24 December 2007

Pretty much it

xkcd comic
[Just click on the image to see it larger or visit it directly on xkcd.]

I've actually been trying to get to bed earlier though. :)

Have a merry merry everybody, and don't forget NORAD's tracking Santa, so you can follow Santa's progress around the world. They've integrated it with Google Maps this year. Or you can call NORAD toll free at 1 (877) Hi NORAD or 1 (877) 446-6723 for an update on Santa's location.

One year ago on TTaT: A Charlie Brown Christmas
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23 December 2007

Rebel icicle

bent iciclebent icicle endWhen I noticed that my bent icicle was tapering up instead of down yesterday, I figured I'd better go ahead and shoot it even though the light wasn't ideal. My instincts proved right as it had fallen off before I got up this morning. There's no sun today anyway, just rain.

I chalk up it's unusual formation to a good bit of wind.

Lit trees
One year ago on TTaT: It's that time of year again..., I'm dreaming of a...
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22 December 2007

Bowties: not so tough

Turns out tying a bowtie is very much like tying your shoes, except with wider fabric that has oddly shaped ends.

Snoopy's bowtie
Snoopy's bowtie for his tuxedo was missing, so I bought some ribbon. Now tying a bowtie that small and cutting it to the precise length needed is a bit challenging. The tie is a little hard to see in the photo as I opted for white tie formal and its ends don't flare out since the ribbon was all one width, but I think it turned out pretty well. I just have to keep myself from fiddling with it anymore in the pursuit of perfection.

(On another note, it figures I'd start to get my blog mojo back just as everyone's unplugging for the holidays. And on another note: Joyeux Noel, Elisabeth, lover of Peanuts!)

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A new favorite

In the realm of ever more inclusive strings of holiday greetings, I just encountered my favorite amidst the list at Mind Hacks.

A joyous non-theist winter holiday to you too!

One year ago on TTaT: I hate my printer
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21 December 2007

This is what happens...

...when you rip out a tag with your bare hands instead of using scissors or a seam ripper:tagless shirt
Seeing as it's not a shirt I wear out anyway, it was quite satisfying to tear out that neck scratcher.

Laundry care tag, consider yourself on notice.

One year ago on TTaT: I thought I only had 2 left, Solstice time
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20 December 2007

Having a brother

(Another element of the Off-Season Vacation.)

"What's that stand for?" Mom asked. She was sitting in the living room of the condo while my brother and I leaned against the counter in the kitchen opposite her.

My brother's eyes were searching the ceiling for the proper sequence of words, so I answered, "Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game."

Not to be outdone, my brother added, "Well, anyone who's been playing them since the beginning just calls them MUDs for Multi-User Dungeon."

"Oh," Mom said, quickly losing interest.

"Besides, MUD is more fun to say," he continued.

"Oh, I don't know," I said, "Mmm morp-ga is kinda fun to say."

"Yeah, I guess so," he shrugged, walking back to his laptop to continue playing his sci-fi space MMORPG.

"What's that one called again?"

Without looking back, he said, "Eve."

"Hmm, I haven't heard of that one." Not surprising with my minimal acquaintance with MMORPGs. "Hey, did you know they're making one based on Firefly?"

He looked over his shoulder at me and said, "Eve already has everything you could want in a space-based MUD, there's no need for another."


"They'll probably base it on Eve's code," he added snidely.

"I was just making conversation."


My brother delights in keeping the intellectual high ground whether it's deserved or not when it comes to me. His modus operandi is to grin and contradict whatever I've just said to get on my nerves. I had become used to letting him ramble as an expert on any topic, but this contradiction business was a new torture.

Only 2 days into our week of vacation together, this same contradictory exchange occurred for the twelfth time as we were all heading to the elevator to go to dinner.

I'd had enough and said, "You're really annoying."

He laughed and said, "You're my sister. I'm supposed to be."

"It makes me not want to see you."

Everyone else was talking as well so it was unnoticed by them, but it actually shut him up as we stepped into the elevator.


As much as my brother drives me crazy, when I interrupted him and his wife cozily reading books on their balcony, he readily got up to help me with the flat screen TV. I could get the TV stereo on, but the picture wouldn't change channels. I'd found the input but not how to change the setting up or down from where it was. Once he'd gotten it and had shown me what he'd done, I imitated his 4 year old daughter and sing-songed, "Thank you, Daddy!"

He laughed pretty hard at that. I like making my family laugh.

The next day, he offered to open my ginger ale bottle when he saw I was having trouble with it.* What can I say? He's my brother.

*I don't know what Schweppes does, but their caps are damn hard to twist off. Give me some Canada Dry!

One year ago on TTaT: Looking for cheer?
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14 December 2007

Scrooge was more generous on page 1

Yes, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is still on strike. For info on the whos and whys of it, visit United Hollywood's faq page.

And now for a roundup of strike information and entertainment:
Regarding the AMPTP releasing a press release just 20 minutes after storming out of negotiations (again) and demanding the WGA drop six issues or else the companies "petulantly won't even talk," Elisberg writes...

"This is important. The press release appeared after 20 minutes. We're dealing with nine corporations here on the board. To get approvals from nine multinational conglomerates, nine PR departments, nine CEOs - until it's right - this takes more than 20 minutes. It takes many days. Which means the corporations knew before sitting down to negotiate that they had no intention to negotiate. That they knew they were going to blame everything on the "six issues" and then storm out in a hissy fit.

...when one side demands you remove six items before they'll talk...you simply can't do it. If you do, the negotiation is over. You lose. Go to jail, do not collect the $250. The Guild tried that once, removing the 4-cents DVD increase because the AMPTP demanded it. And the AMPTP corporations didn't change one thing. What they did do is walk out of the room. (Sound familiar?) So, that didn't work out too well. And removing six items now because the AMPTP "demands it" would work out worse."
WGA Files Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against AMPTP.

See for yourself the documents filed by the WGA with the National Labor Relations Board.

If the corporate conglomerates are really struggling, I have a notion of where they could save a lot of money. Take a look at the yearly salaries and compensation of some of the major studio and network heads, represented by the AMPTP (not including stock options).

Recipe for a "Striking Writer Martini"

Because "every strike needs a hip hop anthem"

My favorite Speechless videos thus far:
Episode 1: Holly Hunter
Episode 15 aka "Just What's On The Page": myriad actors
Episode 18: Alan Cumming
Episode 19: Tim Robbins

Another Pencils2MediaMoguls perk: win a call from Joss Whedon: "I'm warning you, I'm gonna call late, and probably drunk, and maybe cry. It's gonna be so cool."

On an unrelated note, damn if I didn't lose this whole thing just as I hit publish. At least all the links went faster the second time round.

One year ago on TTaT: 45
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09 December 2007

Words + Rice

I saw a news bit about FreeRice on TV, but since they highlighted it as a vocabulary builder for elementary school kids, I didn't realize how much I'd dig it.

It's not just for kids.

For every word you correctly define from the multiple choice list, the site will donate 20 grains of rice through the United Nations to end world hunger. It adjusts the difficulty level of the words based on what you get right and wrong, so anyone can play. My vocabulary level hovers in the low 40s with a best of 43 thus far [UPDATE: Make that 44], and I'm having to bust out my SAT training from the recesses of my brain. There are 50 vocabulary levels in total, but apparently few people get past 48.

It's set up like The Hunger Site in that it's free for you to participate while the rice is paid for by advertisers whose names appear below the vocabulary question. Unlike The Hunger Site, the advertising on FreeRice is unobtrusive and you can play as much as you want. I've earned a donation of almost 3000 grains of rice so far today.

Pretty damn cool. And I'm picking up some new words. Even better.

(For the skeptical, you can check the program out on Snopes.)

Two years ago on TTaT: The internal war
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08 December 2007

You've seen them

Oh, yes you have. Small groups of forty something friends, parents quite likely, shopping together for the holidays. I'm thinking this should be outlawed.

After carefully selecting two stuffed animals for my niece, one very huggable silly rhino and one nicely sized for carrying everywhere moose, I tried to stand in line to buy them. It wasn't clear if there was a line because two women were standing at the counter asking tons of questions. There were two store clerks and the women demanded the full attention of both.

They were buying stuff, but the questions and jibber jabber were incessant. The woman on the left wanted bigger blocks and sent a clerk off to look for them but decided she didn't want them before the clerk returned. The shopping women compared notes on what games were too old or young for their respective children and how many gifts to buy them.

There was a third friend with them but she was keeping mostly out of the fray. In an effort to be helpful, she announced to her oblivious friends and the not oblivious cashier, "That gentleman's trying to check out."

She meant me. I was a little surprised because my hair was down (though short, it's not a masculine cut), but then I considered what I was wearing and noticed what they were wearing. Me: over-sized black men's corduroy jacket, maroon hoodie, t-shirt, cargo pants. Them: a puffy fuchsia winter coat nipped in at the waist is all that really registered beyond stereotypical femininity- pastels, earrings, makeup. Well, at least I'm a gentleman, I thought to myself.

Pointing out my presence (gender confusion aside) didn't stop her friends from monopolizing all the store help though. Had I not been overheating, my patience would've sustained better.

The first woman finally finished her transaction and since the second was still getting second opinions, the clerk asked, "Are you all set?"

I quickly said, "Yes," while putting the animals in her hands.

The first woman started pulling purchases out of her bag, commenting, "Oh, I need this wrapped."

The clerk handed me my credit card slip to sign when the first shopper interrupted, "Do you gift wrap?"

I just needed ten more seconds of the clerk's time, and she couldn't fucking wait. A little consideration, please! The clerk deftly passed off wrapping duties to her just-returned associate so she could give me my receipt.

Good grief. Allow for a little retail triage, ladies, so the rest of us can get out of the frakking store!

One year ago on TTaT: I must admit, Beauty Parlor Nostalgia (Part 3)
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07 December 2007

Finally, another book

The Good Body by Eve Ensler (4.5/5)

A volume so slim and good, there's no excuse not to read it. If you liked The Vagina Monologues, you'll like this similarly structured book. If you found The Vagina Monologues off-putting or a little too... strong?, I bet you'll still like The Good Body.

Body image concerns are familiar to most everyone, even Eve Ensler. She writes:
It’s as if they’ve been given their own little country called their body, which they get to tyrannize, clean up, or control while they lose all sight of the world.

What I can’t believe is that someone like me, a radical feminist for nearly thirty years, could spend this much time thinking about my stomach. It has become my tormentor, my distractor; it’s my most serious committed relationship. It has protruded through my clothes, my confidence, and my ability to work. I’ve tried to sedate it, educate it, embrace it, and most of all, erase it.
The past few months, I've been a little obsessed with my own stomach. I was fine with it for a long time, even considered it sexy for a spell, and then some switch flipped; my slightly rounded stomach seemed wrong and it wouldn't be right until it was flat. Honestly, I haven't made much progress on that front with my sporadic workout habits and aversion to crunches. Still, every Sunday I measure my thighs and the chubbiest part of my stomach, a record of little change to feed the obsession.

I think it's time to cut back on the measuring and commit to exercising to increase my energy and strength, improve my sleep, and repel depression.

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03 December 2007

Here's what's in it for you

So you know the Writers Guild of America is still on strike, right?

You can show your support for the writers by sending pencils to the media moguls. Read more about it here.

As for what's in it for you, several show runners (of Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, Smallville, Army Wives) have been offering up incentives (phone calls from TV stars and the like) for supporting the writers of their shows. Most are raffle style, each box of 12 pencils you buy (just $1 each) giving you a chance to win. (You need to fill out the "What TV show are you supporting?" box to be eligible.)

For further instructions, check out the list of prizes and stay tuned to United Hollywood for added offerings.

Two years ago at TTaT: Sitting on my desk for months
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02 December 2007

27 November 2007

Once upon a time in San Francisco

Amera and I were working on an episode of a fashion/art show for public access when we heard this sort of crunch outside. Amera hopped up to look and from her description, I soon joined her at the door.

A sedan had been hit from behind by a cable car. Even if there was some cable car legal loop hole, it really couldn't have been the sedan driver's fault because there was a cable car in front of him too.

Cable. Car. Sandwich.

No one was hurt and the tourists seemed to be having a great time, in spite or oddly because of it, taking pictures and laughing.

In the end, even the cable car had to be towed away by a big truck.

One year ago at TTaT: A bit of satisfaction
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26 November 2007

If you want Buffy...

...it's Amazon's Gold Box Deal of the Day today. The whole series on DVD in a Collector's set for $94.99. At over half off it's usual price, that's a great deal for all 7 seasons.

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Shocking I know, a post before 1 PM

I know, just a meme, but hey, I'll take it. Lifted from Dave2- thanks, Dave, this was fun.

The iTunes Meme!

How many total songs?

1605 songs which iTunes says is 4.2 days worth.

Sort by song title - first and last...
Aber Mi Dojde by Libana and 1959 by The Sisters of Mercy.

Sort by time - shortest and longest...
Close "Slow Moody Blues" by Reg Tilsley at 15 seconds (from Harvey Birdman) and Rhapsody in Blue conducted by Leonard Bernstein with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra at 16 minutes 31 seconds.

Sort by Album - first and last...
Abbey Road by The Beatles and 944 Columbus by Mario Ba├║za & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra.

Sort by Artist - first and last...
ABBA is first, and 10,000 Maniacs is last.

Top five played songs...
Love's Divine by Seal, Not Enough Time by INXS, Shining Star performed by Ruben Studdard (how did that get so high?), Waiting For You by Seal, and Blackbird by The Beatles.

Find the following words. How many songs show up?
Sex: 5, Death: 3, Love: 94, You: 172, Home: 11, Boy: 25, Girl: 37.

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle...
Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps (Quizas Quizas Quizas) by Doris Day (from the Strictly Ballroom soundtrack), Trains to Brazil by Guillemots, Why do I lie? by Luscious Jackson, No Expectations (live in studio) by Beck and Beth Orton, and I Saw An Angel Die by Bobbie Gentry.

One year ago at TTaT: Found
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24 November 2007


I actually made a successful black Friday gift purchase. Woo! There wasn't much of interest to me in the flyers for either myself or people I'm shopping for, so I didn't go out at an ungodly* hour, but I did make a late afternoon stop at Target.

That the cheap 12 pack VHS tapes were already sold out didn't surprise me, but I was happy to see a broad assortment of Polly Pocket Polly Wheels still available. Two for $3 instead of 1 for $2.94- sweet. A nice little jump start on stocking stuffers for my niece.

On a semi-related note, how bad am I that I kind of want a Wii for xmas (considering I just got a PS2 last year)? The sports games it comes with look like a lot of fun. Had DDR come out with a version for Wii before last xmas, I would've asked for one then. Not so bad since I've been considering putting Rock Band on my list- it costs 60% of what a Wii does for just one game. Hmm.

I hate that my list must be finalized before I give it to my parents... there's no room for revision once they get their hands on it which makes me feel like a materially obsessed freak through much of November. And that makes me want nothing.

*I would just praise science but "unscientific hour" just didn't have the same ring to it.

Two years ago at TTaT: Breakfast of Champions!, Thanksgiving haiku
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22 November 2007


A most happy thanksgiving to all my blog peeps!

Now, time for pie.

One year ago at TTaT: 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Haikuathon
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18 November 2007

Go go Mux!

Cruxy's Mux Video Converter is pretty damn cool. Simply input the URL of a video and it'll send you an email with a link to the video converted to whatever format you chose. E.g., enter a YouTube page and convert the video to Quicktime so you can download it and watch it without streaming.

One year ago at TTaT: People are strange, myself included
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09 November 2007

In case you didn't know, I support the WGA

Chris Kelly's article on The Huffington post explains residuals as clearly as I've ever seen. Here's an excerpt:
A residual isn't a handout or an allowance or Paris Hilton's trust fund. It's not a lottery payout, or alimony, or an annuity from a slip and fall accident at a casino.

A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script.

It's not a perk.

It's okay if you didn't know that. It's in the best interests of a lot of fairly large corporations that you don't. And it makes it easier to imagine that writers are asking for something workers don't deserve.

You can get more up-to-date information about the strike at United Hollywood, see actors and writers talk about the strike on this YouTube page, and show your support for the strikers by signing this online petition.

fans4writers.com also has information about the strike and ways you can show your support for the writers. If I lived in LA or NYC, I'd make a point of spending some time walking the picket line.

Two years ago at TTaT: Mind soothing
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08 November 2007

What idiot thought this was a good idea?

Have you seen the cough syrup ad campaign that shows people in a blindfolded taste test unable to distinguish between the cough syrup and various sorts of swill?

Yeah, I get the tastes-bad-but-works idea, but all you're doing is making me think the cough syrup is even worse than I might've imagined. I'm not going to drink something compared to spring break hot tub water or liquid from a public restroom's floor.

After seeing your ads, I always think of how I'd rather have a sweet orange-flavored cough syrup even if it doesn't work as well. That's after I suppress my gag reflex.

Advertising rule #1: Don't show that your product in indistinguishable from swill.

Isn't that rule #1? Well, it ought to be.

One year ago at TTaT: Third time's a charm
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05 November 2007

Is this you?

NY Girl of my Dreams

Not my dreams, rather Patrick Moberg's. If I were this woman, I'd probably have mixed feelings about his search. On the one hand, I'd feel weird receiving interest based only on appearances, but on the the other, I've had that moment of seeing someone at a distance and being totally drawn to him.

So... since I was entertained by his drawings and notes, he gets a plug.

Good luck, Patrick!

One year ago at TTaT: the train bridge vlog
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02 November 2007

01 November 2007

28 October 2007

The Off-Season Vacation (part 3)

Photograph formatting looks best on Firefox.

(Part 1, Part 2)

Things I learned while on vacation:

custom t-shirtsIn my experience, all US Eastern seaboard beach towns with a boardwalk are the same: miniature golf, tacky tourist shops, arcades, rentable bikes. They are the land of 10,000 t-shirts, most of which are designed to be opinionated if not offensive to someone while the rest advertise the beach town. The main difference is how warm the ocean water is (or isn't).t-shirt store"Nattering on" is a totally accurate way of describing my 4 year old niece's speech. It's not a word I'm sure I knew before I heard my bro and SiL use it, certainly not one I'd think to use in conversation much, but it suits Little Red. She talks pretty much constantly whether anyone's paying attention or not. Since it's non-stop, you sort of do have to ignore it eventually to hear anyone else. The amusing thing is that my brother talks pretty much non-stop himself, going on at length about any and every topic with authority (assumed or actual). Can't say I'm sure Little Red's chattering is just a phase considering. We'll see. Might be some karma coming round there.

Am I a hypocrite if I won't eat at Hooters because I find it offensive, but I did eat at the Brass Balls Saloon? None of the wait staff (male or female) was scantily or revealingly clad, so I'm going to say no.

I definitely exhibit a bit more OCD behavior when I'm traveling which is not surprising if you consider repetition a means to seeking out assurance of something in an unfamiliar environment. E.g., is everything I usually carry in my pockets there, or has something fallen out? Sometimes things do fall out, so it's not an unfounded concern, but I checked all my pockets so many times while walking down the stairs at the Tut exhibit that Mom asked, "Did you lose something?"

"Hmm? Oh... no. Don't mind me. I'm just making sure."

Google docs is pretty damn cool.

Tiki Charm

After hearing it enough times, Tiki Charm seems like a perfectly reasonable name for the ice monster from Hoth.

Being on this vacation reminded me of past dual-family beach vacations. I never quite fit in because my bro and cousins were all boys and all older. Now, I still don't fit in, being an adult but unattached, not into sunbathing, swimming, or junky beach stores.ocean gallery hermit crabs
I do like watching the surfers though. And the waves through the glass doors to the balcony.

SPFs 50 and 55 diligently applied proved effective at keeping me tan-free throughout a week at the beach.

Hangin' with wild ponies is kind of awesome. horses and bikesSome are unexpectedly friendly. horse budThat's my new buddy sticking his head in my window. Mom couldn't stop laughing as he leaned further in and I leaned further back to get a picture.

Some know how to model. white horseThis one would walk three steps, stop, and strike a pose, then do it all over again.

Royal Farm is a very cool gas station, food stop. Mini-mart doesn't do it justice at all. It has one, but it also boasts fresh, fast foods. Picked up a pasta salad, Naked blueberry/blackberry smoothie and some pretzels for a late lunch snack. Could've gotten all sorts of breakfast sandwiches (available all day), or burgers, chicken, salads, just about anything- all made to order. Damn cool.

Some places on the boardwalk stay open later or open on the weekend when it's off-season. Some close up shop at the end of September and stay closed until the following spring.

Dexter is odd and funny.

The first time you select your difficulty level in arcade DDR Supernova, it doesn't actually set it. Technically, I figured this out after vacation as I couldn't figure out why it was forcing me to play the beginner level. So unsatisfying to play when the steps are spaced out so much, but I did score high enough to put my name on the machine twice (which stunned me since my scores weren't impressive). Maybe they cleared the top scores at the end of the summer or it keeps discrete top scores lists for different difficulty levels. Still, that should go on my Dave2-inspired list of stuff to do before I die that I've already done: scored high enough to put my name on an arcade machine, DDR no less- check.

Two years ago at TTaT: Miscommunication, From my other life

24 October 2007

Short term memory

I'm intrigued by this memory game on the National Geographic site. I did pretty terrible with the animals and landscapes- 6 out of 9 at best: clearly my strategy wasn't working, but I rocked out 9 for 9 on the numbers (not surprising to me as I've always been good with dates) and the letters.

The cover article on memory was really interesting.

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The Off-Season Vacation (part 2)

(Part 1)

The next morning, Mom, Dad, and I checked out of the hotel and got back on the road. It was another early day compared to my usual sleep schedule and I was feeling it. I refused Mom's offers to sit up front so I could put my headphones on, close my eyes, and lean my head back. On our trips when I was a kid, I would've stretched my legs out sideways on the seat with a pillow against the door. I had my pillow with me, but there was too much stuff piled up in the seat behind my Dad to stretch out. It was all right though; I spent the next couple of hours in varying states of semi-consciousness.

We stopped for lunch at a Bob Evans, and considering the church crowd was pouring in, we didn't have to wait too long for a table. Their stuffed french toast was all right but nothing compared to Doughboys's version with honey, ricotta, and banana.

An hour later, we were cruising the main drag in Ocean City, Maryland looking for the realtor's office. Since I was still in the back seat and address numbers were few and small, I was straining to read them out the side window. After some fifteen minutes of calling out numbers, I glanced forward and immediately recognized that the cross streets corresponded to the addresses. (E.g., 67th Street is where the 6700s start.) I was a little ticked that no one had mentioned this, but Mom and Dad just hadn't known. Not enough city time in their pasts. I relaxed back and told them what cross street to look for.

Mom called my sister-in-law's cell to coordinate meeting and it turned out that she, my brother, and niece were only behind us by 20 or so blocks. Our timing couldn't have been much better. We picked up the keys and met them in the garage of the condo.

Like every other rental I've ever stayed in by the beach, the condo's decor was dominated by fish, shells, and beach scenes. My bathroom, e.g., had starfish-covered wallpaper, a scallop shell soap dish, a school of fish sculpture hanging on the wall, a framed print of a rough map of the peninsula we were on, and a painting of a lighthouse by the ocean. The kitchen even had a large ceramic crab on its island.

Aside from the beach mania decor though, the place was pretty awesome. 4 bed, 4 bath, all stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, washer/dryer, fireplace, an HD TV in the living room and smaller flat screen TVs in each bedroom, lots of large windows, and 2 balconies, 1 facing the ocean, the other the bay. All right on the beach.

Of course, since I'm single I ended up in the interior cave bedroom while the married couples took the master suites at either end of the condo. My room did have one window of glass brick, but it was facing the lobby so I left the blinds down. I could've chosen my niece's room across the hall in theory, but I couldn't take all the pink and I knew Little Red would love it. Besides, my bathroom only had a massive shower stall (5' by 5' covered in stone tiles- I want one!) and at four years old, Little Red hates showers.

As we carried everything in from our vehicles, Little Red bounded around in excitement. "The beach is ready," she said, reminding us of our purpose there. I don't think she'd ever been to the ocean before, and we could see it through the sliding glass doors in the living room which opened up to one of the balconies. After the rest of us had recovered a bit from our respective drives, Mom declared that it was time to walk on the beach.

After a nice sandy stroll and dinner, Little Red was still totally wound up, chattering incessantly. Just watching her run around the living room made me exhausted. The rest of the adults were pretty tired too, and Little Red finally consented to sleep once we started going to bed. Too bad my mattress felt akin to sleeping on a box spring.

The next morning when I emerged from my room, everyone was gone. There was a note on the floor in front of my door: "We all gone to beach. Love, Dad" with a key to the condo on it. In the living room, a propped up whiteboard listed my brother and sister-in-law's cell phone numbers. I looked out the sliding glass doors and saw them camped out directly in front.

Being freshly showered and dressed, I didn't feel like slathering myself with sunscreen and then getting covered in sand, so I decided to hang out until they returned for lunch. I watched them from the balcony for a while-- building castles, taking turns holding Little Red's hand at the edge of the surf, sitting in beach chairs, lying on the blanket-- until I couldn't stand the wind anymore.


One year ago at TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 9
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23 October 2007

Podcast Education

I know it's been out for a while, but I really like iTunes U. I started with the vlogs showing and discussing the Richard Serra exhibit at MoMA since I've always liked his work. Then I downloaded Penn's 60 Second Lectures. So far "Divided and Dangerous" is my favorite.

Turns out a museum near me lets you download its audio guides for free. I'm not a fan of walking around an exhibit with headphones on, but it's kind of cool to listen to the artist talk about his work after the fact. Also, I'm really familiar with the building, so the podcasts on its history were cool to listen to as well.

I'm not sure what I'm going to download next (for free!), but I know there's plenty to choose from.

Two years ago at TTaT: What are the odds?
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22 October 2007

For real

The grass was looking furry. I had just thought, "It's too bad Dad's mowing the lawn. I would've put some eyes on it," when I glanced over and saw:

lawn beast eyes
and then,

lawn beastI had just been thinking it, and there it was: a fuzzy lawn monster complete with teeth. What are the odds the sun would reflect off the house in the right arrangement at just the right moment? Looks like I've got some Halloween mojo working this year.

One year ago at TTaT: my 25 favorite tv characters ever
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20 October 2007

Misunderstood once

The phone connection was horrible: loud crackling static interspersed with complete dropouts. I was just asking to be sent information, so when I thought I heard him mispronounce my middle initial, I didn't bother correcting him. Oh, how I wish I had now.

When I called to actually switch my insurance plan, I made sure my name was listed correctly. Naturally, the card I received in the mail was incorrect. I called and got a new one. Then I received my first bill: same wrong initial. Called again and fixed it.

Now, months later I might add, I finally got the hefty stack of paperwork that says what my plan actually covers. Still the same damn wrong initial.

What irks me most is that I had a plan with the same company before. All they needed to do was call up my info, change the plan and nothing else.

Now because of that horrendous phone connection, I have to frakking call them AGAIN (though it will have to wait until Monday). It should be easier than this.

One year ago at TTaT: Downs and Ups; Hello, ABC.com?
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18 October 2007

Where am I?

My head is out of the writing game at the moment for which I apologize. I'm not sure what it is, but I don't blame my vacation for it because I wrote a fair amount during it either in my moleskine or in Google Docs.

I hadn't used Google Docs before, but I've got to say it's pretty cool. Definitely handy for word processing on the go.

In part my block is rooted in what I do and don't want to say here, the public and private selves and the line between the two. And then there's reevaluating the story in my head and thinking there's a completely different way to convey it that would probably be better.

Two years ago at TTaT: I have an underwear drawer!
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15 October 2007

Bring on the new hype!

I've posted about Hype Machine before- it's a cool internet music aggregator that I've been using for over a year to listen to all sorts of songs for free.

They're going to launch a new version of it but not until 10,000 people have the site open on their browsers. 3858 people have it open right now, so if you could go to The Hype Machine and leave the window open, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

One year ago at TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 8
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13 October 2007

Knuckle burn

I was just carrying a laundry basket width-wise in front of me as I walked down a just-wide-enough hallway. I stopped paying attention for a moment or the weather reached in and messed with my equilibrium because before I could fix my trajectory, my knuckles were dragging across textured wallpaper, pulling the skin back. Knuckle burn.

"Ow. Fuck, man."

Or maybe more accurately wallpaper burn. Either way, now I have a red spot on the skin between my first two knuckles. Damn. I'm going to run some more cool water over it.

On an unrelated note, I totally dig Pushing Daisies. No doubt this means the show is doomed, but I'm staying optimistic. Don't screw this up, ABC.

One year ago at TTaT: Free mammograms
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11 October 2007

The Off-Season Vacation (part 1)

When I was growing up, my immediate family always made the 9-11 hour trek to Virginia to visit the extended fam in one day. For the past several years though, my parents have split the drive into two days since they have less stamina, and so they can stop and mess around more on the way. It'd been over a decade since I'd last spent more than 2 hours in a car with them, and I was not looking forward to more than quadrupling that figure for the vacation Mom had planned even if it was broken up.

I asked Dad about borrowing his portable CD player as I thought of playlists to burn, but in a prudent stroke of goodwill, they gave me my first iPod for my birthday a week and a half before the trip. I'd often said I didn't have much use for one since I don't travel much anymore: I had no idea how happy it'd make me.

Typically Mom sits in back since I have long legs, but I mostly let my calves fall straight down from my knees so it isn't a big deal; their car is pretty roomy anyway. Sitting alone in back however, there's no significant expectation to engage in conversation and none to navigate. My iPod contained a condensed collection of my iTunes library, all favorites, that kept me in good spirits for the first leg.

The water bottle holder on the side of my backpack provided a decent place to put the iPod while it was playing since I don't have a case for it yet other than the box it came in. (Any styles or brand suggestions for a 2nd generation nano? Flip case or plastic snap-on cover? Open click wheel or not? Seriously, I'm overwhelmed with all the choices so any advice would be greatly appreciated.)

We stopped at a Home Depot Design Center for a break: that place was cool. Full room kitchen displays; all sorts of sinks, tubs, and commodes, appliances; rooms of lamps and fans you can try out; and all the handles or knobs you could ever need. That night we stayed at a Marriot in a suburb of Philadelphia. Great mattress-even better than the one I have at home, terrible room location. I was right across from a side entry to the building and the door kept clicking open and slamming shut late into the night and then early on all morning. Nonetheless, I was still stoked for the one part of the vacation that I'd had any real say in.

After lunch at Michael's Deli, a sizable restaurant in the back of a mini-mart/butcher's/fishmonger's, we drove into Philly to the Franklin Institute Science Museum to see the King Tut exhibit. It was a Saturday and the second-to-last day of the exhibit, so the place was a mob scene. If I'd been traveling alone and known they were going to keep the exhibit open 24 hours/day that last weekend, I would've gone in the middle of the night.

Still, the exhibit was very cool and well displayed. Nearly all cases could be viewed from all sides, generally with the accompanying text printed on each of the 3 front-facing sides of the cases. The craftsmanship of the pieces was exquisite. There was a gold covered box made to house a missing statue that I loved. You could see the footprint for the missing statue inside. Outside, it was totally covered in hieroglyphs. Amazing decoration on all sides and the top.

I also liked the cane with the body of Nubian curved over the top of the handle in submission- a disturbing image, but beautiful piece.

The rectangular pectoral with the back counterweight that Tutankhamun probably wore at his coronation was sweet. I'll take one of those, please.

The gold decorated dagger and sheath that was on Tut's mummy was also very cool as was the cartouche-shaped box made of wood with fine carvings on it.

The gold Coffin of Tjuya (Room 4 on the gallery preview map) was amazing in person. It must weigh a ton.

Perhaps my favorite item of all was the large piece of stone balustrade (Room 5 on the gallery preview map) with Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their daughter below the Aten, the sun's rays ending in hands, presenting ankhs to the pharaoh and his family. Very cool, makes me want to sculpt bas relief.

The gift shop was pretty unimpressive as far as I was concerned. The postcard selection was kind of lame, but I picked up a few (95 cents each, damn) only to discover later that they were glossy on both sides giving them a terrible writing surface. (My pens kept giving out even though they had ink. I struggled through 2 cards and ended up doing the 3rd a couple of days later with one of my niece's crayons.) I liked the small statue of Sekhmet, but the quality wasn't that good, certainly not $40 worth. I did find a cool Ankh thumb ring for myself at last however.

I met up with Mom and Dad and we grabbed a snack at Ben's Bistro in the museum before the Mysteries of Egypt IMAX show. (Note to self: you were right, higher is better. Next time, sit even further up the stadium.) If you can't get to Egypt, an IMAX movie of it has to be close to the next-best-thing.

When we got out of the movie, it was almost 7 o'clock. After we'd checked out the regular museum gift shop, Mom said she was done and asked if we were. Dad said he was done and they both looked at me expectantly. I wanted to see what the rest of the museum had. "I'd like to see what else is on this floor," I said.

"Everything else is closed, isn't it?" Mom said.

I didn't think so, but she seemed sure which made me unsure. I felt pressured to leave, so I said, "I just want to see what's down this way," heading quickly down the hall for a cursory survey. This was where I made my mistake. They started following me, but the next time I looked back they were gone.

Other exhibits on the floor were still open. It was just the demonstrations that were done for the day. There was a large room full of displays and interactive games about the heart and its function. I was a little bummed they hadn't come because some of the games looked like fun. I looked back out the way I'd entered but didn't see them. I decided to take a quick look around before heading back. I walked through the giant heart model and then entered a room of displays all about electricity. Seeing a Jacob's ladder, I couldn't pass up pressing the button to see the sparks climb up, before exiting into another hallway.

My cell rang. "Hello?"

"Where are you?" Mom said.

"I'm in a side hall, where are you?"

"In the atrium."

"Ok, I'll meet you there."

There was a pissed off vibe coming from them as I walked up, but Mom said, "Have you seen Logan's circle?"


We stepped outside to the spectacular nighttime view of the park and surrounding buildings. Then, she hit me with, "You know your father wouldn't tell you if you pissed him off, but he thought it was really rude of you to walk away without saying anything like that."

"I can speak for myself," Dad said, "That was damn rude."

"I did say something," I said.

"You didn't say 'boo shit.'"

"I said, 'I wanted to see what else was down the hall.'"

"No, you didn't," Mom said.

Neither had heard my last comment, so to them it looked like I had just taken off, and neither was hearing my explanation now, so I said, "I'm sorry."

Mom said, "It would've been fine if you'd just told us you wanted to look around some more."

There had been such finality in their tones when they said they were done that I hadn't gotten that impression at all before. Maybe I was at fault, but it started with them staring me down after their "I'm done"s. To say now so reassuringly that they wouldn't have cared felt like a cheat to make me feel worse. I wanted to say as much but I kept my mouth shut, thinking It's only day 2.

I walked down a few steps away from them, ostensibly so I could see the front of the Institute with its massive columns and large "King Tut" banner. Then I looked away from them, out at Logan's Circle, trying to shake off their comments with the beautiful view. It didn't really work; I still felt physically ill from their reprimands.

We went back in so we could get to the subterranean parking lot. Leaving Philadelphia proved more difficult than driving in because some streets had been closed off for an event. Even though they weren't acting pissed off towards me anymore, I sat quietly in the back seat only speaking to offer up street names needed for navigation.

I didn't feel hungry at all but agreed to go back to Michael's Jewish deli for a late dinner. In the next hour, I summoned enough equilibrium to order and enjoy most of an open faced turkey sandwich. It's the only place I've eaten with a help yourself pickle bar. As Dad was paying for dinner at the mini-mart register on our way out, I noticed they sold barbeque flavored sunflower seeds.

Then it was back to the hotel with the great mattress and the loud clunking doors. 9 days to go.


One year ago at TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 7
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09 October 2007

Time to recover

Got back around 10:30 last night, and though that's not really late, it felt really late due to a ~3 hour flat tire snag. All things considered, it wasn't bad. I was content to wander the mega-outlet mall we'd stopped at while it was getting fixed. Had some guy not pointed it out to my dad while we were there, we could've been stuck on the side of the Taconic parkway. There's nothing for miles and miles along that highway.

For all my wandering of designer outlets there, I can hardly believe I didn't buy a single frakking thing. I do much more greatly appreciate the complexities of finding just the right pair of knee-high black boots, however.

Due to the holiday, the place was mobbed and many stores looked wrecked. Lots of people speaking French, Spanish, Asian languages, Dutch or German, and some languages I didn't recognize at all. (The outlet center is not that far from NYC.) Most people had multiple bags swinging from each hand or even rolling suitcases with them.

I could totally take a nap now. More to come on the trip once I can make sense of my scattered notes and I'm not so tired my typing is all wonky, but for now, I wanted to say hi. Ooh and pictures...I'll have to see about getting those scanned or transferred to my computer.

One year ago at TTaT: Time to retire, Shelf aesthetic

27 September 2007

My feed reader is already out of control

and I haven't even left yet. Ack!

Barring some sort of familialicide and subsequent incarceration after a week of vacay with the fam, I'll be back.

In the meantime, please help yourself to some of my favorite posts:

A taste of the family dynamic perhaps,

Or driving with Dad,

Cars loved and lost,

The bear,

Or a concise recollection of higher altitude.

The sidebar also divides the archives into categories and includes links to audioblogs and vlogs. Enjoy!

One year ago at TTaT: When ordering goes horribly awry

26 September 2007

My missing appendage

My computer's been in the shop the past couple days. Miraculously, it decided to act up just a few days before my warranty expires. Started spitting discs out onto my desk with a surprising amount of force. I was in such a panic to get it to the repair shop on Monday that I totally forgot to throw the power cable that I'd just disconnected into the box.

The repair guy, a very nice pony-tail (which I mean in the best possible way as some of my fave boys are pony-tails), didn't even mention it when I picked it up today. Thanks, Daryl! He was also kind enough to check on and fix some other issues computers in my serial range were known for. Yea warranty!

Except that it expires at least a week before it should. That ticks me off, you hear me, Apple? I ordered the extended warranty at the same time as my computer, but my computer arrived a couple weeks after the warranty box did. Note to self: don't buy the extended warranty until after I've got my computer next time.

In any case, I'm pleased to have my computer back so quickly and at no charge. Withdrawal will return soon enough though as the dreaded family vacation is nigh.

One year ago at TTaT: Rick Sixty-Two
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24 September 2007

Oh sacrilege, how you make me laugh

Yea Lucy, The Daughter of the Devil!

Two years ago at TTaT: Scenes from the afternoon
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19 September 2007

One year left

Several years ago, I had this idea of myself at 35: confident, fulfilled, successful. There was even a brief period when I considered it possible to become that person before I turned 35, but the years slipped by, and I feel like the person I envisioned is still a long ways off.

What happens if I turn 35 but am not that person? has been a source of increasing preoccupation in the past couple of years. I don't have the answer. It's possible I will get myself together within the next year rendering the query moot. However, something I wrote a few years ago seems as valid today as it did then:
...as the weeks wear on with little change, I wonder if she'll ever reside here. I guess she's waiting for me to move out first.
Too bad real moving is simple in comparison.

For today though (as it's technically after midnight), I'll let what might be in the coming year rest. This moment is what matters, and I'll celebrate my birthday with that in mind.

15 September 2007

retrovlog one: A Taste of the Jam

How am I a fool? Let me count the ways...

Welcome to the premiere retrovlog, originally shot in 1992.

(run time 1:45)

(If your instinctive response is to complain about traveling, you're totally missing the point.)

(Other vlogs of TTaT)

One year ago at TTaT: Out and about
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14 September 2007

Only so much patience

Yesterday's bra shopping excursion was sans boots. Familiar self-conscious, shallow breathing, overwhelmed person- ah! there you are.

I had tried to psych myself up for the outdoor outlet mall. Maybe there'll be a cute girl working at the Calvin Klein Underwear store. Then I'll be willing to ask for help looking and with sizes.

What if it's some disgruntled, 45 year old, chain-smoking woman?

No, cute girl. Think positive.

What if she's really cute? Do I really want to be the spaz who can't find a bra?

It could be a funny how-we-met story, I guess...

In the final stretch approaching the store, I thought, Oh god, what if it's a boy? They carry men's and women's underwear. Some aloof, sleek, black haired, could-be-a-model with scorn in his eyes. I stopped and forced myself to breathe.

He could be gay! Ok, an obvious gay boy- that would work. No wonder Queer Eye was so popular.

In reality, she was standing in the open CKU doorway, soaking in what she could of some gorgeous fall weather, when I approached. She was young and good looking, but more than anything else, I registered her intense I-don't-want-to-be-here vibe. Of course. What was I thinking? It's fucking retail.

Two women, friends, were consulting with each other on various bras hanging on the wall. The store was the size of shoe box, men's on the right, women's on the left. There was a large poster of a sculpted male body in underwear advertising some new "pouch" style. The young woman who worked there returned to the back behind the counter. An open door behind her lead to storage and an unfinished back area. To her right, was another white door, closed, with a black scuff on it near eye level.

That might be a dressing room. It doesn't say so though. I couldn't bring myself to ask, so I looked at the wall of bras and kept track of the other shoppers in case they went to try something on. They didn't; one just picked some things out and bought them.

The store didn't carry the t-shirt bra that Jenny had recommended or the other style I'd been interested in from their website, so I bailed. The place was too cool, compact, and intimidating for me.

I felt like a wuss when I walked outside, but the sun felt nice on my face, the air, cool and fresh. I would try again.

To temper my anxiety and frustration, I decided to walk the entirety of the outlet center, stopping in anywhere that struck my fancy. In a somewhat masochistic twist considering my abysmal shopping record with shoes, I found myself looking for a hot pair of knee-high boots.

It was an externalized attempt to recreate the confidence I'd felt the day before in footwear a bit more comfortable. Also technically, my cowboy boots are shoes that just look like boots under long pants.

Back in San Francisco, I had once borrowed an exquisite pair of black, leather, calf-encasing boots with a chunky 4 inch heel from my bud Chala. Despite being difficult to walk in, they were pretty spectacular. I've often thought that if I had the right pair of boots, I might actually wear skirts. Shoes have always been a major stumbling block to dressy attire for me.

Flats, pumps, heels: they just aren't my style. Tall black boots with a square toe and say, a chunky two inch heel, that I could do. As typical of my shoe shopping experiences however, no one had anything remotely like I wanted in a size I could wear. I knew I disliked the hunt for bras even more than shoes, but I hadn't expected it to be for most of the same reasons.

I looked in the remaining three "intimate apparel" stores, even trying on several bras at one where I was totally fine with no saleswomen offering to help me. Sometimes (i.e., all too often), I'd just rather do things the hard way.

In the end, all I purchased were some birthday gifts: one more for Mom, and two for me. I just can't pass up $2.99 hard cover books from Borders's outlet store.

One year ago at TTaT: Coolness
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12 September 2007

Of boots and bras

Today I did two things I almost never do: 1) I put on my toe-crushing but awesome cowboy boots, and 2) I went shopping for brassieres.

The former actually made the latter easier. The 2 inch heels made me stand up a bit straighter, and though my gait did not feel perfectly smooth, the click-clacking of the soles on linoleum conjured the essence of adulthood in my mind. The self-consciousness I'd come to associate with the whole enterprise over the years was absent.

It was, of course, yet aptly, a complete bust. I measured, I did the math, but nothing was quite right. Though I liked the non-strap-slidiness of racer backs, the nonadjustable band circumference made sizing more difficult. I'm ready to accept that the cheapest mall fare will not suffice. As a person who espouses comfort in clothing, undergarments really should get top billing. I may even submit to being measured as much as I feel it will prove useless.

Any suggestions for where to shop?

One year ago at TTaT: Recognition
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11 September 2007

Floor time

When I was a frosh in college, I spent a fair amount of time lying on my dorm room floor listening to music and staring up. I used to carry an insane amount of tension in my shoulders and back, and relaxing into the floor helped. There was ample head room above my top bunk bed, but I often preferred the hardness of the floor. The perspective change was something I enjoyed.

The tension that used to feel like steel rods spanning my shoulder blades is now only the sporadic knot, but it's still nice to look up from the floor now and again, soaking in good alt. rock and the altered perspective. I'd still be there now if I could blog on my back.

Two years ago at TTaT: Three Breaks: Part 6
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10 September 2007

Defining Hell and The List

An old friend of mine recently wrote:
...if you had told me ten years ago [Summer 1997], when I was listening to a little cassette called Palace's 'Days In The Wake' on my walkman all day while lugging my aimless and critically depressed self around LA and San Francisco before returning to Florida for another year of complete self-imposed hell...
Obviously, it's an extraction from a larger thought, but it's that "year of complete self-imposed hell" that's really been on my mind of late. Not surprising with my birthday coming up next week. I typically think of the last three years as limbo, self-imposed certainly, but with my inability to shake it, perhaps it's more of a hell than I'd previously considered. My fear of repeating past hellish experiences keeps me from taking risks for anything better. Am I really such a coward? Existentialism is a convenient cloak of excuse, but by its own virtue this is also all there is.

One year ago to the day, I compiled a life list of 103 things I wanted to do, achieve, or own thinking it would help put me on track. Since then, I've crossed off 20 things, though to be fair some of those were more to-do list rather than life list fare. Four items I eliminated once I decided I didn't really care about them, but they got replaced with four new things.

What's left is predominantly split between distant places I want to visit and personal changes that are difficult to quantify as cross-offable. Today, the answer I seek feels like it may lie in items 50 and 51 (which for now I prefer to keep to myself). Time will tell.

One year ago at TTaT: Setting a body in motion

08 September 2007

$20.20 on rocks

There's no denying it. I've become a rock hound. It's not like I spent $50, $300, or $1000 on one chunk of mineral (which it's possible to do), but I did just spend twenty bucks on rocks that could have been a CD, DVD, or video game. The mineral prices were very good though compared to the major gem, rock, and mineral show I attended last month.

In the beginning, I just knew what I liked when I saw it. Now I know I'm quite fond of fluorite and can pretty readily recognize it in all its forms. I bought four cool pieces today, two in a dark blue I hadn't seen before. As an added bonus, two out of three vendors didn't add sales tax to their sticker prices.

For now I keep them in their open jewelry boxes on their cotton beds, but I envision making a little purple, blue, and green Kryptonian-like city from all my varied pieces. I just need to figure out a display format that will keep them from getting chipped or broken if they're jostled unintentionally.

Just another layer of geekiness to add to the collection.

One year ago at TTaT: Three Breaks: Part 2
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05 September 2007

Overheard in Costco

"Did you know putting pot in Red Bull is illegal?"

Um... "Duh" springs to mind.

[On a personal note, now I will go pass out in front of the tv since I had a total insomniac night with all too short segments of discontinuous shuteye.]

One year ago at TTaT: Fun With Dead Trees debut, 34

04 September 2007