the blood of Japanese school girls- yes, there is a place for you here. But only if you want to read about raccoons, T4 rumors, and my bitchings.
What? No? Whatever, enjoy posting ??!! ads on The Stranger. Loser.

Belated Christmas Ramble- My gift to you!

Sorry, I was too busy stuffing myself silly to post a cheerful greeting yesterday.
I hope those of you who do the Christmas thing had an awesome one, and those of you who don't do Christmas enjoyed sitting around in your undies all day.

My whole 'make Christmas suck less' was not completely on key this year. I'd noticed that Christmas wasn't as big and ridiculous this year- which I guess was what I secretly hoped for, sort of. I noticed fewer snacks at work, fewer cards received, and fewer and cheaper presents than usual too. I'm guessing it is half economic and half that maybe people feel like Christmas is too stressful and out of control. This probably means that a lot of people feel like I do.

But it seams like doing less of the same simply made Christmas even more lackluster. I want new traditions! I want increased joy at doing things together instead of fewer presents. I want more time with friends and family and I want that quality of time that you sometimes need to put a little special effort into.

In my fictitious Utopian land everyone would get a stocking filled with small fun things, a new pair of pj's, a simple gift- a video game or book, and then the family would share in something nice- a vacation, gaming system, outing, new couch, whatever. Friends who exchange gifts would exchange books or small unostentatious gifts. But all this would be done together- with intent to enjoy each other and practice the thankfulness that has all but disappeared from Thanksgiving. To give gifts that would be appreciated rather than a gift that meets some monetary requirement. I want the time, money, thought, and effort I put into a present to show my appreciation for the person receiving my gift and I want them to understand and appreciate this right back.

When there is such poverty all over the world and such debt in America, pruning Christmas down to size just seems right to me. There has to be a true spirit of Christmas regardless of your belief in Christ, otherwise this whole thing- the presents, the food, all of it is just an excuse to behave recklessly with our money and health to gratify our own selfish desires.

It is like what I say to people who suggest that I can do the same work in the private sector for much greater pay. If I got paid $10,000 more a year I would just buy $10,000 more shoes. I have plenty of shoes, but what I require is to go home at the end of the day and feel good about how I spent my time. I don't think I could do that working at Microsoft or Nordstrom.
Christmas shouldn't be about shoes, it should be about people. Next year I am going to get started on the Make Christmas Awesome campaign by sewing and filling stockings for my family. Maybe all these baby steps will culminate in the magical Christmas that I've been dreaming of but it probably won't, but I always feel best when I do my best and maybe that will make everyone else feel just that much better.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Mysterious Benedict Society


I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society yesterday and was greatly impressed.

The style of writing was definitely that of a children's book, but is much more compelling and well crafted than most. The story is about a team of four unusually talented children who are brought together by a genius to prevent an unknown catastrophe.

Trenton Lee Stewart crafted a very intriguing and satisfying book. It is a fairly quick read and I highly recommend you pick it up. It is one of the better things I've read lately.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Seriously though...

what is up with the Dominick coordinated MacMansion light displays?

Donkey Fever!

Remember last year's Dominick the Donkey Fest? Donkey Fever is running wild!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Worthless losers and the women who "love" them.

A few months before Sam* and I dated a girl came to him and asked him to have sex with her. Of course he was all too happy to do so- even though it was her first time. As one might expect, after that she wanted so badly to be with him, but he chose me instead. I think it drove her a little crazy that I wasn’t sleeping with him and he still wanted to be with me and not her. But she never held it against me- although her friends were somewhat unfriendly for a while. She was a cool chick.

I didn’t hold the sex-with-a-virgin- you-didn’t-have-any-interest-at-all-thing against Sam as I have never rolled in the judgmental girlfriend manner- although the situation was an unheeded warning sign.

Not too long into our entanglement Sam went on vacation** with his boys and when they returned his best friend and another buddy confessed that he had cheated on me. It was in clear violation of ‘bro’s before ho’s’ but I guess I’m not a ho.

So as we jogged through the park I casually mentioned that I knew what he had done but did not care and that since he was moving shortly we should just forget about it and enjoy a congenial couple of weeks. It was somewhat strained, but much less troublesome than a breakup; and to tell you the truth, I must not have given a damn about him since I didn’t get mad or feel hurt.

Anyway, the cool chick who unwisely “lost her virginity”*** with Sam just friended me on Facebook and I am notified that she has filled in the little ‘how do you know this person’ field and while I suppose that “Was de-virginated by her sleaze-bag ex-boyfriend” is a long-shot, I’ve got my fingers crossed.


* Name not changed to not protect his anonymity.

**Sidenote:
When he got back he had a new tattoo that he got while stoned blind at some temple in Thailand. He tried to hide the massive snake across his back. How you can expect to hide a foot tall snake tattoo is beyond me, but I’m sure he used his hockey player logic.

*** Final Sidenote:
I hate this phrase, so excuse my use of it for the sake of convenience. I have not lost something by skiing the first time. I gained the experience of skiing. There is no presence of the absence of an experience. Whatever, back to the story.

Link Dump

Deer wrestling ruins sofa.
Because Nature does not respect upholstery.

Accusations of drunken lemur-hood result in a pink slip.
People actually read Dilbert? Who knew?

Snakes in a tree.
What do you want? There is a Christmas tree and inside it there's a snake. This reminds me also of the Chip & Dale cartoon where Donald steels their tree and they plot their revenge.

I want to defy the logic of all sex LARPs.

Sex LARPs?!!!?
Apparently they must exist as someone Googled 'seattle sex LARP' and ended up on SUC.
I'm not clear as to how that works- do you pretend to have sex OR do you pretend to be elves while having actual sex? Further, I assume LARPing to be a kinda guy thing, for kinda unsexy guys.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More on the college birth control screw-up.

An article about congress attempting to correct their earlier "oversight" that made college health centers ineligible for discounted oral contraception.

And in other reproductive news, I suddenly realized that I myself am nearly out my own pill prescription, which means that I have to go to the doctor today. Let us hope this goes better than last year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Snarky: At Random

Here, read this random crap and make sense of it if you can:


I had a wonderful Saturday of baking and watching cartoons. Yay cartoons! I was able to watch cartoons (Skunk Fu, TMNT Fast Forward, Viva PiƱata, & The Batman) from 9 am till noon and could not have enjoyed it more.
I made two kinds of fudge and some sugar cookie dough (currently in my freezer). I also made chicken pot pies from scratch. Being me, I made the pies without a recipe and they turned out very well.
It was incredibly freeing to not have to so much glance at a clock for a full day. I didn’t have to wear makeup or change out of sweats. It was awesome.
My apartment is kind of mess now, but I should have it under control tonight (I hope).
I still have several additional kinds of treats to make and I am trying to figure out how to make all of the different cookies in the allotted space of time.* And I still haven’t finished sending out Christmas cards, nor have I started wrapping presents, nor have I finished making some of them. Somehow I must fit in extra time between this weekend and Christmas. 3 days would suffice. I need one of those little time turner thingies like Hermione has in Harry Potter. Somehow I just don’t think that will happen though.

************

Sunday I went to see I am Legend with some friends and I was most impressed. I can’t recall any story details for the original novella, but I have seen the previous films based on the book, Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth, about a jillion times and I think that I am Legend stayed pleasantly close to the general atmosphere of the previous films. Will Smith did a great job, and the effects were good. There were some plot elements that I would have liked fleshed out- I certainly would have watched another half-hour of film to get more plot and character development. But overall the movie was very satisfying and well worth the months of anticipation. (Hell, I was satisfied by the trailers. I am very excited for the new Batman movie.)

If you liked I am Legend, Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, is quite easy to get your hands on and well worth a viewing as well. I particularly enjoyed that movie’s development of the albino/vampire/cannibal/mutants. The Last Man on Earth (mid-sixties Italian movie) was very sophisticated for the time, but was not as cohesive. Vincent Price was the star and the story was rather exclusively his; there was not a lot of development there. I picked up a copy a few years ago in one of those dollar dvd bins, and if anyone wants to borrow it they’re welcome to.

****************

I also watched the zombie comedy, Fido (Sunday is cannibalistic fiasco movie day at Ye Olde Family Homestead). Fido is set in the 50’s (post zombie war) and tells the story of a young misfit who befriends his household zombie/butler and finds himself in some trouble when his zombie gets a bit out of control. Everyone needs to rent this movie. It was funny, heart-warming, amazing, and had zombies in it. I flat out loved it.

***********

I finally joined Facebook over the weekend, and rather than ending my irritation with social network sites, it has caused a worse problem: cyber-smuggery. Instead of being a fun little tool, it has given snarky people who I barely know or hang out with an excuse to be snarky about how long it took me to get there and what is on my profile. It is exhausting to deal with these ass-muppets, and I should have stuck to my guns about joining in the first place—let that be a lesson to you kids about peer pressure.

So to summarize:

Cartoons, Cookies, Pot Pies, Fudge, Sweatpants, I am Legend, Last Man on Earth, Omega Man, Fido = Good

Makeup, Clocks, Facebook, Peer Pressure, Snarky Ass-Muppets = Bad

*In a dimly related note, I have decided to really do a lot of chocolate Christmas treats this year- mainly because I’m not really into chocolate, so I won’t eat them. I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve owned the pair of black slacks that I am wearing for 4 years and this is the first time they’ve felt snug. I better keep a close eye on my food and exercise habits this Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tales of Miniature Quiana: Bunny Edition

When I was quite young I lived in a big white house separated into three apartments. We lived in the right hand apartment, beneath a rosy cheeked bird enthusiast. I’d hear her and the bird chirping cheerfully to each other from my top bunk.

The rosy-cheeked woman went on vacation and asked my mother to check in on her bird, and of course the bird died under mother’s care (she isn’t terribly skilled in the art of keeping stuff alive- although I continue to believe that the bird died of natural causes). At any rate, one day it just crawled under its paper and went to sleep. Mother was flabbergasted, but the neighbor handled it well.

The giant cage sat in our backyard, an object of curious dread for my friend Phillip and me. Phillip lived across the street. He was blond and happy and average, and I envied him fiercely.

One day as we romped around the backyard we saw a flash of brown and white. Holy cow! A rabbit! We jumped up and down and ran into the house and breathlessly told my mother all about it. It was probably mother that put the idea of catching it into our heads. Mother and I share a very similar sense of humor.

Having seen many 80’s fantasy movies about women and nature, Phillip and I staked out the yard from the porch, leaving lettuce and such just beneath the porch steps. We thought that while it was eating I could walk over and hold out my hand, then it would hop over and that would be that. As an adult I know that if I had managed to get close, it would have bitten me and given me The Rabies, but I was too taken with the Unicorn scene in Legend to understand that.

As one might have expected, this strategy didn’t work. Having now been tantalized by glimpses of its soft fur we were more determined than ever. We decided it was time to be scientific, so we climbed the steps to my neighbor’s apartment and told her excitedly that we had spotted a rabbit. Brown with a white butt, and we would catch it in her cage, if she’d let us.

She obviously thought that we were not going to be able to figure out how to catch a rabbit, so she tolerantly agreed to let us use her cage.

We got string and pulleys from my science kit and a carrot from Phillip’s mother and set to work. Toiling all day, we made a rabbit trap that Wile E. Coyote would be proud of. At dusk Phillip’s mother called him in for dinner and I was about to go into the house when I remember the carrot. Phillip would be at church all morning and wanted to me to wait for him to get home before setting our trap. I ran back to the cage, crawled inside and was promptly hoisted by my own petard.

I yelled for my mom for a while and eventually gave up. Then it started to rain. I’m not sure how much time passed, but it was full dark when I started crying. It's scary when you’re little and trapped in a bird cage in the dark. Eventually my mother came out and found me. She was laughing so hard at my pitiful situation that she took forever to get the cage open.

The next day I told Phillip that I didn’t think that the rabbit would like to live in a cage and we scampered off to a new adventure.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Punisher Cake

Paul just sent me a pic of the Punisher cake. So here, bask in the glory of cake-ness:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Praise me!

I attended an alumni event. With strangers who were probably going to be boring. Of course this was an event that involved an amazing lecture and tour of a chocolate factory, so I had little choice but to attend. Theo Chocolates in Fremont was awesome and I can't express properly how wonderful the lecture and tour were. The lecture was arranged by another alum, but the tour was great and I encourage anyone to take it and ask lots of questions. The chocolate was awesome (even though I'm not really into chocolate) and Theo is super high-quality, organic and free-trade, so you should pick some up. Theo Chocolates are available at Whole Foods, nation-wide.

However, that is not the point, the point is that I did something by myself when I wasn't sure I would be comfortable. I don't want to say I'm a wallflower, because I'm not, but I am not always comfortable going places by myself and I absolutely hate small talk and try my hardest to avoid it. But I showed up early, made small-talk, chatted on the tour, and stayed for just a bit longer to talk to the people I had spoken with before darting to my car, full of chocolate and smugness.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm really proud of me. Good job, me.

Weekend Update

I had a kind of full weekend and in lieu of a link dump, I thought I would catch you up. Yes, I know it is Wednesday, but better late than never, right?

Friday night Jim and I had delicious cheese steaks at a place creatively called, “Cheese Steaks.” The steaks were good and I think that two more cheese steak trips will settle my 101 List obligation. Later we retired to my place to work on a Punisher cake for Jason. I made a Dark Chocolate Cake (which fell, took about 10 minutes longer than expected, and tasted amazing) with a white chocolate frosting. I was nervous about how sweet the frosting would be so I used salted butter, but in the end it was still far to sweet and had a flavor that was not very complex and just a bit saltier than I would have liked. I think the cake would be better complimented with a fluffy fudge frosting or a peppermint frosting, but the cake itself looked quite cool.

Saturday morning Paul and I dragged our carcasses to the State FLL Championship to coach our awesome robot team. They had some set-backs, but I was impressed with their perseverance. We didn't win, but we learned a lot and we got to watch some really impressive teams. After that we joined some folks at George's for Jason's awesome birthday party. Rock Band was played, cake was eaten, good times were had. Good job on surviving another year, Jason. (Not that I doubted you could....)

Sunday Jim took me to see the awesome Seahawks game against the Cardinals. Football is not my favorite sport, but I love watching it live. The game was very exciting and the stadium was fantastic. Nothing beats the energy of a full stadium cheering its team to an important victory. I always imagine what it would be like to be in the Coliseum where so many people were gathered to watch amazing sports.

This was quite the weekend and I am fabulously blessed with wonderful friends. Thanks for making my life sharp, varied, and interesting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It is like magic for boring people.

I can't stop watching this and I don't know why. God, I am so boring.

New heights of nerd-dom now possible.

I really like the book Animal Farm. You may have noticed the plethora of references to it... or not.

Anyway, Threadless has a new design for Orwell nerds:




















Says the designer: "All t-shirts are equal, but some are more equal than others."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm shocked.

Someone finally stood up to the Boy Scouts! Way to go Philly!! The city that booed Santa says, "Go away, haters!" And you know it's bad when Philly thinks you're a dick.

The Boy Scouts of America group has been hijacked by the religious right and it is a shame. Not allowing non-Christians and homosexuals is flagrantly wrong, regardless of its legality. The fact that these groups are meeting rent-free in city buildings all over the US is wrong and tacitly proves that the government believes in religious and sexual discrimination. I don't care if you want to have the Junior KKK (being a scum-bag isn't illegal), just hold it in your own living room- I shouldn't have to pay for it.

I had an amazing experience with the Girl Scouts (which is unaffiliated with the Boy Scouts) and wish that ALL boys could enjoy such a wonderful childhood experience as scouting. Very little is more American than a keen appreciation of cookies and nature.

It makes me sad that there are probably tons of children and parents out there who just love scouting and what it used to stand for, but who have to meet under the discriminatory policies put in place by recent right-wing leadership. (As no written rules were specified about membership qualifications in those areas, what the man says in the article about scouts always being discriminatory is patently false [although I'm sure it was like all fraternal organizations at the time Jewless, blackless, and boobless] and even if that were true, that certainly does that excuse being an absolute ass-hat now.

And so in honor of Philly's awesome advance, I have thought long and hard [snicker] and come up with a tasteless Boy Scout joke:

I would have thought the Boy Scouts would be all about rubbing two sticks together.

Hamstringing the Energy Bill

House approves big energy bill
"[Pelosi's] decision to insist on including the tax increases on oil companies — costing them $13.5 billion in taxes over 10 years — surprised even some environmentalists and set the stage for a contentious fight in the Senate where Republican leaders have indicated they will try to strip it from the bill."

So here is the question. Did strategists choose to add the 13.5 Billion Dollar issue in order to kill the bill in Senate OR did they put it in to give Republicans something to cut?

I'm not sure how I feel about this bill, but lessening our dependence on foreign energy sources sounds pretty appealing. I wonder if the bill's emphasis on bio-diesel and corn-derived ethanol is really a long term environmentally sound strategy or if those persuasive corn growing conglomerates are at it again. I hate it when the government pens in science with all of their money and incentives. I would much rather the government throw more money into public transportation and research into renewable energy resources to fuel our lives in general (and perhaps electric cars) than into troubled yet lucrative, existing areas of fuel creation.

Making love out of nothing at all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I don't want to seem obsessed, but...

Here is a little bit more T4 information for those who consider that franchise to have been an overwhelming force in the very foundation of their personality. Uhm... I mean for people who really like movies about robots with nipples.

Possible evidence of the failure of Abstinence Only Ed

First rise in U.S. teen births since '91
The US policy on sex ed reminds me of small children who cover their eyes so you can't see them.
The whole thing ticks me off. Republicans must love "welfare moms" as they are raising an entire generation of them.

I'm a blog-slacker.

Here, take this random crap:

I've been busy lately and as Christmas approaches I am becoming kind of... nervous. I'm trying to move from a store bought present format to a home-made present format, because I want Christmas to be more thoughtful and less 'gimme gimme'.
Every time I try to improve Christmas I get spanked, so I'm just a bit apprehensive that people will not realize that I put my time and effort into their gifts. Anyway, if I give you a gift this year and you are not happy with it:
1. blow me.
2. pretend to like it so that I won't go home and feel sad about Christmas.
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A cool Christmas gift idea: Charity Navigator's gift cards. If you don't know what to give someone and are ready to admit it, give them a charity gift card and they can give to any one of the numerous charities on Charity Navigator. I think that is pretty neat.
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Today is Repeal Day, so go have a drink. If you can't, let me know and I'll have one for you.
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That is all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Watchmen Update 12.3.7

I am actually now interested in the story. I now admit that it is complex and interesting in its storyline.

Are you happy now?

Things that are awesome:

1. Those delicious little oranges "cuties".

2. Christmas decorations & seasonal beverages.

3. The robotics team that I coach going to state on an award that they earned in the specific area that I coach.

4. Dinosaurs.

Just what you wanted!

More Terminator 4 news courtesy of Reuters via BWE.
Apparently they are looking at Christian Bale for the role of John Connor in this installment.
If this actually happens you may consider this definitive proof of the existence of God.