Friday, July 30, 2004

A La Carte Cable

When I watch television, I generally watch BBC America and not much else. I don't watch news or sitcoms. On network, I watch the occasional reality show and lots of Conan and Letterman. I used to have MTV, VH1, the Food Network, CNN, Comedy Central... all that stuff, but when I didn't have those anymore, I didn't miss them at all. My cable is turned off for the summer, but last school year, I had digital cable with channels 2-22 plus the Family Pack. So that basically means I had network + PBS + local access + BBC America. All together it cost about $25 a month plus the $13 a month I paid for the TiVo (totally worth the cost, btw).

I was floored when I found out that in order to get BBC America in my new town, I have to pay $53 a month! And this is a place where the cost of living is actually 10% lower than it is here. The reason is costs so damn much? Time-Warner. Freakin' monopolies. I hate them. Their DSL is about another $45 a month. Insane! And I'm used to free dialup. Luckily, the phone company offers a lighter version of DSL that's still 5 times faster than what I have for about $25 a month. Still... overall it's a BIG price increase for me.

So I've been whining and crying about how they really need to get this a la carte pricing going soon. But here's what I've found out... it doesn't look like it's going to do any good at all! It seems that the way cable is set up in the US makes it such that about half of the people with cable don't have cable boxes. They just get it through their TV, so they'd have to add to the base cost for cable to cover the cost of these buzillion new cable boxes.

Also, we'd end up losing all the less popular channels. Because so many people would choose channels like CNN and ESPN, those channels would survive. Channels like Outdoor Life Network, BBC America, or the Independent Film Channel would probably not get enough customers to stay afloat. DOESN'T THAT SUCK?!

Here a recent article from Wired that explains the current state of the situation.

The big question on my mind is this: Are the execs just feeding us bullshit so they don't have to change their ways or are they actually making any sense?

As one guy put it:

The cable industry is so fucked up, that giving people what they want would destroy the economics of the industry.
So what we are fighting for may end up giving us more choice while simultaneously costing us more money. Man, I hate that. This is like those Big Grab bags at convenience stores. I don't want to buy the Big Grab because I will eat everything in the bag, and I know it's WAY more than I should be eating, but I'm not good at internal control. I like EXTERNAL control. When I have more channels, I tend to watch more TV, and I don't want to watch more TV.

This pisses me off. I'm not saying. I'm just saying!

Stuff

All my time lately has been spent dealing with stuff. It consumes most of the hours of my day. Days were spent going through boxes, closets, and drawers at my parents' house. When I am home in my apartment, I am usually packing. Seven years in an apartment means lots of stuff. I'm giving things away. I've been donating a bag of books about once a month for the last year or so to the public library. The crutches, leg immobilizer, and Cryo-Cuff from Hamilton's knee surgery a few years ago was donated back to the health center. Massive bags of old class and teaching notes have gone to the dumpster. Files folders that aren't beautiful and completely pristine went along with those files. I've been trying to make choices about what notes, handouts, etc. will be useful to me in my career. I've been to the Salvation Army several times recently with bags of clothes and just... things. Where did I get all of these THINGS?! A few weeks ago, I went through all of my ground spices and dried herbs. If I didn't know what it was instantly; if it wasn't labeled clearly; if there wasn't a recipe I knew I used it for; if its smell was faint; if I couldn't remember buying it (when or why)... it went in the trash. Duplicates of anything were chucked. I've gotten rid of most works of fiction that I have already read. The only exceptions are novels I intend to read, and there are only about 10 of those. I have kept a few books I've read (Bridget Jones Diary and Watermelon and Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes ) because they are my favorite trashy books! I have read them more than once already, and I intend to read them again. I think there are two fiction books I kept because of sentimental reasons: Wicked and The Magus. Still, there is so much stuff. So very much stuff.

I've always been drawn to books about reducing clutter. My favorite is the very strange yet very inspiring Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui (the books that nearly drove Hamilton nutty! I went around the apartment for months after reading it, eyeing things of his I wanted him to throw away!). Life Laundry is one of my favorite (favourite?!) BBC America shows. Why? I grew up around stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. With my ADHD brain, stuff never really blends into the background. It makes me feel unwell. And still, I am a messy, messy person. Keeping things tidy takes enormous effort. I really try, but it doesn't come naturally to me. I come from messy stock, and "my people" hoard. It's a hard legacy to overcome, but I'm trying.

I've written a lot about the great sorting out of my parents massive home, after they have lived there for a quarter of a century. My father sent an excerpt today from advice he e-mailed to several of his friends. I will take it to heart. I'm already NOT regretting getting rid of that Bundt pan. I figured I couldn't ever remember actually making a Bundt cake, and so it was time!

We're off tomorrow for points Northwest, and to get away from this cabin that's overflowing with innumerable ghost objects from the past. My advice, pick up the throwing away things pace. When you look at something, don't think about its former value, or its value as a monument to some past moment, think of it as a "space occuppying lesion" - that's medicalese for cancer. Only keep those objects that have a clear, and obvious, utility in your current and future life. Things are important if they are used on a daily basis. Things might be important if they are used in every week. All other things are probably not important. Redundancy is also to be heavily considered. Four can openers are only necessary if you plan frequent can opening contests. An Angel Food Cake Pan is only important if you make such cakes every week, or maybe every month. Just because a screwdriver hasn't rusted through is no reason to keep it. One can only hold one screwdriver at a time. And people rarely read a book more than once, including classics like the Bible or Tom Sawyer. Things given to you by others are not a life sentence. "It's the thought that counts" works both ways. Throw away the gifts, keep the thoughts. When you take down a picture, try to remember the last time you really saw it. If you can't recall, chunk it. And then go back over the things you've decided to keep and relinquish 50% of them. After that, go back over the things you've decided to keep and relinquish 50% of them.

These are important rules. Learn them well. I think a major cause of premature death is drowning in stuff...


Now go throw something away!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ears

After my post about my friends, I posted some pictures of friends. I just was looking and noticed that I am wearing my cat ears in 2/3 pictures! It was a Halloween costume from years ago, but it was certainly a worthwhile purchase!


Tribe Friends: Webcam Extravaganza! Posted by Hello


Friends: Nanu, Scott, Michelle, & Aaron at the Fun Frolic in Bloomington Posted by Hello


Friends: Sunitha, Abby, & Kathleen Posted by Hello

Friends

I guess this is a good thing. All day, I've been thinking of people I want to add to my list of best friends: Annie, Tatyana, Andy here, Andy in California, Tempel, John, Annika, Adam, Hamilton (I mean, come ON! OF COURSE!), Jerome, Miranda, Matt, Rachel, Linda, Laura and on and on and on. Did I say Kathryn before? I mean, how are you supposed to say who your closest friends are? I guess I'm really lucky to know so many great people in this world.

There are the people I see on a daily basis, around school, in the community, at choir... then there are my online friends, some who I have now met in person and who have become just as important to me as friends I met offline. There are the people I grew up with, went to school with, the people who lived in my neighborhood. I'm lucky. I'm very lucky.


WHINE! Posted by Hello

I'd Rather Be Doing Anything, aka Whining

I'm here in the library. I'm cold. I'm hungry. I'm cranky. Trying to work on my dissertation after the last 10 days or so of being in packing mode is like banging my head against a wall. The simplest things seem like such an effort. Just figuring out what it was that I was going to do next took me over an house. I want to go and get a snack, but I'm trying not to oversnack, as this sitting-on-my-ass-in-the-library summer has caused me to gain some weight. I can only fit a small percentage of my clothes. I'd say it isn't the time to worry about that, but it isn't like I have any expendable income for clothes shopping. Grrrr. I just wanna play with my friends and enjoy them before we all move apart. Instead I'm here, trying to be productive, yet failing miserably. WHINE!!!!

Fixed Some Stuff

The hit counter was all messed up, so I am using one hosted by a different site that seems more reliable. It should now reflect the actual number of hits to this blog. Keep in mind, though that probably 10 a day are me checking to see if it all went to plan!


Blame him for the quiz! Posted by Hello

Eventually, I had to post a stupid quiz!

Damn Adam for ganking this internet quiz from Marvin!

What's on your bedside table?
A lamp, two alarm clocks, many half-read books, lip balm, a few pens, a journal, lip balm, a squirt bottle set on “stream” that’s supposed to be for when the cats wake me up too early, but they are so cute and fuzzy and sweet that I rarely remember to use it. This morning, Jeep woke me up by giving my boob a noogie!

What is the geekiest part of your music collection?
I’m not very ashamed of any part of my music collection. Maybe my little stack of CDs that I’m on, mostly Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus with Robert Shaw conducting.

What do you eat when you raid the fridge late at night?
Usually toast or leftovers. Often yogurt with muesli.

What is your secret guaranteed weeping movie?
Um… Oh! Cinema Paradiso, especially that bit at the end when the boy is grown up and he watches all those kissing scenes that Alfredo cut for the bishop.

Do you have a completely irrational fear?
Slugs!

What is the little physical habit that gives away your insecure moment?
Knuckle-cracking, fiddling with my earlobes.

Do you ever have to beg?
Never.

Are you a pyromaniac?
Oh yes, very much so. I don’t engage in pyromania much anymore, but show me a grill and some lighter fluid! And in high school, I used to carry an aerosol can of hair spray and a lighter.

Do you have too many love interests?
No.

Do you know anyone famous?
No. Not in an Entertainment Weekly kind of way.

Describe your bed.
Queen size, good quality mattress, head board that is completely scratched up by my kitties, but I don’t mind!

Spontaneous or plan?
Planner, but I definitely have spontaneous moments, too.

Who should play you in a movie about your life?
Uh… Ellen Degeneres? But she’d have to get a little femmed up.

Do you know how to play poker?
No.

What do you carry with you at all times?
Lip balm.

How do you drive?
Faster than you. More aggressively than you. Better than you!

What do you miss most about being little?
Being able to eat lots and lots of chocolate ice cream. I wasn't lactose intolerant as a kid, and I was skinny and could eat anything!

Are you happy with your given name?
Very much so.

How much money would it take to get you to give up the Internet for one year?
As if!

What color is your bedroom?
Freakin’ off-white. I’ve been living in apartments that don’t allow me to paint for WAY too long. I can’t wait to have a room that is a color!

What was the last song you were listening to?
“California” by Gomez or something on the first Joni Mitchell album. Can’t remember which.

Have you ever been in a play?
Yes. And a few operas. And one musical.

Who are your best friends?
Aaron, Kathleen, Rebecca, Sunitha, Scott, Michelle, Nanu, Poornima, Kristin, Caitlin, Renee, Walter, David, Elena, Liz, Anne, Veronica

Have you ever been in love?
Yes. I think I’ve really been in love at least twice, maybe more.

Do you talk a lot?
HAHAHAHAHA!

Do you like yourself and believe in yourself?

Yes.

Have you ever done any illegal drugs?
Yes, but only marijuana and that’s been years ago at this point. I’m pretty straight-laced. My brain is challenging enough au naturel.

Do you think you're cute?

That seems to be the general consensus.

Do poor, homeless, or starving people sometimes annoy you?

No.

Do you consider yourself to be a nice person?
I think that people get into so much trouble trying to maintain their belief that they are a nice person. I decline to answer that from a personal perspective, although I will say that many people who know me would probably say I am.

Do you spend more time with your girlfriend, boyfriend, or your friends?
Friends.

What is your ideal marriage location?
Did it already! Callanwolde in Atlanta.

Which musical instrument do you wish you could play?
Banjo. It’s sitting right here. I got it from my friend Rebecca by karmic chance. Some day!

Favorite fabric?
Cotton.

What kind of bedding do you use?
Cotton. Flannel in the cold months.

What kind of soap do you use?
I like to switch around. Current fave is Cocoa Butter bar soap from The Body Shop.

What's the one language you want to learn?
I know some Italian, but I’d like to learn Italian really well.

How do you eat an apple?
I peel it, cut it into pieces, then eat it with a fork from a bowl!

What do you order at a bar?
Pint of Bass, B-52 on the rocks

Have you ever pierced your body parts?
Yes. My ears.

Do you have tattoos?
Yes, I have two. A ladybug on the inside of my right ankle, and a sun painted by my father on my lower back.

Would you ever admit to having done plastic surgery of any kind if confronted?
Yes. I don’t really believe in presenting a false front.

What's one of the "funniest" things you've ever done?
What comes to mind is my mother’s story of me calling, “Heeeeer, kitty, kitty.” Out the window to a passing big cat when we were at Woburn Abbey Outdoor Animal Park. I think I was about three.

Do you drive stick?
You bet I do! Using an automatic… well, that just isn’t driving.

What's one trait you hate in a person?
Insincerity. Unreliability. OK. That’s two!

What kind of watch(es) do you wear?
I just have one. It’s a silver Fossil with a blue face. Very girly with a small face.

Most frivolous purchase?
My Nikon CoolPix camera, although it has turned out to be something I used constantly, so it’s probably no longer in the frivolous category. Still, when I bought it, it was totally on a whim after I received a check for a dent in my car. I couldn’t afford the deductible, so taking the check was my only option!

Do you consider yourself materialistic?
Probably less than most Americans by a lot, but still yes. I’m much less so than I used to be.

What do you cook the best?
Italian, Southern Indian, Southern

Favorite writing instrument?
Computer keyboard, blue ball point, black micro-tip

Do you prefer to stand out or blend in?
Stand out.

Would you ever go out dressed like the opposite sex?
Sure. I’m a woman. We can wear anything without fear of being ridiculed. We have equal clothing rights! Just ask Eddie Izzard.

What's one car you will never buy?
Ugh. Those Cruiser things.

What kind of books do you like to read?
Brit chick lit, Buddhist Psychology, Harry Potter!

If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
Pay off my student loans, then take a vacation.

Burial or cremation?
Probably cremation.

How many online journals do you read regularly?
Three, but only since last week.

What's one thing you're a sore loser at?
First, I'd like to object to the use of the word "at" at the end of this sentence. I’m pretty avoidant of competition. I hate when I’m last… like when I’m out bowling or playing a board game. I don’t mind not winning. I just hate it when I’m behind everyone the entire time.

That said, I like to know what is correct when it comes to grammar. I wouldn't say I'm a sort loser, but if I'm told I'm wrong, I'm going to look it up. I blame my mother for this! See the beginning of the last paragraph.

If you don't like a person, how do you show it?
Disengagement.

Do you cry in front of friends?
Yes.

What kind of first impression do you think you give to people?
I’ve been told I come across as really confident.

What's one thing you like to do alone?
Cook. Look at decorating books. Read cookbooks and trashy magazines.

What's the worst thing you ever said to someone?
I rarely say things I later regret. “It’s a fucking drawer” is the only thing I said recently that I later regretted.

When's the last time you cried?
I honestly don’t remember. It’s been a while. I do cry sometimes. I just haven’t recently.

Favorite communication method?
Oh man. That’s hard. Communication is my bag, baby. I really like face-to-face talking, but instant messaging is really good, too, especially with webcam. Text messaging is fun.

What is one thing you don't leave home without?
Lip balm. Didn’t we do this one already?

What's the most painful experience you've ever had?
My marriage ending. No question.

Can you type with your eyes closed?
I’m trying now. Does it look right?

Can you ski?
I tried once and ended up with my leg in an immobilizer. I’m really not very interested in trying again.

Can you speak in sign language?
Only some of the letters.

Can you do the butterfly stroke?
No.

Can you say the alphabet backwards effortlessly?
Oh, it takes effort.

Can you tie a knot in a cherry stem with your tongue?
With enough time.

Can you run a mile in under ten minutes?
In a row? Probably not.

Can you stand the sight of blood?
Yeah.

Can you read palms or tarot cards?
Tarot, but I’m slow.

Can you admit it when you're wrong?
Yes.

Can you ask for help when you need it?
Yes. I’m good at that.

Can you tie a necktie?
Yes.

Can you successfully pierce someone's ear?
Never tried, but I bet I could!

Can you play soccer?
Not really.

Can you sing?
Yes!

Can you name three kinds of clouds?
Yes.

Can you make a joke out of anything?
Probably, but I don’t.

Can you perform CPR on another human?
I could probably remember in a pinch.

Do you know what CPR stands for?
Sometimes.

Can you read minds?
No.

Can you write better poetry than Shakespeare?
No.

Can you speak more than one language?
Not fluently.

Do you know karate?
No, but I know karaoke!

Can you freestyle?
Which kind? Maybe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

More About Subservient Chicken

So I've learned more about the Subservient Chicken web site. First, it turns out that Burger King is behind the web site! Definitely check out the links in that article telling you what the chicken will or will not do. It's just bizarre! Boing Boing had a brief snippet where they clearly, at one time, had the chicken doing dirtier stuff, but it seems that those links have been cleaned up!

Notes about the Sofa Photo Series

There is a large gap between pictures two and three in the sofa series below. Thing is, I was a bit busy during that time and was unable to take pictures. The plan was that Chris was going to lift the sofa straight up vertically, then put it on his head and walk it up the ladder. Aaron would meanwhile be pulling the sofa up from the roof. Since neither Chris nor Aaron are superheroes, they needed a little help.

Chris did lift that sofa up vertically, but he needed someone to guide it past the place where the two parts of the ladder meet... In other words, there was a little bump to get past. Chris's wife and I each got on either side, and while he lifted vertically, we each guided the sofa (which was basically flailing in the air) past the bump. Once it was past that, I reached down and lifted the sofa up as well while Chris's wife held the ladder stable.

I couldn't believe that Chris actually walked up the ladder with that sofa on his head, even if Aaron was pulling from the top! Once the sofa was on Chris's head, I took off! I raced through the backyard, out the gate, up the stairs, on to the porch, then up Aaron's stairs, out the kitchen to the roof where the sofa was just arriving. Aaron had managed to pull it up, but there was still the matter of getting it over the edge of the roof. While Aaron continuted to pull and Chris continued to push, I lifted the sofa out over the edge, so it wasn't scraping along the roof anymore. I got it far enough past that Chris was able to climb up on to the roof.

All that between pictures two and three!


2. Sofa on its end, almost ready to go up! Posted by Hello


4. Sofa thinking it's going to go through the door. Little does it know, that door will first have to come off the frame. Posted by Hello


3. Sofa on the rooftop! Posted by Hello


1. Sofa at the base of the ladder, ready to be hoisted Posted by Hello

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sofas on Rooftops

So I'm here in Nashville helping my friend Aaron move. Yesterday we emptied a massive Penske truck. He'd hired two guys to help with the move. This very competent mover was determined to get Aaron's off-white, suede(ish), MASSIVE sofa inside. We tried everything. It had to go around a tight corner and up a set of stairs at the same time. We removed the fronts of several steps, we took the door off of its frame, we took down the thermostat, and we dug a little hole in the wall, and even with two professional movers, Aaron and I, it was a total failure! This mover seemed upset. He said that although he had been a mover for many years, this was his hardest item/house combo yet. He seemed truly disappointed in himself! (Oh, and incidentally, the mover also said I was way more helpful than most men he knew. I can carry a lot, and I'm really good at assembly! He said if I was in Nashville and wanted a job, I should look him up!)

A little while later, the downstairs neighbor and owner of the house showed up, SURE he could hoist it up over the roof, so just now, WE DID IT! The guy downstairs and I pushed the ladder up on to the ladder, Aaron pulled from the top of a VERY high roof. Once the sofa was high enough, the neighbor put it ON HIS HEAD and walked up the ladder, as I raced upstairs and helped Aaron to pull it the rest of the way up. We then had to all get it over to the door in the kitchen, take THAT door off of the hinges. it is finally sitting in the living room.

I am SO glad that my massive crappy sofa isn't coming with me on my move. Instead, I'm' getting a moderately-sized, FAR more stylish sofa from my parents' house. The timing has been great.

Oh, and those of you who know me well may be wondering if I took pictures. You bet your ass I did. I'm like the postman. I take pictures constantly whether rain or sleet or snow, or sofas on rooftops! I'll post a few just as soon as I get home.



One more thing. My view counter seems to have started over. It was about 270 last I checked. I hate that! I was really enjoying watching it go up. Silly technology. :(

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Clara, Cutie Extraordinaire! Posted by Hello

Clara & Travel

Just above this post is Clara, my friend Renee's adorable child! She's a busy bee and VERY animated and determined. I had a great time with her in Atlanta. I told Renee that I thought I was like Clara when I was her age (climbing, getting into stuff), and she said, "Uh-oh." Yipes! It won't be so very horrible if she grows up with my energy. I mean, I have a good time!

I'm headed to Nashville in the morning to help my friend Aaron move into his new apartment, and I've done NADA with my dissertation. I swear I'm just completely burned out. It isn't the end of the world, and I'm trying not to panic. I've just really worn myself out.

I'm gonna be like one of those famous people who has to go to the hospital for "exhaustion" (like anyone in the real world ever has to go to the frikkin' hospital for exhaustion)! Anyway, I'm the energizer bunny. I can do it. I just know I can.

I'm not sure what my computer access will be there, but I'm sure I'll post a little. I mean, I'm a person with a lot to say! I just hate leaving "the girls" (as in Jeep and Maggie, my cats), but the catsitter is good, so they should be OK. Just a few days without their usual high-level spoiling. Damn, I love these cats! They are just the best.

Be well, and never forget the fifth rule of this blog.


The "I'm listening" picture at the top of the new comment form. Posted by Hello

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Wound Up, Yet Exhausted

Oddly, I feel simultaneously wound up, melancholic, and exhausted. Since I returned from packing up my parents’ house, I have had the hardest time getting back into dissertation mode. When I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. For the entire summer, I have spent 5+ days a week in the library 5+ hours a day. I’ve been working like a trooper, or at least as much like a trooper as is possible for an ADD lady like myself. But I have really worked at maximum capacity.

Then, the house-packing was this MARATHON, Herculean task. When I returned back home, I was beyond tired, AND I was completely in packing mode. I look around my apartment, and I see what isn’t packed and what needs to be packed. Granted, I still have a month to go, but moving is on the brain!

My friend Rebecca just moved away a few weeks ago. My friend Veronica just moved from one location to another, and I was hearing about that, too. And today, my friend Aaron is moving! In a couple of weeks, Scott and Michelle are moving! It’s everywhere! And the more I look around, the more I realize that there is an amazingly daunting task in front of me. Plus, I’m just getting REALLY burned out on Ye Ole Diss. I mean, how much can one person take?

I decided that there are two priorities in my life right now: the dissertation and packing. I’ve worked my ass off on the dissertation all summer. If the energy I have is more the packing kind of energy, well then I’ll just do that until I wear out, then I’ll go back to the dissertation. I know I’ll get them both done. I always do. I just wish I weren’t so tired.

I can’t stop moving from task to task, and I’m all wound up, then when I finally lie down to catch my breath, I fall asleep instantly. It’s not good, but it’s temporary. I won’t be this overworked forever. I mean, I’m about to go on internship, but I think that will be different. I work best when I have lots of discrete responsibilities and structure. Having these big mammoth tasks just wears me down. Ugh!

Maybe I'll just sit here and play subservient chicken. That'll cheer me up!

Geeking Out

OK. I may not be an über-geek, but I certainly have geeky tendencies. And let me tell just how excited I am two recent additions to my online life: GMail and Mozilla Firefox 0.9.2.

GMAIL

I’d heard of GMail lore, heard everyone was trying to get an account because it’s an invitation-only situation. You have to know someone else cool enough to get an account with GMail, because it is still in its beta version.

First, they give you 1000 megabytes of storage, which is quite a lot! Also, in GMail, you don’t ever really delete anything. Sure, you can send it to trash, but it never really goes away, just in case. Instead of sorting your messages into discrete folders, you assign labels, and any given message can have multiple labels, so an e-mail from my Dad with an attachment might be in with all the other e-mails with attachments, and it might also be in with the e-mails from my Dad. I can also set up filters so that messages coming in from Dad are automatically given the label “Dad.”

Each message is grouped with all its replies and displayed as a conversation. It’s like a little clump, and you never have to delete all the stuff that came before to save space. It displays it in this really clever way so you can click on any part of the conversation you are interested in reading. If I send a message to Anne, then she responds, it’s all gonna be clumped as a conversation. I never have to go see what it was she was replying to in the first place. Whenever you get an e-mail from anyone, they are automatically added to your contacts list. I love that! I also love how you can import addresses from Outlook and Yahoo. They've automated that. The only ads I ever see are Google ads, which are really non-intrusive, and I've received almost no spam. When I have, there's this handy button that says, "Report as spam," which I find really satifying to use.

It’s just seriously cool. I was going to say that you should try and befriend someone who has invitations to give away (sadly, I have not yet been offered any by Google), but no! I came across this site, so you can get going right away! Do you have anything to offer that is as cool as these people in exchange for a GMail account? Haha!

MOZILLA FIREFOX 0.9.2

The other really groovy addition to my online life is Mozilla Firefox 0.9.2. Oh MAN! It’s so great. There are all these groovy extensions you can get, and they are all organized really well in one place, so that you can tweak the options any time you want. It's tweakability it beyond stellar! It loads way faster than the last Firefox, too. When you use Mozilla, you don’t have to deal with stupid popup ads. It’s much safer from spyware than IE. All the really good spyware is written for the browser in which it can do the most damage, and that is, of course, Internet Explorer. After my rabid spyware outbreak earlier this summer, which resulted in me having to do a full system wipe, I decided to look into other options. Firefox 0.8 was good. 0.9.2, which I just downloaded a couple of days ago, is EXCELLENT!

No, they aren't paying me. I really am this excited!! :D


The Kingdom of Oz is Within You Posted by Hello

There is No Place Like Home

I have had a lifelong interest in The Wizard of Oz... Although honestly, when the Oz Convention was held here a few years ago, I learned that I, in fact, am not actually obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. Oh no. I'm far from obsessed. I didn't know the meaning of "obsessed" until I saw these nutty Oz-heads. See some press coverage of that event here, here, and here.

A N Y W A Y, back to the subject at hand. I love Oz. My Dad read me all of the books when I was a kid. I adored the movie and ended up asking for and receiving an Oz playset for Christmas, which I actually found a few days ago when I was sorting. In the third grade, I played Dorothy in my school's version of the play. I actually found the program for that when I was sorting, too! The theme of Oz actually came up in therapy when I began to do that thing girls do with their fathers, pushing them off a pedestal. I learned a bit late that Dad was not The Great and Powerful Oz, but the man behind the curtain, or somewhere between the two. I adored the books Was by Geoff Ryman (a man Hamilton actually knew as a child) and Wicked, the story of the Wicked Witch of the East. Both books bring these characters into a more realistic and less magical, over-the-rainbow world. The beauty and metaphor of Oz has always captivated me, and not in an oh-boy-let-me-get-the-Munchkin's-autograph kind of way.

As I wrote yesterday's post about home, I was reminded of the theme of home in The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy is in Oz at the end, and the Wizard has left in his balloon without her because she has run after Toto, Glinda appears and tells her that she has always had the power to get herself home. Before she leaves, the Tin Man asks her what she has learned in Oz. Her answer is something I've had memorized since I played Dorothy when I was 8.

It wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em, and it's that if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard because, if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.


Oh, that's so good. And it's how I feel now. Home is not my apartment. It isn't my parents' house. Salmon Rushdie wrote a beautiful essay about the Wizard of Oz and the theme of home. Remember that pilaver in 1989 when he had to go into hiding because the Ayatollah Khameini had issued a fatwa on him for writing The Satanic Verses? Talking about losing your sense of home! Rushdie knew that home wasn't present in the walls of a house. It's something you create within yourself. Who better to speak about this than an articulate Oz freak in exile?!

In Dorothy's Progress: The Wizard of Oz as Spiritual Allegory, the author David F. Godwin sums it up so very well that I'm just going to paste it in here:

[T]he ultimate spiritual reality lies within each individual person-in their 'own backyard'-and not off somewhere over the rainbow. 'The kingdom of Oz is within you.'"


I mean, what a fabulously secular and relevant lesson to reflect upon right now, when everything in my life is changing, when the physical manifestations of home are unstable. And it even reflects my Buddhist leanings. Everything I need is right here, right now. Everything is exactly as it should be.

Home

My sense of home isn't stable right now. That isn't a bad thing. It just is. Losing my marriage brought on a really scary sense of the rug being pulled out from under me; instability. So I learned to dance on a shifting carpet. I've been living here for seven years, and although I didn't like it at first, I've made so many great connections here. Leaving is sad, and yet, I'm very excited to be doing it.

When I'm here, I know where the grocery store is. I know where to buy the best brand of canned tomatoes. I know when and where the farmer's market is. I know on what night choirs rehearse. I know where to take a yoga class, where to kayak, where to karaoke, where to hike. I know where I can find the really good cat food. I know enough people to throw a party and know that it will be a great time. When I move, I will have to learn all of this stuff again. That's not bad. It just is.

At the same time, my parents' have sold their house. We moved into that house when I was 10 years old. Now I am 34. Before we lived there, we lived in a place about a mile away in the same neighborhood. We first moved there when I was four, so for 30 years, my parents' neighborhood was the place I went wen I said I was going "back home." It was "base" when things weren't going quite right.

So I don't have the stability of a marriage. I don't have the stability of the place to go home to, and I don't have the stability of staying here. This has been home for 7 years. I've been here through a lot, and it's a hard place to leave. I have packed 10 boxes now. This study is starting to look bare. Empty shelves. Empty closet.
A large pile of boxes.

And yet, there is stability in my life, and that is in the form of people. I have wonderful people in my life. My parents don't have that house, but I still have them. And on a more daily-basis, I have Jeep and Maggie. I adore these girls. I have my old friends, who live all over, and who I know I can call for both important and mundane
reasons. I also have my online friends, many of whom have become friend in real life, too. I think of them as hanging out in a box (my computer), ready to chat no matter where I live. I've seen it so many times. An online friend moves across the country, and I'm still talking to them the next day, usually about something silly and
unimportant. Silly and unimportant gets me through the day sometimes.

The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Friday, July 23, 2004

What's happening downstairs

While I blog along up here, this goes on downstairs! If only I had a cool outfit like that to share!


The Adorable Helen, Baby to Steve and Kathleen. Isn't she lovely? Posted by Hello

The Adorable Helen

I'm on my way out to babysit the adorable Helen. Ain't she just the cutest? Yay!


How much do I love this picture? Oh, an awful lot! It's Dad, Me, and Andy (my backup Dad in case of emergency!) Posted by Hello

Nicknames and Titles

You may be wondering about the nicknames I'm using for myself. I was
given the nickname "Lady Cutie Troublemaker of the Midwestern Lands"
ages ago on Tribe.net, the social networking web site on which I
am extremely active. It seems to have stuck, and people who know me
well generally say that it is an ideal nickname for me. I'm moving
away soon, so I'm dropping the Midwestern Lands part. Plus, it's such
a mouthful that way!

"Proactive Busybody" was a term given to me by my ex-husband,
Hamilton. It isn't an insult at all. At the time he said it, he was
smiling. I'm actually quite happy with the description because it's so
very accurate! I think maybe he and I were talking about planning a
trip or something, and I was probably saying how much I liked doing
stuff like that, and he probably said that it was OK with him that I
planned it, because I was such a "proactive busybody." :D

Sometimes I use "Sparky" as a nickname. This was given to me by
Hamilton as well, but he got the idea from an e-mail I received from a
professor. I had sent an inquiry to this professor some time after he
had left this university. In his response, he said that he remembered
me well, and that I had always added a spark to his class.

Now you know!


Jeepers is a stinker. Posted by Hello

Packing, Writing, Jeepers

Jeep standing on my chest at 7am meeping because I forgot to fill the auto-feeder is kind of cute, and kind of not. Leaving town to pack completely got me off of my dissertation schedule, so now I have to drag my raggedy ass back to the library when I just don't want to go! My life is about packing and writing, writing and packing. The dissertation topic is old, old, OLD, and yet I have to persist. I'm so close to being finished!

I packed about 5 more boxes last night, and yesterday, I gave two more big bags of clothes and stuff to the Salvation Army, two bags of books to the library (I feel like I'm there donating every damn day now), and a really nice duvet to my friends Steve and Kathleen. I'm overwhelmed with all of the things being shipped to Memphis from my parents' house. Even though I was judicious in my choices of what to take, it still feels like a lot to fit into 733 square feet.

This isn't a fun blog today, is it? Well, I guess it was bound to happen some time. I'm off to take my allergy medication, feed these little stinkers (they're watching "Kitty TV" right now... birds on the deck), and to feed this big stinker some lovely muesli I made the other day. Then, the dragging of the raggedy ass will ensue.

Oh, when I say "stinker," it is a good thing.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

New Features

A hit counter and the Rules of this Blog are now located in the column on the right.


Me and "Monkey" Posted by Hello

Monkeys are Funny!

Hee hee! Here's a silly monkey, and here's a funny monkey. Getting the funny monkey was no easy task. They had removed it from the site, so I ended up IMing this random guy at that company and talking him into reposting it!

Here is the transcript:

Michael says:
hello, and who might you be?
ÄßÞΎ says:
I am in the US, and I have a silly question about your web site.
ÄßÞΎ says:
My name is Abby.
Michael says:
hi there abby
Michael says:
ask away
ÄßÞΎ says:
Hi. I'm wondering what happened to this page: www.smebbdesign.com/little_red_monkey.html
ÄßÞΎ says:
It was linked all over the Internet, and a friend of mine and I were looking for it last night, and I noticed there was a way to IM you! Hope this isn't too very annoying.
Michael says:
well, it got deleted in some mixup, and yeah, it was getting over 2000 hits a day, which is more than what i can say for my web site
Michael says:
i can upload it again
ÄßÞΎ says:
At least it was pulling the people in!
ÄßÞΎ says:
Yay! Do that! The world would thank you. Did you create it?
Michael says:
i wished i did
ÄßÞΎ says:
All of my friends and I sing that all the time, and we're all grad students in Indiana! I love the Internet!
Michael says:
sweet :P
ÄßÞΎ says:
I know!
Michael says:
2 seconds, i hope i still have it somewhere
ÄßÞΎ says:
Excellent. I should have saved it when it was up before.
Michael says:
aha! there it is
Michael says:
uploading now
ÄßÞΎ says:
Yay!
ÄßÞΎ says:
Fab! Where are you in the UK?
Michael says:
in the north east, County Durham
Michael says:
land of the prince bishops
Michael says:
www.smebbdesign.com/little_red_monkey.html
ÄßÞΎ says:
Oh. Never been there. I've been to the UK a lot, but never up north. Nice people from up there, obviously. Thanks so much!
Michael says:
lol
Michael says:
you're welcome :P
ÄßÞΎ says:
Yay! Now I can sing this ridiculous song over and over and annoy all of my friends some more. I'm sure they will want to write to you to thank you personally.
Michael says:
lol :P
ÄßÞΎ says:
It's good that you put it in the original location so everyone can find it. If you know the designer, thank him or her for me! Thanks for your help.
Michael says:
i will and you're welcome
ÄßÞΎ says:
Yay! Have a great day.
Michael says:
you too :)

OK, I didn't get that nickname "Lady Cutie Troublemaker" for nothing! Nor was I called a "proactive busybody" for nothing. I earned that shit!

If you've forgotten or never knew, I grew up with a very special monkey named Monkey given to me by Carl Mahoney when I was two years old! Check out the picture above.


Pulled Pork Barbecue and Sauces Posted by Hello


People will ask, so you might as well make a sign. Posted by Hello

Talking and Mustard Sauce

OhBoyOhBoyOhBoy! I'm so excited! It's a new day, and that means I can post on here again without seeming like I'm "talking to much." Trying to not talk too much is a lifelong effort at which I generall fail. Yesterday, I called my mother to remind her to get all of my old report cards out of her bedside table. As I recall, there was not a single report card during my elementary years that did not say both "Talks to much" and "Can't sit still." Oh well. Silence and inactivity are highly overrated in elementary school. When I work with teachers professionally, the issue of "teacher tolerance" is a big focus of mine. I will say things like, "Yes. I realize he is wiggling, but is he on task? Many children can get their work done while they are not sitting still. Is it really that important that he remain still during class?" I'm good at what I do because I've been that kid! I was there wiggling all around, talking my head off, AND learning. It can be done!

There are a million topics I could ramble on about. One that came to mind for this morning was the topic of barbecue sauce. Sure, I could talk about my professional goals and all that crap, but YAWN! Who really wants to know about that? I mean, you all ask me, but you're just doing that because you think you have to because you're a grown-up. I think talking about barbecue sauce would be WAY FUNNER! (Yes, I'm about to get my Ph.D, yet I said "way funner." You got a problem with that? I didn't think so.)

There are two nearly perfect barbecue sauces in this world. One is made by Andy Lipscomb, and the other is made by my father Mickey (see how I didn't post his last name? I'm being discrete and safety-minded). I don't know Andy's recipe. Maybe he'll post it here. But now I know my Dad's. He taught it to me last weekend when we were at Flint Hill Farm (where the Lipscombs live).

Here's what you do... You fill up a bowl with mustard. Yellow American Mustard. Don't get fancy here, or you will be ridiculed. You have been warned. OK, now put in brown sugar, as much as it will take, until it tastes right. Now, this may be difficult if you've never tasted the right stuff before, but I will trust you to use your best judgment. Now you add other stuff until it tastes right. (Uh-oh. The "tastes right" issue again. Just come along with me. We'll get there.) So now you add stuff. Stuff, according to my Dad, means onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and some hot sauce. I might be forgetting something. I hope I'm not. I wanted to add salt, but I was warned that was not good form. I defer to him when it comes to Mustard Sauce. If there are sugar lumps in the sauce, stick the bowl in the microwave and heat it a little. These will melt away. Now, use copious amounts of this sauce on PORK barbecue, preferably whole hog cook over an outdoor pit. Yes, a tall order, but I thought I'd tell you the right way, then let you stray as necessary.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Technical Learning Curve

Well, as I said in the e-mail I sent many of you, I tend to jump right into using new software and online platforms. My friend Liz informs me that I really don't want to let just anyone comment on my blog, since that often attracts spammers. As lovely as spiced ham is, I should probably save myself the hassle. So, if you'd like to comment on my blog, you will need to sign up for a username on www.blogger.com first. Eventually, I will get this right!


Flint Hill by the Fire Pit (Back Row: Andy Lipscomb, Adam Lipscomb, My Dad Mickey; Front Row: Me, Frannie Lipscomb, Drew Lipscomb) Posted by Hello

Bye Bye, House

Last night I returned from 4 days in Georgia. Saturday was spent at Flint Hill, the Lipscomb's Farm. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were spent going through approximately 150 boxes in the basement of the house in which I grew up. These were boxes of stuff gathered from all around the house that had been put into storage units during the time the house was on the market. These boxes contained antique cameras, pictures, birth certificates, moldy old clothes, actual trash, albums, jewelry, appliances, etc. Priceless antiques were in boxes with moldy old shoes.

I made the mistake of writing "Crap" on the top of several boxes, which was apparently offputting to the estate sale ladies. My mother is currently in a bit of a quandry regarding the estate sale, as this company is the only one that will do estate sales when there isn't a lot of furniture, and they have no dates available before the house closing on August 18th. I don't know what will happen now, but I'm sure it will all work itself out somehow.

My parents bought our house in 1980. My mother is a pack rat. My father is a bit of a slob. I have a little of both of those qualities in me, too. So the sorting wasn't easy. 150 boxes, four thousand square feet, two and a half days, and 25 years of detritus. My mother and I had quite a time of it. We found fascinating letters, photographs, and items. I heard a story about every piece of furniture, every painting, every item. I want to remember them all, but I think the only way I can manage that is if I get my mother to start writing now!

I am taking 15 boxes when I move next month. I'm also getting some library bookcases, a lovely sofa and chair, a hall tree, an Oriental rug, a copper coal bucket, a bedside table, mostly antiques. My mother and father talked me into taking more than I wanted, but I think they were actually right in doing that. It's hard to imagine me with a family in a house right now, but if that ever does happen, I do think there are some things that I will want. So to that end, some other items of furniture are being put into a storage facility for me. The most important of these items are my great-grandmother's upright piano (or was it great great grandmother?!), a 1922 roll top desk, and several brass rubbings done by my parents when we lived in England in the very early 70s.

After all of that sorting, I think that I will have a much easier time getting rid of things in my own apartment! I kept feeling like each item I took with me was an encumberment that would keep me from being able to move freely through my apartment and freely through my life.


Basement Boxes Posted by Hello

Welcome

In preparation for the upcoming move, I thought I'd start a blog. I don't know a lot about these yet, which is funny given my web addiction. I'm going to keep the information suitable for parents and family friends, although I must warn you... I'm a cusser! Outside of that, I will keep my posts in the PG-13 range. I will ask you to do the same. Also, for safety reasons, I will ask you not to mention my last name, address, phone number, etc. if you respond to my posts. I have had some security issues online, and I'd prefer not to have more! Let the blogging begin!