Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday Interlude

I opened two gifts this Christmas. Seeing as I was the one who'd physically ordered them (online), I knew exactly what I was getting. What did I receive, you're all wondering? An external hard drive for my computer (250 GB, how on Earth would anyone utilize all this space?) and a Wacom pen tablet for my computer. If those aren't gifts for dorks, I don't know what are. Pocket protector? (Too cliched) Tickets to Jersey Boys? (Kidding, Sarah) Anything Liz got? (What did you get, Liz?) Actually, how about my two stocking stuffer requests: a coffee brush and a plastic butter dish. Those are pretty dorky, as well.

When I was little I used to unwrap my presents under the tree and then re-wrap them. I'd also sneak peeks in my parent's closet at the "hidden" gifts. I have an insatiable amount of curiosity that I can't control. It's bad. Did anyone NOT try to figure out what they'd got prior to opening them up?

I got a haircut today. When I feel like it I'll take a picture and put it up here.

I'm hijacking my neighbor's internet connection right now, so my speed's a bit slow. I don't want to try uploading any pictures.

Over and Out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome to Gingerbread Land!
Run! Run! As fast as you can!

Sarah and I made gingerbread men (and houses) this past weekend. Mine came alive, ran off, and found a new home in a magical forest. At least they're happy.

I loved Sarah's first two gingerbread men, as it looked like they were wearing swimming suits. :D We both got sick of decorating them, Sarah faster than me. Her cookies are on the left, and mine are on the right:

In other news, I subbed for my old co-teacher's 7th grade class yesterday. At this particular school, there are about 40 kids per class. However, there are 2 teachers and another special ed teacher (who teaches other subjects as well). Well, on this day one of the teachers was scheduled to be gone the whole day (whom I was subbing for) and another teacher was scheduled to leave in the afternoon, leaving only one "regular" teacher there. However, that teacher called in sick that morning, meaning that for half the day all the teachers were subs. Plus, they never found a sub for the teacher who called in sick, so it was really only 2 subs and some random people who popped in and out to help.

Oh. My. God. This had to be the worst behaved class I have ever subbed for. It was seriously out of control. I'm just glad that I wasn't the only one there! I can't describe in writing how horrible it was. They completely ignored everything we said. Half the class time was spent trying to get them to sit down and be relatively quiet. Which never worked. They were running around, screaming, throwing name it. And there were so many of them doing it that you couldn't pull out the "worst" of the pack. It'd've been half the class.

The school secretary was really excited to see me when I came to check in. I was kind of surprised, because I doubt she remembered me from when I student taught there--it was 3 years ago and I never made a point to hang out in the office much. But she said that now she knows I'm subbing, she'll try to request me to come to the school more often. Which is nice, but do I want to go back to that school??? Then again, I think I subbed for the most difficult class in the school. I hope. Dear God.

Anyway, I'm driving home and thinking about how pointless that day was. Seriously, I have no idea if they learned ANYTHING. It was complete and utter chaos 3/4 of the time. So then I'm watching the news that evening and the most ironic news story comes up--Forbes apparently just published a list of the best schools in the nation. Coming in at #2: Dane county (Madison and surrounding communities). Hahahahahaha!!!!!! Obviously they never visited the school I was just at! Seriously, if they're #2 then our educational system is seriously in trouble. Fyi, the #1 schools were Washington DC schools. Which also surprised me (not that I really know anything about their schools, but I wouldn't have guessed that).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The 2007 Private Dick Awards Ceremony
Please keep acceptance speeches under 2 minutes, please.

The Golden Magnifying Glass Award goes out to the individual who best exemplifies the qualities inherent in a top notch detective (which some people prefer to refer to as a "private dick"). These qualities include, but are not restricted to, the ability to check email and then to share these email findings with others, such as on a friend's blog's comment section. Not only that, but the fictional sheriff's department also recognizes the speed and alacrity with which said private dick responded to the posted APB. Without further ado, I'd like to present the Golden Magnifying Glass Award to the #1 detective, Laura Green. All hail Laura Green! *applause*

On a side note, sometimes really simple tools are really funny when you think about them. Like a hammer.

Hilton Goes Green
This girl is seriously dumb as rocks

This news just in regarding Paris Hilton:

Hilton, wearing a black glittering dress and a golden chain and cross around her neck, also told reporters that she is making an effort to personally contribute to protecting the environment.

"I changed all the light bulbs to energy safe light bulbs and I'm buying a hybrid car right now," Hilton said, adding she also turned off the lights at home, didn't leave the TV on or the water running when she left the home.

"Little things that people can do every day to make a huge difference."

Oh. My. God. This is just hilarious to me. I mean, I'm all about doing "little things" every day to "make a difference," but I don't think I'd ever brag about how environmentally conscious I was if the only things I were doing were using energy efficient light bulbs and turning off lights, the TV, and water when I leave the house. Seriously, who leaves the water on when they leave the house?? Did she used to do this?

At least she bought a hybrid. Not because it's the trendy thing to do, or anything.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Attention All Squads:
We've got an APB out on a 24 year old brunette...

Brighton - Are you still alive?

Over and out.

You Want Banana Pancake?
You want ping-pong show?

I made pancakes this morning. Then was saddened to find out that I had no chocolate chips (why this was a surprise to me, I have no idea). So they had to be normal pancakes and not awesome chocolate chip pancakes. I was impressed with how they turned out since I had to use a skillet on the stovetop instead of an electric griddle that I usually make them on. Although the first batch took considerably longer until I found out that I had turned on the wrong burner. :D I'm dumb.

Well, I watched Superbad. I think, in my opinion, the edge goes to Superbad. But it's a tough call. I liked the first half of Superbad a lot. And I liked the last part. But there was a part in the middle that was...I don't know. A bit too much for me. My feelings for Knocked Up were more even throughout the movie, but I thought that the funny parts in Superbad were more funny than the funny parts in Knocked Up. And like Sarah said, I had a really hard time believing that the main chick in Knocked Up would want to continue pursuing a relationship with the main guy even though she was having his baby. Whatever. I liked 'em both.

What the hell? There was totally something else I wanted to write about but I can't think of what it was. Annoying. I went to Target yesterday. That was hell. Mainly because the entire city of Madison was there at the same time.

Every time my neighbor leaves his apartment, he lets out a loud belch as he passes by my apartment. It's really beginning to piss me off. What is it? A conditioned response? Who belches every single time they leave their apartment? Plus, he's the guy who plays bass at 3am. So he's just annoying.

Long and boring thing that most people won't want to read, but Liz, if you could that'd be great because you're a computer goddess:

Ok, I have an internet connection/router question for those of you more understanding of such matters than I (you know, like Sarah). Hmmm, where to begin...Well, first off, let me say that I have a DSL connection. I also have a wireless router. So, I had my router all hooked up and connected and all was working fine. My computer was connected to the internet via my wireless router and everything was all secured/WPA protected, etc. Then, for reasons I won't go into because they're not important, I decided that I wanted to connect directly to my DSL line instead of going through my router (just a temporary decision). So I shut my laptop, thus entering it into standby mode. I then unplugged the DSL cable from the router, but kept the router plugged in and powered on. [Ok, now I just realized that there's an important piece of information that I can't remember...I don't recall if I then plugged the DSL cable into my computer or not...then again, I guess I MUST why wouldn't I have?] Ok, so I then turn my computer back on. As it's starting up, a little bubble pops up telling me that my wireless connection is still...connected. Which really confused me because how can I be connected to the intervet via the wireless router when the router itself isn't connected to the internet anymore? And it was MY network I was connected to (not a neighbors) because it said my network name and stated I'd been connected to it for the past however many hours.

Does this mean that: 1. Even if your router isn't connected to the internet you can still be connected to your wireless network as long as the router is still powered on? 2. My computer was connecting to the internet directly via the DSL cable, but was still wirelessly connected to my router? Which is stupid and pointless in my case since I don't have a "network" of computers...3. And if I did have more computers, would I be able to connect wirelessly to them through my router even if my router wasn't connected to the internet?

Does this make any sense? Am I totally idiotic?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Lost City of Atlantis...
Or an oil refinery?

You know that oil refinery off Hwy 52 between Rochester and the Twin Cities? Which my family has always called "The Stink Plant" (due to its stinky odor)? You know, the one that Sarah lovingly refers to as "The City of Lights"? [Liz, what does your family refer to it as?] Anyway, it occurred to me today that at night, when it's all lit up, it looks a lot like the city of Atlantis (from Stargate). Maybe the visual arts dept for Stargate based the city on an oil refinery. :)

I wanted to compare the two (Atlantis and the oil refinery), but was harder than I thought finding pictures of either of those things. I remembered Sarah taking pictures of The Stink Plant/City of Lights one night on the way back to Rochester from the Cities (on my camera), but I couldn't for the life of me find those pictures. Which was bothering me to no end. But then I realized that the pictures were taken out of a moving car going 70 mph at night with the flash off. So really...even if I found the pictures they'd probably be super crappy and look more like an abstract work of art than an actual oil refinery at night. So I probably deleted them right after uploading them into my computer, actually. So then I just googled for images of "oil refinery night" and found one that looked close enough like the one on Hwy 52.

And while it was very easy finding pictures of Atlantis in the daylight, I had a surprisingly hard time finding a picture of it at night, all lit up. I finally found one, and although not ideal, it was good enough for me.

Here's a picture of Atlantis:

Here's a picture of an oil refinery:

And here's a picture of the oil refinery that I photoshopped on a body of water to make it look more Atlantis-like. Pardon the shitty photoshop job, but I wasn't really concerned with making it look good:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Miss Peruvian Artifact Crowned
And the archaeological community goes wild!

I always love it when this happens: I glance at the top headlines on the yahoo! page (or google, or whatever) and I mix up a few of the headlines. This always results in me pulling an exaggerated "Huh??" face, then figuring out my error and laughing about it to myself. Anyway, today's headline mix-up involved:

Miss California forced to give up crown after pageant mix-up

Malls' safety questioned after Omaha shooting

Missing Peruvian artifacts found after worldwide search

Judge denies appeal in Natalee Holloway case

The Miss California headline fresh in my head, I was sure that the 3rd headline said, "Miss Peruvian Artifacts found after worldwide search." Well, that's...odd. And specific. And nice of the Peruvian people to open up the competition to candidates living worldwide, and not just in Peru. But then I realized that I was missing the 'ing' in 'missing' and the world was set right once again.

I also have the Onion news feed on my google homepage. Every once in a while, I'll glance down and see one of those headlines and momentarily think it's a "normal" headline. That's always fun, too. ("US Breath Reaches All-Time Worst"...hmm, interesting headline...). Huh. I just noticed that The Onion capitalizes all the words in their headlines. Isn't that incorrect newspaper format? (Yes, I realize it's not a real newspaper)

Ok, I just saw a list of the Top Web Searches of 2007 for various groups/topics. I got a big kick out of the top 10 searches on Yahoo! Kids:

1. Games
2. Animals
3. Dinosaurs
4. Math
5. Hannah Montana
6. Solar System
7. George Washington
8. Halloween
9. Sally Ride
10. Global Warming

There's a nice mix of fun/expected results (Games, Hannah Montana, Halloween), obviously school project results (Solar System, George Washington, Sally Ride), and a few "Wow, I'm proud of you, kids!" results (Math and Global Warming). Not sure if I should stick the "Animals" and "Dinosaurs" in with the fun/expected or the school project category.

George Washington and Sally Ride...*snicker*

(Sorry, Sarah--I know this is the kind of post that you hate)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When It Rains, It Pours
Post #3 in 24 hours...must be a record!

Kids aren't the only ones who ask Santa for Christmas gifts. Dogs have Christmas lists, too! Here's Wicket, telling Santa what she would like for Christmas. Obviously, she wants her mom and dad to come back from Australia, but aside from that I hear she wants her two front teeth. Which is actually a very apropos wish coming from Wicket since the vet pulled out her front teeth back when she was a puppy. They thought they were pulling out the baby teeth. Oops! Sorry! We pulled out the adult teeth instead! Incompetents. But really, is this not the cutest thing ever? [And who knew the mall had "Bring Your Pet in For a Picture With Santa" day??]

Does anyone else miss the days when Santa dressed up in normal Santa clothes instead of going all casual on us? I've always found the casual Santa to be a bit creepy. Put on the rest of your clothes, old man!!!

Here's a picture taken from out of my balcony doors--my gnome (Chomsky) isn't bothered by the snow and cold weather, so don't worry about him. I've included a day and night shot, so you can get the full effect.

How's this for scary?: Yesterday my grandpa went outside to salt his sidewalk. He slipped on some ice and fell down in the driveway, hitting his head and knocking himself unconscious. He reckons (did I just use that word??) he laid there unconscious in his driveway for at least a half an hour. Finally he came to and managed to get back in his house and called my mom who then took him to the ER. He had a big scrape on the back of his head and had signs of a concussion (vomiting and tiredness), but I guess he's going to be fine. Man, good thing he didn't break a leg or something. And good thing it wasn't like 30 below. It's surprising that none of his neighbors noticed him laying there. And scary.

On a more positive note, I just received news from Joleen that she and Sunny have signed a lease for an apartment in Sydney. Huzzah! I wonder how it compares to their temporary accommodations?

Superbad vs. Knocked Up
And mapping the pervs

Sarah and I were discussing these two movies the other day. Well, I wouldn't really call it a discussion since I hadn't seen either of them. But we were talking about who we know who likes which movie better. [Holy bad sentence structure, Batman!] Jason (Sarah's brother) and Sunny both preferred Superbad. Stephanie and Joleen both preferred Knocked up. Which would lead me to believe that it's boys/girls thing, but Sarah preferred Superbad. Hmm. Anyway, I stuck both of those movies at the top pf my Netflix queue and they came in the mail today. I just finished watching Knocked Up. I enjoyed it thoroughly. After I finish watching Superbad, I'll let you know what I think. Candy, have you and Jake watched them both? If so, what do you guys think? How about you and Michael, Laura? I'm pretty sure you haven't seen them, Liz. Anyone else? Cast your vote!

Anyway, one scene in Knocked Up involved looking online to see if any registered sex offenders lived nearby. Out of curiosity, I looked up my address. Lo and behold, there is a registered sex offender (1st degree sexual assault of a child) living down the hall from me. Creepy. At least I personally don't have to worry. Being as I'm not a child and all. Anyway, what creeped me out even more was the sheer number of sex offenders living in the Madison area. There's a lot of sex offenders out there. Plus, I think there's a building very near me that is a "rehabilitation" center for sex offenders. Maybe not only sex offenders, possibly offenders of various sorts. The whole "search for sex offenders" website is kind of weird to me. It gives you their names, addresses, convictions, and includes a picture. Which I guess it helpful to the general populace (but how many people look this up, anyway?), but it's just weird to me.

Sarah and I went to a basketball game Monday night (Badgers v. Wofford). Whoever Wofford is. Sarah had a ticket from her dad and I bought one off some dude outside the Kohl Center for $5. Nice. It was a shitty seat, but we just sat in the student section together anyway, so it didn't really matter. Sarah was all pissed that they now have ushers checking tickets to enter the student section. So we had to be all subversive and snuck in a side quadrant of the section. I think it was near where we had season tickets one year. The game wasn't too exciting because Wofford sucks, apparently. One of their players fouled out like 1 minute into the 2nd half. That was fun. My car got stuck in my parking spot due to the snow/ice buildup and the shitty plowing job Madison does. Some nice student helped Sarah push the car as I accelerated. After a bit of work, we were free!!! Let's just say that I'm very happy with my decision to pay an extra $35/mo for underground parking at my apartment complex for the months of December, January, and February. But who am I kidding? There'll probably be crap-loads of snow all through March, as well.

Joleen and Sunny have been in Australia for a few weeks now. One thing that makes it a bit easier at Tetsuya's is that they have the same menu each night as compared to The French Laundry (TFL) where they had to devise a new menu every day. They're having problems finding an apartment to live in. Good thing Tetsuya's gave them a temporary living space. Anyway, for those of you interested, they did make a blog. So far they haven't posted much yet since they don't have internet (they need to go to an internet cafe or something), but here's the address: Jins Down Under

Hmm. I just discovered that using chopsticks to eat pizza rolls works really well. I can't believe I'm eating pizza rolls. It's your fault for putting them in my freezer, Joleen (which really confused me by the way...but that's a different story).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Post In Which I Finish Regaling You All About My Road Trip That Concluded Over Two Months Ago
Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, eh?

My God. I'm determined to finish blogging about my road trip even though it was over 2 months ago. Call it the OCD in me. I am finishing it tonight, then an incredible burden will be lifted from my shoulders. That's the hope, anyway. You guys are probably bored about all this and want me to end it anyway. But it's not as if I'm posting any other exciting news, so it's this or nothing, for now!

Where was I? Oh yeah...

Day 8
We left my grandma's and headed north towards Utah. We went through Navajo Territory (it sounds like we're riding horses with Billy the Kid, or something) and it was pretty depressing. See picture. Everything was so dilapidated and barren. Man, we totally screwed over the Native Americans. I still feel bad about it even though, obviously, I personally had nothing to do with it.

Yeah. So then the weather turned uber crappy and began to downpour. And continued to do so. We were heading to Monument Valley with a final destination of Arches National Park where we were planning on camping. So, understandably, we were pissed at Mother Nature. I mean, come on. We're in AZ. It's not even October yet. Why is it pouring rain the one day we were planning on actually camping outside? In a tent? So, for quite a while, this was our view out of the car window:

Roads in the SW are HORRIBLE when it rains. I don't know if they build them differently than in the midwest, but the rain just puddles up on the roadway like there's no drainage system at all. It's kind of scary, as you feel like you're going to start hydroplaning at any time. Not a fan.

As we reached Monument Valley the weather cleared up slightly, so at least it wasn't raining for the most part. Although it was still dreary looking. We hit the AZ/Utah border in Monument Valley. Here's the sign, with probably the best scenic background yet. Ok, so it's technically the San Juan County sign, but the Utah sign was right next to it. But you've already seen that one the first time we entered Utah (it features a skier).

There is absolutely nothing for quite a while after Monument Valley. We wanted to stop and eat lunch and pee, but there was nothing to be seen. We finally stopped at a gas station and I got a Lunchables, bringing me back to my elementary school days.

There was this cheesy tourist spot on the way. It was called Hole N" the Rock. From what I could gather, it's a cave. That sells trinkets. And I couldn't get over how they had painted that giant name on the rock face, complete with weird grammar. First of all, why did they use a quotation mark? It should be an apostrophe. Second, it's on the wrong side of the N. Third, it's giant and ugly. It was also written in even more giant letters on the other side of the rock wall.

Because of the rain we also made bad time, which sucked because this was the only day we were going to be able to see Arches (we were planning on leaving early in the morning). But we made it with a couple of hours of daylight left and ended up making a quick round in the car of Arches. The rain had stopped by now, thankfully (although we still ended up staying in a hotel instead of camping, due to a multitude of reasons). I thought it was beautiful. It was actually a very pretty time of the day that we were there. The sky was pretty. Helped, in part, by the earlier bad weather. The rain made the rocks extra red and the clouds made the sky very pretty. I'd love to go there again and be able to spend more time there.

Day 9
We left Utah and headed for Colorado. Our ending destination being Denver. Joleen and Sunny are thinking about possibly living in Denver (it has some decent restaurants, I guess) after Australia and possibly the Caribbean, so they wanted to check it out. Look, God really does love Utahians/Utahnites/the People of Utah:

Welcome to Colorado! It's colorful! And it actually was. Good time of the year. The pretty fall colors picture is from somewhere in the Vale area. Then we've got the picture of the capitol building in Denver. Oh no! A ghostly terrorist is driving his ghost car into the capitol dome!!! Good thing the car is incorporeal! They didn't think that one through enough, silly ghost terrorists.

What did we do in Denver? Not much. We went to Boulder where we ate dinner. It reminded me a lot of Madison. Same atmosphere--college town, liberal, there was even a street very reminiscent of State Street. Anyway, it was fairly uneventful.

Day 10 - THE LAST DAY!!!!
We left Denver. We ate lunch at the grossest fast food restaurant EVER. Not exaggerating. It was an A&W connected to a gas station in the middle of nowhere. It smelled very strongly of cow manure. The air was thick with flies. We left our car windows cracked open when we went inside because Wicket was in the car. Afer finally getting our orders, we sat down to eat. The burgers were literally dripping with grease. I unwrapped my burger, picked it up, and a stream of grease oozed out of the burger and joined the pool of grease already on the wrapper. The bottom bun was completely saturated. Let's just say I couldn't eat it all and felt like vomiting. The restaurant also smelled like manure and was invaded by flies. I kid you not, there was one of those sticky tape fly-catchers hanging above one of the tables. EEEEWWWWW. I'd hate to sit at that table. And yes, there were dead flies stuck to it. Liz, it was your nightmare restaurant. After we got back to the car we discovered that flies had invaded the car. There had to be at least 30 of them in there. We tried to get as many of them out as we could, but all the way to Minnesota we were still finding them. It's always fun to open a window on the interstate and attempt to shoo a fly out of it. Here's a picture of Sunny and Wicket playing Mr. Miyagi, trying to catch a fly:

We then entered Nebraska. Apparently, Nebraska is the 'home' of Arbor Day. It's also "...the good life" for those who can't get enough of cornfields.

Here is a video. It's 30 seconds long. Watch this video and multiply by...a lot...and you'll experience what we experienced driving through Nebraska. Hoot and a holler, eh?

Sunny also became obsessed with getting an oil change. Which wasn't the easiest thing on a Sunday in Nebraska. We ended up stopping at a WalMart to get it done. Here's Joleen and Wicket hanging out in the WalMart parking lot. And here's a few more pictures of Wicket, just because she's the cutest thing EVER.

Then we entered Iowa. Yee-haw. Iowa...Fields of Opportunities. Sure. It quickly became dark. Not that Iowa has any scenery anyway. Here's our car dash. Quick! Out of Iowa!!!

And we finally made it to Minnesota in the wee hours of the morning. I think we arrived home at 2-3am or so. I did manage to get this AWESOME shot of the Minnesota welcome sign. Enjoy:

And that's all she wrote. 'She' being me. Fin.