Thursday, December 30, 2004

duck soup

duck soup
Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
Cold Duck

This is what happens when the canal freezes. A team of ducks with tiny ice axes bravely waddles out onto the ice and painstakingly chips out a hole so that all their duck brethren may swim in comfort. Well, as much comfort as they can get when it's about 4 degrees out.

I'm glad to say that Julia has assuaged my tree guilt by pointing out that artificial trees are not necessarily any more environmenally friendly than the brutally cut down in their prime ones. Of course, if I'd just decorated the hibiscus bush my aunt gave me that would have been the best of all worlds... but it's small. And it seems to have aphids. Neither of those things inspire me to decoration. Anyway, I presented nearly all my friends with diseases for Christmas; hey, that's the reason for the season, right? Nothing says "I care" like ebola virus. Happy New Year, y'all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tree 2004

Tree 2004
Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
O Xmas Tree
O Xmas Tree
You Make Me Feel
So Guil-ty...

I bought my tree on December 15 this year, which is really the ideal time for tree-buying. I argued with some friends last night about the perfect tree-erection scehdule (hmm, that doesn't sound right....) and the simple fact is that I'm right, and they're nuts. Setting up an Xmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving is loopy--if the tree's up for a month and a half, where's the excitement in that? And by the time Xmas arrives, the tree is so dry and brittle, no matter how much water you've applied to its oozing stump, that it now constitutes a major fire hazard in the living room. Ideally it should be bought between Dec. 10-15, and taken down on Twelfth Night. Anybody tells you anything different, you send them to me and I'll set them straight.

Now, I know some of you are saying, "But....aren't you Jewish, or something? Why do you have a tree at all, you poser?" The thing is, I'm the reverse of what Jeremy describes in his post on Christmas. I grew up in a secular protestant household, and while I made philosophical choices about my own religious beliefs which led me toward Judaism during my adolescence and adulthood, I find the rituals surrounding Xmas to be key for my enjoyment of the holiday season. I'm not talking dumb rituals like overextending my credit cards and indulging in rampant commercialism; these are the family rituals, such as baking the same cookies I enjoyed helping make as a child, hanging the stocking I've had since I was a baby, and buying and decorating a tree. The last has special meaning for me, for as a hard core environmentalist I've struggled with the idea of killing a live tree each year for my holiday enjoyment. I've thought of getting an artificial one, like so many of my friends, but the idea is kind of repellant to me. I like the smell, and I like the feel of the branches when I'm decorating it.... So I think of it in religious terms, this being a religious holiday. While I personally have a hard time accepting the idea that Christ died for my sins, I'm damn sure that this tree did. I appreciate that. It came from a tree farm, they cut them down at a certain size no matter what.... but if I bring it into my home for a month, decorate it, smell it, and appreciate it, then its sacrifice was not in vain!

How's that for spin?

Monday, December 13, 2004

And Then I Woke Up, and the Semester Was Over!

Thank god that's over. Technically, of course, it's not over; I have an exam tomorrow. But I swear, I have never in my life cared less about prepping for an exam than I have for this one... First, it won't be hard, and second, this class was rather a large pain in the butt which culminated in my turning in two large projects last week. Once those were out of my hands, well..... what exam? Assuming I don't fail the class, I'm only 9 credits away from the master's. Three classes. Next year, at this time, another shiny papery degree on my wall. Mmmm. Then what?

Bathroom remodelling, apparently. No, wait, that needs to happen sooner than the degree. That needs to happen way soon. Blue? Green? Tiled walls? Tiled floor? New vanity? And how the hell am I going to get that stupid bathtub out of there...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Like a Beach Vacation in My Bathroom

I had planned to write something about my adventures exploring the wreckage of my family's old business this week, with the welcome assistance of Butterfly Woman. Was going to call it Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Ruined Factory or something equally enticing. It was pretty damn cool, kind of like an archaeology dig and a post-apocalyptic movie set all rolled into one... But then my plumbing backed up this morning. (Technically, it also backed up Thursday night, but I thought that was a freak accident.) This sent me into a spiral of un-Nancy-like grouchiness. The pipes from my house to the septic tank have a very shallow grade, meaning that gravity isn't working for me as it should, and the pipes are prone to blockage. I'm careful about what I put down them because of this, but apparently we've reached that point again where running the dishwasher or the washing machine causes water to pour from all orifaces of the downstairs bathroom, specifically the tub drain and the toilet. The downstairs bathroom is pretty horrible to begin with, and the occasional floodings haven't helped it. I kept the catbox in the tub down there for a while, since I wasn't using it as a bathtub, and it nicely contained any spilled kitty litter and the occasional cat accident. I moved the catbox a while ago, but there's still a lot of residual cat sand and clay dust in the room. Combine that with a few gallons of water bursting up through the pipes, and voila! It's just like Maui, only with ugly linoleum peeling up at the corners.

So I've had it with the occasional floods. I ripped up the linoleum tonight, I ripped the wallpaper off the walls and the crappy fake woodwork trim off the baseboard. Tomorrow I'm cutting out the carpet in the hallway outside, which is soaked beyond reclaimation. After school finishes up next week, I'm going carpet shopping. Meanwhile, the plumber comes on Tuesday. Nancy Drew will have to wait.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh No! We're on Bert Alert!

It's about time someone started taking this homeland security terror alert level thing seriously.

Terror Alert Level

As a service to my readers, who want to stay up to date on the current state of our nation's safety, I've put a permanent link to this terror alert system on the left sidebar. When the Dept. of Homeland Security updates our terror level, you'll be among the first to know! (I find it strangely appropriate that the highest level of threat to our nation is "Elmo Alert." He's easily the most alarming muppet ever.)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Because the Squirrels in My Head Told Me To....

Yeah, I'm a little stressed in the last week or two. Or three. I'm trying to finish an incomplete class I took last semester; all that stands between me and a big F on my permenent record are 20 feeble pages of research report. It's mostly written. Mostly. But the last bit is the bit that I didn't research as well as I should have, and now I'm frantically tapdancing to fill it in. Plus the design class projects, both of which are in a state of shambles. Plus work. Plus stress about other work. I've sort of possibly been offered a contract job by someone who I've been lightheartedly asking for work for a year. The problem is, it's not the kind of job I'd thought it was; various factors make me think I'd probably really, REALLY not enjoy it. (It involves a lot of travel, which I enjoy but not for 3 weeks out of every 2 months. It'd look great on my resume, but it'd preclude my school stuff, my other part time or full time work, and some of my hobbies--it's hard to just leave gardening for three weeks at a clip.) So I'm a little freaked at the prospect of making a decision on that. My leaning is to follow my heart, work for Crocodile full-time in 2005, keep my eyes peeled for more suitable jobs.... but I don't relish backing away from contract work for Indy's largest museum, working for someone I like and respect. She'll probably never offer me work again....

All is not lost, though, as I keep telling those pesky squirrels! Piegate 2004 went well, I opted for apple as the alternate pie this year--despite my personally not being an apple pie fan--and it was a rousing success. It's all in the apple choice, I think. I went with Stayman Winesaps, a very hard and slightly tart apple. My usual problem with apple pies is that they're either really mushy, or really flavorless, or both. This pie was neither. I picked up a bag of Ida Reds at the orchard as well, and I'm tempted to make another pie next weekend just to see how they do. Or maybe baked apples.

Back on the political front, I'm pleased to announce my discovery of The Moderate Republican, a blog devoted to the effort to drag my chosen party back toward center. I'm actually not sure it's possible, but I'm so glad someone's trying! I literally found it on the very day I was websearching information on how to withdraw my voter registration from the Republican party, and it stayed my hand. For a while, anyhow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It's ALMOST Like Being Famous....

My college housemate has become quite the force to be reckoned with in this here Blogosphere; his political rantings--full of well-reasoned argument, bereft of capital letters--have attracted him a hell of a lot of readers from the leftist and liberal side of the fence. Now he's moved up to the next level of bloggery fame and fortune.... He's posting on Atrios this week. Somehow he has conned one of the scions of the liberal blogging world into giving him the keys to the Cadillac. While I don't actually read Atrios that often, I've heard of him, and that's saying a lot considerin' that the only political blogs I read regularly are Housemate's and Fafblog. My hipness quotient on political blogging is remarkably low, yet even I know of Atrios. So the upshot is, if you're at all interested in politics, and want to make my friend look good, go drive up the hits on Atrios this week! It'll make The Noz look important! Which by extension makes ME important! Because it's all about who you know!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Bejeweled Steering Wheel of Glory

Glorious Victory!

Today was the 7th Annual Formula De Tournament here in gamerland, and here, in my living room, sits the world's finest travelling trophy. Yes. An unbeliveable come-from-behind win has taken me from the Hubcap of Shame (2002) and 4th Place (2003) to victory lane. I'm drinking a glass of milk right now.

OK, so I may not have a toast icon of the BVM,* but all in all.... I'd rather have the trophy. If you want a detailed accounting of this amazing annual event, check my game blog, Dark's Carnival.

(* the toast thing yesterday reminded me of when I first got to Loyola for grad school; every time I'd walk to the humanities building, I'd pass by about 6 parking spots that had large signs reading "PARKING FOR BVM ONLY." Now, they meant that the parking was reserved for nuns; the sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are the female counterpart to the Jesuits. But it didn't say that. It just said that the parking was reserved for the BVM, which brought to mind two questions: 1. Why would she need more than one parking space? and more importantly, 2. What kind of car would she drive? A BMW?)

Friday, November 19, 2004

...And Then I Found Moses on a Fried Egg Sandwich!

Once again the wisdom of FAFBLOG has convinced me that I am, without a doubt, in the wrong business. If only I examined my foods more carefully before eating them, I too might have an eBay auction for a grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, starting at $3000. Why, Lord? Why don't you send me marketable images of your earthly representatives on baked goods? Am I not worthy? This woman won $70,000 at a casino with the help of Our Lady of the Toaster--I wouldn't need that much, Lord. A cool $30 grand would be fine. I'm not greedy.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do...

Blog, obviously. It's difficult; I find myself wanting to post election-related anger and frustration on a semi-regular basis, and yet I know that repetition doesn't make the heart grow fonder, and there's nothing really new to say. I'm still reading dumb "screw the red states" stuff on the net, and it's still pissing me off... I'm horrified by the nomination of Mr. "The Geneva Convention--what's that?" Gonzales for Atty General. And this, courtesy of Upyernoz, holy crap. But all is not lost; the world turns, the sun comes out, it's only four years, and we are only tiny parts of a vast tapestry of history that trends, over the long term, toward the more tolerant, the more reasonable, the finer and better parts of humanity. Or so I'd like to think. Check this out. It's a column from the Tribune citing a few interesting statistics about how Americans' opinions on social issues have changed in the last 40 years. Thanks, Eric Zorn, for providing a breath of perspective during a rough patch in America's move toward an enlightened society. Sometimes, when we want change RIGHT NOW, it's hard to remember these things.

Since I did a few political posts and rants, my hit count jumped! Figure that. Strangely, when I blog about bacon omlettes and canoe trips, the hits drop off. I'm not talking here about people who actually know me, mind you. I know you guys'll read whatever dull anecdotes I slap up here! Thanks! But I live for finding out that I'm Google's #1 site for the phrase "bacon omlette." (I'm not. I just checked.) I think what really did it was the "I Voted For Kerry" thing back on Nov. 2; dozens of people are googling that, both in and out of blogspot.

Speaking of dull anecdotes, I dropped a clipboard into the shark tank this week. Fortunately it has a grease pencil attached to it by a piece of tubing, so that floated tantalizingly on the surface even as the clipboard with its feed charts was drifting slowly down through the water column. I dove to my knees and grabbed it just before it all sank beyond my grasp, saving me from having to go to the keepers and say, "Errr.... I've done it again." (Well, I haven't dropped a clipboard before. Last time it was my keys.) All's well that ends well, other than the bruises incurred from flinging self down on rough-textured aluminum catwalk. At least I gave the patrons a good show.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

pin available at

Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
The Horror....The Eldrich Horror....

I know it's a bit late, but I just received a transcript of my favored presidential candidate's concession speech. I'm reprinting it here as follows:
NEWSCASTER: (voice over) Well, it seems with the early tallies strongly favoring incumbant president George W. Bush, the Elder Party spokescultists seem to be preparing to--wait! It looks as if Great Cthulhu himself is stepping to the podium!
(sounds of cheering, chanting)
TRANSLATOR: Great Cthulhu thanks you all for your support in this difficult campaign season!
TRANSLATOR: Great Cthulhu states that he has already placed phone calls to both John Kerry and George W. Bush....
TRANSLATOR: ....and that even now they are both being horribly devoured alive by His Spawn from Beyond the Stars! (wild cheering)
TRANSLATOR: Great Cthulhu says that no Elder God could wish for a more devoted and loyal group of follwers....
TRANSLATOR: ....which is why He looks forward to tormenting and consuming each and every one of you this evening! (more cheering, followed by sounds of gruesome carnage.)
Well, you head it here first, folks. America chose GW Bush over the Party of Mass Destruction... Go Figure.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More Electoral College Fun!

Here's some food for thought, elaborating further on my earlier post.

25,925467 voters in "Red States" voted for Kerry.
26,078,253 voters in "Blue States" voted for Bush.

That's over 50 million Americans disenfranchised by our electoral system. When you take just the votes for the winners in each state, it adds up to about 62.5 million votes that actually count for something when the electoral votes are cast. Now, as it happens, the % margin between Bush and Kerry in that tally is roughly that of the general popular vote nationwide--53% for Bush, 47% Kerry. This at least reassures me that the electoral votes are apportioned more or less properly. But does that mean it's a good system?

The argument for keeping the E.C. system in the US is that it allows low-population states to retain some power that they would lose if it were a straight popular system. I'm not sure I buy that in general--what power is that, exactly? Whether its 5 electoral votes or 850,000 popular votes, Utah still carries about the same % weight in the grand total. So the candidates in a straight popular system would concentrate their efforts in our most populous states--New York, California, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida. How is that different from the present system, where 90% of the candidates' efforts are concentrated on the larger so-called swing states--such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.....? If anything, I think a change to a straight popular vote (or even a system wherein the electoral votes are apportioned by % of total votes within a state, as Nebraska does) would force candidates to spread their attention more evenly across the country, trying to pick up voters wherever they can instead of writing off the voter base in states that traditionally lean in one direction or the other. The argument against THAT is that campaign costs would spiral out of control. News flash, though--they already are. Kerry and Bush combined spent over 4 billion on this campaign, by one estimate I heard today. Think of all that money could have done elsewhere. The answer to this is to regulate campaign financing tightly,by restricting the amount candidates can spend on media blitz and travel (how much jet fuel was wasted in the last week by frantic glad-handing attempts in multiple states by both candidates and their running mates? My god.) This would then in turn make it possible for third party candidates, and--gasp!--even normal folk to run for political offices on an even footing without fear of bankrupting themselves. Why are we Americans, of either party, settling for this deeply flawed, disenfranchising, money-wasting system of election? We could have better. We deserve better.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Who, Exactly, are "Them"?

I know we're all having a bad day today.... so I resisted putting a comment on Jane's blog because I knew it wouldn't come off as lighthearted. But I guess it just bothers me that a lot of the commentary I'm reading today characterizes the red state voters as uneducated country yokels. First off, we're not. Nearly a million people in Indiana voted for Kerry. Nearly three million in Texas did. More Hoosiers voted for Kerry than did Connecticutians. But thanks to the electoral college system, not a damn one of those votes mattered.

But what's really important is that the people who did vote for Bush--be they in rural areas of Indiana, or the 4 million Californians who no doubt feel just as disenfranchised as I do--had their reasons for voting the way they did. The Democrats can blame it all they want on people not "getting the message," but what it really comes down to is that they're not relating to the average American voter. "Mrs. Noz" pointed out in an email that there's a perception of the current Democratic party candidates as coastal elitists, who look down upon the inland rural voters, and they quite rightfully resent that. (Hell, I resent it and I voted for them anyway!) Until the Democrats address this notion, instead of just shrugging off the rural voter with a "we know what's best for you" attitude, they'll never gain a foothold in an agricultural state. She also made an excellent point about morality; namely that the Republican party has become the party of morality by their contstant beating of the abortion and gay marriage tom-toms. Democratic positions on health care, environmental policy, economic equality and the war in Iraq all have a strong moral component. Yet somehow they fail to articulate these things as moral issues, and end up losing the vote of the average American who considers moral values an essential part of national policy. (Hopefully Mrs. N doesn't mind me stealing largely from her email today, but she articulated something I'd been trying to put my finger on for a large part of this campaign.... it was one of the only bright spots in this dismal day.)

I love the midwest, I love everything about living here; I don't want to leave. I want the tone of politics in general to change, for both parties to strive for inclusion rather than exclusion; I want all the voters of Indiana and all the other non-swing states to feel that both parties have something to offer them. I want the agricultural backbone of America to be neither a tool for the right, or an embarassment for the left. I want a lot of things that aren't going to come true any time soon. Maybe someday, though.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"Honey, it's Bill again...."

I called Jeremy and Becky last night to offer Becky my positive thoughts on her tenure review. Jeremy answered the phone. I said, "Hey Jeremy, it's Cathy!" He said, "Hey Cathy! Thank god, I was afraid you were Bill Clinton." See what I miss, not living in a swing state? Apparently they, and presumably thousands of others in PA, OH, WI, MN, etc. have been getting non-stop phone calls in recent days from various pre-recorded public figures asking them to give their vote to Kerry or Bush. Clinton has apparently called Jeremy multiple times:
JEREMY: Hello?
PHONE: (brief pause.) Hello, this is Former President Bill Clinton. I'm calling to tell you how important--
JEREMY: God dammit! (hangs up.)
No one EVER calls me. Well, I mean, obviously some people call me--but not former presidents or New York mayors. Alex in Chicago got a letter from Ed Koch, endorsing President Bush; he thinks the Republicans got a list of all the Jewish-sounding names in Chicago for a direct appeal, since apparently the Jewish American community is somewhat split on Bush. Alex isn't Jewish, and like me was one of the Republican minority at Vassar who has since stopped actually voting for Republicans. So Ed's wasting his ink there.

There was an interesting election-day search on blogspot today; you could do a search within for the phrase "I voted for Kerry" or "I voted for Bush." At first glance it was stunning--47 hits for the Kerry question, 110 for Bush! But then I looked at the actual context for the phrase... the entire first page of hits on google for Bush were people explaining why they'd voted for Bush in the last election. Many of them (in the brief google snippet) appeared to be regretting their decision. So who knows? A month ago I was fairly confident that Kerry had the win, figuring that no one who voted for Gore last time would vote for Bush this time around, and enough people who were appalled at the job W is doing would turn to Kerry that it would provide a clear majority. But now I'm less certain. I keep hearing about traditional democrats who are somehow inexplicably attracted to Bush, for religious reasons or whatever. Argh. Arrrrgh! This is going to be a loooooong day. I voted already, naturally. It's steady rain here, since early this morning. The town hall is warm, brightly lit, has 4 little voting booths and an optical scan machine, neighbors from both parties chatting amiably, and there were bagels, coffee, cookies, apples, and biscotti on a table. While I was there, a guy with a little kid brought in a package of Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Cookies (guess how HE'S voting...) and the tiny boy passed them around to all the poll workers while his dad was filling in the bubbles. I know most polling places aren't like this, but I'm sure glad mine is. Happy election day, everyone! I hope.

Monday, November 01, 2004

MmmMMMmm! Lard!

Went back to the corn maze on Friday night. It wasn't raining, and I got to see a lot more of the maze; it had rooms, and more people in costumes this time. I got told I "smelled like dinner" by a teenage guy in a hockey mask. I got followed around by a woman in creepy clown makeup with a rubber knife. There were plenty of people there who were screamingly scared. Maybe I'm getting jaded, or old.....or probably both. But for me, the scariest part of the evening took place after we'd left the corn maze and gone to seek out dinner at a Greek diner in Columbus. It used to be a Waffle House, which used to be a HoJo's, and it combines salient features of all three. I've never ingested so much cholesterol at one sitting in my life--who knew there was such a thing as a bacon omlette? With hash browns, 2 pancakes, and a side of corned beef hash? God allmighty it was good. And I was so, so very sick for the rest of the night. Mmmm.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Shiver Me Timbers, Matey!

There are few things in life so liberating as a pirate costume. I've been a costumed character before--my most famous role was the Humana Women's Hospital Stork. But working at this year's Zoo Boo was the most fun I've had in ages. Not only did I get to look like a pirate, and talk like a pirate, but little kids actually BELIEVED I was a pirate! No one at the health fair ever believed I was a real stork. I invited countless 4 year olds to "join me pirate crew," and offered them a share o' me treasure (tricker treatin' candy.) I pointed to the rubber skeleton in the shark tank and solemnly informed them, "That be what happens to a pirate who can't swim." In return I got giggles, looks of awe, and got to see two of the funniest costumes ever. One was a kid who couldn't have been more than 5, dressed as Elvis--late Elvis, with the huge sideburns and oversize glasses. Those are some sick parents.... The other one was teeny, like maybe 3 or 4, dressed like a giant trout. From the front he was just kind of white, with a pointy head; then he walked past me, and there's this huge poofy stuffed fish tail and body kind of waving back and forth as he walked. I almost fell over laughing, it totally destroyed my pirate demeanor for about 30 seconds. Arrrr.... That be a good one.

I'm trying to resist the impulse to political post as the election draws closer, but it's hard. This new "Wolves" commercial from the Bush campaign pisses me the hell off. Not only is it a feeble attempt at fearmongering, but it strikes yet another blow to the environmental movement's attempts to re-educate the public about real wolves. Nice going, Mr. "I'm a good steward of the land." Only if the land doesn't contain any trees, plants, or animals on it. Pbbt.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Joys of Marginal Living

There are few perks to having your employment situation in flux, but one of them is my ability to still be in my pajamas drinking coffee at 10:30 on a Monday morning. Another is the fact that I didn't have to make any special arrangements at all to accomodate the Heating Repair Guy's visit to relight my pilot light today. I wondered why it seemed so cold in here lately.... So since I've got no heat, other than the sketchy electric wall heater on the porch that will probably eventually cause my death, they're going to come by sometime today to relight the olympic flame within my ancient boiler. I'd do it myself, but a) I can't figure out where the pilot light actually IS, and b) I'd rather not blow up.

So my new Action Lifestyle (TM) has continued apace since the canoe inaugurated me into the world of adventure! I', so the week wasn't all that exciting. I began a much needed overhaul of my painting webpage. (It's not done yet, so no comments about "this link is broken" "that picture won't load", etc. are necessary.) I started painting a new army for Wargods of Aegyptus, and it's not dwarves. I drove around Crown Hill cemetary with some friends and finally found Dillinger's grave--I'd missed it the last time I was there. And Thursday night was the annual piligrimage with the southside gang to a local haunted house, though this year it was actually a haunted corn maze. Yes--the corn itself is haunted. It was actually pretty cool, about 2 acres worth of cornfield with a huge and fairly complex maze mowed into it. Navigating it in the pitch dark was highly entertaining, and for some reason I ended up in the front of our little party of five. I tried to explain to my fraidy companions that the person in front is in the least danger--the spooks wait until person #1 passes them before they leap out from between the cornstalks--but they heeded me not at all. So we wandered around, getting muddy and disoriented by the occasional strobe lights within the labyrinth. We were impeded slightly by the rain, which went from a gentle sprinkle to a steady patter over the course of an hour, and finally a nice young gentleman in a hockey mask with a chainsaw politely asked us if we'd like to be guided out of the maze so we could dry out. We ended up standing by a bonfire, still getting rained on but in a warmer way, drinking hot chocolate and enjoying ourselves. So I guess my week was not completely adventure-free! October is the bestest month, for sure.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

16 feet of adventure!

16 feet of adventure!
Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
Just Call Me Mr. Danger!

I know that for most people, the words "Adventure" and "Cathy" are synonymous. It should come as no surprise then that I've been coveting the canoes and kayaks at the outfitter store in Broad Ripple all summer. I'd pretty much decided that me affording a canoe (even a used one) was about as likely as, say, Hal publishing his dissertation on the Origin of Catfood. Then, lo and behold! I'm walking past the outfitters a week ago Friday, and before me, sparkling like a shiny Royalex sapphire, is This Boat. Knowing I can't afford it, I take a casual look at the price tag.... and discover that I can, in fact, afford it. It's cheap, paddles are included, and I'm smitten. The next day I went back to mull it over and ask all sorts of smart questions about it. Before I knew what was happening, they'd thrown in a roof rack and I'd handed over my credit card.

I'd been planning a camping/hiking trip with RG for Sunday; when I called her up and told her about the canoe, she said "I can't believe you did that. You're nuts. Ooooh--we could go canoe camping!" Fortunately she's an experienced canoer and camper, so I trusted her utterly..... Right up to the point when it was pitch dark, 40 degrees out, and we were still paddling around the lake trying to find the intended campsite. Then my faith wavered. But only slightly! Within minutes of our agreement that maybe we should give up on the intended campsite, we'd made landfall, gotten a fire started, tent pitched, and dinner going. I wasn't even in total agonizing pain the next morning from all that paddling! Yep. An Adventurer is Me.

We also stopped at the Oliver Winery en route to the lake. This is not because we are wine buffs, but because Indiana's blue laws prevent the sale of alcohol on Sundays--except at small private wineries such as this one. The place is lovely, and the wine was excellent... as excellent as wine can be, really, considering it's not beer.

So yeah, Hal better call his publisher. It'll be a short book, though--"It comes from a tupperware tub in the bathroom closet. The End."

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Red Tie, or the Blue Tie...

Well, I opted against the Presidential Debate Drinking Game. Following the rules laid out in yesterday’s paper, I would already be crocked, and it’s only 30 minutes in.

I’m watching the debates, but not because I’m undecided about who to vote for. Perish the thought! I know who NOT to vote for.... but since I don’t actually watch network television or CNN, I’ve never actually heard John Kerry speak. I was pretty impressed with Howard Dean back during the primaries, mainly because he was the only one I ever caught an interview with on TV (and that was an accident. I hate TV media. Hate it hate it hate it. I get all my news from print media.... well, and Jeremy. And Fafblog.) But never saw Kerry or Edwards speak. I think that even were he to utterly bomb these debates, I could still vote for Kerry with a good conscience--one of those Lesser Evil things. But I’m pleased to see that I actually rather like him! I’m enjoying his little smiles during Bush’s commentaries; NBC, at least, is not holding with the debater demands, and there are lots of split-screen reaction shots. But if I hear Bush bring up the “wrong war wrong time wrong place” phrase one more time, holy crap.... I know I’m biased, but I do think Bush is not looking good here.

So who else wants to see a debate between Teresa Heinz Kerry and Laura Bush? I would SO buy tickets for that. I bet Teresa would whip Laura’s butt. Or--wait! Teresa Heinz Kerry vs. George Bush, followed by Laura Bush vs. John Kerry! Back to back mixed-doubles card fight! Oh yessss..... Why don’t they put me in charge of these things?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
In No Particular Order....

First off, my big doof of a cat, Hal, sprained his paw while loping around the house on Friday night. It got worse over the weekend, and Rat Girl kindly offered to assist me in taking him to the vet on Monday morning. The vet is a wonderful guy, everything went fine, Hal got a cortisone shot and behaved remarkably well. Well, that is, until we got home and set him down for .5 seconds to close the door before removing his leash. He rocketed up the stairs, the leash caught on the bannister, clotheslined him about halfway up, and he crashed back down on top of two gallons of water I had sitting on the steps for refilling the fish tank. One of them exploded, water went everywhere, and he went running back up the stairs to the extent of the still trapped leash and stared at me, white-eyed and trembling, with a look that said "This is All Your Fault." It was spectacular, though not in a good way. It took him the better part of 48 hours to recover emotionally. This morning, both his limp and his demeanor are improved.

I'm happy to announce my good job news, hinted at in a previous post; I'm now working part-time back in the hobby industry, for a company called Crocodile Games. For those who aren't quite so geeky as me and my fellow gamer nerds--basically they make small metal toy soldiers which people buy unpainted; they then paint them and use them to play tabletop wargames. In the Croc's case, the genre is kind of a fantasy Egyptian thing, with jackal-headed troops and bipedal crocodiles. The game is quite good, actually, I like it better than Warhammer, and the miniatures are great! The company has been doing great business since my friend Fitz started it back in '01, so much so that they've now got more orders than he and his partner can effectively handle. So I'm there to help them start the transition from being essentially a one-man operation to being a serious player in the hobby industry. It could come to nothing, or it could mean that a year from now I'll be working full-time for a successful company, going to conventions around the country to rep for the game. We'll see.

Third, I taught myself to use Adobe Illustrator this weekend, with the welcome assistance of Li's book on the topic. Nice program, like a highly complex and flexible version of Appleworks Draw. Or MacDraw, remember that?

Last, my Coffee Bitch tells me she has got her hands on a cookbook that will teach her how to make architectural cakes of epic proportions. I've placed my order for a cake that looks like Chartres Cathedral. Get to work, Sally!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Dispatch from Planet Lockdown

This morning I headed down to the Children's Museum to pick up some stuff for the contract work I'll be doing for them in the next few months. As long as I was there, I took time to go visit my dad's ship model and the new Dinosphere exhibit; I stayed through the 20 minute "weather cycle" of the exhibit, then headed home. Passed a surprising # of police cars, and noticed that two news helicopters seemed to be circling the area above my neighborhood. "Great," think I, "something's up." Between the Children's Museum at 30th St., and my place almost due north at 54th, I passed about 8 cops, the last one being on one of the two bridges into my neighborhood. This was alarming enough--cop cars at each intersection for over a mile?--but was made more alarming by the fact that the cop was standing outside of his car, and was holding an assault rifle.

Apparently, at almost the precise moment when I was crossing Boulevard on 52nd, en route to the museum, a dude suspected of being a car burglar was being detained by one of the Butler University cops outside Hinkle Fieldhouse (at 49th and Boulevard.) Not wanting to be detained, the dude grabbed the officer's gun and shot him in the head. Had I had my window down, I would probably have heard the shot. Had I followed my usual pattern of going down Boulevard rather than Capitol to get to 30th St., I might well have witnessed the incident, or possibly would have seen the gentleman in question fleeing the scene into the neighborhood south of mine. By the time I came back north an hour later, the police had spread a dragnet (which I unwittingly drove through) around the area. They were even checking the trunks of people's cars as they came out of Rocky Ripple. I spent about 2 hours indoors, watching the local breaking news on TV (and hooray for our local station who blurted out the name of the fallen officer mere moments before the police official announced that he was in fact dead, and that they were witholding his ID pending notification of kin. Nice going, you jerks.) I turned it off when I saw the 4 second clip of the officer's ambulance arriving at the hospital for the 12th time.... and sure enough, I knew when the manhunt was over without benefit of TV because 2 unmarked cars went tearing down my street, lights blazing, and both cop cars left the bridges in a hurry. The gentleman with the gun had been flushed out of someone's backyard about a mile south of me, and the police gunned him down while every other cop within a 2 mile radius sped to the scene. I'm no doctor, but in the helicopter view of that scene, the guy looked pretty dead. So with that, the lockdown was lifted, and we could go about our business. I was free to go to the bank, and pick up my dry cleaning, and think about the fact that this beautiful fall day just became the worst day of numerous people's entire life. That's true every day, of course.... but it usually doesn't happen in my literal back yard.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

OK, That's Just....Ick.

As I've mentioned before, I enjoy using Sitemeter to see who's reading my blog and how they found me. Sure, it kinda gives me the willies when I see someone's Googled my name--but that's nothing compared to the utter creepiness of this week's hit spike. Since posting about Wonder Woman, below, I have gotten multiple hits from people Googling the phrase "Lynda Carter chlorofirm."** Tracking this back, I discover that I am only one of many sites which mention those three words in near proximity (not too surprising.) But the #1 spots on Google's list are taken up by.... shudder.... guys posting on message boards about how these scenes in WW turn them on. Chlorofirm** as sex aid--who knew? Good thing it ISN'T available at Sam's Club! And today's discovery of note: I am the #1 site to come up on Google when some weirdo Googles "Bionik Womyn chlorofirm." **

Changing to a less peculiar topic, I did watch "High Society" this evening. While I'd agree that some of the musical numbers are worth hearing (Karen, I preferred the Celeste Holm/Sinatra duet about "who wants to be a millionaire") the movie itself has none of the sparkle and depth of the original "Philadelphia Story." I don't think it's just my natural prejudice in favor of the fab four in the main roles, either. The plot has been severely thinned to allow for the music, and C.K. Dexter Haven's character has been utterly changed. He's no longer a reformed alcoholic--which is why Tracey divorced him in the first place in PS--now he's a jazz song writer, which somehow was grounds for divorce in this film instead. So we go through the whole film thinking Tracey's an utter idiot for dumping Dex, and we know she'll go back with him because there's no reason NOT to. And Cary Grant's Dex takes great pleasure in tormenting Tracy, while Crosby makes it continually obvious he's madly still in love with her. Sinatra's bad boy image doesn't jive well with the Mike character, we don't see his passion for writing or his fascination with anything other than Grace Kelly's feminine assets.... I do like Celeste Holm, but she still lacks the sharp sardonic edge that Ruth Hussey brought to Liz. The girl who plays the little sister is funny, but a little more cutesy and less conniving than Virginia Weidler. Basically HS is not as razor-sharp or witty as PS, and its peculiar character/plot holes are hard for me to overlook just because of the music. A good musical should integrate its songs within the framework of a solid and interesting plot, and HS just doesn't. Guess I'm still out of the will.....

**I edited this post after the third time someone googled the above phrase (spelled right) and spent a considerable amount of time on my site. Stands to reason if you're a weirdo, you don't necessarily like being called a weirdo on the first site your search pulls up. So unless they bookmarked me, they won't be finding this site again. Shudder.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Knot Gardens

Knot Gardens
Originally uploaded by hamaker88.
Thanks to the Hoser, I'm now a flickr member. So I'm posting some pics of the place where I worked this summer. My last day was last Sunday, and I already miss it... sort of. The pics aren't great, but you'll get the idea of what the place is like.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I Suppose It Was Inevitable...

My parents officially disinherited me this evening. And not even for the reasons I would have imagined--all my grevious wrongs as a daughter apparently weren't enough to push me over the ledge of parental non-ownership. No, my unforgivable sin was that I confessed to not liking Frank Sinatra. Yes. It's true. I don't like Bing Crosby either; I think that was the real deal-breaker right there. It began with an argument over whether "High Society" is a superior film to its non-musical counterpart, "The Philadelphia Story." Naturally, I hold that any film with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey is by definition superior to one with Frank and Bing. Pressed, I finally said "But I just don't like Sinatra...." and it was all downhill from there. My favorite movie musical is "Singin' in the Rain," and therefore my favorite musical singer is Gene Kelly. Mom insists that Gene isn't a singer, he's a dancer, to which I say well he sure sounds like a singer when he's actually SINGING in the RAIN.... You can guess how things progressed. And then the final straw was when I reluctantly admitted that I haven't actually watched "High Society," although I've seen many other films with Bing and Frank and haven't warmed up to either of them in the slightest. So I'm out of the will. They're giving it all to the Republican Party instead because they know that will really twist the knife for me. Guess I'll have to watch the movie to get out of el casa de canem.

Oh, and while I usually shy away from reading political blogs when I don't actually know the person behind them, I'm totally taken by Fafnir and his Fafblog. I've been reading it periodically when Rubber Hose links to it.... but I think I'm going to be a regular now. "Laundry Day" convinced me that these guys are above average, high-quality lunatics; it's like political commentary on an extended acid trip. I love it. I wish I could write like that.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Well, THIS Should Come as a Surprise to No One....

What Color is Your Brain?

brought to you by Quizilla

: I need to be "hands on": I like to play games, to compete, and to perform. I enjoy flexibility, changes of pace, and variety. I have difficulty with routine and structure. My favorite subjects are music, art, theatre, and crafts. I often excel in sports. I like solving problems in active ways and negotiating for what I want. I can be direct and like immediate results.
With friends: Planning ahead bores me because I never know what I want to do until the moment arrives. I like to excite my friends with new and different things, places to go, and romantic moments.
With family: I need a lot of space and freedom. I want everyone to have fun. It is hard for me to follow rules, and I feel we should all just enjoy one another.

Once again, surprisingly accurate. Maybe I should go buy that bike....

Sunday, September 05, 2004

In Your Satin Tights....Fighting For Your Rights....
And the Old Red White and Blue-ooooo!

It's been a glorious few weeks for me, for sure. Pure happiness arrived, in the form of the full first season of "Wonder Woman" on DVD. Rat Girl brought to my attention the fact that this had been released (by saying, "this is what I would have got you for your birthday if I'd had any money." She got me a cool stuffed "Animal" from the Muppet Show instead, and I bought the DVD myself. So it was like two gifts for the price of one, and now I can make Animal shout "WO-MAN! WO-MAN!" whenever Lynda Carter is on the screen.) Naturally I hit Amazon up for it right away with some of my birthday money, and in no time at all I was watching Diana Prince twirl and explode into my favorite superheroine of all time. What an awesome show. This is just the first season, which takes place during World War II (as did the old comic book) and Wonder Woman aids America in its battle against the Nazis--who are slightly less incompetant than Hogan's Heroes' Nazis, but only slightly. She spends most of her time rescuing Major Steve Trevor, who gets hit on the head and knocked unconcious an average of twice per episode. He's supposed to be a decorated Air Force hero and veteran, and yet he's constantly a victim of the sap, the sucker punch, and the chloroform rag (apparently the Nazis buy chloroform by the gallon jug. They use it all the time. Maybe there were Sam's Clubs selling this kind of stuff in bulk during the Third Reich.) Yet every time Wonder Woman rescues Steve it's always "Gosh, thanks Wonder Woman! What would I do without you?" He's never embarassed that he has to get saved by a chick every freakin' week.... He never seems particularly emasculated or threatened by Diana's physical superiority, and I think this is an interesting point. I can't think of many other women superhero shows like this; "Xena" leaps to mind as a good example of the opposite, where the guys are consistantly underestimating Xena, and always embarassed that she can whip their butts so easily. I can't remember details of "The Bionic Woman" quite so well, but it was on during the same time period as WW, and I seem to have the sense that it too took the attitude that physical strength and femininity are at cross-purposes--and of course, Jamie's love interest is the Bionic Man, who is stronger/faster/better than she is. The more I think about this, the more intrigued I become. I'm not saying that "Wonder Woman" broke all the stereotype barriers--we won't even talk about Etta Candy, the chubby, man-obsessed, compulsive eater best-friend--but I think it did venture into some then-uncharted waters as far as female hero models.

And of course, Lynda Carter is seriously hot.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

It's All About Me, Me, Me.

Once again, I find myself captivated by the Jenny Turpish Slapped Me website. This time it's quizzes, thanks to Jane.... But I also highly recommend her "Oregon Trail As I Play It" page, which made me laugh so hard I cried.

Anyway, here's my fun quiz result for the day.
Better Relationship Quiz
eXpressive: 4/10
Practical: 3/10
Physical: 6/10
Giver: 8/10

You are a RSYG --Reserved Sentimental Physical Giver. This makes you a Nice Guy/Nice Girl .

Oh, poor RSYG. You're the one all your friends of your target sex *should* be dating when you have to watch them go out with jerks. You're the sweet one that the lead in a romantic comedy ends up with after s/he learns a valuable lesson. You're the best friend, the chaperone and the shoulder to cry on when you should be the lover. Well, no one ever said people were smart.

You dislike conflict -- you prefer to express yourself through action, not discussion -- but you know it is necessary. This means you are more likely to tackle an issue before it grows, but you're also more likely to stop fighting before the issue is resolved to your satisfaction. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- it's kind of a nice compromise between fighting about everything and fighting about nothing -- but you have to remember to look out for your own interests sometimes.

You have a strong sexual appetite, but it seems so out of place with the rest of your persona that people find it hard to believe. Often they try to shield you from sexual content -- it's ridiculous, but you can use it to your advantage: everybody wants someone clean in the kitchen and dirty in the bedroom. That's you.

You don't want to cheat, but you might. Especially since it's only when you're in a relationship that you start getting the attention from your target sex that you should have been getting all along. Your experiences could make you misanthropic if you weren't so tenderhearted.

A lot of RSITs think they're RSYGs. They're not.

You'll end up with someone who deserves you in the end.

Of the 39124 people who have taken this quiz, 4.2 % are this type.

Uncanny, no? I'm not sure if I'm more entertained by the description of my relationship style (which is not bad at all) or by the repeated use of the phrase "your target sex." I realize that they're just trying to keep the quiz gender and preference neutral, but "target sex" is just funny. If you flip it around, it becomes "sex target," which is even funnier. I've always wanted to be a sex target! And yet, as an RSYG, I'm just not on the targeting radar.... Hee hee hee. Ok, sorry. Moving on.

Right, so classes have started, I'm once again a student--it's getting old, folks, I'm almost no longer excited by the purchase of new pencils and notebooks--and the class consists of 8 undergraduate graphic design majors, and 2 museum studies students who wouldn't know Adobe Illustrator if it came up and bit us on the butt. For all I know, it has that capability.... the butt-biting plug-in, or something. Anyway, I'm hoping to come out of this with at least a passing knowledge of GD software and something to put in a portfolio. All design majors have portfolios, and I want one too! In other news, there's some stirrings on the job front, but I'll save that for a future post when I can leave out words like "maybe" and "possible" and all that.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Gimme a G! Gimme an E! Gimme an N! Gimme a CON!
What's That Spell?? NERDCON!!

I just spent the better part of a week in GenCon mode. This means out-of-town guests, an orgy of game-related activities, and cash flowing away like water down a hill. It feels like I've been running non-stop since Wednesday; while I've had a great time, I'm utterly dead tired and looking forward to a nice quiet evening at home, painting the minis I bought to sell on Ebay. I'll blab at more length about the con on my gaming blog, which has lain fallow and dusty, apparently. Hmm. I fail.

Mainly, though, I spent much of this weekend eating and drinking through the kindness of others. I was bought lunches, dinners, beers, toys, and snacks by friends both local and visiting. Alex, Karen, Rob, Gareth, Andy--your generosity was much appreciated. Really. Next Gencon, dinner is on me!

And in the meantime, I'm happy to announce that A Cautionary Tale has decided on its Official Endorsement for the 2004 Presidential Election. Throw your votes behind the candidate who IS a Weapon of Mass Destruction! No More Years! No More Years!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

3...2...1.. MAWIDGE!!

I just got back from my friend Jane's wedding in San Francisco, which was lovely except that I don't do 4 hour plane rides so well anymore. I was feeling pretty barfy on arrival, and again when I got back today. I know I should look into taking drugs for this, but I have an irrational paranoia that the plane will crash and in my half-witted state I won't be able to follow the directional floor lighting to the safety rafts, and I'll be trampled to death by the people in business class.

Anyway, it was such a fast trip I'd think I dreamed it, except for the tiny agonized screams still coming from my calf muscles after spending Friday cruising the hills and valleys of SF. Chinatown, my main target destination for that day, was all I'd ever imagined it to be, though slightly (if you can believe it) cleaner. I can't tell you what a joy it was for me to walk the streets with the voice of Egg Shen in my head: "We'come to beautifow Chinatown..." sipping buttery green tea from a styrofoam cup and perusing a vast selection of tacky crap for my purchasing pleasure. It was like a little slice of tchotchke heaven. So yeah, I had a good time. Rocklawn took me on a stroll around That-Which-Is-Not-Chinatown, including The San Francisco Cable Car Museum, which I thought was excessively cool, and the incredible Musee Mechanique at Fisherman's Wharf. I still haven't forgiven DisneyWorld for dumping the Penny Arcade on Main Street; the MM is a paradise of old coin-op dioramas, fortune tellers, orchestrions, skill games, and mutoscopes. Again, what more could I have asked for? Well, I could have asked for a BART train not to have broken down on the track right when I was trying to get back to Oakland for the wedding Friday afternoon.... Talk about the cold taste of pure fear; I was actually preparing to begin running frantically along the tunnel under the bay, when the problem was suddenly solved and I was on my way again. Gah.

Sarah, my wonderful yet loud-snoring roommate has kindly taken the task of wedding review. I don't have a lot to add, except to say it was fantastic, I had a great time, and the awesome pint glass party favor will have a place of honor in my glassware collection forever. Jane and Sarah, thank you so much for inviting me to share this weekend with you and all your friends. It was a blast. Love you guys, hope you're having a great time on the honeymoon.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

You Know You've Been Working at the Zoo Too Long When....'re sitting on the patio of an Italian restraunt, waiting for your parents to meet you, and you hear a dog bark in the distance and think "Dang, what's a sea lion doing around here?" Sheesh.

Brilliant post from last time will have to wait. I'm off to San Francisco today, for Jane's wedding. I'm greatly looking forward to it, I've never been out there. Also meeting up with Sarah, (at least I hope I am, the room reservation is in her name) and Rocklawn, who I haven't seen in a couple years. This departing at 3 pm is great, I slept in and still had time to pack, clean up the house, and blog. Of course, coming back I have to be at the SF airport by like 6 am.... Gah.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

God. Damn.

Once again, a single wrong keystroke has deleted an entire post I was working on; blogger's text editor is remarkably unforgiving, there's no "undo" once something's been done. And if I write posts offline and paste them into blogger, the formatting is massively screwed up. I'm too irritated now to reconstruct--it was a good post too--so it'll have to wait til later when I've cooled down a bit. Snarl. Growl.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Hey, lookit me! I'm old!

34 as of yesterday, to be precise. No secrets on this blog....

I like to think i share my birthday month with thousands of Brood X cicadas; not again til I'm 51, what a thought! Anyway, it was lovely, I bought some perennials for my yard, went to lunch with my mom, went to a baseball game with Karen and Andy, saw some fireworks, had a great time. Tonight I'll be going out with a few friends, including the now-infamous Rat Girl and Butterfly Woman. Tiptop in the loot department, got a bike helmet and a Camelbak, a David Sedaris book and a set of handkerchiefs. What more could a girl ask for?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dep-itty Do Dah Day

Pictures can be found here. The before picture is me about a month ago, doing my monkey face. The after pictures are one wet, with gel still glimmering on my bonnie brown hair, and the other is after it's dried and gotten mucked around a bit. In the background of the latter is my hammock, which is right now the best thing I own. (Well, other than the bottle of Dep, of course.) I've had this hammock since I went to Brazil in 2000; I bought it because everyone there sleeps in hammocks all the time--at least in small villages in Amazonas, which is where we were. So, romantically, I thought I would use it to kick back on the boat we were in. Then I realized that all the hammock hooks on the boat were right over the sides; while our Amazonian boat dudes cheerfully swung their hammocks from these hooks each night, I was confident that any attempt to mount a hammock hung in this fashion would end with me dropping about 20 feet straight down into the dark waters of the Rio Negro, never to be seen again. Undaunted, I brought it home to my rental house whose yard contained.... One. Tree. You see the problem. So when I moved here I was all about the hammock again, plenty of large trees here. So large, in fact, that I would have had to drill a huge eyebolt into them to secure the hammock since there were no branches at the proper height. Once again, I failed--didn't want to drill, and didn't trust the hardware I might have used to secure it. Now, finally, Restoration Hardware has come to my rescue with a miracle product: Tree Straps. With no harm to either tree, I am now swinging blissfully outdoors in my authentic Amazonian hammock on a daily basis. It rules.

(By the way, MLE, this is your cue to say, "My god, Cathy, you haven't aged a day since college!" Since I don't think we've actually seen each other since 1991.... Or at least, don't say "My God, Cathy, what happened to you....")

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Behold, the Power of Gel....

Pardon the lengthy pause. Just presume that had I been blogging in the last couple weeks, the posts would have been titled as follows: "It was hot at work today." "Why won't it rain? I hate watering plants. It was hot at work!" "I found a $100 bill in the street, so I'm probably going to die soon." and "Jesus, it's hot."

I'm pretty OCD about my hair. Actually, I'm pretty OCD about a lot of things, but that's another story. (At least I'm not OCD about watering the petunias on the trellises at work--wait, that's ANOTHER other story. Rewind. Hair.) My haircut hasn't changed substantially in quite some time, and I tend to obsess just a little about its length and shagginess level.... But the summer weather has conspired against me, as you can see in all those posts I didn't write; I finally decided it was time to get my hair cut short. Not super short, but a lot shorter than I usually do. It's sad how freaked I was at this prospect before I finally did it--would my ears show? Would they look stupid? Would >I< look stupid? Would people point and laugh? Rationally, of course I know no one except me gives a crap what my hair looks like, but irrationally it's right up there with, say, the Space Program and Oprah's Book Club. So I bit the bullet, got the cut, and you know, it looked just fine! And felt cool, which was key.

Well, the next thing I knew, the trickle of change led to a rivulet of styling gel. Two friends, who we'll refer to here as Rat Girl and Butterfly Woman (sort of to protect their identities, but mostly because it makes them sound like really lame superheroes) took me to Target, stood me in front of the hair products section, and forced me to select gel.
ME: How about this one? It says "Sports" on it!
BW: No.
ME: How about this one? It's in a cool shaped bottle!
RG: No! Be serious.
ME: Hey, this one is purple! Can I--
Eventually, the proper gel was selected--in an odd coincidence with previous posts, the one I chose was orange--and we went back to RG's house to sculpt me out. I have a powerful aversion to anything that reminds me of those horrible makeover slumber parties in 7th grade where they'd pick the one girl who didn't wear makeup (me) and hold her down while they "fixed her up." But I trust the dynamic duo, stifled the tiny flame of internal panic, and let them do my hair. It was fun. Admittedly I look kind of like the dudes from "Grease," in the Go Greased Lightnin' number... But I kinda like it. It's worth 2 extra minutes in the morning and a glob of orange non-sport "Dep" gel. So we'll see how long it lasts.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Gardens, 911.

I know a lot of people have been asking themselves, "So what's wrong with Cathy? She hasn't injured herself or released a dangerous animal at the zoo in months!" I know, it's disappointing. I made up for it Friday, though, by self-inflicting an injury messy enough to require an accident report and a trip to the first aid office. Jane's first question: Was there an animal involved? No. Now that I'm working full time in the Gardens, I seldom have those rich opportunities to fall into animal enclosures that last summer afforded me. Mundanely, I caught my finger in the door to West Receiving, removing a small circle of skin and causing me to bleed profusely. I thought I'd actually broken it, because it hurt like a...well, it hurt a whole lot. I stumbled back through the door, gripping my finger with my other hand, tears mingling with the sweat on my face (it was plenty hot here Friday, and I'd been out planting red, white, and blue petunias for the holiday weekend. Curse you, patriotic spirit of the 4th!) Anyway, so my coworker, Susan, is one of the nicest people I've ever worked with. She's a Christian, and disapproves of obscenity, so I try very hard when I'm around her to curb my natural tendencies toward profane utterance. I drop into a chair, blood dripping from my hand, teeth clenched, and Susan is going, "You look like you're going to faint! Are you OK? I'll call security. We'll take you to Summit (the occupational health clinic) right away and get it x-rayed!" I didn't want to tell her that the reason I looked so agonized was not just the extreme pain in my hand, or the sight of blood--I don't faint--but because I was trying so hard to supress the torrent of obscenity which would, under other circumstances, have been flooding from my lips.

All's well, though, no x-ray needed, just bandages and antibiotic ointment. Maybe next time I'll have a butterfly related injury for you all.... but this time, just a door.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Supersize THIS....

I'm never eating fast food again. Seriously. In the space of two weeks I've gone completely off it. This is a result of an impulse buy at Borders, and having gone to see a movie for the first time since Return of the King came out in December. This is going to be hard.... But honest to god! Yeesh.

I picked up Fast Food Nation when I was shopping for father's day presents at Borders. This was a testament to the power of product placement; it was right on the corner of a gondola en route to the cashwrap, faced out in a bulk stack, with a bright colored cover. I didn't plan to buy anything for myself on the way in; on the way out, I was a tool. So I bought it (though I see by my link above that I could have bought it for $8 less used on Amazon....damn) and have been horribly entranced by its sordid tales of the history of fast food culture and the deplorable state of the meatpacking industry in America. While there is a certain amount of sensationalism in its tone, and a lot of bashing of "Republicans in Congress" as if a) they were a homogenous entity, and b) Democrats weren't also responsible for the passage of much of the harmful legislation he details, it's still a frightening, fascinating book. All I can say is, read it. Give it to your friends when you're done with it. And then go out and buy some fresh produce and a new cookbook.

"Supersize Me", if you haven't heard of it, is a documentary film by a guy who went on an All-McDonalds diet for 30 days, in order to disprove the company's assertion that there is no direct link between eating their food and ill health. Of course we all know that fast food isn't great for you, but many Americans still eat it 4-5 times a week. Eating McDonalds 21 times a week for 4 weeks is excessive (some would say nuts, including the filmmaker's vegan girlfriend) but it does demonstrate a very clear link between the food and overall health. He gains 20 lbs. His liver begins to malfunction. His sex drive drops. His moods swing. It's excessive, but hey--so is America.

On that happy note, I'm off to Chicago for the Taste. I plan to gorge myself on all foods not fast; it's worth the 3 hour drive.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

ZOOBILATION:(n.) the act of zoobilating; to zoobilate

There is nothing like seeing nearly 4000 people in formalwear drinking heavily at your place of employment. I know, coz I've seen it. This year I volunteered to be on the cleanup crew for the zoo's big fundraising event. The deal was, I got to empty trash for 6 hours, and in exchange I got a T-shirt, twice my usual wage per hour, and free food. Big deal, you say, free food--but Zoobiliation isn't the premiere black-tie event in this city for nothin'! Every high-end restaurant in Indy has a booth there serving Taste-of-Chicago style portions of classy food, included in the ticket price along with all the alcohol you can consume. Naturally, on the clock as I was, the latter was not an option; but the former nearly killed me. Filet mignon, shrimp, oysters, beef tenderloin, fried chicken, key lime pie, strawberries dipped in a fountain of chocolate.... All admittedly consumed on the run while emptying trash, but still! The Hungry Tiger would have been proud of me. I'd been warned that the job would be horrible, smelly, dirty, and with the chance of unpleasant surprises (like the crew last year who stumbled upon a couple engaged in, shall we say, consentual activities near the goat petting yard. Appropriately, this area of our zoo is called "Encounters.") Instead, it was the best food I've had in ages; I got to scope out the rich and famous of our fair city, saw some lovely (and not so lovely) formal dresses and tuxedoes crowding the pathways of the zoo, and got to see what a real fundraising event is like. Lord knows I'll never be able to afford a ticket to something like this! But man.... what a party.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

No fun.

This is a short one, and it's not pleasant. A good pal of mine's mom died suddenly of a heart attack this week. Her funeral was today. Like a lot of people, I think of heart attacks as primarily a men's health problem; but that's not true at all. It's a leading cause of death for women, and the symptoms of a heart attack are in many ways different for women than for men. This can lead to a slow or missed diagnosis when the symptoms begin. So go to this site now, and read up on it. You owe it to yourself to be informed, both for yourself and for the women you know and care about. Also, I know I don't have many friends who smoke. But if you do--knock it off. Seriously. Do whatever it takes you to stop, because honest to god no one deserves to get a phone call like this. Not your friends, not your family. We read about the slow painful deaths, like lung cancer and emphysema; but smoking can kill you quickly too, and it's every bit as horrible for those left behind. Think about it.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Wide World of, Sports.

It's raceday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: the Indy 500, Indianapolis' secular Mardi Gras. I have almost no interest in car racing, as it happens, despite growing up here. A certain amount of "race fever" is unavoidable if you live in Indy.... I learned my color names in kindergarten from the assorted race flags (though darned if I remember what they mean--there's a blue one with an orange stripe, what the heck IS that?) If you live anywhere on the west side of Indy you can hear the cars running on race day; it's like a distant hive of angry bees, or a spaceship warming up for takeoff. It's been going on all day today, since the weather has been poor (but not bad enough to call it off) they've been running under a red or yellow flag for a good part of the afternoon which means they're running "slow" and it's taking hours longer than it ordinarily would. I turned on the radio a bit ago to hear what's up and they were only on Lap 130 (out of 200)... so they may overlap with the Pacer game tonight, which is unfortunate.

But that's not what I came here to talk about! In an effort to make my blog more hip and relevant to today's blognews junkies, I'm pointing out a crucial news item I read yesterday. It's not about our horribly screwed up government, or Kerry's military service, or Bush's tie this keeping with today's theme, it's about sports. At the French Open this week, Russian tennis star Marat Safin pulled down his shorts and flashed a moon to celebrate making a difficult shot against his opponent. ("Safin Cheeky in 5-Set Win", Chicago Tribune May 29) He got penalized a point for this, and was furious that match officials saw something wrong with him dropping his drawers. The best part in this article was this quote:
SAFIN: I felt like it was a great point for me. I felt like pulling my pants down. What's bad about it?"
Yeah--everytime I have a personal triumph, my first impulse is to pull MY pants down. I used to do it all the time in fencing. I think I saw Ron Artest moon the Detroit bench in the playoff game Friday night. My friend Jeremy, a labor lawyer, always moons the courtroom after a particularly incisive cross-examination. (At least, I bet he does. He probably thinks about it.)

Up til now, I'd have said that professional tennis interested me even less than car racing.... but now that I know there's shorts-dropping action at the French Open, I'm going to be a fan for life.

Friday, May 21, 2004

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

I know, I haven't blogged in a while. The reason isn't particularly exciting; it's that, frankly, working outdoors in 85 degree heat and 80% humidity utterly exhausts me. Call me feeble and old... but every day for the last two weeks I've come home and basically fallen over. I've only had one day off since I got back from N.O., and I don't even remember what I did with it. I think I slept.

So what's to blog about? I could blog about the basketball playoffs--it's that time of year again, and my team (the Indiana Pacers) are in the conference finals. But that pretty much says it all about that, I'm rabidly watching TV when I should be cleaning my house, working in my yard, or gaming. I could blog more about work--like i said, it's drippingly hot. In the last two weeks I've developed a handsome tan, which stops just above my elbows and below my neck. I've also developed tons of bruises and the Death-Of-A-Thousand-Tiny-Cuts on my forearms from weeding in the Sun Garden. I could blog about my new hobby of trying to learn to identify bird songs; I have a CD, but it's like learning a new language. Well, a language where all the phrases mean things like "Hello! I'm a cardinal! Hello! I'm a cardinal!" Conversational, no. Interesting, yes. Going outside now is kind of amazing, i'?s like there's this background soundtrack that I'd never really paid attention to before and now I'm discovering it's this intricate web of signals between birds I didn't even know existed. There's a kingfisher hanging out on the canal lately, and I find it amazing that I know where he is even though I hardly ever see him. Yeah, OK, I'm easily amazed.

I had thought I'd blog about blogging this week, but this post is already getting longer than I'd anticipated without me ever actually having talked about anything, so I'll save that for the weekend.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Nawlins Rocks...

I got to spend 4+ days in New Orleans last week, leaving behind the daily grind of lawnmowing which had dominated both my life and my last two posts. I remember New Orleans as being a fabulous city from a brief visit 12 years ago; needless to say, Big Easy didn?t let me down on my return.

I thought about following Jane's post-trip model by scoring the major elements of my trip on a scale of A - F.... but I hate to be a copycat. Instead, I'll just pick out a few bits and pieces of things I noticed while I was there.

The Pigeons of Jackson Square. Jackson Square is known for its psychics and palmists and buskers. For my money, though, the scariest thing in Jackson Square are the pigeons. They're not like ordinary pigeons.... they're kind of greasy and vaguely scrofulous-looking. If a bum that looked like those pigeons came up to you, you'd give him five bucks just to leave you alone.
(Incidentally, I did not opt to have my fortune read. There were an awful lot of psychics there at little tables, and no one seemed to be doing good business when I passed by; I was afraid things might get ugly if I actually selected one psychic over another:
ME: What do you see?
PSYCHIC: I see....I see the large peroxided man three tables down breaking your kneecaps after you leave my table....
ME: Uh oh.
I did, however, pay $1 to a guy whose sandwich board read "I tell jokes for money." He did. It wasn?t a great joke, but hell, it was only $1. Maybe for $5 I could have gotten the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the insurance salesman.)

Food. I'm known, in some small circles, as The Hungry Tiger due to my ability to pretty much eat at any time. I'm nearly always hungry. Naturally, this means New Orleans is a baaaad place to be. I ate so much excellent food, it's a wonder I was able to fit into my Conferencewear (tm) by the time of my presentation.

Fishies. The very first thing I did Wednesday--literally, I dropped my bag at the hotel and started walking--was go to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Pricy, yes, but worth every penny. It was amazing, one of the best facilities I've been to--and I've been to quite a few aquariums in my day. Hell, I worked in one until very recently! Our seahorses are nice, we've got more of them, but AoA's setting for theirs is exquisite. Man. Wow.

The Morial Convention Center.Jesus, that thing is huge. And I thought Javitts was big! Naturally, my conference was on the way far end of it, entailing a hell of a lot of walking in somewhat restrictive shoes. I doubt this did anything to mitigate the food mentioned above, though.

Chillin' in the French Quarter. Despite the Morial's vastness, I made my escape from the conference on a regular basis. I hit the Cafe du Monde. I found a magic and oddities shop called "Sideshow," which is owned by Elizabeth Anderson, wife of Harry Anderson of "Night Court" and SNL fame. I prowled around the voodoo shops and bought a tiny, worried-looking little matchstick poppet. Best of all, I hooked up with Marguerite, who I hadn't seen in about 5 years; she showed me around, took me out for good food and great music, and I had a blast. Overall, an excellent week. And now, back to the land of John Deere and 12-12-12 fertilizer.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Yeah, it's a little like being Rambo... only with a lawnmower. And with my shirt on.

I started my seasonal gig at WRG yesterday, and I'm already bleeding. Now, you might think that my injury potential has declined this year since I'm not actually working in or near the animal enclosures--WRG has no penguins. However, it does have rosebushes. The Gardens consist of two main parts; a Conservatory, which houses the butterfly show I worked at in March and April, and a series of outdoor gardens over about 3 acres of ground. The tour de force (from a marketing standpoint) is the "Wedding Garden" which is, of course, designed to be rented out for weddings. It's a large swath of green turf lawn, bordered by crushed limestone paths on one side and a brick walk covered by a trellis on the other. Framing the edges of the garden are those typical wedding plants, the rosebushes. One of my new duties is to mow the wedding garden, in perfect stripes and along the edges... which is where the blood part comes in. Just a few scratches, of course, but still. A peculiar thing, as my coworker pointed out, is that people like to sit and watch you mow the wedding garden. I'm not sure why this is--do they wish THEY were mowing the wedding garden? Are they fantasizing that their own lawns might someday look like this ode to turf? Or are they just glad to see someone else sweating behind a mower? Either way, sure enough, once i got started, a family of three just sat on one of the benches watching me mow. Point being, of course, that this seriously curtailed the stream of profanity that might otherwise have resulted from my encounter with the rosebushes. Just as well, a cussing gardener doesn't reflect well on the Gardens or the Zoo. Still, though.... %$#@&!

Monday, April 26, 2004

The First Cut Is the Deepest....

I like mowing my lawn. (Before you ask—no. I would not like mowing your lawn. Anything I'm about to say here applies to my lawn, and my lawn only.)

Ahem. I like mowing my lawn. Today I got home from work a bit early; the sun was shining; I was eating an ice cream cone; and I thought to myself, I'd like to mow the lawn! Admittedly, the urge to mow probably had something to do with the fact that I've got two 10-12 page papers due in the next two days.... But still, I hadn't mowed yet this spring, so it was a positive impulse and I felt I should act on it.

When I say lawn, by the way, I mean "lawn" in the loosest sense of the word. My lawn is made up of 25% shady fescue grass, 40% violets and ground ivy, 5% dandelions, 20% undesireable grass, 9% peculiar unidentified weeds, and 1% lovely little wildflowers which I feel guilty if I accidentally mow over them. Trillium, solomon's seal, virginia bluebell, spiderwort—all tiny, colorful blobs of guilt. So mowing can be kind of an adventure. After mowing for fun and profit last summer at the Zoo, I got accustomed to perfectly green, thick turf; mowed it in different striped patterns each week, just like the guys on the baseball fields, all of it very mathematically precise, neat, and trim. My yard, on the other hand, cannot be mowed in stripes because of the profusion of large trees. The patterns are marred by my occasional swerves around the trillium. And "perfectly green" and "thick" are not words we'd use to describe the fescue/violet/weed mixture. Still, when all's said and done, and it's all evenly cut and smelling nice and looking sharp with little dots of violet still showing here and there.... Ahhhh. Does a body good! Papers, schmapers...

Monday, April 19, 2004

some might say...

Some might say it’s odd that i get along with my ex’s current Significant Other. Frankly, I find it a little odd myself... There are times when i find it very difficult to be around the two of them together. But then there are also times like Saturday night, when I took Ex and the C.S.O. out to the bars to celebrate CSO’s 21st birthday:

(in my driveway, preparing to leave)
EX: Cathy, you should show (CSO) the ‘Stang!

ME: Err...sure, if you’d like to see it..... (opens garage to reveal bright red 1965 Mustang v-6 Coupe, driven only on special occasions.)

CSO: Oh. My. God.

ME: (shyly) You like it?

CSO: If there’s ever any errands I could run for you, in this car, like if you wanted coffee or something and you didn’t have time to go get it yourself...

EX: You’d be her bitch?

CSO: I would SO be your coffee bitch.

Seriously, how can I dislike her? She’d be my coffee bitch. Hee hee hee....

Friday, April 16, 2004

The Right Loses Ground...

Right brain that is--though it's been a bad week for the political right as well. While I didn't actually watch the president's press conference, I did read the transcript (scary) and saw a photo of his tie (even scarier. who dressed him? it's like the secret identity hypno-tie from The Tick...) I swear, sometimes I almost think the conspiracy theorists have it right--else how does someone who is so bad at thinking on his feet get to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world? Whether you love him or hate him, that Q and A sure didn't make him look good.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, my brain. After a look at the bank balance--dismal!--and a ride to and from work yesterday on the old bike with the new cushy non-orange seat, I've decided to stick to what I know for a while yet. At least til I know if I've got a new job. Second interview Monday, at long last. I'm in financial crisis mode at the moment not just because my cash inflow is poor, but because I'm going to a conference in early May and have been unable to secure funding assistance from either my school or from the Association of Midwest Museums, to whom I applied for a scholarship back in February. So I may be eating the $250 in registration fees and $300+ in airfare myself. Plus health insurance, plus mortgage...makes May an ugly month for me... So no new bike for me yet. I'll be lucky if I can afford a shellacked carrot.*

*see previous comments field. sheesh! my response to your suggestions is finally posted....

Friday, April 09, 2004


It begins to look as if, one way or another, I’ll be working in White River State Park for at least part of the summer. I can get there by bike in 45 minutes, entirely on scenic bike paths; so I’ve begun to think about biking to work. (Never mind that, if I’m working at the zoo again this summer, the odds of my feeling like biking home after pushing a lawnmower for 8 hours in Indiana heat and humidity are approximately zilch. I’ve never generated so much sweat in my life.... First purchase for Gardens work this summer will be a water bottle with a belt-hook. Second will be a pair of steel-toe tennis shoes, hopefully made with more comfort in mind than my trusty-yet-painful Wolverines from last year. But I digress.)

Anyway, so thoughts of biking naturally lead to the thought of buying a new bike. My old bike is a black Schwinn “World” 10-speed, purchased in 1984 for my fourteenth birthday present. It was one of those defining childhood moments--a grownup bike, and I got to pick it out myself at Mac’s Broad Ripple Bicycle Shop. I test drove it. I may have even kicked the tires. It was a big deal; it was my first taste of transportational freedom. I still have a very clear memory of my first trip to the McDonalds at 96th and Meridian, independent of parental conveyance.... so the thought of buying a new bike brings a tear to my eye. But nostalgia aside, the seat is harder than a rock and bruises the hell out of my butt. So I went to the bike store to look around, and the two halves of my brain discussed our options.

RIGHT BRAIN: We should get a new bike!

LEFT BRAIN: We should carefully examine our options, read up on different brands, do some web research, and--

RIGHT BRAIN: I like this one!


RIGHT BRAIN: It’s orange!

LEFT BRAIN: Think for a minute. You want to spend $350, which I remind you we don’t actually have, on a Trek Adventure 4000, just because it’s orange.

RIGHT BRAIN: It’s orange! And shiny! We should buy it.

LEFT BRAIN: That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

RIGHT BRAIN: You said that when we bought the iMac, too.

LEFT BRAIN: Sigh....True ‘dat.

In the end, I bought a new cushy seat for the Schwinn for $25 instead. Trek Adventure 4000....mmmm.....It could happen.

Saturday, April 03, 2004


With the success of the previous quiz, I decided I'd better try Ravenblack's other offerings before moving on with the blog. Check me out:

What Video Game Character Are You? I am Kong.I am Kong.

Strong and passionate, I tend to be misunderstood, sometimes even feared. I don't want to fight, I don't want to cause trouble, all I ask is a little love, and a little peace. If I don't get what I want, I get angry, and throw barrels and flaming oil at whatever's stopping me. What Pre-1985 Video Game Character Are You?

What Sort of Hat Are You? I am a Fedora.I am a Fedora.

The hat of the adventurous, I am spontaneous and active, perhaps sometimes a little foolishly. Regardless, I always come out alright. What Sort of Hat Are You?

I am the sonnet, never quickly thrilled;
Not prone to overstated gushing praise
Nor yet to seething rants and anger, filled
With overstretched opinions to rephrase;
But on the other hand, not fond of fools,
And thus, not fond of people, on the whole;
And holding to the sound and useful rules,
Not those that seek unjustified control.
I'm balanced, measured, sensible (at least,
I think I am, and usually I'm right);
And when more ostentatious types have ceased,
I'm still around, and doing, still, alright.
In short, I'm calm and rational and stable -
Or, well, I am, as much as I am able.
What Poetry Form Are You?

This very well may be the best quiz site ever. (Oh, and my backups were tomato, "Jet-Pack Man," whoever that was, a transparent visor, and a haiku.)

Thursday, April 01, 2004


I swear, these quizzes just get stranger and stranger.

What Flavour Are You? I taste like Beef.I taste like Beef.

I taste like beef. I'm probably made of beef. You are what you eat, they say, and if the title didn't mean something else, I would be a beefeater. I think red meat is good for you. Puts hair on your chest. What Flavour Are You?

What can I say? I'm what's for dinner.

Friday, March 26, 2004

*Insert Tortured Artist Here*

When I have schoolwork due, art suffers. (Obviously, if I were an actual art student, I wouldn't be having this problem. Or maybe I would, and it would be even more emotionally devastating.) The real problem is, since people are actually PAYING me for the stuff I paint--in some cases, pre-paying me--there's a whole level of guilt associated with not painting in addition to the general frustration of spending my time poring over financial statements instead of happily dabbing tiny dots of paint onto little lead soldiers. They say you have to suffer for art... Reading financial statements is suffering.... Therefore, doing my homework makes me a better artist! Or, not.

All's well in butterfly-land. I'd add more links for cool pictures, but I'm still recovering from the firestorm of commentary on my last ones. We've got African butterflies now, from Kipepeo Project in Nairobi. ("Kipepeo" means "butterfly" in Swahili. That's your educational moment for today, thank you for your attention.) They're very cool, though I'm fairly sure that 90% of the patrons I've talked to weren't suitably impressed by the presence of Kenyan butterflies. They're all too busy trying to photograph the Blue Morphos. Taking a good photo of a Morpho is only slightly easier than taking a good photograph of the Invisible Man; when they're flying they're very fast and very erratic, and when they land they close their wings and the blue vanishes. So people run back and forth across the conservatory, pointing their cameras, pressing the button, looking at the digital replay screen and going "Dammit!" and starting over. I took my own camera to work Wednesday, to see what I could get, and even I couldn't get a nice Morpho picture over the course of 8 hours. Did get some other nice ones though, which I might post over on my website if people are interested...

Had my first interview with the Eiteljorg yesterday, but I think public posting any details would be verbotten; I'll just say, it went fine, second interviews are in a week and we'll see if I get called back. I'm also considering applying at Starbucks, I hear they give staff a free pound of coffee per month!