31 December 2007

Me - in a nutshell

From an e-mail to a friend:

So today is my birthday (which I am still childish enough to find exciting). I like to say that there's always a party on my birthday, it's just rarely actually *for me.*

And next Sunday I'll be at Todd and Hilary's in the morning for WATCH stuff (which I am still geeky enough to find exciting).

Pretty much tells you all you need to know. The rest is commentary.

26 December 2007


And we return to our program already in progress...

So at the Boxing Day Party today at the lovely Brett and Cate's Chort got to declare something as fact (in good faith, yeah, yeah, whatever) only to have it shown to be false within mere seconds. Naturally, we (okay, me, whatever) began to tease him about, you know, lying to us (even though he didn't, okay, fine).

Anyway, I pointed out that when I'm wrong about something I at least get to live with my delusion for longer than a heartbeat or two before I get corrected.

"Unless I'm around," David said.

"Yeah... (sigh) That's our relationship so far: a seven-year long teachable moment."

Had he only been sipping something at the moment my holiday would have been near to perfect.

21 December 2007

Saving myself a bunch of die rolls

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Bard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail).

Acquired via Flirtin' John.

20 December 2007

An amazing scientific observation

Why is it that although I spend most of the day trekking to the kitchen for another cup of tea, every time I pick up my tea cup, it's empty? And why is that this is only true at work?

Why is it that David has spent the last seven years busing two-thirds full cups of cold tea that I have left scattered all over his house when, in fact, a nice hot cup of tea is my primary fuel? Especially as when he made me those cups of tea I was seconds away from total prostration from lack of tea?

Clearly, tea molecules move through space and time, shifting themselves from my desk here at work to David's house. They lose heat, of course, as they do this, but - as we learn in Arcadia - the universe's major occupation is heat dissipation.

My first Christmas Gift for 2007

Dad and Audrey have given an elephant! Or, a share of their elephant.

His name is Zurura and he comes to me (even as he stays in Africa) via The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust*, an organization that Audrey and Dad have supported ever since they learned about it.

I will get lovely watercolors of Zurura and Zurura will get to grow up healthy, cared for, and loved. As I did. And two of the people who ensured that I did gifted me with my own elephant.

Every year I look around my already full apartment and realize that I don't really need anything else. At the same time, I am greedy and love presents. So I have never really said officially "If you would like to give me a gift, please donate to an organization that helps those less fortunate than I am. I am already incredibly lucky to have the friends and family that I do, to life safe and warm, to have food - gluten-free food even! - and hobbies that I enjoy, a cat who behaves like he loves me, and so many more blessings than I can count." Especially as my friends and family pick out really good gifts that I didn't realize I needed until I owned them.

So while it isn't official yet and I'm never rejecting the lovely gifts that people give me (presents!!), I am delighted to receive my first member of what I'm calling Leta's family menagerie. Hoping to give me something something but can't think of what?

Well, here's my wish list.

And if you were considering messing with me in the future? Well, just remember that I have an elephant. And you don't.

*Of course, it's the David Sheldrick trust. Of course it is. The David Regime is subtle but implacable. Learn to enjoy being named David, all you men out there. Resistance is useless.

How to Talk Shop

Even engineers and accounts can have a sense of history.

My co-worker (upon receipt of a particular work request): Looks like [company we acquired] is being integrated into our contracting process.

Me: Yup. It's all part of our World Domination Plan. We're sort of like the mid-period Roman empire.

Co-Worker: So in about 300 years, we will fall to the barbarians. Note: sell stock before that happens.

Me: Exactly!! You can time it by the amount and types of treasure that our armies send in from the far-flung reaches of our lands.

17 December 2007

How about one with the Disney Princesses? Or Hello, Kitty?

My cousin and I were discussing Tasers over the Thanksgiving holiday, but it never occurred to me that I'd especially want one if it came in pink. Sort of reminds me of Nancy Reagan's ladylike little pearl-handled pistol.

Hmmm. Maybe I do need a Taser. Look how cute and friendly it is now!


I read today that Dan Fogelberg died yesterday from cancer. I wasn't a big fan of "Same Auld Lang Syne," but I was always rather fond of "Longer" which is just a sweet, pretty little love song. I haven't heard it for years and years and may be the only person I know who remembers it, so here it is in Mr. Fogelberg's honor.

Longer by Dan Fogelberg

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
Ive been in love with you.

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you.

I'll bring fires in the winters
You'll send showers in the springs
Well fly through the falls and summers
With love on our wings.

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow
Ill be in love with you.

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you
I am in love with you.

11 December 2007

After great pain, a formal feeling comes

Sally and I attended the Emily Dickinson lecture at the Folger last night (and rounded out our east coast liberal experience by having wine and cheese after) and the hand-out, on nice 65-pound stock, was this.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round--
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--
This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow--

First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--

Emily Dickinson (1862)

10 December 2007

Hershey's Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses

Because the nutrion facts are readily available on Hershey's website, but the ingredients list isn't.

And the ingredients are (drumroll here):

Milk chocolate (sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate nonfat milk, soy lethicin, Pgpr. emulsifier, vanillin, artificial flavor), sugar, corn syrup, sorbitol, high-frustose corn syrup*, contains 2% or less of: potasssium sorbate (preservative), invertase, artificial flavor, citric acid, artificial color (yellow 6, red 40).

Really - they're much yummier than the above would lead one to believe.

*now that's a surprise, she typed sarcastically

The Office Party

My office had our annual holiday get-together on Saturday evening, so David and I put on our white gloves and party manners and went.

Our office manager made sure that the Italian restaurant had an entree that I could have (thank you, thank you) and there was enough room to be convivial which is not a small consideration for an office our size.

I actually wore this same dress to the first party I went to back in '99 when I started here. Weight has been gained, weight has been lost, and the dress fits again. So I guess I should party like it's 1999.

At last we have something in common

Besides having the same relatives, that is.

Sara was a Scorpio and I am Capricorn,* but thanks to Oroscopo Degli Insetti, I am now a Scorpione as well!

Mind you, it's still a much better description of Sara than of me but I'll take what I can get.

Nati dal 4 dicembre al 31 dicembre

Qualità: tenacia e perseveranza
Difetti: cocciutaggine
Stagione: inverno
Pianeta zodiacale: marte
Colore: giallo
Habitat: zone aride, fessure nelle rocce e nei vecchi muri

Carta d'identità

Animale predatore carnivoro; conduce vita notturna. L'ultimo segmento della sua coda è armato con un aculeo contenente un potente veleno.

Modulo comportamentale

Lo scorpione è viviparo e l'accoppiamento è preceduto da una danza nuziale dove i partner si afferrano per le chele. La femmina appena fecondata uccide e divora il maschio.


Il tipo scorpione è molto intelligente, tenace, geloso e possessivo; egli è dominato da una forte istintualità. Accumula esperienze diverse che riflettono la sua fertile fantasia e la sua natura curiosa. Partecipa con passione a tutte le sue avventure soprattutto quelle amorose. La ricerca del piacere è l'elemento predominante della sua vita.


Lo scorpione simboleggia la vendetta.

Modo di affrontare la vita

L'individuo scorpione cerca il rischio come stimolo e come banco di prova per il suo coraggio.

L'uomo scorpione esercita un fascino magnetico e provocante.

La donna scorpione ha una sensualità prorompente che le permette di assumere un ruolo da protagonista.

Scorpione nei sogni vederlo: guardati dai nemici ed evita la vendetta.
Essere punto: corri un grave pericolo. paura e disgusto.

Of course, it's about as much like me as the traditional descriptions of Capricorns as well, but that's pretty much how it goes for astrology anyway.

Now this is much more like me, because let's face it, you don't even have to speak Italian to connect me with volubilità. I'll try to work on the incostanza thing.


Nati dal 10 maggio al 4 giugno

Qualità: ottimismo
Difetti: volubilità e capriccio
Stagione: primavera
Pianeta zodiacale: venere
Colore: rosso scarlato
Habitat: tutti i paesi (escluso le zone artiche) e tutti i climi

Carta d'identità

Le farfalle sono lepidotteri con quattro ali membranose di diverse colorazioni, caratterizzate da un particolare apparato boccale a proboscide che serve loro per succhiare il nettare dai fiori. Vi sono vari esemplari di farfalle; alcuni di questi conducono una vita diurna, altri crepuscolare e altri notturna. Questi insetti sono molto utili al mondo vegetale in quanto favoriscono l'impollinazione delle piante, viaggiando da un fiore all'altro. Gli esemplari che più conosciamo e che vediamo svolazzare nei campi, sembrano tanti piccoli gioielli con colori che variano dal rosso, all'arancione, al giallo al blu.

Modulo comportamentale

Le farfalle sono insetti a sessi distinti. Le femmine emanano un forte segnale chimico che richiama i maschi, i quali, a loro volta, emettono un particolare odore nel periodo degli accoppiamenti. Tra le varie specie, le farfalle monarca, in autunno, migrano da nord per svernare a sud percorrendo rotte precise guidate da un infallibile istinto collettivo, ereditato dalle precedenti generazioni. Esse riescono a percorrere circa 15.000 km per andare a deporre le uova sulle foglie delle piante dei loro luoghi di riproduzione.


La tipologia farfalla è caratterizzata da individui solari, gioiosi e ottimisti. Essi sanno sempre dare al prossimo un adeguato conforto con parole e manifestazioni affettuose che non possono fare a meno di suscitare una reazione positiva e fare apparire il sorriso la dove c'è ne bisogno. Il loro atteggiamento spesso viene confuso con la superficialità e la svogliatezza; in realtà tutti dovrebbero prendere esempio da questo comportamento dando così spazio all'ottimismo e alla gioia di vivere. L'individuo farfalla è molto sensuale e il suo desiderio di formare una coppia è legato all'intima pulsione di diventare genitore.


La tradizione occidentale associa simbolicamente alla farfalla la leggerezza e l'incostanza. Invece in Oriente il colorato insetto rappresenta la femminilità e una coppia di farfalle viene considerata l'emblema della felicità coniugale.

Modo di affrontare la vita

L'uomo farfalla è un instancabile corteggiatore, ma è incostante negli affetti.

La donna farfalla è caratterialmente una persona molto aperta, quindi è sempre circondata da amici e da attenzioni.

Farfalla nei sogni Vederla : annuncia una visita importanteinseguirla e catturarla: avrai un amore improvviso, ma di poca durata

And a wiggle of the antenna to Bug Girl whence I got it.

*December 31. Cards, flowers, gifts now cheerfully being accepted.

09 December 2007

Seven Long Years

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan

Your love is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that Ive tried
And your love is better than ice cream
Everyone here knows how to fight

And its a long way down
Its a long way down
Its a long way down to the place
Where we started from

Your love is better than chocolate
Better than anything else that Ive tried
Oh love is better than chocolate
Everyone here knows how to cry

Its a long way down
Its a long way down
Its a long way down to the place
Where we started from...

07 December 2007

When you are away

I stumbled across this on the way of cats via the site for National Blog Posting Month.* And while I'm not so sure that these suggestions necessarily apply to Pekoe, they do seem to apply to me.

Well, mostly. I really have no desire to smell your luggage. None at all.

Of course, I am XX, so I really like wearing clothes belonging to my male friends. Sleeping in a guy's sweatshirt? Bliss. Happy were the days when I could fit into Chort's jeans. Also long gone, alas.

But that last paragraph? About being low maintenance but not no maintenance? That could have been written about me.

When We Are Away

When we have to be away for a while, from a short overnight trip to a long vacation, we might wonder if the cat will miss us.

Yes, they will.

This is where the cat's excellent sense of time and grasp of routine works against them. They know we are supposed to be home, and we are not. Being cats, they are going to think the worst.

Whatever plans we make to take care of their needs while we are gone, we should try to make them as reassured as possible.


* Talk about the fact that we are going away, but we will be back. This will alert them that a change is coming, and we know about it, and are thinking of them.
* Discuss the changes to the routine that will occur while we are gone. If we are getting a pet sitter, have them come over and be introduced. Involve the cat in the preparations.
* I use visual aids when I'll be away. I let them smell the suitcases and watch me pack. I explain I can't take them with me. When I was away for a week, I held Mr. Bond up to the calendar, and showed him, with his paw, that I'd be gone this day and this day and this day, but This Day, I'd be back.


* If we can, call home and let the cat listen to our voice on the phone. At least they will know we still exist, somewhere. We can leave a message for them on the answering machine.
* Wear an old shirt which we don't wash before we leave. Put it on the cat's favorite sleeping area so we have a presence at home.
* Keep a soft toy in reserve which we have rubbed on our hair and the nape of our neck. Have the caretaker present it to the cat at some point and tell them we'll be home soon.


* The cat may greet us joyously when we reappear. Or, they may not. We might get the turned back so we know they were hurt by our absence. Mr. Bond has been known to keep this up for almost ten minutes.
* A cat like Puffy has a different reaction. He bounces over to get in my lap, and then he remembers I was gone. But I'm here now, so he gets over it quickly.
* Of course we are glad to see them, no matter how they react at first. Let them know we missed them and hated to be away.

Don't be fooled by the cat's low maintenance reputation. This only makes it easy to take care of their physical needs. Their emotional needs are deep and lasting, and not as easy to address, even with a temporary caregiver they know and like. If we do our best to let them know we also missed them while we are away, it gives them a pattern that will reassure them the next time.

We want to come back, and we will.

*I did okay. I posted more than 30 times during November but missed two days, once because my dsl was out. Overall, however, I was pleased as I use NaBloPoMo to apply some external discipline to posting. Otherwise, I would have to send myself e-mails with "Dude. Update." as the subject.

Oscar and Pete

By Oscar Hammerstein II, from The Sound of Music (1959)

Sixteen Going on Seventeen

A bell is no bell 'til you ring it
A song is no song 'til you sing it
And love in your heart wasn't put there to stay
Love isn't love... 'Til you give it away

By Pete Townshend, from The Who's Who's Next (1971)

Love Ain't for Keeping

Layin' on my back
In the newly mown grass
Rain is coming down
But I know the clouds will pass
You bring me tea
Say "the babe's a-sleepin'"
Lay down beside me
Love ain't for keeping

05 December 2007

At least it is today

Winter is Icumen In

From "Ancient Music" by American Poet, Ezra Pound (Lustra collection, 1913-1915)

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

Come dancing

Define worth dancing to...

The theme to "Speed Racer" or "Linus and Lucy";
The choral section of the 9th Symphony; and
prett' near anything up-tempo with a good, strong beat.

What about dancing for...?

"Worth dancing for" is so much easier: Weddings, babies, joy, and love.

(From a recent e-mail with a friend, his questions, my answers)

None of those pieces of music got played but I still went dancing Sunday night. I know - many of you just re-read that first sentence and thought "Odd, I didn't hear anything on the news about widespread destruction and panic." Maybe it made the later editions.

The way that I ended up dancing was easy - Greykell (yes, the Greykell!) and I went to see The Foreigner that afternoon and we were hanging out at her place afterwards. She asked what I was doing later and I said that if I was smart, I'd go home and highlight the rest of my lines for Arcadia.

Did I want to go Oella Dancing instead? I didn't know for sure what "Oella Dancing" was but Grey's not the loud, hot, crowded club type any more than I am, so I knew that it wouldn't be that. And Grey and I know several people who ballroom dance, so there was a good chance that Oella Dancing would involve some or all of them.

I dithered for a little bit while Aly whispered "Go dancing" in a subliminal kind of way. And so I agreed to go.

I haven't been dancing of really any kind in years. I haven't even done any shows with choreography in them in forever. And I'm not a very good dancer between the imperfect knees and the inability to translate patterned movement from my brain to my feet. But my partners (Larry, and Dave, and Dark Eric) were kind and we whirled around the floor in one-steps (walking to a melody, more or less) and waltzes and swing dance-y things. It was lovely.

For years and years the only dances I could execute at all well (besides my specialty, desk dancing) were:

the Highland Fling (taught me to at YMCA camp before my knees went south);
the grapevine/Hora;
and a waltz.

For Pippin long years ago Lorraine beat into me taught me to do a scissor step, but I don't think that I've retained it. In fact, I know I haven't retained it. But after repeated, random exposure, I'm starting to kind of pick up the elements of some swing dances.

And in college I was in what I thought of as "Grey's dance troupe." No, really, I was. Really. Grey is about the only person I know who can consistently talk me into dancing. Actually, Grey used a couple extra dice when she made her charisma roll, so she can talk prett' near anyone into prett' near anything. So I was in Markland's dance troupe, Thrir Venstri Foetr* for several years and actually did exhibition dancing. You know, for the public. Where they could see me.

Fortunately, medieval dancing (back when I learned it, when it was contemporary dancing, I guess) comes in more or less two categories -- the pavanne (or pavane - the double n spelling seems to be specific to Markland, but it's pronounced puh-VAH-n) which is the "ooh, look at my pretty dress" stately dance and the bransle (pronounced "brawl") which is the "let's shout, get sweaty, and drink more beer" vigorous dance. (There are also the steps to "Scotland the Brave," and while it is my personal favorite, this girl was never a serious candidate to learn that dance - too much jump and pivot, you know?)

So dancing reasonably competently on Sunday was just a delight. Like most of the things that Greykell suggests doing. I must go again sometime. Soon.

And, by the way, it's called "Oella Dancing" because it happens in Oella, Maryland which is reached by driving on the sorts of swoopy roads that are like dancing in themselves.

*Forgotten our Old Norse, have we? Three Left Feet.

And from (of course) Hello, Dolly! the song that sums up the evening.

Put your hand on her waist and stand
With her right in your left hand
And one two three, one two three, one two three...

Look I'm dancing!
Well, I was.

Of course you were, Mr. Hackl!

Take the someone whose arms you're in
Hold onto her tight and spin
And one two three, one two three, one two three...

Wow, I'm dancing!

Turn around and turn around, try floating through the air
Can't you be a little more aesthetic?

Don't you think my dancing has a polish and a flair?

The word I think I'd use is athletic!

Well my heart is about to burst
My head is about to pop
And now that I'm dancing who cares if I ever stop!
...Look at me, everybody! I, Cornelius Hackl...Sport
...Am dancing!

You're next, Mr. Tucker!
Glide and step and then step and glide...

And everyone stand aside!

He's dancing!

You could learn to polka if you worked a week or so
Or the tango filled with passion seething

I might join the chorus of the castle garden show

Whatever you do for gosh shakes keep breathing

Barnaby, Dolly and Cornelius:
For my heart is about to burst
My head is about to pop
And now that I'm dancing who cares if I ever stop!

Mrs. Molloy:
When there's someone you hardly know
But wish you were closer to
Remember that he can be near to you
While you're dancing

Though you've only just said "hello"
He's suddenly someone who
Can make all your daydreams appear to you
While you're dancing

Make the music weave a spell
Whirl away your worry
Things look almost twice as well
When you're slightly blurry

As around and around you go
Your spirits will hit the top

Dolly, Cornelius, & Mrs. Molloy:
And now that we're dancing
Who cares if we ever stop

Mrs. Molloy, Barnaby, Dolly and Cornelius:
And now that we're dancing
Who cares if we ever stop

04 December 2007

Works and Grace

Great Cathedrals

by George Bilgere, from The Good Kiss.
© The University of Akron Press.

Before a date, my college roommate
Used to drive his candy-apple red Camaro
Down to the car wash and spend the afternoon
Washing, waxing, vacuuming it,
Detailing the chrome strips, buffing the fenders,
Spraying the big expensive tires
With their raised white lettering

That said something like Intruder
Or Marauder, with a silicone spray
Until they were slick and dark as sex.
He polished that car as if each caress,
Each pass of the chamois, each loving
Stroke of the terry cloth would increase,

By measurable degrees,
The likelihood that in the immaculate
Front seat, with its film of freshly applied
Vinyl cleaner, at the end of a cul-de-sac
Somewhere above the campus,
She would consent to be rubbed
And buffed just as lovingly.

We do what we can,
And if God is no more impressed
By the cathedral at Chartres
Than by a righteously clean and cherry
Camaro, at least He can't say
We haven't tried

With all our might to conceal our fear
That we have little else to offer
Than stained glass or polished chrome,
The elbow grease of our good intentions.

So I'm happy to see
That in the Christmas card photo he sent
Mark stands, balding now,
With a dignified gut, a pretty wife,
And a couple of nice-looking kids, in front
Of the great cathedral
Like the sweet vision of a future
He'd been vouchsafed one day
Long ago, through Turtle Wax
On a gleaming hubcap.

Make mine a Bronx

Perhaps because they've never tried one, the Sidecar got left off of this list of 5 Cocktails that Deserve a Comeback. A tragic oversight, especially as it could easily have replaced the Black Velvet (ick) or the Stinger (Cary Grant or no Cary Grant).

I've had a Manhattan but still need to try the Bronx and the Rob Roy*, a.k.a. the "Scotch Manhattan." The word left out of the recipe on MSN is, of course, vermouth.

Another cocktail that uses orange bitters is the RAC Cocktail, which someone I know first had in Paris. He liked it enough to acquire his own bottle of orange bitters. I have a bottle (rather ancient, but hanging in there) of regular bitters but if I end up liking the Rob Roy enough, I may have to add the orange variety to the liquor tray.

Here's the recipe, provided by Beefeater:

R.A.C. Cocktail (created in 1914 for the Royal Automobile Club)

40ml London dry gin
25ml Noilly Dry
25ml Noilly Rouge
5ml grenadine
dash orange bitter

Stir ingredients over ice. Strain into coupette, then garnish with a cherry and orange peel.

*although I've already had both a Roy Rogers and a Shirley Temple.

01 December 2007

It seems my voice carries

When one of the engineers was walking around with the clipboard for the end-of-day check (which I like to joke mostly checks if you've remembered to walk around with the clipboard, but no matter), he asked me the questions on the clip board and I answered "Heck, no!" all bright and cheerfully.

"Oh, no," he said, "I heard you talking to the copier. I know you can do better than that."