Wednesday, January 31, 2007

DVD Burner - Nero Revenge!

About a year ago, I replaced a CD-RW drive with a DVD-RW drive. It worked three times, and then it wouldn't burn any more CDs (I've never actually tried to burn a DVD in it). The burner has always played both CDs and DVDs fine, but it would not burn. In desperation, I tried physically removing the drive and reconnecting the wires. I tried three separate programs. And I tried burning audio, text, games, applications... nothing.

My friend gave me a copy of Nero.

I have a fully operational DVD-RW drive again.

Now if only I could remember what it was I've been trying to burn for a year!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Food List

A very long, definitive list, for those inquiring minds that want to know. These are the foods I will or will not eat.

FRUIT: Not a big fan...

Apple, Yes. Gravensteins and sour, juicy apples; will eat them cooked

Apricot, No.

Avocado, No. No way!

Banana, Yes. Raw or cooked, in bread, on cereal, anytime really...

Breadfruit, No.

Cantaloupe, No.

Cherry, Yes. Not a favorite, but I will eat them.

Coconut, No. Absolutely not!

Date, No.

Fig, No.

Gourds/Squash, No.

Grape, Yes. Red, green, seedless or not, yes please.

Grapefruit, No.

Honeydew, No.

Kiwi fruit, Yes. Fully ripened, raw, skinned.

Kumquat, No.

Lemon, Yes. Lemon flavorings appreciated, but I do not eat whole lemons.

Lime, No.

Mandarin, Yes. Only with sugar.

Mango, No.

Orange, No.

Papaya, No.

Passion-fruit, No.

Peach, No. No, absolutely not.

Pear, Yes.

Persimmon, No.

Pineapple, No.

Plum, Yes. Raw only.

Pomegranate, No.

Pumpkin, Yes. Only as in pie.

Rhubarb, No.

Starfruit, No.

Tangerine, No.

Watermelon, Yes. I could eat myself sick on watermelon. In fact, I have.


BERRIES: I know there are many other kinds of berries out there. I also know that Strawberries aren’t really berries. General rule: “berry” flavored things are good, but berries themselves are not.

Blackberry, No. I will eat a few, every once in a while... if they're sweet.

Blueberry, Yes. In muffins or pancakes, okay.

Cranberry, No.

Marionberry, Yes. I know this is not a true berry. But I like it, so shove off.

Oregon Grape, Yes.

Raspberry, Yes.

Salmonberry, Yes.

Strawberry, Yes. YES, YES, YES! But only plain or with cream or ice cream.


VEGETABLES: Raw, crisp, and clean. Often enjoyed with ranch dressing.

Asparagus, No.

Bell Pepper, No.

Broccoli, Yes. Mmm, any way you can cook it, with or without cheese or ranch.

Brussels Sprout, No.

Cabbage, Yes. Raw only.

Carrot, Yes. Raw only.

Cauliflower, Yes. Raw only.

Cayenne Pepper, No.

Celery, Yes.

Chile Pepper, No.

Chive, Yes.

Corn, Yes.

Cucumber, No.

Dandelion, No.

Eggplant, No.

Garlic, Yes. In small quantities.

Green Bean, Yes. Raw or cooked, but not with anything else.

Iceberg Lettuce, Yes. Raw only.

Kale, No.

Leek, Yes.

Olives, No.

Onion, Yes. As long as I can't taste/see them.

Pea, No.

Pickle, No. Okay, I do eat dill pickles when I'm in the mood.

Potato, Yes. YES! Any way but baked.

Radish, Yes. Raw only.

Shallot, Yes.

Spinach, Yes. Raw only.

Tomato, No. NEVER EVER. I do eat tomato products though, as long as tomato chunks are not present.

Yam, No.

Zucchini, No.


GRAINS: I love breads and grains! There is no better way to put it than “mmmmm!”

Barley, Yes.

Oats, Yes.

Rice, Yes.

Triticale, Yes.

Wheat, Yes.


SPICES, SEEDS, and FLAVORINGS:

Allspice, Yes.

Anise, No.

Basil, Yes.

Bay leaves, Yes. I can't eat them, but they add good flavor.

Caraway, Yes.

Cardamom, Yes.

Cilantro, Yes.

Cinnamon, Yes. Mmmm, with sugar and butter and rolled into spirals...

Cloves, Yes.

Coriander, Yes.

Cumin, Yes.

Curry, No. No. No. No.

Dill, Yes. I like it in bread, but it's not my favorite.

Fennel, Yes.

Horseradish, No.

Mint, Yes. Is there a "Hell Yes" option?

Mustard, No. NEVER EVER, NO WAY, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Nutmeg, Yes.

Oregano, Yes. What can't you put this on?

Paprika, Yes. ...on potatoes and other potato-y things

Parsley, Yes. The herb that really tastes like nothing!

Pepper, Yes. As in, black pepper. I put this on just about everything.

Peppermint, Yes. It's like mint, but mint-ier.

Poppy, Yes. Only good in muffins.

Rosemary, Yes.

Sage, Yes.

Sesame, Yes.

Spearmint, Yes. The green mint. As opposed to toothpaste?

Thyme, Yes.

Vanilla, Yes.


BEANS:

Beans of any kind, No.


NUTS:

Almonds, Yes. More yes than no, but I'll pick them out if I can.

Filberts, Yes. How could I not like them!?

Macadmia, Yes. Why do I have to love the expensive nuts?

Peanuts, Yes. Not really a nut. But called a nut. I like peanuts.

Walnuts, Yes. Unless they're bitter - because a bitter walnut is nasty.


MEAT: Always cooked completely (well-done), never canned, and no sauces or marinades. Pepper and salt okay, and ketchup will probably be applied.

Antelope, No.

Bear, No.

Bison/Buffalo, No.

Caribou, No.

Cattle, Yes. I will not eat veal, however.

Chicken, Yes.

Clams, No. Okay as clam strips with ketchup.

Crab, No. I will eat it if I know who cleaned it and where the crab lived.

Crayfish (Crawdads), Yes. But only the pinchers.

Deer, Yes.

Dog/Fox, No.

Duck, No.

Elk, Yes.

Fish, Yes. Halibut and Mahi Mahi preferred, no salmon.

Frog, No. Also does not taste like chicken.

Goose, No.

Horse, No.

Insects, No. Do I even have to say why?

Lamb/Sheep, No. Just doesn't seem right to eat these...

Lobster, No.

Moose, No.

Mussels, No.

Oysters, No.

Pig, No. Occasionally, I will eat pork, although I do not love it.

Rabbit, No.

Scallop, No.

Shrimp, Yes. I'm drooling...

Snake, No. Does not taste like chicken.

Turkey, Yes.

I don’t eat condiments, including mayonnaise, mustard, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, or teriyaki sauce. I do not eat most kinds of gravy, and then I only put gravy on potatoes and meat, never on bread or biscuits. I do not use butter unless I’m making hash browns or toast and need the cinnamon and sugar to stick to the toast.

I only eat cheese that comes from cows, and my cheese must be firm. Cheddar (mild to sharp, or smoked), colby-jack, havarti, provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta, occasionally cream cheese on toast or bagels, and cottage cheese are pretty much it. Milk, equally, must come from cows, and I only consume 1% or skim very cold on cereal. I do not drink milk.

As for sweets and treats... I like cake over pie any day, and chocolate-covered chocolate is great in my book. I do not discriminate by color of chocolate, but I do tend toward milk chocolates more than others. White chocolate is excellent as well. I’ll eat cookies as long as they do not contain raisins or the aforementioned “bad” fruits. I love both caramel and peanut butter, but never the two together. Mint and chocolate were made for each other, and for my tummy. I chew only sugar-free gum—though I do chew a lot of it.

Under no circumstances may ice cream touch cake or pie. This is unacceptable.

Beverages: Water. Diet Coke. Root beer (diet or not). Lemonade. Hot chocolate. That’s about it...

Casseroles are out. No one-pot meals except stew or soup. Pot pies are good.
Salad does not contain weeds. New rule. Learn it, love it, abide by it. Salad is green, contains lettuce and other garden vegetables. It does not contain dandelions, grass, or other things pulled from your yard. Salad also does not contain mayonnaise, noodles, or other things which veer from “green, lettuce-y and garden vegetables.” Tomatoes are not vegetables. Tomatoes are disgusting. Cheese, however, is allowed on a salad.

Anything else?

Monday, January 29, 2007

The red wire goes where?

Today was not a good day. I woke up tired and had a very long day doing the same thing all day long. My boyfriend is sick. He thought it was food poisoning on Sunday, but now he thinks he has Norovirus. Seeing that I danced with him Friday night into Saturday morning and spent all day Saturday and a few hours Sunday with him, the odds of me contracting whatever he has are just about as likely as me eating chocolate tonight. It will happen. I just hope it's not yucky sick.

Chris came over last night to meet my parents. We have been dating a short two weeks, but my family is the most important thing in my life, and he'd meet them eventually anyway. I spent all afternoon in the kitchen making homemade chicken noodle soup, cornbread, and chocolate chunk/shaving/other-odd-sized-piece cookies. Dinner was a big success (thank God!), and my parents like him very much.

The chocolate used for the cookies came from a HUGE bar one of my ex-boyfriends gave me last week. I haven't talked to the guy in months, but he sent a chocolate bar -- something on the order of three pounds -- along with a friend for me. Getting uniform chocolate pieces off the bar was impossible, so my cookies had oddly-sized bits in them, but they taste good, so I'm happy.

Oh, and tonight, when I left work to go get my sick boyfriend some dinner, my car wouldn't start. I spent some time in my car this morning after I parked listening to music and forgot to turn my lights off (interrupted my normal routine shutting things off). Dead battery. Shit. I called my dad -- because that's the appropriate response when something on my car goes wonky. I can usually fix things on my car, but I include him and Mom because they do own the car. Dad said he'd drive to Corvallis to bail me out, but I told him I'd call a friend or something so that he wouldn't have to drive (plus it'd be faster). I called Chris to tell him his dinner would not be on the way, and he gave up his nice, warm bed to come to my rescue. He got some cookies for his effort, but seeing that he is still sick, I hope to be able to make it up to him tomorrow with dinner. I made it home without a problem.

Why is it, whenever I want to do something nice for someone, something happens so that I am not able to do that nice thing? And what is an appropriate gift for someone coming to my rescue?

Except I'm in a bad mood, tired, and need my chocolate.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

50 Random Questions

1. What is your best friend's Mom's name? Pam

2. Where is the weirdest place you have a mole? I have a large mole on my lower back, just below my pantyline. I believe this is what they refer to as a "birth mark." I don't think I understand how one can get a mark from birth...

3. Who was the hottest teacher you ever had? I won't give his name away, but he taught Anatomy 343, a lab class, and I never missed a lab or left early. What would you like to know about the circulatory, respiratory, or reproductive systems? Too hot...

***WAIT!***
If you found this blog via Google, please don't stop reading yet. This blog contains other "Random Question" lists if you click on "memes" on the left. For the latest blog post, click on "Uniquely Normal" at the top of this page. I update daily!
***You may now continue reading.***

4. Have you ever made out in a movie theater? Nope, I am not paying $7 to not watch the movie when I can not pay $7 to not watch a movie at home.

5. What body part do you wash first? My hair

6. Do you hover over the toilet in public bathrooms? Not very often...

7. What's the strangest talent you have? I can do some pretty incredible things with my tongue (and I mean that in a totally non-sexual way).

8. Do you have an innie or an outtie? Innie all the way.

9. What's your favorite flavored Pringles? Original--by the tube!

10. Have you ever been tied up? Do you want to be? I can't recall being tied up, and I don't want to be tied up. I don't see a need for me to be restrained.

11. What was the last thing you ever got grounded for? My parents never believed in grounding us. They took away privileges or restricted access to certain things, but neither my sister or I were ever grounded.

12. Do you parallel park or drive around the block? I would rather not parallel park, but I have the ability to do so.

13. Have you ever had two dates in one night? I don't think I've had two dates in one month!

14. How many times have you been cussed out? Umm... rarely. Not too many people dislike me. My money is on people cussing me out behind my back.

15. Which shoe do you put on first? The right one.

17. Have you ever been to a gay bar? I can only think of four regular bars that I've been in, let alone gay bars. Something tells me I wouldn't get very many guys in a gay bar... at least, not the kind that want to date me.

18. Girls-- pretty much drive me nuts.

19. Is there one thing all of your love interests have had in common? All but one of them is an engineer of some sort. All of them live in Corvallis. They all understand computers better than I do (save one). They all dislike chick flicks, but they all secretly enjoy watching them. Oh, and they all liked me at one time or another.

20. Did you French kiss before you were 16? Yes, I did. I had my first kiss in 8th grade, and I would not trade it for anything.

21. Have you ever been cow-tipping or snipe-hunting? No.

22. Who is the last person you usually think about before you fall asleep? Family, friends, boyfriend... depends on the day's drama.

23. Have you ever had a poem or a song written about you? Definitely!

24. If you had to choose to not ever wash your bed sheets again or not wash your bath towel ever again, which would you rather not wash? I'd rather not wash my bath towel, but I do think either one of those would result in some nastiness of the worst kind. Who came up with that question?

25. Have you ever found anything in your parents' bedroom that was questionable? I'm not allowed in there, and no, I don't question my parents' bedroom contents. They're adults, they're married, and it's none of my business what they do. (Can we change the subject, puh-leeze?!)

26. What was your childhood nickname? I refuse to disclose this information.

27. When is the last time you played the air guitar? Never.

28. Have you ever peeked in the opposite sexes locker room? Nope.

29. What's the weirdest thing you have done while driving? I put in eye drops once...

30. Have you ever bitten your toenails? No, I don't bite my nails.

31. How do you eat your cookie? Mmmm, cookies... depends on the size and kind.

32. When working out at the gym, do you wear a belt? I have never worked out in a gym.

33. Name something you do when you're alone that you wouldn't do in front of others. I sing.

36. How many drinks does it take before you get drunk? About 2oz of 100-proof vodka and I'm tipsy to the point of not being able to hold my own head up. I've never been more drunk than that, partly because I don't enjoy the sensation, and partly because I just don't like the taste of alcohol.

37. Have you ever sniffed an animal's butt? Um, no.

38. How often do you clean out your ears? When I think about it, every other day or so.

39. Do you scrunch or fold your toilet paper? Scrunch

40. About how many times a day do you pick a wedgie? I never got statistical data on this, so I'm not sure.

41. Do you have any strange phobias? Spiders, heights, and dogs.

42. Have you ever stuck a foreign object up your nose? Kleenex

43. What is the stupidest thing you've ever done at a bar? Well, seeing that I spend so much time in bars... LOL. There was an incident with a purple onion one time, but that wasn't stupid as much as really funny.

44. Have you ever been dared to do something you totally regretted? Nope, I have no regrets about any action, decision, or behavior I've ever done.

45. Have you ever called your love interest by an ex's name? Not that I recall...

46. Have you caught a guy/girl farting while on a date? Nope, I have been on very few dates.

47. Have you ever played naked Twister? I've never played Twister.

48. Have you ever been drunk at work? I've never been truly drunk.

49. Have you ever found your date's/lover's brother or sister more attractive? Nope.

50. Do you want to bring sexy back? Give me a good WCS to that song, and I'll do it!

Friday, January 26, 2007

"Come As You Aren't" --so I did

I'm live on location tonight from my boyfriend's bedroom. We have just finished three hours of dancing, and I must admit that I'm so terribly out of shape that I get tired after one or two dances. The good news is that our costumes went over FANTASTICALLY! We went as Sims from the computer game, The Sims. As people noticed us, we either got, "Dude, that is the best costume ev-arh!" or "Um, what are those green things on their heads?" Most people got it, which made me happy. As soon as pictures are posted, I will link over or post them here for you. The dance theme was "Come as you aren't," so we are NOT computer game characters. Get it?

The work week came to a close, finally. I'm not used to these five-day weeks after the holiday season and bad weather. Oh, wait, I took yesterday off... whoops, guess it was still only a four-day week. The Powers That Be have given me a new task, and it just boggles my mind how difficult the process can be to do a simple thing. I'd try explaining what I'm doing, but I don't understand it, so i can't/won't/don't-really-feel-like-it.

Not sure why this is so significant, but I will mention that I got my hair cut. Seven inches gone! So yesterday I was really hyper and was bouncing off the walls while I was trying to make the green thingies (that's what they're called) for our hat/costumes. And then I was IMing and chatting and talking on the phone and didn't get to sleep until very late.

Work all day, lunch out, dinner out (good dinner with Emily, yay!), lots of laughing and dancing. It feels so good to be me -- and I like being able to say that. :)

Can I go to sleep now?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Making Me a Sim, Praxis Hell Part Deux

There is a dance tomorrow night, and my boyfriend and I are going as Sims from the computer game, The Sims. I had today off from work, so I spent several hours making the floating green diamond thingies that float over a Sim's head. I made them out of green cellophane, 20-gauge wire, some ribbon, and tape. Don't ask about the pattern, it's too hard to explain. The dance's theme is "Come As You Aren't," and we're not computer game characters, so we're going as them. :) And if anybody else comes as a Sim, I'm going to knock their floating green diamond thingy into the next screen.

I've skipped a few dances over the last two weeks, partly because I was a bit danced out, and partly because I'm just too lazy to hang out for three hours after work waiting for the dances to start. I guess I haven't been having fun unless I'm with Chris or the few guys I normally dance with. Chris decided to come with me last night, and we spent an hour beforehand teaching each other some steps: he taught me a few Lindy Hop moves and I walked him through both natural and reverse Viennese Waltz. Even if he wasn't my boyfriend, I must still acknowledge his talent and lightness. I'm horribly jealous in a totally awesome way. :)

I took the Praxis II General Science Content Knowledge Essays in November, and received my score notification in December. The score numbers were reported, but the report did not indicate whether or not I'd actually passed the test. I called OSU, ETS (the testing people), and the Oregon Department of Education. Between four calls and over forty minutes on hold, I learned that the test I retook was not required by the State of Oregon for teacher licensure. I want my $300 back! So, at this time, I have completed all of the required tests. The only thing left to become a teacher is an approved teacher education program, either a Master's program or a BS in Education and a Master's in something else within ten years. At this time, I'm very content to continue in my current job and worry about teaching later.

Stuff to do... people to talk to... my life has become full of "real life" again, and it's keeping me from the blog. For some reason, I'm okay with that. :)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Strategic Positioning

In my last term of college, I took a Lindy Hop class. We always stood in a giant circle around the instructor, alternating leads and follows (men and women). I would generally elect to position myself such that, as we rotated through partners, I would not have to dance with one particularly creepy lead. Recently, though, I found this caused a bit of frustration for another male in the class as he tried to position himself so that he would be forced to dance with me. I didn't really think much of it at the time--though I do remember enjoying dances with him and having a bit of a crush on him. On the last day of the Lindy Hop class, we had to choose a partner with which to demonstrate a few moves for the instructor. I just *happened* to be standing next to the guy at the time, so we did our thing and both got 100% in the class.

You know what? Now I'm dating that guy.

I could make some reference to kharma or destiny or supernatural forces or whatever... but I like the story. I mean... that's just cool. :)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Beer, Pool, and Feeling Really Awkward

You don't have to worry about me picking up any boys in local bars.

Rachel was in town last night, so we got together for a few hours of girl-talk and gossiping about our boys. Her boyfriend graduated with us from high school, and I've always thought he was/is an upstanding and sweet guy. He sat behind me in history or Close-Up (senior government)--so I am very glad she found a nice guy that I don't have to worry about for her. :) Anyway, the guy called her while we were talking and suggested we all go to Riley's in Albany. I drove Rachel and myself over there, and we met up with her boyfriend and three other people (two more that went to high school with us). While at Riley's, I was constantly looking over my shoulder expecting that, at any moment, one of my ex-boyfriends or a cousin or someone would come in and be astounded to see me out in a bar, make a huge deal about it, and then I'd feel ashamed.

You see, I have a hard time going out in places with people I don't know, being WAY out of my element.

Rachel bought me a pop in exchange for my chauffeuring her to Albany, and proceeded to drink herself a couple beers as well. The group convinced us to join in a game of pool. My "partner" kept showing me shots, pointing out the angles, and offering tips and tricks to make a shot. Ummm, thanks? I realize I suck at pool: that's why I didn't want to play in the first place. Not only do I understand how to play the game, but I've been hanging out with engineers for five years... please believe me when I say I understand angles and physics and inertia and what I'm supposed to do. It just happens that I am not good at putting those things together to get the balls in the pockets.

At least there was no smoking indoors... that really made things better than they could have been. I cracked up inside every time I saw a guy shake his can down to get a better dip. Or the guys in the tight-ass Wranglers and puffy shirts and white sneakers with the tongues sticking out on top of the pant legs. Or the guy in the corner, beer in hand, ballcap pulled low over his brow, snoozing while his friends played darts and pool. I especially loved the big-haired women with low cut tops, dark make-up, wrinkled and far too old to be wearing anything but a modest sweater...

Rachel promised me the night wouldn't be like a high school reunion. She was wrong. It was very much like high school at Riley's last night, except that the girls I never liked weren't there to pick on me, and my friends weren't there to laugh with me.

Funniest part of the night: my pool "partner" asked me if I wanted to go to another bar to go dancing. I'm guessing my ballroom skills won't do me much good in a club-style dance...

I don't drink (rarely, and very little when I do), I don't play pool, I don't chew tobacco, and I have absolutely no desire to hang out with guys in bars. For some reason, I feel like I might be missing out on a grand adventure... and then... I realize I'm very much okay with never going through last night again.

Well, except for the whole 'hanging out with Rachel' part--because that was really cool.

Somebody, please, find me a Lindy Hop!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Milk Noodle Soup

Sounds pretty gross, right? This is a traditional German-Russian recipe passed down through mom's family. I wouldn't eat it growing up, but eventually it became a true comfort food. When I'm cold, lonely, or sad, this soup fixes me. I wish I had a good recipe for it, but you don't really make it by measuring or thinking... stuff goes in, soup comes out.

  • Extra wide egg noodles. The cheap kind. About two handfuls, a bowl-full.
  • Milk. I use 1%, but skim or other milks work. Enough to cover the noodles in your bowl.
  • Butter. A teaspoon will do fine, and this is not optional.
  • Salt and Pepper. Put it in, just a little... the pepper really helps.


Microwave safe dish: add noodles and milk. Cover with paper towel. Cook on high four minutes. Rest in microwave two or three, then alternate a minute on and off until the noodles are soft. Don't let the milk boil over: this is the worst mess you can imagine, plus it makes the milk wonky in your soup. Stir often. Caution: microwaving things makes them hot. If you didn't figure that out, you probably shouldn't be using the microwave. Oh, and do not substitute the butter with margarine. Margarine makes yellow blobs on the milk, and that just isn't tasty at all.

Grandma and Grandpa make this on the stove, but one risks scalding the milk. I prefer the microwave version anyway. Mmmmm, Milk Noodle Soup!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Memorable Moment #1

While driving to and from work every day, I'm left with about an hour to spend thinking and reflecting. Sometimes I think about the song I'm singing along to, or other times I'll ponder the vast mysteries of the universe (like "who invented the ice cube?"). Once in a while, I'll have a conversation with someone, or I'll work out an argument from both sides.

Mostly, though, I reflect on the things that make me who I am. I was doing that today and thought I'd add a bit of it to my blog. The following is part of a paper I wrote for one of my writing classes in college, a reflection of a memorable moment. If I am defined by the things I have done, then being a music student probably tops the list. Yes, I was a band geek.

~*~*~*~*~*~

"Imagine yourself, a high school student, a member of the marching band, standing inside the tunneled field entrance at the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. You hear a distant crowd clapping and cheering, the ethereal voice of the announcer sitting high above the field in his bird’s eye perch. Friends next to you are breathing hard in the cold of the foggy morning. They chatter nervously as you all wait to take the field. You hear saxophone keys being pressed and repressed, trumpet valves sticking and being oiled, drummers tapping incessantly, even your own heartbeat is audible above your knocking knees.

Below you extends the concrete-lined tunnel to a bright light from the field. A band is out there on the field performing their show. Instruments sparkle in the murky light, almost a reverse silhouette against the red from the track. Red and blue uniforms surround you, puffs of heated breath escape from beneath shiny brimmed toy-soldier-esque hats. Your mouth is dry, your body shivering from nervous jitters and the cold. Your heart rate and breathing rate escalate until your muscles are tense and you are forced to grip your instrument even harder for fear of dropping it.

The tunnel smells damp and mildewy from the fog and chilly morning. The faint odor of sweaty football players tweaks your nose. Nearby must be an old instrument because you can smell it too. Cold instruments drop out of tune faster, so you blow humid air through your horn trying to keep it warm, the frigid mouthpiece stinging your lips in the process.

All of the stress responses that go along with “fight or flight” kick in. Most of all, you have to pee. It doesn’t matter that you just went ten minutes ago, twenty minutes before that; you absolutely must urinate as soon as possible. Every emotion rushes through your body like a tickertape, first fear and anxiety, later excitement and a sense of camaraderie with your bandmates. Every bit of practice has been leading up to this very instant, the moment you walk onto the field, look up at 20,000 cheering people and realize that you were put on this earth to perform this show, this one song, those three notes..."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"For more information on this story, see our website..."

How about you just tell me all the news while I'm watching it, k?

I'm tired of news channels telling part of a story, hitting the high points, and then pushing the viewer off to their website for the whole story. Like with breaking news or school closures: instead of just telling viewers what schools are closed, news stations announce it down on the ticker or simply refer viewers to their website. I didn't turn the TV on for you to tell me to go to my computer. Or, my most favorite one: a channel broadcasts a local news story at five o'clock, replays it at six-thirty or eleven o'clock, and then rewrites it verbatim online. They tell viewers to go online for "more information," but viewers are sent to a transcript of the original broadcast. What happened to "more information"?

News people? Can you just tell me the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news? Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Freestyle Slush Stompin'

My cold weather story can't be that much different than many others out there... but I did manage to slide about 200 yards on some black ice this morning. That was kinda cool (read: scary). I got to work on time and worked through lunch to leave at 2pm. I grabbed a quick lunch with Chris before driving home this afternoon.

I had baked-potato pizza for lunch. I never would have tried it, but the new little pizzeria on Monroe was very nice looking, clean, and had great prices. Nothing to lose... and it just sounded good. A little greasy... cheese will do that... but it was tasty pizza! So when Chris and I got up to leave the restaurant, we were talking to the owner about his odd pizza creation. He commented, "so you guys grow potatoes around here?"
Um... I looked to Chris, he looked at me, and it was all over. Chris prompted me with, "yeah, do we grow potatoes here?"
"Yes, Oregon certifies about twenty varieties of potatoes, and there are currently about five hundred known varieties of potatoes" was my nerdy reply. The owner seemed a bit awed by that statement, so I had to quickly explain what I do at work (organizing binders of potato varieties).

The conversation would never have happened if it weren't for my boyfriend. Punk. I think he enjoyed putting me on the spot like that.

But, walking back to my car, we found some neat piles of slush to go freestyle slush stomping on. I think they ought to make that part of the X-games. :P

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mmm, new leather smell...

I was walking with my mother from the car into the store when I remarked, "my t-shirt is sticking out the bottom of my fleece." Mom paused for a second before replying, "my shoes are sticking out of my pants." . . . yes, yes, Mom, they are. I don't know why I find that so incredibly hilarious, but her quick reply was too funny!

Mom and I went shopping in Salem today. I have been pricing leather jackets for well over five years, and the ones I've wanted range from $100 on sale to $300 at full price. I spotted a sign saying leather jackets 70% off and wondered what the price inflation was like... and then saw a little red sticker saying $79.99 over an original price of $199.99. I tried on a few, and one looked pretty good, but when I saw the one, it was over for me. Black leather jacket, tailored so it looks like it was made for me... oh, and the best part? We ended up paying less than $50! I also got some really nice looking shoes for under $50, which is unheard of for a Keen/Merrell fanatic like myself. I'll have to put insoles in them, but I do that with most shoes anyway.

This evening has been good as well, complete with homemade spaghetti and a haircut. I am ready for work tomorrow, looking forward to dinner with my boyfriend, and can't wait for more dancing on Sunday night.

Sound too perfect? It is... somehow, dancing Saturday night, I tweaked my back just enough to cause some wonky pain every time I bend, twist, or stretch.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Geocaching, dinner, and dancing...

Yesterday was probably one of the most fun days I've had in many years. A friend (we'll call him 'Chris' as that is his name) asked me if I wanted to go Geocaching in the afternoon before dinner and dancing up in Clackamas. Umm, duh... yes! So he came over here and we set up our 'caching route, sticking to I-5 north. With only a couple hours of daylight, we managed to grab three 'caches. Not bad for limited planning and a desire to get north asap... we had dinner at Old Chicago (a first time for me), and I enjoyed some of the best chicken strips in a while. We got to the dance on time and sat down very little between 8:30 and midnight. I danced with many different guys, but, as always, my favorites were my OSU friends. I got home around 3am.

Mom asked me yesterday about "this guy" I was going to Clackamas with, and whether or not I liked him. "No, Mom, we would never date. We already talked about it." But Chris and I talked even more yesterday (several hours online, then all afternoon and evening, and well into those little number hours). And I'm not single anymore.

Geocaching, dinner, dancing, long talks... I can't help but smile. :)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

OSU MU Quad - Photo and Story

In an effort to not die this morning getting to work, I took the day off. I have been completely unproductive, aside for these two pictures. My sister called me on a break and said she was in the MU Quad at OSU. I clicked over really fast to the OSU Webcam and snapped this shot of her standing in the middle of the quad talking to me. She's inside the orange circle in my slightly edited picture. Also, notice the giant snowman, new varieties of trees, a few odd-looking students, and an overabundance of snow. Not that you could miss them... I included the original picture below so that you are able to see what the world looks like before I get bored. ;) If you'd like me to edit a photo for you, send it to me at my e-mail address on the left. No promises... I'm not that good with crayons.

I did go out and get a few good pictures of some snowy things this morning, and I haven't gone back to bed yet, although it's after 2pm and I can't exactly say that I'm wearing street clothes. OSU shut off heat to my building at work, so it's not likely that I'll want to go to work in the morning (but money is money, so I must). Dancing was not as good as I'd hope last night. I'm very bad (or too good) at anticipating and couldn't settle into the dances like a good follow.

Does this picture mean I get credit for this Geocache?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pizza-Pasta and Hazelnut Thanks

I have officially been dancing one year now, as of Monday night, and I celebrated by what else, more dancing! To make up for a crappy weekend dance, I really threw myself into the night and had a great time. The guys from around here are super cool, and I had a nightclub two-step that was simply breathtaking. I had some other goofy moments, and messed up several times, but it was a really fun night. (For the list of dances I've learned, see the section in the sidebar on the left.)

Because they have little for me to do at work right now, and because I had a dentist appointment this afternoon, I ended up having the whole day off (which is good because I was out dancing late last night knowing I wouldn't have to get up for work today). I didn't sleep late, actually got some stuff done, and then went to the evil dentist. No cavities. ...that doesn't mean I like the guy...

Dad made dinner tonight, a feat rarely seen in this house, although he's not a bad cook. By "cook," I mean water-boiler for pasta or oven-preheater for pizza. But tonight, Dad made pizza pasta. Sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, green pepper, onion, and tomatoes with pasta and tomato sauce, and a bit of shredded cheese on top. Pretty tasty stuff for a first-try, kinda guessed at, thrown together, "hmm, I wonder if this is even going to be edible" attempt. I'm stuffed, so I think it was a damn good attempt, especially considering how picky I am.

I have a very special thank you to send out tonight, as I know the recipient is a reader. A bit before Christmas, my family acquired a large bag of hazelnuts as part of a trade. My Dad cracked many of the nuts for Mom and his mother, and Mom used them to make cookies for the holidays (which were, I kid you not, some of the best cookies I have ever eaten). Dad kept commenting that the hazelnuts cracked more cleanly than any he'd ever cracked. He gave about a pound to Grandma for Christmas. Sunday afternoon, while visiting Grandma, she commented to me, "Those are the best hazelnuts I've had. I only eat five a day, otherwise I'd eat them all at once!" So to the family who made another very happy, thank you so much.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I know how to count to four... thank you very much.

This weekend has been pretty crazy for me, seeing that most weekends are either at home or nearly as boring. I drove up to Hillsboro to spend some quality time with Emily on Saturday. The drive up was neat: I took Highway 219 from just north of Keizer, a long and winding back-road with some beautiful farmland and orchards. I map north Marion County as part of my job, and after seeing aerial photographs and road maps of the area for months, I decided it was time to actually see the land myself. Even though it was starting to get dark and the clouds were blocking my view, I think the area is just amazing! I'm also really proud of myself for going off the beaten path and experiencing something on my own. :)

And then I kinda got lost. Just a little... not bad like last time I went to Emily's. I turned about a mile too early and got onto a road so that I didn't know how to get to where I wanted to be... and Emily called to see where I was, set me on the right road (which was straight ahead, two blocks more). Yay for not getting totally lost this time!

We went to dinner, then dancing in downtown Portland. The music was okay, and the crowd seemed nice enough. I was very impressed with the level of ballroom dancing, although this group didn't quite understand Savoy-style Lindy Hop or West Coast Swing at all. Fairly uneventful, some sweet dances with some cool guys (though I must say that my favorite partners were from OSU).

Except the first dance of the night. I love the Tango, and I don't totally suck at it when I have a good lead who stays on beat. I just don't know many steps, and I don't know any Argentine Tango (which is pretty much a whole different dance). A very nice looking man came over and asked me to Tango. I agreed, insisting that I was not very good. He told me he'd teach me while we danced. Sweet! Nothing like free lessons! We step into form, and he begins dancing. I followed really well for about ten steps, and then he did some heel kicks or something... so when I stumbled a little trying to follow his curious footwork, he grabbed me tighter and started counting to four. But he wasn't in time with the music. AT ALL. Not slower or faster or anything, just... off.

I realize he doesn't know this, and some of you might not either, but I've been a musician since I was three years old. I can play a piano (I'm not great by any means, but I've spent some time in front of one), and I was a drum major in high school, so I understand rhythm. Please believe me when I say this: I know how to count to four!

When he was counting aloud to/for me, I really wanted to start naming off random numbers. Does that make me a bad person? :P

So he pushed me around the floor, counting (loudly), and hugging me tighter to himself. Tango is a very close dance, and if you know your partner really well, it can be downright intimate. This guy took me places I did not need to know about him. At least he didn't try to grope me or anything... I'm sure the song was very short, as most Tangos are, but it seemed like I was out there for a year.

Not all was lost that night, however! A friend and I made sure the crowd understood what WCS can be -- maybe we turned some heads, maybe we didn't... we had fun!

Great night with Emily, and that's all that matters.

"one, two, three, four..."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Trucks, SUVs, and Trains: An Anti-Rant

I'm really tired of reading people's blogs, their whining and bitching about gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. Sure, it's my choice to read other blogs. And I agree with their underlying message, that we ought to "save the Earth." But the pathetic whining has to go!

I'm absolutely for protecting natural resources and decreasing this country's use of fossil fuels, specifically gasoline and diesel. I agree with recycling (even though it's actually costing this country more to run the recycling trucks and facilities than we're saving). And I totally agree with promoting alternative fuel and energy sources (wind, water, wave, biofuel, etc.). Heck, I worked for the Institute for Natural Resources throughout my senior year in college. I know more about climate change and sustainability than I person my age ought to know.

BUT! I do believe that people who whine about other people driving trucks or SUVs around town are just plain obnoxious. Some people around the valley actually need trucks or SUVs or vans or other large vehicles for work or their own personal use. Take one of my friends for instance: her job with government agency causes her to need to use a truck to get off-road regularly. She's in charge of an off-highway vehicle program no less. (Not bad for a very recent college grad! Plus she's super cute, but I'm getting off my topic.) My father doesn't need his big, new, shiny truck to get to work. He doesn't even use it for much else. But when the time came to haul lumber from the mill so that he could hand-make the bed he and my mom sleep in, he had a vehicle to carry his wood. He helped several people move (myself included). And he pulls a trailer when we go camping (sustainably, of course). So there are definitely uses for those big gas-guzzling trucks. (Editor's note: Dad uses the highest quality gasoline in his truck, drives a car for distances outside town where he does not need a truck, and maintains his truck to the highest level to ensure low emissions and continued maximum gas mileage.)

Oh, and yeah, there really are farmers, orchard growers, and ranchers throughout Oregon that use trucks every day to move stuff, haul stuff, and get their "organic, locally grown, and brought to you with a diesel engine" food.

As for people who drive these gas-guzzlers not supporting troops or the country or whatever, I'd like to quickly point to veterans themselves. I do see a large number of those yellow ribbons on fancy SUVs... and I often see veteran's ribbons right along with those yellow ones. I'm not going to place blame as to who does or does not support whatever by what they drive... the argument is pretty silly to begin with.

My biggest complaint is the need for things now. How does that relate to big trucks? People are so impatient to get their products, they demand their packages go by air and truck instead of trains. Semi-trucks and freightliners are some of the least fuel-efficient vehicles around. Trains are still, to the best of my knowledge, one of the more fuel-efficient methods of transporting goods (not to mention looking pretty cool rolling along a hillside or across a wooden trestle).

Like I said before: I absolutely support all those good ideas rolling out of the 'new energy technology' box. I'm also really tired of people bashing others that might actually need to use a truck now and then, need to burn some gasoline to get a much-needed product from point A to point B. I just thought the other side needed a voice...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Challenges, Modeling, and Small Slices of Happiness

People assume I enjoy challenges. I don't know where they get that idea, but I don't have that impression about me. Most often, I find more joy in the fact that someone is willing to take a chance and allow me to give it a shot, whatever it may be... an opportunity to step up to the plate. Perhaps that is why I've always loved science: understanding it was never difficult, but applying science and actually performing delicate experiments... there is always a chance that things will go wrong.

I challenge myself to do things, mostly physically because there is a greater chance of failure. Maybe that's why I dance... coordination and grace have never been my fortes.

As for dancing, well, it has been a long three weeks off! I'm very much ready for students to come back so I can get back to shaking my booty, er, um, my, uh... my... you don't really shake anything in a waltz, come to think of it. Oh well, I'm ready!

I'm cutting myself off from watching "America's Next Top Model." That show, in addition to being as superficial and mind-numbing as possible, is slowly whittling away at my self-esteem. I could go into a long and valid argument about how TV made me smarter, because it really did (I somehow managed to choose "smart" shows while growing up)... but sometimes I don't make those brilliant choices and end up watching bad TV when I get really bored. So anyway, these models are crazy! They are so into fashion and being fake, it is painful to watch. But I do it anyway. Over the course of a few hours listening to judges tell girls who range from size 0 to size 2 that they're too fat, I take one look at my size 6 butt in the mirror and gasp! ...on my way to the 'fridge to get another slice of cold pizza. :) I have gained some weight since I moved back home, but that extra weight bumped me from the slightly underweight line to totally normal and healthy weight. Am I feeling a bit depressed because I'm "normal" now, because I am watching "bad" TV, or because there are so many other pressures acting upon me to be even thinner?

On the flip side, I'm way into "Mythbusters" on the American Chopper Channel (formerly Discovery). Nothing like a show that takes science from "zzzzzzzz" to "WHOA!" I just had a huge flashback to "Blossom" and Joey Lawrence there...

And my sister is cleaning her closet again, which means I get to go "shopping." Nothing like stylish, quality, free clothes that have been worn two or three times.

I took last night to watch three of my favorite old JAG episodes, to reflect, to be inspired, to think, to relax. You know what? I'm still stuck on Harm after all these years...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Beautiful Girls!

Pink lips, flowing brown hair, dark eyes... a couple of beautiful girls indeed! These are two of my most favorite pictures of my sister and me when we were very young. My sister (in pink) had curly hair, amazingly curly and bouncy and unmanageably wild. Now, her hair is short and artificially straightened and colored. My little sister just turned twenty, a very much matured woman from the innocent and sweet girl in the picture. But when I get her alone, just the two of us being sisters, being goofy and silly, that little girl still exists. The face is not as round, and the baby fat left long ago... the eyes are the same. She is my partner in crime, my confidant, the only person I can really be ALL of me with, and a whole ton more. Not to mention being adorable then and now...

As for a little secret: the pink doll you see in the background... that doll was more loved than any doll ever should be. My sister wore that doll out!

The second picture is of yours truly. I don't know how old I was, maybe two or three. I was always Daddy's girl. Perhaps I put them on and Mom or Dad tied them; somehow I ended up with Dad's work boots on my feet. The pose you see is one of my 'classic' "uppy!" poses. I bet the boots, with their steel toes, were too heavy for me to move (seeing that they're well above my knees). My hair keeps getting darker as the years go, and I quite like that. I certainly don't miss that house with the hideous wallpaper, though--icky.

We used to be so cute! :)

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Family Christmas

This Christmas reminded me how fortunate and blessed I am to be a part of such a special family, one bonded not only by blood, but also by a lot of love. Grandpa made a speech this year, a first that I know of, and he truly made an impression on everyone. He did his best to get the right words (with Alzheimer's affecting his mind and Parkinson's affecting his physical abilities, it was a feat to get the words out), and I doubt anyone could have left the family as touched. He spoke about family, about losing his father as an infant and never knowing what it meant to have a father or see life through his father's eyes. Grandpa's only living relatives are his wife, children, grand- and great-grandchildren who were all there this year. For the life of me, I can't remember all of his words, but I do know that his message was that of love, of family, and about how special our family is because of our bond. We don't have that "once in a lifetime" love from the movies, but we definitely have that everyday, all-around-you, wholly unavoidable love. We didn't exchange presents this year, but I think everyone walked out of our Christmas gathering a richer person. Grandma and Grandpa instilled in their children a strong sense of "family," which each of their children passed down to my cousins and me. Of all the mental snapshots in my head, the one of silence after Grandpa had spoken, looking at everyone take in his message, a few tears, and a room full of selfless love, has a special glow to it.

Of course, we had a traditional gathering in many other ways: there was way too much good food, mostly cookies and sweets, and perhaps a few bottles of wine. Grandma tried to rope me into a little song and dance routine like my cousins and I always did growing up, but I had conveniently left my piano music at home (unintentional, honest). We played games in the garage, talked and ate, and ate and talked. Grandma fingered all of the food, Grandpa dozed in his recliner, there wasn't enough seating, the house got too hot, and we took a TON of pictures.

I think my all-time least-favorite family tradition is the photo shoots. Each person would have to stand with their spouse or parents, then perhaps a different pose with the same people, and then the siblings-only line-up, then the generational pictures. The worst was with my cousins. Our parents would make us line up by height, then by weight, then by shoe size, hair color, eye color, by age, and by gender. We'd have to move and pose for each camera, "look at Grandpa, now look at Aunt so-and-so, now at the couch, and now at your uncle snoring in the chair." We'd have to move in front of a new background and do it all again. And the worst part? We'd always have to execute this elaborate tradition before opening presents. Yes, in case you were wondering, the pictures are really of my cousins and me, probably four out of ten years. Sadly, we didn't take one of these this year...

To health, to happiness, and (most importantly) to family, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I wish you all the best.