Sunday, February 20, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy . . . well sort of.

Currently Reading: Children of the Mind By Orson Scott Card

I had one of those weird weekends where I seem to be both busy and yet not busy at the same time. Maybe it's due to the number of things that we did vs. the amount of time spent on them? I'm not sure. I do know that I spent a good deal of time shopping :-)

Saturday started off with a minor test. Bu, our little brown dog (mentioned in CC's blog) had another vet appointment. She's been battling ear infections lately and they're being persistant. It happens. Hell it happens to me too for that matter. Anyway, during her previous appointments she's been a bit of a grumpy dog. She's been growling at the staff, at the vet, even took a few snaps and bites. They ended up having to muzzle her (which is weird because she looks like some mini-Hanibal Lecter). Anyway, I told everyone that she never does that when I take her over so that must be the problem.

I know what you're thinking, bad idea to make such a bold prediction right? Well maybe, but I like to think I know these dogs pretty well and in this case I was right. Took her over at 9 or so, she was a little nervous, a little jumpy, but she never growled at anyone, even the other dogs. Ok, she did try a few times to visit with a large cat but that's more of a cat vs dog thing.

We take her into the exam room, get her up on the table. She squirms a bit, sure. Every time a doctor shoves a big q-tip in MY ear I squirm a bit too. Of course, knowing her history they muzzled her anyway but I am happy to report that she never growled, not once. She remained more or less calm the whole time (though she clearly wanted to get out of there as soon as possible). The trick is simply to keep her from getting scared. When she feels threatened, she bites. Simple as that. I made sure she could always see me, always feel me petting her. I even went nose to nose with her and she gave me a little dog kiss (as much as she could through the muzzle).

Trip to the pet store where she was just as well-behaved as she should be (better than usual actually) then to Starbucks for some coffee for CC, chai tea latte for me, hot chocolate for mom. Home to drop off the dog and then right back out again for food shopping. See? Pretty busy right?

Well after that it sort of slows down. Spent the rest of the day reading because CC's working on a HUGE major project for the office and has to work on it all weekend. Poor thing doesn't get enough sleep when she works like this. I have to almost force her to sleep and she complains about it a little but you know, she isn't productive when she's sleepy (who is?) and her work is much better when she's rested so I make her rest.

Today, similar thing. Got up, had one HELL of a huge breakfast. Went to the INTERNATIONAL House of Pancakes (is there just a national one or a local one?) and had one of the egg and pancake combo breakfasts. Then we went over to check out this Asian/Latino farmers market that opened up. Ok, it's CALLED a farmers market but what it really is is a multi-ethnic grocery store specializing in Asian and Hispanic foods. Great place. Big. Very big and a great selection. CC's thrilled because now we'll be able to make all sorts of filipino dishes. I like it too because they have a great selection of foods from all over Asia. Of course, I could have done without seeing the sheep's heads for sale. Yes, you read that right, a sheep's head. Two of them actually, along with other various animal parts.

Home again after that and CC went back to work and I went back to reading. Quiet afternoon after a busy morning.

What I hope will happen this week is that CC will be able to finish the project she's currently working on. Wait, let me modify that. Since the project MUST be done this week, it's going to be finished one way or another. What I REALLY hope then is that she gets the project finished without completely losing her mind. I'll do the best I can to keep her going of course but there's only so much I can do. She's got a lot of work on her plate and there are only so many hours in the day. Let's all keep our fingers crossed for her and if you happen to be religious, a little prayer for her wouldn't hurt either.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Return of the Gym

Currently Reading: Xenocide By Orson Scott Card

No, that's not the title of some missing Star Wars film, that's what happened yesterday. The gym has officially returned and it is fully functional. Feel free to drop off clothes that don't fit in your closet because, like most home gyms, it's only a matter of time before ours becomes a clothes rack.

Actually I shouldn't be too harsh. That gym equipment will receive plenty of purposful work so long as CC and I are here. The problem is, it wasn't purchased for US.

True to form, after waiting months for the treadmill to be repaired, yesterday, finally working again, no one used it. I asked my mother about that. She'd been using it as an excuse NOT to work out as often. Treadmill doesn't work. She likes to walk. Well now it works. What did she say yesterday? "Well no, I'm not going to use it NOW. I don't work out until AFTER dinner."

Fair enough. After dinner. Not the best time to get your exercise but I suppose better than never right? There's only one problem with that. After dinner she's tired and usually falls asleep early.

So, why am I being so harsh about it? Oh that part's simple. It's because I will now begin to hear even MORE often how I never get any exercise. There's a whole room filled with gym equipment, I should use it more often. Mmhmm, well, you know, my closet IS a little crowded these days :-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

CC's Birthday . . . The Rest of the Story

Currently Reading: Nothing, but I'll be starting a new book tonight . . .

I just finished rereading CC's account of her birthday on Saturday. My sister and her family came over and we had a small party. CC was in Omaha on her actual birthday so this was the first chance we really had to celebrate.

She does a good job telling what happened but her version is quite a bit more sedate than how I remember it.

Let's start with that Painted Pony she got from Judy. That part she got right. Her jaw dropped, almost to the floor. It really is a lovely piece. She's got a picture of it in her blog.

Then there's the day spa. This one took her completely by surprise. She opens up the little bag the card came in, doesn't quite know what it is. Looks at it a little closer. Realizes it's a day spa, opens the card, reads it and then If you saw The Incredibles you may remember the short that plays before it called Bound. It's the one where the Jackalope teaches the ram that having his fur shaved out isn't that big of a deal. They "bound" all over the place as a way of dealing with it. Now, take that image of the ram jumping up and down, maybe doing a little dance, and you've got CC's reaction to the day spa gift certificate.

And finally, the Payless card. That's for the Payless Shoe Store in case you didn't know. CC has developed a great love of shoes over the past few years and so she shops for them regularly. Sometimes we go to the bigger stores, sometimes smaller. Sometimes cheap shoes, sometimes more expensive ones. There's some sort of logic to all this, a hidden pattern, but I haven't quite worked it all out yet. Anyway, she pulls out this card, sees what it is and . . . well, do you remember back during football season, all the dances that the players would make when they scored a touchdown or got in a REALLY good tackle? That's about what CC did. She did an endzone celebratory dance.

And now you know the rest of the story :-)

Slow Time

Currently Reading: Nothing, but I'll start a new book tonight . . .

Ever have one of those days were there just doesn't seem to be enough to do to make time go by fast enough? It's the polar opposite of those days where time just ZIPS on by and you're at the end of the day before you know it.

CC and I both started out moving faster than time. She was a little late getting started this morning and yet we still managed to get her to the office on time without any rushing.

After I got home, I started work on my to-do list and before I knew it, I was most of the way done and only an hour had gone by. Here's the thing though, I KNOW it takes more than an hour to do all the things I did this morning, or at least it normally does. So I figure it's one of two things. Either I'm MUCH more efficient this morning (yeah right) or I'm moving faster than time.

Guess that makes me a mutant. Hmm, maybe I could join the X-Men :-)

Friday, February 11, 2005


She's coming home tonight! She's coming home tonight! WOO HOO!

Monday, February 07, 2005

A Patriotic Super Bowl

Currently Reading: Kafka on the Shore By Haruki Murakami

Well, seeing as how I didn't have a dog in last night's fight, the Super Bowl went as well as I hoped. It was a good game, plenty of action, not too much scoring and, best of all, not a complete waste of my time :-)

Even better, I actually enjoyed the halftime show. I think they made good choice. I've never really been a big fan of taking pop music groups and giving them the halftime show. Too often their music doesn't have a broad appeal and the group breaks up a few years down the road. Better that they go with the older, more appreciated musicians. Don't get me wrong though, I enjoyed the pre-game concert as well but I'd rather they take that risk for the early concert instead of the halftime one.

I also enjoyed watching Fox all day. One of the big problems with the Super Bowl now that it's played later at night is filling the rest of the day. When the game is on ABC or CBS they tend to fill the day with really lame chatter from their "experts." Fox had a more broad-based approach I would say. Oh yes, they started pre-game earlier than EVER before but they were good shows for the most part. I liked the whole "top ten Super Bowl moments" even if Dallas came away as the loser in the number one spot. And I got a chuckle out of The Best DARN Sports Show Period. Talk about being paranoid, did you see the moment, early in the show when the stage hand comes in and warns the guy not to say DAMN? I guess Fox was REALLY making sure they didn't have any controversy.

And so, another football season is done. Time to start getting ready for the next sport I suppose. Normally at this time I'd start watching hockey but since they're still not playing due to their lockout, I may just end up taking a break from sports until baseball season. I used to watch basketball but the games have been so boring lately, they just don't hold my interst. There aren't many TEAMS left out there these days and the few that are still around don't get much national coverage. So it's either bad basketball or nothing. I think I'll just take a break :-)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Chillin' With Chili

Currently Reading: Kafka on the Shore By Haruki Murakami

I don't think they'll ever settle the debate about what nature's perfect food is but when it comes to man-made food, I've got to put chili right up there near the top. Ok, sure it's not as fancy as a lot of your other foods, but pound for pound, not much else is as satisfying.

One of the big benefits, of course, is the fact that you can customize it to suit your audience. For example, if you've got a bunch of west coast, wine drinking, non-meat eaters, well hell that's not a problem, just leave out the meat :-) You can even throw in some of that tofu stuff if you want to or some fake soy meat-like substance. That's all part of the beauty of chili.

It's also pretty damn simple to make. If you want to go really old school with your chili and break out the big pots and figure out what the hell "simmer" means, you can do that. But to make a great chili you don't have to slave over a pot all day. Here's what you need:

1 crock pot (they're electric, you plug it in, it cooks stuff)
1 frying pan
1 pound lean hamburger
1 large can tomato sauce
1 medium can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 can sliced/diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions
1 can pinto beans
1 can great northern beans
3 cans kidney beans (mix it up though, dark with light)

You'll want some spices too. Get some onion powder, some garlic powder, maybe some greek seasoning, celerty flakes and parsley flakes. I can't give you any proper measurments with these things. Season to taste :-)

Alright, now here's the tricky part. Brown the hamburger in the pan. And when I say brown, I mean brown. If it's still flopping around in the pan bleeding, it ain't done. Cook it til it's done or your chili will send everyone to the bathroom for all the wrong reasons.

Once the meat is done, so is most of your cooking. Drain the beans. Canned beans always have this stuff in there which is . . . I dunno, bean juice I guess. Drain that stuff out. It'll make your chili thin. Then all you have to do is put everything into the crock pot. Be smart though, don't just dump it in. Put it in one can at a time and stir it up now and then so it's not a big mess.

That's pretty much all there is to it. You'll be wondering how long to cook it. The answer is simply as long as you can. The longer the better. One of the great things about a crock pot is that it doesn't burn anything. It cooks at a low temperature so you don't have to worry about it. Me, I like to throw my chili together around 10 or 11 in the morning for that night's dinner. Of course, you can eat it any time you want. Everything you threw into the pot was already cooked so you're just heating it up but the longer you let it cook the better it's going to taste.

Ok, now the finer points. 1. don't put too much hot sauce in the chili. Some people actually like to taste their food. Have some bottles of tobasco sauce around and if they want a hotter meal, they can spice it themselves. 2. keep bread, crackers, extra onions and cheese around. People like to add this to their chili. 3. Your wine rules still apply here. Red meat, red wine, white meat, white wine. 4. Aren't hanging out with a wine crowd? Beer, of course. And 5. Use napkins for crying out loud! You're not a barbarian :-)

It's Super Bowl Sunday so get cooking and impress your friends!


Friday, February 04, 2005

Sideways? Best Picture?

Currently Reading: Kafka on the Shore By Haruki Murakami

Just finished watching Sideways. My brother in law is a regional distributor for a major video chain and he gets the screeners all the time, months before the movies are released on video. So I'm sitting here wondering a few things about this movie.

First off, I'm wondering why in the hell this thing is nominated for best picture, director, adapted screenplay. As stories go, the characters were mostly annoying, prenentious and self-centered. As plots go, there's almost ZERO growth with the characters. And was this supposed to be a comedy? If so it wasn't very funny. If it's a drama, it wasn't very dramatic. In fact, I found the whole thing pretty damn predictable.

I will grant that the supporting women were great, and Thomas Hayden Church was also good, though a bit 2 dimentional. Well maybe two and a half. He had a LITTLE depth but not much.

Maybe it's some California thing. Maybe if I lived in California I'd be able to connect with these people on some level. I certainly can't identify with them, they all seem so damn shallow and weak.

There certainly was a lot of talk about wine, but you know, on the whole, that really made the picture seem even more self-important. Like I'm supposed to be completely enthralled with this film because of all the wine terminology. All that did for me was put up yet another wall between me and the characters. They live in a totally different world and sadly, it's not even a very interesting one.

Perhaps if I'd had a few glasses of wine along the way I'd better appreciate it. No, actually if I'd had a few glasses of wine along the way I probably would have fallen asleep after the first hour.

All I can say is that it's going to be one snoozer of an Oscar ceremony this year.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Blank Blogging

Currently Reading: Kafka on the Shore By Haruki Murakami

You know, I did a little poetry writing today. I don't do it very often and usually they're to CC but a situation came up that required a little bit of verse. As I was writing it, I was reminded of a discussion I had with a group of "poets" while I was in college (note that one of them actually went on to get a PhD in poetry). The discussion went something like this:

Bear: Man, poetry really sucks these days. All blank verse, free verse, whatever they want to call it. I mean, what the hell is that? There's no rhyme, no meter, no rules, nothing.

Poet: BOO! You suck! You don't know what you're talking about! Modern poetry is great! Long live modern poetry! You're just too stupid not to understand it!

Bear: Really? Then tell me, what exactly is the difference between this free verse stuff and normal, emotive prose chopped off so it looks like a poem?

Poet: (silence) Well if you don't know the difference maybe you should change your major to something else because every English major should know what the difference is!

Bear: Mmhmm, I've avoided poetry classes on purpose. You took all of them. Please enlighten me.

Poet: BOO! You suck! You don't know what you're talking about!

Ok, obviously I'm paraphrasing there and I did do some selective editing. There were profanities involved on both sides. Never did get an answer out of any of the poets about it though. Even more shocking was learning that the PhD poet never really studied much poetry at all and didn't know many of the major, classic poets. And I'm not talking about obscure people here either. I'm talking about Walt Whitman, Blake, Pope, Dunn. Those guys (if you're an English major you know all of em). Ok, in all fairness though she was VERY well versed in the anti-male, feminist poetry of the 80's and she seemed to know quite a bit about the Morbid poets like Sylvia Plath. I assumed then that the degree covered more of the FORMS of poetry, basic styles, different types, but there again I meat with blank expression when I mentioned iambic pentameter. I mean, come ONE you gotta know that one if you have a poetry degree.

Sad to say that now that person is actually teaching a whole new generation of future English majors to hate poetry. The few who actually ENJOY such classes will come away thinking that everything in literature is relative to what the reader thinks (forget what the author MEANT) and that one should not criticize the works of a poet. Poets are genius. If you do not LIKE a poem, it is simply because you're too stupid to understand their work.

I have a two word response to people like that. It comes from Old German and has been a part of the English language for a LONG time. The first word rhymes with duck :-)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Uh . . . damn. LINE!

Currently Reading: Kafka on the Shore By Haruki Murakami

We used to do that a lot in theater in high school. You'd be going along through a scene, the words just flowing out of your voice in perfect harmony with everyone else and then, while in the middle of telling Mary of Scotland why she was a tramp, you hit a snag. The words, they just don't come out and they're not GOING to come out. And so you end up saying something like, "And furthermore lady, you are . . . uh . . . are uh . . . damned and uh . . . damnit, LINE!". Such is the glamorous life in the theater :-)

What brings that to mind today is the fact that I have completely forgotten what I was originally going to blog about in the first place. I couldn't think of anything yesterday and since it was another of those gray days I figured I'd just hold off. But today, after getting the laundry going and changing the bedding I clapped my hands in evil glee like Calvin from Calving and Hobbes and said, "YES! That's what I'll blog about!" But now that I'm sitting here in front of the machine I'm drawing a complete blank.

Blank . . . bedding . . . Oh YEAH! I remember now :-)

I was going to blog about that fabulous invention the electric blanket :-) Whoever thought of this thing needs a shrine somewhere and that shrine should depict at least one person snuggled up in a nice warm bed while everyone else around them is freezing their butts off :-)

We just got our blanket back from repairs. The dog, the little cute one, decided that the plug, the end of the cord that connects to the blanket itself, was a good thing to use as a chew toy. That left us with only two options. We could replace the blanket or send it in for repairs. Simply not replacing it was NOT an option after we encountered the bliss of sliding into a nice, warm bed on a cold, cold night.

Anyway, it's back, it's working, and today it's on the bed again keeping things nice and warm. The dogs love it too in fact. You can always tell when the blanket is actually turned on because that's when the dogs shove each other aside for bed space. They all love to curl up on it, the little one especially (even though she's the one who broke it in the first place).

Naturally those of you in warmer parts of the world really can't appreciate this simple pleasure as well as the rest of us. In order to get the full experience it needs to be REALLY cold outside. Better still if there's snow or ice on the ground and it looks like Antarctica outside. That's when it's the best.