Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun With Acrostics

Dear Readers, I have been inspired by a friend's Christmas letter that was made in the form of an acrostic poem.  For her letter, she used the letters from "MERRY CHRISTMAS," which in my mind is a very ambitious undertaking.  She was able to pull it off perfectly, but I don't have the patience (or the exciting life adventures) to do 14 paragraphs of information, so I chose a more reasonable phrase, "GOD JUL."  Bonus points if you know what that means (and what language it is) without using Google.

Here goes.

Gasoline.  I sure used a lot of this stuff in the past year in my commuting to work, school, home, parents' house, etc.  I anticipate that the coming year shall be more of the same, but thank goodness that my car gets good mileage.  Thank goodness also that my generous father sometimes likes to fill my gas tank on the weekend.

One more.  That is how many years I have left in my graduate school program if everything goes to plan.  It has also become my personal mantra when I am feeling overwhelmed with homework.  I just realized that overwhelmed is another "o" word.  Neat.

Daria on DVD.  This animated show used to be a favorite of mine on MTV.  This year it finally came out on DVD (the entire series) and I nearly sang for joy.  Sadly, a lot of the original music is not included (copyright issues) but it still gets the job done.  Oh joy.

Jack Russell Terriers.  My parents own two of the most awesome dogs in the world.  Seriously, I know all dogs are awesome in their own way, but these two are magical and they make my life a lot better.

Unplanned expenses.  Yes, I did have a minor car accident this fall and it was not cheap.  I realize that this is something that could have been avoided.  Now you tell me.

Last minute vacations.  Thank goodness for my awesome friend and her travel-loving husband who put together an amazing trip for eight to Tuscany all in the space of a couple of months.  Thank goodness also for professors who show mercy to those who need to miss the last night of classes in order to be able to go on this amazing trip.

I think that turned out rather well.  I probably could get a bit more creative with more time, but off the top of my head, this really works.

Monday, December 20, 2010


First of all, I have made an executive decision to halt the 12 Days of Christmas pictures.  There are not enough days left, first of all, and second of all I am just not inspired at the moment.  Big things have been happening.  Some are happy, some are sad.  Mostly, they are things that I cannot share at present.  Give me a few weeks. 

In the meantime, I am having a REALLY hard time not sharing one piece of news, but I know that it is VERY important that I keep it to myself.  This means that when I am finally allowed to speak of it, I will be so boiling over with pent up energy and excitement that I will likely explode in a giant glittery cloud of oversharing.  Be prepared.

In the meantime, we are in the final stretch for Christmas.  Are you ready?  I sure am.  All of my presents have been delivered, so I'm just waiting to give them to their respective future owners.  Now I just have to figure out how to convince my parents that I do not need to rent a pair of cross-country skis for this weekend.  Honestly.  Snowshoes would be more than acceptable for me.  Contrary to my Nordic roots, I do NOT have any natural skill at cross-country skiing.  I believe that a blindfolded giraffe in roller skates would be more graceful.

If you're interested in updates, I may perhaps have my laptop with me this weekend and may be able to post updates.  It may be interesting, especially if there are any accidents.  Also, the puppies will be there.  I expect that hilarity may ensue from them as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Adventure

First of all, an update on my school situation.  Last night I turned in my paper and did my mini-presentation.  It went... OK.  My professor likes to have people go in alphabetical order, which meant that I presented second-to-last.  On the negative side, I had the whole class period to stew about it.  On the positive side, everyone else was so relieved and tuned out by the time I went that I don't think many people were paying too much attention.  Tonight I am going on a field trip for my last class, so I'm actually looking forward to it. 

Now for my adventure.  OK, so it's really more of an unknown journey with mysterious and unpredictable outcomes.  Hm.  No.  It's not really any of that.

Basically, this morning at work we had our annual "health benefits meeting."  This is where our insurance rep comes in and explains our coverage basics for the coming year, including costs and new inclusions/exclusions.  As is the trend with most things in life, our insurance has grown more expensive with each passing year.  This year is no exception.

The big change is that this year, I decided to try something new.  I went online and completed the application forms and checked out pricing and coverage for individual plans.  Turns out, for less money per month I can get a plan that actually meets my needs and concerns.  AND if I don't go on my employers plan, my company saves money by not having to pay monthly for my group premiums as well. 

So... pending approval from underwriting, I am going to be insured all by myself for the first time in my life.  It's a bit scary, but the insurance company is one that I've used before and it fairly reputable (relatively speaking). 

I realize that this may not have been the big and exciting story you were all expecting, so as consolation, here is a drawing for the Days of Christmas series:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the first day of Christmas...

My own version of events for the classic countdown tune.

What can I say?  I love turkey burgers!  OK, let's me be honest, I love burgers of any kind, but cow, beef, bison and chicken do not rhyme with "me."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Final Countdown!

Perhaps the title of this post is a bit of a misleading statement.  For the record, I am NOT graduating after this semester, I am just completing another set of classes towards my graduate degree.  However, this past semester has been my most challenging and irritating one so far, and I am therefore exponentially much more excited to finish it. 

Let me bring you up to speed.  I have been griping about my research paper assignment and my lack of motivation to complete said assignment.  Happily, I can now report that the difficult part of that assignment (the actual paper) is done.  I now need to finish my abstract (a brief summary of the paper), fill out my reference list and make a power point presentation that can last no longer than five minutes. 

I suppose you are all now curious as to whether or not I was able to get any work done over the weekend that effectively sealed me in to my parents' house with deep, cold and snowy walls.  The answer?  No.  Well, I did spend some time reading my articles to be used as resources and wandering around the house with a lost expression on my face.  Actually, I was waiting for inspiration to hit, but my parents were a little worried.  I think.

Also, my brother and his girlfriend came up to visit.  This is not an event that occurs very often, so I think I was justified in not wanting to spend the weekend squirreled away in a room with my laptop.  Additionally, we did exchange a few Christmas gifts and I receieved Super Mario Brothers Wii, so of course we had to play.  My brother is much better at navigating video games, so he was able to help me get to a higher level than I would normally be capable of.  In his absence, I will hopefully improve to the point that I can be a non-laughable challenge to my 10 year-old cousin next time I see him.

So, do you want to know what finally inspired me to rattle off this resesarch paper?  One word:  potluck.  Yes, the holiday season is truly upon us when my office has its annual potluck party.  Usually, this means that everyone brings food and then congregates in the lunch room area and generally wastes half the day.  Unfortunately, now that I am working in the customer service area, I do not have the freedom to sit and chat for hours on end as we have to make sure that there is coverage to serve our customers. 

This year, we decided to even the playing field a bit.  Instead of having a mid-day time waster of an event, we are waiting until after hours to start the rabid feasting.  This way, we do not have to worry about customers and can stay as long as we like.  It ALSO means that when we have finished eating, we do not have to return to our desks where we will likely pass out from lethargic post-meatball and cocktail weenie comas.  Instead, we can leave work and head home... or to happy hour.  I'm pretty sure I will be doing the latter option. 

With this in mind, I had no choice but to complete the heavy thinking portion of my paper last night.  (It is due on Wednesday.)  My inspiration carried over last night into the completion of the journal for my other class (due Thursday), so I am now almost completely ready to end the semester!  Bring on the Jameson party!  (More on this later.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Dress Your Baby: Holiday Edition

I seem to have found my creative muse for the season.  Unfortunately, it has not yet been parlayed into the creation of my final paper.  In order to loosen the gears in my head and stop the distractions, I have decided to let loose a new batch of baby clothing design options, especially geared towards Christmas in my family.  Again, if anyone out there would like to create one of these for an actual baby, please do so.  Just be sure to send me a picture.  Enjoy.

1.  I am a Happy Christmas Tree

This is the most obvious of my designs.  It keeps babies warm AND it has cool flashy lights so you can find your baby quickly should they wander off in the department store.

2.  Circle of Pine

Again, this is another obvious choice.  Honestly, I am very surprised that no one has thought of this before!  People love wreaths.  People love babies.  Wreath + Baby = Ultra Holiday Happy Cheer Spreading Machine.

3.  Purely Ornamental

Now we're starting to get a little more creative while still staying close to basics.  What is more classic than a shiny red ornament and a silver tinsel boa? 

4.  Sweets for the Sweet

Personally, I am not a huge candy cane fan, but they certainly do put people into a holiday mood.  As an added bonus, the crook of the candy cane can be used as a handle to restrain or pick up your little minty mayhem maker.

5.  Do NOT Re-Gift!

Personally, I have never eaten fruitcake, nor do I have any intention of doing so.  The same goes for babies.  Does that make this a perfect pairing?  Perhaps.

6.  Shake It Up Baby!

Let's just face it, snow globes are awesome.  There is something so calming about them, and what child couldn't stand a little calming action?  In case you couldn't tell, the baby's head is NOT in the water. 

7.  Just a Little Lefse

You might need to be an American of Scandinavian descent to understand this one, but for my family, nothing says holidays like fighting over the plate of lefse.  For the uneducated, it is a tortilla-like flatbread made with potatoes and cooked on a special lefse griddle using a special lefse turning stick.  My favorite preparation is with butter and sugar, all rolled up (usually without a baby in the middle). 

8.  Eat at Your Own Risk

If you want to know more about lutefisk, Google it.  I can't say too much more about it without triggering my gag reflex, but it remains a popular holiday item in these parts.  Please note that the baby's headgear represents the enormous pat of butter that would be necessary to make the lutefisk even 1% edible. 

9.  Family Traditionwear

This one may be a bit out there, but it is absolutely necessary for me to include it.  Fattigman cookies are a family tradition in my household, and my father claims to have eaten more fattignman in his lifetime than anyone else now living.  He makes that qualification because there are probably some people now deceased who could have competed with him.  But a lifetime of eating pounds of these fried delights has earned him certain bragging rights. 

This concludes my fashion show for now.  I hope you enjoyed it and are feeling inspired.  If not to go out and make one of these fine creations, then just to get yourself in a holiday mood.  And maybe make me some cookies or lefse.  No lutefisk please.


There were a couple of extra fashions that I didn't finish in time for the first version.  Please excuse my tardiness.

10.  Let There Be Light

Christmas lights are nice.  They enable otherwise mild-mannered homeowners to jazz up their house exteriors and make passersby think that they are cool.  Some people make a competition out of it, but in the end, it's all in good fun, right?

11.  The First Day of Christmas

The title of this design should make it obvious what I am trying to portray.  However, if you are still unsure, here is a hint:  it is NOT the Jolly Green Giant!!! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time Travel Volume 1

Let's take a little break from the norm, shall we?  In reference to the fact that I should in fact be spending more time composing an original essay for school and not writing new things for this blog, I am going to post some "vintage" entries.

By "vintage" I do not mean older blog posts.  Good grief, I'm not at that point yet.  At least I hope not.  No, I will attempt to delve back into my pre-adolescent mind and share some of the ramblings and angst that I experienced in seventh grade.  If I need to, I MAY change names to protect the innocent.

Here we go.

Entry No. 1 - 12/27/1992


You're my 3rd diary that locks.  My first one, I got 3 years ago from my grandma.  Eventually my 2 brothers broke the lock and read it, and I have kept it hidden since.  My second one was a birthday present 2 years ago when I turned 11.  This one I just recieved for Christmas from my aunt and uncle.  One thing I especially like about this diary, is that it doesn't put the date in for you.  You write it in your self.  That's good, because I probably won't write every day.  You'll probably notice the space between entries.  At least I won't waste paper.  This seems like an English diary, the type my aunt & uncle would buy.  They also gave me a pair of suede pants, a book called "The Children of Charlecote" and a necklace.  More later!  -Meg


Wow.  Aside from the fact that this may be the most boring entry ever made by a 12 year-old, there's not much to this at first glance.  There was a GLARING spelling error committed here, and I almost self-corrected, but I want to stay true to facts so I left it in.  I'm pleased at my ability to successfully use contractions properly.

Honestly, I am not sure about the locked diary thing, but my memory 18 years ago was probably much more clear.   I do remember dealing with the problem of diaries with pre-written dates.  It always made me feel like such a failure.

Suede pants, huh?  I believe they were purple culottes.  They were all the rage, I'm sure.

I think there's time for one more.

Entry No. 2  -  2/8/93


I never told you who I like.  No one had better be reading this!  I like [name withheld].  He's kindof a femme, but he's a babe!  He plays piano and he's REALLY good!  I mean it!  Like the best in the school! He's got a good voice too.  He's really nice.  He goes to my new church Evangelical Free.  I never knew him before because he went to the Christian school.  My Dog is being innocent after a crime.  I know she's up to something.  She's kissing my leg and I'm wearing leggings!  She just nose printed my diary!  [Initials of crush] is a BABE!  Stars & Stripes Forever Man!  Dogiss!  Maggie!  -Meg 

This is a recreation of the illustration I added to this entry.
Oh.  My.  Please keep in mind that I was 12.  Ugh.  Yes, I am withholding the name and initials of the crust in question.  Mostly to protect him from mortification.  Fair warning:  future entries are going to be much more name heavy.  Perhaps I should devise code names?  We'll see.  Actually, in junior high my friends and I assigned numbers to our crushes so that we could talk about them in code and scribble said numbers all over our belongings.

One last interesting note - I mentioned that I was wearing leggings.  I believe these are back in style for some people.  Does this mean an imminent return of suede purple culottes worn over tights?  One can only dream...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lunchtime: A Retrospective

It has just occurred to me that most of my recent blog entries have not been very historical/story oriented.  On a slightly odd note, the French word for story is histoire.  Coincidence, no?  To remedy this horrible laziness on my part, I will attempt to be a bit more amusing and a bit less all about the current events updates.  At least today.

Instead of choosing one episode from my mildly amusing past, I am going to write today about a theme.  The theme is LUNCH.  Please be aware, this not lunch in a general worldwide historical sense, this is just lunch in my experience for the past 30 years.

The Early Years

I really don't remember much about the time before I could consume solid foods, so let's just forget about that. 

In my pre-school days, I was home for lunch with my mother and brother.  My mother was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) which meant that we spent a lot of "quality" time together.  While I know she was happy to be able to do this, I'm pretty sure there were some days she would have gladly shipped us to the moon.  At least if the entries in my baby book about my epic brattiness are to be believed.

I am not now nor have I ever been a picky eater, but in the early 80's in small-town Minnesota, there were not too many interesting options for toddler food.  My mom did the best with her available resources, and I personally think she did a great job.  Kids are finicky, but they also seem to like routine.  This explains why we ate pretty much the same thing every day.

Here is the typical menu:  butter-under-peanut butter toast, apple slices, cheese slices and milk.  On rare occasions I would switch it up and just have peanut butter toast.  Or buttered toast.  That's about it.  Actually, when I was about 3 or 4, I decided to make my own toast and shocked my mother by demonstrating that I did in fact know how to do this purely based on my observational learning. 

Please note that although my lunch menu was not highly varied, we did eat different foods at different meals.  This was just the easiest thing to do as it covered the nutritional basics, was quick and easy, and was clean enough for us to feed to ourselves.  It was a very happy time in my life from a lunch standpoint.

School Days

As my early days had established a strong love of lunch in my mind, I was optimistically curious about the unknown and oddly appealing notion of eating lunch at school.  My kindergarten year was a bit disappointing as I only attended for half a day which meant that I did not eat lunch in the cafeteria.  First grade was a different story.

In anticipation of the school cafeteria experience, I was given a blue Carebear lunchbox.  It was amazing - I think I would have carried it everywhere with me if I could.  From its ultra-secure fastening to the super sweet thermos, it was a sight to behold.  Sadly, it was not to get much use.

I'm not sure how they do things any more in elementary schools, but back in those days, there were only two options, hot or cold lunch.  "Hot" lunch was provided by the school cafeteria and was subject to the menu creating whims of whatever sick and diabolical madman (or madwoman) who had to the proper authority clearance.  "Cold" lunch was whatever your mother sent from home. 

At first, I think the idea of school cafeteria created lunches were interesting and maybe even appealing.  It must not have lasted long.  If there is one thing I distinctly remember about my early elementary school years, it is learning the scent of a school cafeteria.  This smell is universal, no matter what school or what size of cafeteria.  It is hard to describe - an odd combination of rot, preservatives, cheese, soap and despair.

By the time I reached middle school, my love of lunch had been completely destroyed.  Lack of adult supervision left me with an interesting loophole in the school lunch requirement setup.  I simply chose not to eat.  Was this a colossal waste of my parents' money?  Sure.  Was this a terrible nutritional choice?  Probably.  Did it lead to chronic migraine headaches and dehydration?  Yep.  Did any of that matter to me at the time?  No.

Junior high brought me a new option - the snack bar.  The cafeteria lines were starting to be somewhat more diverse - we had a regular lunch line and a soup/salad/sandwich line - but my appetite could never get past the omnipresent stench of cafeteria.  The snack bar was a beautiful oasis of prepackaged and therefore untainted options.  Unfortunately, the snack bar did not accept lunch tickets as payment; cash was required.

Whenever I was able to get money from my parents, I ate well on a healthy diet of chocolate shakes and cookies.  (Keep in mind that I had a 13 year-old's metabolism at this time.)  When I lacked funds, I simply did not eat.  Again, not a brilliant nutritional strategy, but there was no convincing me otherwise.

By high school, I finally started to let my guard down.  Our facility was brand-new and options grew much more varied.  In addition to the hot lunch line, we had a salad bar, a pizza line and a burger line.  We still had a snack bar, but I learned quickly what few items in the regular lunch offerings were somewhat palatable, and I survived.  I certainly did not love lunch by this point, but I hated it less.

College was a completely different ballgame.  Our food service was amazing and our options were virtually limitless.  I managed to stay nutritionally satisfied while still avoiding the "freshman 15" curse.

Working Girl

Upon graduating from college, I started my first job.  I actually still work for the same company, almost nine years later.  When I first started here, I lived about five minutes from the office.  Every day for my 45 minute lunch break, I would get in my car and motor home to relax, watch some TV and eat whatever was available in my own kitchen.  In poor weather, I would occasionally remain at work and dine in the tiny break room.  This is when I learned about microwavable meals. 

There are many different brands and varieties, but they are all basically the same.  A prepackaged frozen entree that is advertised as "lean," "healthy," "smart" or "kashi."  One important lesson I learned is that one should be wary of meals of this type that contain any type of meat.  Don't ask me to explain why.  Just trust me.

Back when times were better, my employer would spring for office lunch to be brought in once a month to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.  Not only was this great as it was a break from my monotonous lunches from home, but it was a fun time to chat with my coworkers.  Now that times are a bit leaner, we no longer have office-sponsored lunches.  Once a year we do an employee potluck, which is still pretty fun, but not nearly often enough.

In 2005, I moved into a new department within my company.  It was a big change in job duties, but it was also a change in culture as it was a small department and was primarily made up of older men.  Older men who never brought lunch from home and went out to eat every single day.  Slowly I was sucked into their world of constant restaurant hopping until it started to spiral out of control for me calorie and money-wise.  So I pulled back and resisted; I only allowed myself to go out once a week on average.

This worked out pretty well.  Then, about a year ago, I moved into a different area of the company.  I now work with mostly females in a more customer service oriented setting.  Due to coverage issues, it is not as easy to take off for lunch whenever I want to, but I have also lost interest in eating my frozen prepackaged meals in the dungeon break room.  So, inevitably we end up eating together near our desks some form of take-out or delivery.  Occasionally my coworker will bring in leftovers from the previous nights' dinner and we will feast on regular food.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that I feel a bit like I have come full-circle in that I have learned to again appreciate the meal that is called lunch.  Not only does it symbolize the middle of my work day but it stands for yumminess and a short break from work.  Who knows what it will come to symbolize in the years to come - maybe someday when I am in a nursing home eating pureed food I will long for the days of the school cafeteria.

On a side note, I need to remember to stop drinking so much coffee.  Last night was pretty much a nightmare of waking dreams and unfulfilled sleeping needs.  By the time 6 a.m. rolled around, I was borderline delirious.  Like all Mondays, the thought of taking a personal day briefly flashed across my mind, but in true Megan form, I decided to save my personal days for really important future events, not just simple brain malfunctions.

I arrived at work in one piece, but I immediately accosted the coffee pot and proceeded to down at least three full cups before lunch.  Hopefully this does not spell disaster for my hopes of an early bedtime tonight. 

In other news, I have a paper due in nine days.  I have all my sources (articles) picked out.  I just have to read them and assemble it all into a coherent thesis and paper that is at least ten pages long.  In true Megan fashion, I'm sure it will be a slam session where I just hammer the whole thing out and refuse to reread and edit any mistakes I may have made in my rush to completion.  Or maybe not!  This time maybe, just maybe, I will be diligent and proofread my own paper before I turn it in. 

Crap.  I just realized that I have concluded my awesome theme entry with personal updates.  Is this OK?  Hm.  Well, I guess I did start this entry about a week ago, so it's probably alright that I added to it.  Just think, in less than two weeks I will be able to write entries completely unfettered by the restraints of schoolwork.  Hopefully I will be able to spend enough time at my house to accumulate some more home repair sagas and create some new and elegant drawings! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mario Karts of Fire

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and my verdict is that it was "oh ja, pretty good then."  (I have to honor my heritage every now and then, dontcha know.)  My actual Turkey Day was very quiet as it was just me and my parents this year.  The downside was that I didn't get to see extended family, but the upside was that I didn't have to shower or get dressed.  And I didn't have to share the leftovers. 

I had to work on Black Friday, which was A-OK with me as I am not a fan of crowds of rabid consumers in search of what they have been told is a "great deal."  On Saturday, I went out to the farm with my parents to visit my aunt, uncle, cousins and of course my grandfather, the infamous "Mayor of Northfork."  It was an informal day, full of excellent snacky foods, beverages and entertainment. 

The highlight for me had to be the Wii tournament held between me and my 10-year old cousin.  I am by no means a professional or proficient video gamer, and I am also 20 years older than my cousin, so I think he may have taken me for an easy mark.  Our first game was Super Mario Wii, a game that I have only played once before.  Obviously, I was horrible, and I think he found it pretty entertaining.

Then we moved on to MarioKart.  Unbeknownst to my cousin, but beknownst to me, I am actually decent at this game.  This is partially due to my brief training in Diddy Kong Racing for N64 that I received in college, courtesy of some of my male friends.  The other reason is that I own this game for Wii and have been playing it a bit more often than usual as of late.  It is a great stress reliever, and I've needed that with my classes this semester.

After my dismal performance at the regular Mario game, I believe my cousin was expecting to again be able to shame and humiliate me in this new game milieu, but was shocked to discover that this was not to be.  I actually beat him on several occasions and I know that this was not due to him being nice to me as he had not been nice to me while playing the other game.  It didn't take long for him to lose interest in the game once he realized that he was not going to dominate this 30 year-old female video game rube.  Score one for me.

I wish that I had more exciting news to share, but for now you'll just have to settle for this brief tale of my underdog Wii performance.  I hope it inspires you to stay fresh.  Or to drive safely - just watch out for those banana peels!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Running on ice

If I am to remember this day for any reason, it will be for the fact it was the first day of the winter season that my commute has been made treacherous and lengthy because of frozen water.  On second thought, I really shouldn't blame the water.  It is the people driving their cars over, around and into it that causes the problem.  It is days like this that make me really wish that I could utilize that shiny commuter train that runs past my house to get to work.  Someday.

So it is November 22 and we have snow in Minnesota.  Big deal, right?  In fact, we actually hardly have any snow to speak of as of yet.  Unfortunately, what we do have is a far more dangerous form of precipitation:  freezing rain.  Freezing rain is annoying enough in and of itself as it causes my window defrosters to work overtime to avoid the inevitable layers of ice that will otherwise accumulate on my windshield and obstruct my vision.  The sneakier (and yet theoretically more obvious) outcome of freezing rain is the effect it has on the roads.

I have driven in enough Minnesota winters to know never to trust a road, especially when we've had any kind of precipitation.  While we certainly can be generous with our salt, sand and plowing, it is sometimes impossible to tell if these treatments have yet to reach the road I am about to take on my journey.  Woe to the moron who assumes that the road is clear because they cannot SEE anything on it.  Today was a perfect case in point.

My total drive to work is really only about 15 miles.  In very good weather with very light traffic, I can make it to work in about 20 minutes.  If I take back roads in the same conditions, it takes 30 minutes.  Traffic congestion is difficult to predict - it is a fickle mistress.  For instance, it could be the middle of summer with bright sunshine beaming down and no road construction in sight, and there could be backed up traffic all the way up to my freeway entrance (which is not exactly IN the city).

The simple answer is that people can be really dumb.  Especially when they forget that it is more important to arrive to your destination alive and hopefully in tact as opposed to speeding and cutting people off so that you could potentially arrive at work a few seconds earlier... or not at all.

For the most part, people in Minnesota do what they are supposed to do and exercise due caution.  Unfortunately, there is always the hotshot idiot that thinks that they are above the laws of common sense.

Example #1:  The Overconfident Driver

This driver usually is in some sort of larger vehicle.  Sometimes it is a pickup truck or a van, but more likely than not it is an SUV.  Due to it's large size and potential all-wheel drive capabilities, the driver assumes that they are built to withstand all road conditions that the world can throw at them.  You know, they're tough.  Of course, they also feel quite safe because they assume that all the metal and other materials that are in their behemoth of a car will shield them from any harmful impact.

While this driver may have a tendency to drive too fast or too close to other cars, their most dangerous trait is that they drive over surfaces or substances that would likely not give traction even to a tank and expect that they will A) be able to stop in an instant, B) be able to start once they have stopped, and C) will remain upright.  Sadly, this does not always work out as planned.  I guess the upside to the large vehicle is that you'll have plenty of room to spread out while you wait for the tow truck.

Example #2:  The Jackass Driver

Oddly enough, this driver is usually in a smaller compact car.  These are the people who weave in and out of lanes during rush hour in normal conditions, cutting off others and riding the backside of any car that they deem too slow.  For some reason, this driver sees no reason to modify their behavior in inclement weather.

Honestly, I really doubt that this driver has anywhere pressing to be and I'm pretty sure they're not running late.  I think that they just honestly cannot stand to wait in line and move with traffic.  They see their careless disregard for the safety of themselves and others as a way to assert themselves and rebel against society.  I have a very hard feeling sorry for these people as I watch them skid off into the ditch.

Example #3:  The Inexperienced/Frightened/Liability Driver

I will not discriminate against any age group or gender in this category.  Let me also say that I am not against exercising caution in scary road conditions.  Where this driver gets into trouble is that they have no idea how to operate their car on snow or ice, so they opt to drive 5 mph no matter where they are or how the rest of traffic is moving.  From my experience, this becomes the biggest problem when dealing with stop lights.  It is quite difficult to gauge whether or not I will be able to make it through a light when I'm basically moving at walking speed.  These are the people who really should just have stayed at home with a mug of hot cocoa and a movie.

So I know this wasn't a very exhaustive list, but my eyes are starting to itch and I think that is a clear sign that sleep needs to be in my future.  One last thing - I did create my Christmas list today for my family.  It's not big, and I'm not sure if it's reasonable, but I did discover that the new iPod Nano is pretty sweet.  At least it looks cool on the Apple website.  My iPod has been possessed by battery devouring demons which renders it only useful when plugged into a power source.

Well, I really must go before my eyes explode in to burning balls of flame.  I hope you all have a lovely evening and remember to exercise caution when driving in winter.  And watch out for me.  I don't want to have to pay for any more car repairs for a long time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More than you probably wanted to know about my weekend

Good news!  I just came home from a weekend at my parents' house, and my toilet is working perfectly!  I knew that you were all on the edge of your seats about that one, so I thought I would put your minds at rest immediately.

So this weekend was a fairly productive one both in terms of sleep catch-up and homework accomplishments.  Although I do not have classes this week due to Thanksgiving, I did have a big deadline today for my library simulation project.  After hours spent slaving away on my parents' computer, all the while keeping my mom from her mission of posting pictures of her dogs in Christmas clothing to Facebook, I completed the draft version of my department's repair plan.  Fascinating, no?  I would have to say no to that as well.

After sticking around for a rousing episode of "Holmes on Homes," I took off on the potentially ice-laden streets to return to my modest abode.  There was a surprising lack of traffic, probably due to the fear-mongering news media that convinced everyone that the roads were pure glare ice.  Honestly, the beginning of the winter driving season is always a bit crazy, even here in MN.  It's like people just forget how to deal with snow and icy driving conditions.

Here is the key:  use caution.  Pay attention to traffic.  Do not ride the tail of the car in front of you.  Allow extra time for stopping.  Do not attempt to weave in and out of traffic at insane speeds.  Simple, right?  You would think so, but no.  Believe me, I have had my fair share of spin-outs and loss of traction, but I can honestly say that I was never going more than 10 mph when they happened.

So this week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.  Normally, this is one of my favorite holidays as it involves good food, seeing family, and a day off of work.  This year, it will be a little different.  First of all, there will still be food and I still get the day off of work.  However, the only family I will be seeing are my parents and their dogs.  Not that I have a problem with this because it means I can spend the day in my pajamas if I wish and do not have to share the scalloped corn with my cousins.

Despite the fact that we are celebrating with a diminished crew this year, I have been given the responsibility of creating a "salad" for the meal.  It is likely that I will have to assist in other dishes, but this item is specifically mine.  I have pondered different options such as the always popular "finger-cookie fruit salad" or jello salad.  But some part of me is saying that I need to go for the gusto and bring something new to the table.  So, this week I will begin a quest for a new and exciting recipe to test out on my parents.  I will let you know how it goes.

Also on my list of responsibilities for this week is a drawing sequence for my brother, who happens to by my newest follower as well.  Apparently, his girlfriend's dog attempted to smother him for tricking her into giving up her spot on the bed.  This dog is part ninja and she is completely black in color, so I am anticipating a bit of a challenge for my artist's rendering, but I will experiment and come up with a solution.  I do have school work in the midst of all these extra curricular activities, so we'll just see how well I can balance it all.  At least my toilet is working properly, right?

Looking back on this entry, I realize that I really don't have a theme.  Crap.  Well, it is almost 11 p.m. and I really want to get to bed, so you'll just have to deal with it for now.  I really should get back to my old story-telling entries, but I imagine that those will pick up after December 16 when the burden of school work is finally off my back for a couple of months.  Until then, you'll just have to accept that my entries are going to be unfocused and incoherent.  He he.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Toilet Whisperer

Now for a brief update on my vermin situation!  It appears that steel wool is the magic answer to all of my mouse infestation issues.  I can only hope that my fragile sense of security will not be broken by finding several new mouse corpses in the next week. 

Of course, it is just the way of the universe that as soon as one aspect of my homeownership saga comes under control, another begins to veer off course.  This time around, it is my toilet.  Don't worry, I didn't do anything to it.  I think.  But last night when I flushed, my toilet gave forth an ungodly noise that literally shook my floors.  Thankfully, everything drained normally and I didn't have any backup.  It just sounded like a mouse armed with a jackhammer was trying to work his way out of the pipes.

In order to remedy this problem, I had to put on my thinking cap.  The first and most obvious choice would be to summon a plumber.  But this is for wimps.  Actually I am more afraid that the plumber would come in, look at the toilet, find nothing wrong and I would be stuck paying for nothing.  To avoid this scenario, I decided to take a step back and assess the full situation.

First of all, I had not flushed this particular toilet in more than 24 hours as I had stayed at my parents' house the night before.  Also, the outside temperature has started to rapidly drop as it is late November in Minnesota.  Now, I have lived in my house for over six years, and in those six years, the temperatures have certainly been lower than they have been of late.  When the house was first constructed, there was an issue with freezing pipes that were fixed through the construction company adding insulation through my garage.  But again, six years with colder temperatures and nary a growl from my toilet.  Whatever.

As I stood there pondering my options, I started to realize that my feet felt a bit cold.  Now, if you know me well, you know that it takes quite a bit to make me admit to feeling cold.  My coworkers can definitely attest that I prefer cold to heat in most situations.  (Heat makes me crabby.  Of course, what doesn't, right?) 

The fact that I noticed the cold rang a bell of significance in my head and I went down to check the thermostat.  I had thought that I had set it to 65 or 66 degrees, but it was in fact at 63 when I checked.  I am well aware that 63 degrees is well above freezing, but keep in mind that my bathroom sits above my garage and my garage is never really at the same temperature as my house. 

I surmised that this could perhaps be a contributing factor to the cacophony in my pipes, so I caved in and moved the thermostat up to a balmy 66.  Eek.  Slowly but surely, the heat in my house increased to the point that my outer limbic regions were not numb.  At this point, I was nearly dead on my feet tired, so I went to bed.

This morning, I groggily approached the bathroom and cautiously attempted to flush the toilet.  On some level, I think I was prepared for disaster, but it wasn't to be that bad.  True, there was some slight gargling, but not at the level of the previous night.  Just to be sure, I flushed again, and sure enough, on the second try there was no vocal accompaniment at all. 

So now I have to wonder, is the problem fixed?  Did I really fix it with my own common sense and ingenuity?  Or is it just lying in wait to explode all over my house in a triumphant, "I told you so" moment at the least convenient time possible?  We'll just have to see! 

That's all I have to say about that.  Maybe someday I will tell you about my epic battle with the garbage disposal (I have yet to declare victory).  My iPod has been giving me crap lately, and I'm afraid that it is not much longer for the world either.  On the other hand, my mom has been asking me about my Christmas requests lately, so maybe I can work something out there.  Or maybe she will just let me have one of her FOUR iPods to use as a substitute.  True story.

By way of an update on my previous HP themed entry, I have yet to get the review on last night's midnight showing.  I did get a call from the theater about two hours before showtime, but I wasn't keen to speak to anyone at 3 a.m., so I will just have to wait.  I hope it was awesome!!!

On another exciting note, I have one week off of classes for Thanksgiving!!!  Yee-haw! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do you feel the magic?

Now that my wallet-finding euphoria has worn off, I have found myself quite busy so far this week.  I completed my writing assignment for one class, but I am already having to think about the subject of my final major writing assignment for the same class.  Meanwhile, I continue to face the daunting task of working at a real job while keeping up as a manager in my fake/simulation job.  The fake one is proving to be a lot more work and stress.  Go figure.

In the midst of all this paper-writing job-delegating fracas, something magical is about to happen.  Can you guess?  Hint:  the word "magical" was specifically chosen as an adjective.  Got it yet?  Hm.  Maybe this will help - da dum de da dum de daaa dum, da da de da de dum....  (Sing this part.)

No luck?  I guess I can tell you.  The first half of the final Harry Potter segment comes out this week.  You are probably assuming by now that I am a big fan of Harry Potter.  This is true.  However, I should probably make a careful distinction.  While I wholeheartedly love the BOOKS, I am not always as enthusiastic about the movies.  My father, on the other hand, has clearly chosen the movie adaptations as his favorite (and only) source of HP magic.

I should probably also clarify that I am not a die-hard fan.  This sort of lifestyle is best left to the experts, like my friend Mary.  Little Mary will be standing outside the theater on Thursday night to watch the midnight release showing of part one of "The Deathly Hallows."  Just in case the excitement overwhelms her, she will be taking the day off on Friday to recover, so I will sadly have to wait for her recap until Monday.  To illustrate Mary's die-hardedness, I will tell you that her current phone ringtone is the theme song to HP.  Lest you think that she pursues this lifestyle alone, I will also tell you that her boyfriend is a big time HP fan himself.  They recently purchased a HP 2011 calendar to keep track of their mutual engagements.  Is that true love or what?

So the real question you're asking now is probably whether or not I intend to see the movie.  Honestly, I do not know yet.  Although I have read all of the books (several times), I have yet to see the fifth and sixth movie installments.  I don't know why - they've always done a decent job with special effects and the acting is actually OK.  I guess I'm one of those weird people who get a little skittish about destroying their personal mental images that were created upon initial reading of the story.  Once I've seen the movie version, I have a visual that may not match with my own version, and this can be a bit traumatic. 

Yes, I am 30, and yes, I should be able to get over it.  But still. 

Anyway, in honor of this big moment for HP lovers everywhere, I will share a picture that I drew for Mary a few weeks ago.  It was in response to an article I read that blamed the HP series for glamorizing the use of owls as pets in India.  Apparently there has been a rise in black-market sales of owls and in their use in black magic ceremonies.  Personally, I think owls are pretty cool, but I realize that fictional owls or even the trained ones used in the movie would not persuade me to keep one as a pet.  They are much better left to their mysterious ways in their natural habitats. 

Sorry for the sidetrack.  However, when you see the drawing and see the writing on Harry's scarf, this should help explain my artistic choice a little better. 

I know he doesn't say SHAZ-ZAM, but I like to say it, and I'm the artist.  So deal with it.


There is going to be a costume contest at the movie theater where Mary and her BF are going to see the show tonight.  The prize is $500.  This is what we are hoping to do:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

All hail the fortune cookie!

First of all, I should tell you that I feel very guilty about blogging right now.  It is Sunday night and I've been out of town for the weekend, so I SHOULD be jumping into my piles of waiting homework.  Not yet!  I have a more important story to share with you!

For those of you who are not my parents, you may not be aware that I have a tendency to be a little absent minded when trying to remember where I leave my possessions.  Typically I am able to successfully retrace my steps and find missing objects before anyone is aware they are gone, thus saving myself a great deal of embarrassment.

However, every so often an object goes missing that simply stumps me.  Case in point:  my retainer.  I had braces in my adolescent years, until age 15.  After the removal of my braces, I was fitted for and given a retainer for my upper teeth.  I diligently wore this retainer to bed throughout high school.  I even brought it with me to college.

If my memory serves me right, my retainer officially went missing when my family went to stay with my aunt and uncle in Minneapolis for Christmas during my freshman year of college.  I maintain that it somehow fell out of a bag and into the street by their house.  Others may beg to differ.  All that I can say for sure is that I packed it and it never showed up at their house.  Sadly, it has yet to resurface, so I fear that my theory may have been correct.

Now for my latest saga.  To set the scene, I should explain a couple of things first.  Although I pay most of my bills electronically nowadays, I still do maintain a checkbook for the odd chance that I need to write a check to someone personally or send money for a gift of some kind.  Unfortunately, my checkbook does not fit in my normal wallet.

My solution to this problem is to keep my checkbook in my older, larger wallet.  For a long time, I carried BOTH wallets in my purse at all times.  This proved to be a pointless and weighty ordeal, and I later decided only to bring the big wallet with me when I KNEW that I was going to be writing a check. Perhaps this is faulty logic, but whatever.

Sometime in mid-September, an instance of this nature occurred.  I had ordered something (makeup, I think) and needed to pay someone by mail.  I brought my big wallet with me to work so that I would remember to write out the check and drop the check in the mail while I was in town.  This all went off without a hitch.

About a week or two after this day, I had my car accident.  Suddenly, I was forced to pack up my car and drive around in a rental for 16 days.  For most people "packing up the car" would be pretty simple; take the garage door opener, CD's, sunglasses, etc.  For me, not so much.  I tend to carry a lot of "crap" in my car with me.  By "crap" I mean my duffel bag of gym clothes, my umbrella, a lunch bag, snow boots, a rain coat, coffee mugs, folding chairs, another pair of snow boots and an indeterminate number of reusable shopping bags.  So...

In my frenzy to transfer my worldly belongings from one car to the next, I did not pay much heed as to what was actually in some of my bags.  It wasn't until about one week into my rental car usage that I started to think about getting my checkbook so that I could pay my insurance deductible if and when my car was ever fixed.

This is when my slight panic started.  I could not find my checkbook wallet ANYWHERE.  I searched my bedroom, my loft/office, my work office, my bedroom at my parents' house, but it did not show up.  I started to wonder if I had somehow left it in my car, so I bit back my fear and told no one, but I did closely monitor my checking account to make sure no checks cleared.  There was no activity, so I felt a cautious sense of calm that the wallet was likely somewhere in my possession.

When I finally regained possession of my car, I searched every square inch.  I even got up in the middle of the night to instigate a second and third search.  Nothing.  I even searched my guest bedroom on the hunch that it would turn up there due to the fact that my smoke detector fiasco had also been solved by a random trip to my guest room.  I finally gave up, assuming that it would probably turn up someday when I was packing up to move out of my house.

I was resigned to my own absent-mindedness, when I received a sudden piece of inspiration.  A couple of weeks ago, I had Chinese food for lunch.  As is the custom with Chinese food, I was given a fortune cookie.  For some reason, I decided not to have my fortune cookie that day.  Later in the next week, I was having a craving for sweets and decided to break out the fortune cookie.

In my experience, my fortune cookie fortunes are rarely of any use.  They are usually more or less observations about life rather than specific predictions of the future.  However, this time around, it was better.  My fortune read, "Your lost item will be found within the month."  My instant assumption was that this item would be my wallet and checkbook.  At this point, I broke my cone of silence and told my coworker about my search, and then showed her my fortune.  I'm sure she was skeptical, but I was sure that this meant good things were in my future.

I have since kept that fortune on the keyboard of my computer at work to remind me not to worry, my wallet will be found soon.

Now is where it all comes together.  Tonight, I arrived at home carrying a ton of dirty laundry and more than a little stress over the assignments of the coming weeks.  After dropping off my duffel bag of clothes, I decided to take a look for the wallet, just for fun.

After a brief search of my office, I decided to take one more attempt in the guest room, although I had no recollection of bringing my wallet in there at any time.  Can you guess what happened next?  No?

Well, in my guest room, there is a bed and a dresser.  I had actually gone through the dresser on a previous occasion in searching for my wallet and turned up empty handed.  This time, I took a step back and actually looked at the items sitting on TOP of the dresser.  Everything seemed the same as usual, but I then realized that my miniature Harley-Davidson motorcycle (a gift from my grandfather) was actually sitting on top of something.  When I looked closer, I knew I had hit the jackpot.  My wallet was there, under the mini-motorcycle box.

So what have I learned?  1 - Never give up looking for your "lost" items.  2 - Always trust your fortune cookies.  3 - My guest room always holds the solution to the problems that keep me up at night.

OK, enough of that.  Back to work!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So I started out with a purpose...

As predicted, I have now entered the time of the semester when all my waking thoughts start to center around my assignments and the gnawing suspicion that I will not be able to complete them all successfully by the pending due dates.  I keep thinking to myself that if I can just get through this ONE more assignment, I can relax and focus on the rest, but obviously that is totally misguided and insane. 

The light at the end of the tunnel for me is the propect of over a month of break from classes and homework.  Never mind that I will be working full time throughout the entire period!  Who knows what I will do with all my free time? 

Last year, in a fit of frenzy, I decided to become a master baker and work my way through the Betty Crocker Cooky Book.  Oh, and I decided to blog about it.  I made it through maybe 4 or 5 different cookies before classes resumed and I lost the will to bake.  The fact that many of the cookie varieties were odd and somewhat disgusting may have also played a part, or maybe I just got tired of buying shortening.  I can safely say that I have not baked anything since that time. 

I'm sure everyone is excited to find out what free time filler I will take on this year, but I have a sneaky suspicion it may just be my old standby, knitting scarves.  Lest you think I sound like a really crafty gal, I should inform you that scarves are the ONLY thing I know how to make.  I've often dreamed of sharpening my skills and going for hats or even socks and mittens, but alas, my initiative has been lacking. 

Then again, there is always the possibility that I will take up winter sports.  As a person of Scandinavian descent, one might imagine that I would have a proclivity to activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  Again I say alas, my lack of coordination has made this plan a bit difficult.  Snowshoeing works best, but cross-country skiing is a tear-laced tantrum-inducing fiasco.  My aunt and uncle have a chalet-style cabin up in northern Wisconsin that is located on some really nice ski trails, so maybe that is in my future.  (Stop laughing, Mom.)

Does this entry have a point?  Maybe not.  Oh wait, here it is: for the next month, I am going to be busy. Not too busy to blog at all, I am sure, but perhaps to busy to be clever or funny about it.  But you never, know, my best ideas come when I'm procrastinating, so this could really be the Golden Age of blogging for me.  We'll just have to wait and see!

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to Dress Your Baby

I would like to take this opportunity to first comment on a very noticeable and yet vaguely alarming trend in baby fashion.  That's right, you heard me correctly.  I said BABY fashion.  You may be thinking, "what does she know, she doesn't have a baby!"  This is true.  It is likely to remain true for quite a while, which means that by the time I am able to accessorize my own infant, fashion trends will likely have changed.

Unlike me, many of my friends have opted to get married and start families.  With the spread of Facebook, it has become increasingly easy to spy on people and look at how the cool babies are dressing these days.  While I am generally a fan of fun and cute baby/toddler/kid clothing and have been known to go overboard in places like BabyGap and Gymboree, I am always drawn to the soft, fluffier side of things.

In my observations, it seems that parents have long struggled with making the gender of their baby obvious to strangers they meet in public places like malls, restaurants, zoos or night clubs.  After all, there is only so much you can do with clothing, and when babies are bundled up in carriers under layers of blankets, their heads are sometimes the only thing visible.

To combat the potential gender confusion, parents have tried many different accessories, usually aimed at showing the femininity of the baby, unless the baby's older sister has interfered and put some of her dress-up clothes on her baby brother.  (I may speak from experience on this point.)  Back in the 80's and 90's the fashion item de rigeur was a little bow or flower that was glued to the baby's bald noggin.  I was always a little weirded out by the thought of putting adhesive on a baby's head.  This is likely due to the intense warnings I was always given about the fragility of baby's skulls and the dangerous "soft spot." 

It seems that modern society has also caught on to the potential issues involved with putting glue on a baby's skin and has opted for a more natural route.  I am referring, of course, to the elastic headband that is usually accompanied by a fake blossom or bow of varying size.  Some of these flowers/bows are of normal/actual size and don't look wholly incongruous on an infant's head.  For some reason, several of the designers and parents have opted for flowers/bows that are actually close to or bigger than the size of the child's head.

Here is an example of what I mean:

Alarming, no?
 In these cases, it is not so much the fact that the baby is wearing a headband or flower that disturbs me, it is the ratio of baby to accessory that seems a bit indecent.  It almost suggests to me that someone is trying to compensate for the fact that they feel their baby is not as cute as it should be and therefore needs an overwhelming amount of pretty/cute assistance to make people find it adorable.  While I certainly cannot say that all babies are created equal on the cuteness scale, I don't think that they need adornments such as this to increase their appeal. 

For me, baby outfits that are humorous or fit in with a theme are much more interesting.  I have therefore taken the liberty of designing some baby fashions of my own.  Feel free to utilize them if you want to work up a prototype, just remember, I expect to be credited both in name and in cash.

Design #1:  Guerilla Baby

I don't know what it is about camouflage that I find so darn cool, but I do.  I also think that baby headscarves are the next big trend.

Design #2:  Mommy's Little Shopping Buddy

It's pretty simple:  women love handbags and they also love babies.  Why not combine the two?  Think of the potential designer options!!!!

Design #3:  Day of Destruction

What is better than Godzilla?  A BABY dressed as Godzilla!!!  As an additional suggestion, if you have twins, dress the other child as Mothra and let them battle it out, baby-style.  It would be epic.

Design #4:  Super Stealth Mode


Who wouldn't want the protection of a tiny infant ninja-warrior?  I know I would!  For those who may have concerns about giving weapons to babies, please know that the nunchuks pictured here would be made of super-safe plush material that in no way could be a choking hazard. 

To conclude, let's all agree that having your own little living fashion plate to display to the world is an awesome responsibility.  Just consider it one of the many fringe benefits of being a parent.  Have some fun with it!  One day you will wake up and they will not only NOT let you pick out their clothes but they will reject any and all suggestions you make about their fashion choices as uncool.  Carpe diem!


I just had to keep going - the ideas are still coming!

Design #5:  Drink Up

I know wine always puts ME in a better mood!  Just to be clear, the wine glass in the bambino's hand is shatterproof plastic.  I would never endanger the lives of children - they are the future!

Design #6:  Perk Me Up

Yay!  I should warn you, this cup of coffee will NOT fit in your car's cupholders.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let's Get it Started

Can you believe it?  It is already November 4 and I am just now writing my first entry!  Wow!  Here is the part where I wish I could tell you that the reasons for my absence are totally legit and that my time has been way more beneficially occupied.  Sadly, I am not both a liar and a procrastinator.  There is only room for ONE major flaw in this person.

So I am now (quickly) approaching the time of the semester that gets a bit "crunchy."  I have a discussion/presentation due in a week and I have another assignment due on the following week.  Meanwhile, the as yet undefined "game" assignment for my other class continues and I need to pick a topic for my big huge hairy final paper in management.  True to form, I am following my predetermined cycle of preparation.

1.  Acknowledgement. 
This occurs at the beginning of the semester when I first read my syllabus and later listen to my professor go over the same document.  I make a mental note of all major due dates and get a little freaked out about how much crap I need to get done in the next few months. 

2.  Planning.  Like a good little student, I take my syllabi and enter all assignments and due dates into my Google Calendar.  This way, I reason, I will be able to plan for the future.  I assume that I will use this information to start on projects way before they are due, thus relieving my last minute stress.

(P.S. Google - you're welcome for the free advertising!)

3.  Defer, defer, defer.  The semester starts, and it isn't so bad.  The big assignments are really a long way off, so I take more time to do other things, such as blog.  Or watch episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on DVD. 

From my favorite episode, "The Nightman Cometh"

4.  Realization.  Once my first big due date arises, I earnestly attempt for about one hour to get some stuff done early.  After the hour has elapsed, I suddenly recall that my true motivation and skills don't work unless I'm reeling towards the last minute.  I give up, go play with puppies and watch HGTV. 

I do love me some Holmes on Homes...

5.  Completion.  In the last 48 hours before the due date, I rally my brain troops and finish up my work.  True, it may not be my best work ever, but my grades don't usually suffer for it.  Although this is not the last assignment I have due for the semester, my brain claims victory and will temporarily shut down from all academic thought.


Steps 3-5 repeat themselves throughout the semester until I am actually, finally DONE.  Typically I have about a month or so between semesters and I take this time to really let my brain atrophy.  It's pretty nice. 

Unfortunately, now that I am approaching the halfway mark in my grad school education, I must start to consider the looming change that everyone is expecting when I graduate; I will need to change careers.  The prospect of this is both thrilling and terrifying.  I have been at the same company (in various roles) for almost nine years which equals pretty much all of my 20's.  My reasons for staying have been a bit unrealistic at times, but the fact is, I like the people I work with and the company has been very good to me over the years.

However, given the fact that I am spending a great deal of (borrowed) money on training for an entirely different occupational field, I have to face the fact that my days at this job are limited.  How, limited, I do not know, but I've decided that now is as good a time as any to prepare my resume.  I am embarrassed to admit this, but I have not done a resume since I took this job nine years ago.  Thankfully, I have only been with one company in that time, so it should be fairly simple, right?  Aside from the fact that I've worked in at least three different departments with varying and broad duties all along.  This might get complicated.

So if you happen to think of me in the next few weeks (as I'm sure you will) and wonder about my dearth of entries, know that I will either be deep in the throes of steps 3-5 on my list or agonizing about how best to jazz up the fact that I gained a lot of important skills from my job in the past decade.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Infestation Revisited

I do realize that the cold season has abruptly come upon us here in MN and that this means that all manner of creatures in addition to humans are seeking warmer environments, but it has been causing some problems for me lately.

I know that I wrote about having mice before, but usually it is just one here or there.  Not so much this year.  I have already had two to clear out of traps and I'm not sure if there are more.  So far there haven't been any in my toilets and my kitchen seems remarkably free of chewed up items.

It all started about a week ago when I found another mouse in my downstairs bathroom trap.  OK, I figured, this is where they usually show up, I can handle it.  Then, a couple of nights ago, I was moving a box in my loft/office area, and I saw something dark dart out from behind the box and go into my guest room.  I knew what it was.

As there had never been any traps set in my guest room to this point, I had to adjust my layout a bit.  I put a trap in the guest room and I then shut the door and barricaded the bottom as I'm pretty sure the sneaky little buggers can get out.  I then departed for two days.

Upon my return home tonight, I cautiously entered the guest room to discover that I had been successful in capturing (and killing) yet another mouse.  This set me off to check the rest of my traps.  After walking around and seeing that none of the other traps had been triggered, I came to the last one that sits behind my living room couch.

As soon as I pulled the couch away from the wall, I knew something was wrong.  Outside the trap (which looks like a little black plastic box) there was a bunch of shredded red material.  I had no idea what this could be, but the trap had been set off.  Oddly there was no mouse tail sticking out the back.  I put on my rubber gloves and picked it up.

To my surprise, not only was all the peanut butter bait gone, but the mouse had actually started to chew and destroy the red plastic covering that sits on the killing bar of the trap.  I was honestly quite shocked - it was like the little creep was giving me the finger!  My only hope is that this cheeky little brat was one of the two creatures already captured by my other traps.  If not, I am in for an interesting winter.

So far, my only method of mouse extermination has been setting traditional traps at various places around my house.  While I feel I have been quite successful, if anyone has any additional tips to offer, I would certainly appreciate it.  I should probably add that despite the plummeting temperatures, I have yet to turn on the heat in my house.  Not only is this conducive to my sleep patterns, but I am also hoping that it will encourage my little rodent house guests to go forth to the warmer climates of my adjoining neighbors... who have cats.  :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bringing Up Baby

There are many people who subscribe to the school of thought that our birth order greatly influences our personality. I have not spent a great deal of time looking into this, but my mother has. According to her, I definitely embody many of the stereotypical “oldest child” traits. I’m not here to argue with that idea, but it makes me think about I came to be the oldest child.

Obviously, I was the first child born to my parents, plain and simple. However, for almost the first three years of my life, I was not the oldest; I was the only.

For most two-year olds the concept of “baby” is a bit one-sided. I hadn’t met many of them, and I certainly hadn’t been allowed to play with one.

So when my parents started talking about “the new baby,” I really had no idea what to expect.

The only “baby” I was well acquainted with was the beat-up doll that I carried around with me everywhere. It used to belong to my mother and I called it “Baby Jennifer.”

Although I didn’t really know what a baby would look like, I gathered that they were cute. This made me wonder if they were anything like kittens, something that I also found to be cute.

All confusion aside, the date quickly came when my mom was due to deliver this “baby.” I don’t remember much about this time, but I do remember what we were doing when she went into labor.

As a child, most of my good friends came to me courtesy of the fact that the women my mother was friends with had children my age. Fortunately, we all got along very well and would play for hours while our moms sat and chatted over refreshments. I really don’t know what they ate and drank, but I always assumed it had something to do with Hostess Cupcakes.

Somehow, my mom and a couple of her good friends ended up getting pregnant in very quick succession. This meant that our play times were supervised by increasingly larger mother-figures.

On the day that the “baby” arrived, we were out at the house of one of these pregnant women (she was carrying twins) who was due about two months after my mom. I spent the time playing with her other two daughters and generally having a grand old time.

Whilst we children continued our merriment, up in the adult world, things were starting to happen. Basically, my mom went into labor. A hasty decision was made to leave and go to the doctor. Sounds simple, right?

Well… not really. As a child, I was quite attached to my social play time. At this point in my life, I was still technically an only child, so any interaction with other kids was a big deal to me. I was also a bit stubborn at this phase of life, but to be fair, I was still in the “terrible twos.”

Perhaps you can guess where this is leading. My mother came to fetch me for our quick departure and I did not react well to her unwanted interruption of what I’m sure was an intense game of My Little Pony or Sylvanian Family.

Not only did I become quite irate, I had to be forcibly carried (kicking and screaming) by my 9-months pregnant in-labor mother. Nice.

The rest of this day is a bit of a blur from me, probably because I took a while to come out of my super-charged rage episode. After that, I was likely quite worn out, so I am not sure how much I noticed that my mother did not come home from the doctor’s office and that I had to spend some time at the neighbors.

The baby, who turned out to be my brother Michael, arrived around 5 p.m. that day. Talk about your easy deliveries – go into labor in the morning and pop out a 10 pound baby before nightfall. When my grandfather called to speak with me about my new brother, I managed to carry on a successful argument with him over the name of said new sibling. It was the first of many debates that would teach me an important truth: sometimes kids are smarter than adults. My grandfather insisted that we had named the new baby Matthew, but obviously I knew better (and I was right).

My first interaction with my new brother and true confrontation of my loss of only-child status came with our visit to the hospital. I was accompanied by several relatives, including my father. The hospital in our small town was not large, but it did boast multiple floors, which meant that it had need of one of the most fascinating pieces of equipment known to most 2-year olds: the elevator.

Upon our arrival, we all rode up to the baby floor in the elevator and my father let me push the buttons. Not ALL of the buttons, mind you, just the one he told me to push. While this was not ideal in my mind, it had to be enough under the watchful eyes of so many adults.

When we finally made it to the room where my mom and new brother were waiting, I was picked up to see what all the fuss was about. I’m pretty sure I was happy to see my mom, but I do not really remember registering any strong feelings of interest in the wrinkly little red thing she had in her arms. If THIS was the baby I had been hearing so much about, it would really need to get a lot more interesting for me to focus attention on it at this point.

Anyway, after our brief introduction, I was placed back on the floor and promptly ignored. Rather than wallow in self-pity at the fact that I now found myself demoted to second cutest child, I opted to ditch the boring baby-love session and find my own adventure.

After casually exiting the hospital room, I wandered away down the hall and approached the only item of real interest to me since entering the building. Obviously, this was the elevator. Once I had carefully ascertained that no adult supervision was imminent, I boldly pushed the call button. When the doors opened and I still was not being pursued by a grown-up, I decided to walk right in to the unoccupied chamber.

As the doors slid closed, I pondered the switchboard. Normally, I was restricted to only pushing one button and it was always the one that my parents told me to pick. This time was different. I had no one telling me what to do, and I was free to push as many (or all) of the buttons. So I did.

When the doors opened again, I was on a new floor. I decided to check out my entertainment options in this new location, so I wandered down the hall. As there were still no adults in sight, I decided to check out the scenery a little more closely. From my brief perusal, the only familiar item appeared to be a drinking fountain. Feeling a bit parched from my journey, I decided to demonstrate my working knowledge of drinking fountains to the invisible hallway audience.

It is at this point in my story that an adult reappears in the form of my father. I’m not really sure how upset he was, but it was apparently entertaining enough to warrant a photograph of me by the drinking fountain that turned out to be too tall for me to reach. I don’t have a copy of that picture here, but I have recreated it in this artist’s rendering:

This shall be the conclusion of my faithful retelling of the day that represents the end of my solo reign as top banana in my family’s child pecking order. The ensuing adjustment period had occasional rocky periods involving pacifiers, My Little Pony and hair rollers, but I eventually learned to accept the fact that I was a big sister. I also learned how to exert my continued dominance in our sibling dynamic that continues to this day.