Friday, February 23, 2007

Sick Day

Lolly is home sick watching the Scorpion episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. I forgot John Rhys-Davies was playing Leonardo Da Vinci in those episodes. When I pointed out that the actor playing Da Vinci also plays Gimli in The Lord of the Rings movies, she was delighted. What a geek! A chip off the old blockheads!

We're eating ramen noodles for lunch. When you're sick, the stuff can taste like a gourmet feast.

When I first heard about the recent peanut butter recall of a brand-name product, I was smug. "Ha! See, brand names don't mean something is better or safer!" I worked in a grocery store at one time and knew that the brand-name manufacturers also packaged under other labels. I knew this and I still smirked.

Yesterday I made a batch of peanut butter cookies and reminded myself of this smug attitude. I didn't bake them all so I had the dough stashed in my fridge. Today when I got out the dough to finish baking, I heard more news about the recall. Great Value brand was also recalled. Darn it, that's the brand they sell at Wal-Mart! I looked on my jar and, sure enough, it was the very same. It had the product code indicated in the recall.

I texted Sid to let me know how she was doing. When I took out the supposedly unopened jar of peanut butter from the cupboard, I noticed it had been opened. She probably opened it herself in the last day or two (ignoring the TWO already opened ones in the cupboard). I know this because I recognize her finger swipe in the otherwise untouched surface inside. Leave it to her, she who rejects peanut butter as a sandwich filling, to eat a raw finger full from a jar of the recalled stuff. I'm just glad that her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis isn't being treated like her dad's RA, with immuno-suppressants. She's ok though. Apparently, there wasn't anything actually wrong with it though. Lucky her.

Eww...the dead borg are disgusting. Sorry. I just forgot this episode was kind of gross. Yay! The Voyager crew are safely escaping despite the premonitions of a frighteningly psychic crew member (this is her swan song episode anyway).

Lots to do. Got to run. Janeway rules!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bamboo Blabbing

The house I grew up in had quite a large patch of bamboo. It surrounded the large covered deck. It was probably planted as a privacy screen at some point before my parents bought the house. But it grew so fast that we could practically watch it grow. It became a burden because it had to be cut often. I remember my parents trying unsuccessfully to destroy it.

Of course, today, that bamboo would be embraced. Its many uses outweigh it as a burden. I'm considering planting a small amount in my yard. People eat bamboo shoots, make it into paper, and use it in construction. I knew it was used as a new sustainable flooring product but only recently found out it's being made into sheets similar to plywood. It's called plyboo.

I know one of its uses is as firewood. I wonder how long it has to dry before being burned. How much would a family have to grew to use as firewood to heat a home during the winter? Can it be made into pellets for pellet stoves? So many questions.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


When I was a kid I hated spelling. Despite this, I managed to win an award for it. In first grade, the teacher offered an enticement to do well in the subject. Every year she awarded a trophy to the person with the best marks in spelling during the year. The winner, she told us, would have to have perfect marks in spelling all year. Then she showed us the trophy. It sparkled in the morning sun. I was taken in by the glint and glamor and studied my words every single week.

Since I am neither a naturally good speller nor particularly dedicated to scheduling myself, I often wonder who that six year-old was. I had learned that studying the words a few times during the week was all it took. The words didn’t really stay in my brain longer than the test though. After my first grade year, I slacked off a bit, allowing myself to miss words now and again.

Then came the fourth grade. Our teacher, instead of selecting her best spellers for the all-school bee, as had been tradition, had a mock spelling bee right there in class. I stood there as round after round of students were asked to sit down. I seemed to get only simple words. Instead of being astonished by my good luck as I were asked to spell words that were easy (like, literally, easy), I was terrified. I had to put in my best effort. I mean, the teacher wasn’t going to believe I couldn’t spell flower. But the list of standing students dwindled down to two and I was one of them.

I could picture myself on stage in front of the school making a mockery of the whole spelling competition. “Who does this girl think she is, spelling with the best and the brightest?” I could hear the judges saying when they heard my pathetic attempts at successful (or was it sucessful or succesful?) I had to throw it. There was no other way out.

“Your word is fudge.”

(But I KNOW that one)



“Fudge, f…u… (should I or shouldn’t I)….d-g….e, fuge.”

“I’m so sorry.” She was, I could tell.

The last kid watched me bungle it. It was obvious he knew that I had messed it up on purpose. He was, of course, incredulous that anyone could do that. So he spelled fudge correctly, seeming to exude the sweet and comforting concept behind the word with every letter. Now THAT was a spelling champion. I don’t know who was more happy about his victory, him or me. From that day on, I vowed that public spelling was behind me.

My youngest daughter is in the gifted program at her school. As such she has the task of learning difficult spelling words. She brought her spelling home last week as homework.

“What’s prostrate mean?”

“Oh that, I use that word every day. You should know that.”

“Mom, I need to do this for school.” Bam, completely ignored, shut-out.

My husband, the man I married for his vocabulary ability alone, gave a hand. “You don’t mean prostate, do you.”

“No!!” She knew it was a slight.

She knew what prostate meant?

He gave her a working sentence to illustrate the meaning of prostrate and she made up her own sentence for her homework.

A few days later, I was at the school popping popcorn for the PTA and ran into one of the teachers. She had a little gem about my daughter. I braced myself to hear it. The kids were giving each other the spelling test, she told me. The girl with the word list had mispronounced the word prostrate, substituting the word prostate. The kids didn't react to this, they just wrote out the word. Lolly was the only one overtaken by a fit of the giggles.

“Nobody understands my humor.”

“I do.”


“I like your humor.”

“The kids at school all think its dumb.”

My husband says they just don’t get it yet. It’s like telling the tallest girl in the class that being tall is just temporary. Though she knows that the other kids will catch-up, the tallest girl still thinks that her height is the worst thing in the world. She imagines herself growing at break-neck speed, her only option in adult life being the circus.

Lolly is like the tall girl but without the growth spurt. She’s the kid who, when adults make a comment that's some kind of disguised insult--sarcasm, understands what they meant and knows to feel insulted. While she may seem a bit socially awkward, somewhere in her head, she really knows what's going on. We tell her that the kids in her class will "get" her humor eventually. But, to Lolly, it’s the circus for her.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Me, Waving Outloud

Hi Mom and Dad (who, I'm sure, is or will be reading this outloud). Yes, I have a blog on the web. It's been here for about two years now.

What's that? You would have liked to know that you could read my stuff at some time before now? Yeah, I know but I wouldn't have wanted to disappoint you by not posting for months at a time. For, example, count the number of posts in 2006. It wasn't pretty.

I decided that, before releasing knowledge of a web presence to you, my only fans, I would want to make certain I would post regularly. Since you know my phone number, I knew you'd bother me about it and then I'd feel guilty about not posting. But don't you feel good now? I mean, now you've got all of this to read through and it will keep you modestly entertained for a while.

Also, I need to apologize. Dad, I know you didn't eat cardboard as a kid. You may be confused by this apology now but you won't be if you read my blog. And, Mom, I know you wouldn't be shocked by my fictional phone call from the Almighty. I remember you talking to God a lot when I was a kid. Usually the conversation started with "God, please...." and ended with " straighten out that rotten son/daughter of mine, but certainly not the oldest twin. She's THE BEST."

The kids are good (despite mild illness), the dog is shedding and, no, I don't know what I'm fixing for dinner but we'll probably throw something together that's not phlegm-inducing.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


And, lo, the four horsement were sighted, the seventh seal was broken and David Lee Roth rejoined Van Halen.

Friday, February 2, 2007

What Would Dumbledore Do?

We'll miss Harry Potter when the series ends.

Proprietary Technology: The New Barbie Doll

I had several Barbie dolls as a child. I fondly remember receiving Malibu Barbie, a "remote control" Barbie car, and a Barbie pool as gifts. There was the shaving Ken doll too – a heat activated color changing plastic coating allowed his beard to appear or disappear depending on the temperature of the water used on his foam razor. However, no matter how many clothes she had, my Barbie's wardrobe seemed too limited. The cost of a nice Barbie outfit was nearly as much as a new doll. And every doll came with a new outfit. Essentially, it seemed, the doll was free.

You could try to sort of make other doll clothes fit your Barbie but they never worked. It was also insane to try an sew Barbie clothes yourself. The fabric would fray itself into oblivion. So you were forced into paying ridiculous prices for outfits to make playing with your Barbie fun.

This was my first lesson in proprietary technology—the concept that technology and components aren’t necessarily compatible across the board, forcing consumers to spend more money for brand new, specially designed components. While tiny Barbie outfits and molded plastic dolls could hardly be considered technology, the consumer appeal of accessorizing the latest gadget or gizmo is equivalent to expanding the wardrobe of a Barbie.

My 15 year-old daughter received a new cell phone for Christmas. We have various reasons for allowing her to carry a phone. She began with a prepaid phone — no great loss if it went missing. Then we stepped her up to an extension of our own phone plan. Since she had been so responsible with that phone and since her 6 month old MP3 player was malfunctioning, we decided to get her a new phone. We were renewing our contract anyway and got it for a very nice price. The new phone functions as a phone and MP3 player. It’s sleek and beautiful.

Lucky me, I got her old phone. It was actually better than mine. Until the kids are grown up and moved away, I’m going to be getting their technology hand-me-downs.

This new phone came with little earbuds that she didn’t like. We figured she’d use the really nice headphones she bought with her own money a few weeks beforehand. However, the funny little flat plug on the earbuds looked strangely alien to us. We soon discovered that the headphone jack will only fit headphones that are Bluetooth compatible. It was like we had mistakenly bought her a transvestite Ken to go with an existing Barbie wardrobe. There's no way Ken would fit into Barbie's size 2s.

The fantastic phone now only really acts as a secondary MP3 player to her. Instead, she uses her computer to play music, tethered to it with her beloved headphones. At least the phone is sleek and beautiful. It is so beautiful that she has to be extra cautious and keep it safely stashed just in case someone’s admiration of her phone extends into criminal aspirations.

Nobody said it was easy to have the latest thing. It’s just that nobody ever said it was this hard.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Random Thoughts

I'm still plotting my story between working on bits of other projects. However, last night as I was fitfully trying to drift off to sleep I had a brilliant idea pop into my head. I do keep paper and pen next to my bed in case I wake up with inspiration or a really interesting dream I don't want to forget. However, my idea was so amazingly brilliant that there was simply no way it could slip from my mind's grasp.

Yeah, right.

It's all a bit of a foggy blur. The only part of my stroke of genius I can now remember is how great I thought it was. I'm trying not to be too upset though. It may have been one of those ideas that only seemed good because I was drowsy and my mind hadn't reflected on how it would sound outside of my head.

It's Thursday and that means it's almost Friday which means Saturday will come soon. I've slated myself a deadline of Saturday for all major plot points to be completed (at least as much as they will be before I decide I need to tidy up the story a bit and scrap half of it).

I dreamed about a wonderful movie last week. Unlike last night's inspiration, I actually have notes about the movie. It starred Catherine Zeta Jones and Julianne Moore. It was brilliant casting, if I don't mind bragging. I never really considered writing movie scripts before. No! I've got to finish something I've started -- or at least the plotting. I need to finish the book I'm working on first.


Our dog, who never gets on furniture except Cassidy's bed when she's been invited, was found asleep on the couch this morning. I have no idea what inspired her migration from the floor.


It's the first of February. J.K. Rowling announced the release date of the final book in the Harry Potter series as July 21. That will be the 10th anniversary of the first book's publication. It's like the end of an era. I kind of wish it were pushed off a bit further into the year. I like the idea of kids hanging onto their imaginings of Harry's fate just a bit longer. She's a great writer, don't get me wrong, and her story has made kids around the world into readers. I guess I just like the idea of Harry's world being an imaginary place that kids visit. I hate the idea of seeing the loose ends tied up. Half of the fun in the Potter books was the debate and discussion over what was really going on and what would happen next.

Maybe I should have more faith in her. If anyone knows what kids' imaginations need, it's the author of the most compelling book series ever.