Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ten Things I Like about Western Nebraska

In no particular order:

1. Chimney Rock (just look at it - it rocks!)
2. Tons of Canadian geese in the Winter and Sandhill Cranes in the spring.
3. Trains
4. Sunsets
5. Small town bakeries with homemade bread.
6. Taco Town in Scottsbluff ("Its the Talk-oh the Town!")
7. 92.9, "The Rock of the Bluffs" classic rock station, especially the DJs.
8. Little houses far from everything that are all fixed up and cozy inside.
9. Josh's family
10. Josh's family's pets

Now that I'm in Eastern Nebraska, will I find ten things to like? Only time will tell...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm on the Highway to Home

I am taking a packing break to drink the margarita I just made and to tell you, gentle readers, that I am about to embark on a great road trip north for the holidays. We will spend the first week West and the second week East, culminating in a (hopefully) raucous and enjoyable new year's eve celebration somewhere in the capital city.

Will I see you on this great voyage? Quite possibly. Will I continue to post while up north? Who can say, my friends, who can say....

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Light me up

We took a nice long walk last night and hit the awesome holiday lights of 37th street, just east of Guadalupe (turn at the Groovy Lube). We had caught these out of the corner of our eye driving by on Guadalupe about a million times, and every year we would say that we were going to walk down and check them out, but we never actually did. This year our dream came to fruition -- check out the photographic evidence here, and if you live in Austin go see the lights for yourself, as our pictures just don't do them justice.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Pebbernodder. That's right, you heard me.

Yesterday I made my first batch of pebbernodder in six or seven years (the "o" in pebbernodder is supposed to have that diagonal slash through it, but I'm not sure how to make blogger do that...). These little guys have a delicious, subtle, spicy peppery flavor to them, and aren't too sweet. They are transcendent with coffee, but also taste really good with beer (something most sweets can't pull off). And they are pretty fun to make.

My grandmother would make these little Danish cookies for us at Christmastime every year. Most years we would each get our own little tin full of them so we wouldn't have to worry about sharing them. My plan this year is to make a couple of batches and pack them up all nice to share with Josh's family when we head up North and West for the holidays this week. The problem is that I keep eating them, so I'll probably end up having to make three batches in order to have enough. They are that good.

For a step-by-step photo montage of the baking process, click here. The short version is, cream together four eggs and 1 1/4 cups of sugar in a big mixing bowl. In another bowl, wisk together 4 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp ginger, and 1 1/4 tsp cardamom. Mix the flour mixture into the egg/sugar mixture one cup at a time. The dough gets really stiff with all that flour, so you might have to mix by hand at the end. Take a small handfull and knead it together a bit, then roll it out like a playdough snake, about the diameter of your finger. Cut your snake into half inch slices, put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake them at 375 for 12-15 minutes. So easy, so delicious. And make a batch for me.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What time is it?

Two days ago, I would have no idea what this beautiful machine was. Well, I could probably guess it was some kind of clock, but I wouldn't know why it was so important -- and important it is, my friends. This is John Harrison's first chronometer -- a clock made especially for keeping true time on a ship at sea, and his first contribution towards solving the longitude problem that plagued sea captains for hundreds of years.

The problem is basically this: It is easy to figure out your Latitude (the horizontal one), because it is all determined by the poles and the equator and you can just look up at the sky and know where you are. Longitude is harder because those lines are arbitrarily set by people -- in fact, until the late 1700s, the prime meridian would change depending on who was measuring and who was in charge, and it wasn't until 1884 that it was officially placed in Greenwich (and even later for the French to give up the Paris meridian). To figure out your longitude, you need to know how far away you are from where you started. A good way to do this would be to know what time it is exactly at your home port, and then compare it to the local time on the ship (which you can easily tell at noon when the sun is directly ahead). Since time and distance are closely related, you've got your location. But, for most of sailing history, people either used sundials, pendulum clocks (waves and pendulums don't mix), or pocket watches that could gain or lose minutes at unpredictable rates depending on the temperature and humidity, and which completely stop when they wind down.

If you don't know your longitude, you have a pretty good chance of completely missing your target, or ramming your ship into some other target and sinking the whole thing. Most people solved this problem by running all their ships on the set shipping routes that everyone else used. The problem with this is that pirates and rival countries know exactly where your riches-filled ships are and they can just take all your stuff. That is no good. So, figuring out the longitude problem was so important to the British government that they made a prize of a kings ransom (which would be like millions of dollars in modern monies) to whoever could solve it. Then they made a panel of judges who would review the proposals.

The problem, for John Harrison, is that most of the panel was made up of astronomers, and astronomers thought that the longitude problem should be solved by astronomical observation, not by some silly mechanical clock. This set up a decades long struggle between the clockmaker and the star-watcher, both struggling to get to the prize money first.

And why I am now an expert in said longitude problem? Why it is because I just blasted through Dana Sobel's very readable book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. Earlier this year I read Galileo's Daughter, also by Sobel, and I really enjoyed that one as well. History of science is basically awesome if you can find someone that can flesh out the characters and explain the scientific bits in a way that anyone can understand. Sobel is that kind of author.

Harrison eventually made four other chronometers (there are pictures of them at the "longitude problem" link above, which links to a truly awesome site at the National Maritime Museum). And, after decades of work, the British monopoly on chronometers arguably allowed them to rule the seas and expand into that oh-so-popular British empire one is always hearing about.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Who's an idiot?

The person who scraped all the ice off her car and then made her husband get up and take her to work. Worked for fifteen minutes and then figured out that the University was actually closed all day today and not just until ten like they said yesterday. She then worked another half an hour until said hubby came to get her again even though all he wanted to do was go back to bed.

It was kind of satisfying to scrape my car off, though. I hadn't had to do that for a long time. And it really wasn't icy out, at least on the surface streets. Texans are weenies about cold weather.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ridiculously Awesome

I still don't completely believe they closed the University, but there is no doubt that I liked coming home early, I'll love sleeping in tomorrow, and this hot chocolate tastes great.


Now, some pointless nostalgia:

Zoobilee Zoo! Indulge yourself in the opening credits! [Found on this site which includes many other nostalgic TV credits.] Send your favorite Zooble an email at the Zoobilee Zoo fan club (apparently sponsored by Hallmark)! See what else those crazy Zoobles have done in their careers!

Indulge in this pointless nostalgia folks, because its Pointless Nostalgia Wednesday!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mad, I tell you! Mad!

I bought this copy of Ellery Queen's The Madman Theory (1966) at the Campbell-Neumann estate sale a couple of months ago for 10 cents. How could I possibly not buy it? Crazy stretched out 2-D mirror guy with a hole in his head? Yes. That is something I would like to read.

I didn't know much about Ellery Queen, who it turns out is not actually a person but a mystery novel character who writes his own books through the power of his creators, cousins Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay. Except not this one, and not many of Queen's later books, which were ghost-written, in this case by science fiction writer Jack Vance early on in his career.

The premise of this book is a nice one -- a group of men go out backpacking in the mountains. One of them gets his head blown off in front of the other four. Everyone sort of has a motive, but no one really does, and the only available solution is that some crazy guy is running around in the woods shooting at peoples' heads. Or is it?

That's where our detective hero Omar Collins comes in. Through a lot of hard, old-fashioned police work (none of this CSI technology stuff, just lots of phone calls, leg work, and thinking). He, naturally, figures it out. I was pretty sure who it was by the end of the book, but not sure enough to bet any money on it. A very nice little detective story, and completely worth at least ten cents.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The call of competition

We are having a contest at work to decorate our doors for the winter holidays. I'm not really very crafty, and generally oppose holiday decorations, but I was feeling slightly inspired and, honestly, bored with what I was doing at work, so I decided to make this lovely math-collage tree. You will note that the tree is accented by a moebius strip chain (cuz of the math!) and don't look too closely at the lettering, because its pretty crappy. Its hard to cut puffy letters out of construction paper, ya'll. My student intern made the lovely presents with 3-D bows at the bottom. Altogether a pretty rockin door, no? [see some close ups of it here, plus a bonus picture of me at 6:45 in the morning!]

Then our exhibits intern, who is an art student and really really good at what he does comes up with this Santa's Workshop door. Usually these doors are just white and plain and kind of dinged up, but he wrapped them in butcher paper and drew on the wood grain which is a skill I don't have access too. He also took copies of photos from our collections and put little hats on them. He actually put a bunch of lights up too after I took this picture. I think his door is great, but the sad thing is, now no one else wants to put up a door because they think his is too good. I was the first person with a door up, otherwise I might be overwhelmed too.

Now, every time I try to talk up how great my door is (because I think it is great, and because staff will be voting on the winner), all I hear is how great that other door is. It is pretty darn nice, but I think mine has heart! Plus I didn't even want to do the contest anyway but somehow I did and now that I did it I want to win! So what I'm saying is, please secure jobs at my work and vote for my door later this month. Thank you.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Unauthorized cleaning?

This really raises more questions than it answers...

From Campus Watch:

JESTER CENTER ACADEMIC, 201 East 21st Street

Criminal Mischief:  A UT staff member reported a non-UT subject had been entering a student lounge to clean to the room without university authorization and would frequently slide hand written notes under the door to the lounge when the lounge is closed.  On one occasion, the subject wrote on a poster that was displayed in the lounge.  Repair cost: $25.00.
Reported on 12-1-05 at 7:50 AM.  

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Because Joel asked me to,

and because I can't believe I didn't think of it yesterday, here is the track listing (and title) for my birthday cd of love:

1. Dexys Midnight Runners – I Love You (Listen To This)
2. The Kinks – Apeman
3. Dusty Springfield – The Look Of Love
4. Shelley Duvall – He Needs Me
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – May This Be Love
6. Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine
7. The Magnetic Fields – If There’s Such A Thing As Love
8. The Impressions – Woman’s Got Soul
9. T. Rex – Hot Love
10. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Secret Of The Sea
11. Neil Young – Harvest Moon
12. Marvin Gaye – If I Should Die Tonight
13. They Might Be Giants – S-E-X-X-Y
14. Al Green – Love And Happiness
15. Epic Soundtracks – Emily May (You Make Me Feel So Fine)
16. Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want To Have Fun
17. Mark Lanegan – I’ll Take Care Of You
18. Thin Lizzy – Showdown
19. Ween – Hey There Fancypants
20. Aimee Mann – Save Me
21. Harry Nilsson – Turn On Your Radio

Feel free to recreate the CD and pretend you are me. Guess which one is "our song" and win a banana.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Birthday Bash!

Yesterday I turned the ripe old age of twenty-nine. Twenty-eight felt weird the whole time, so I'm hoping twenty-nine feels a little more comfortable. I sometimes feel like I'm meant to be in my thirties or maybe even my forties, so I guess I just have to wait until then.

My birthday-day was a bit lame as I had a ten hour day at work, eight of which was spent in a project management workshop (basically eight hours of people saying things like buy-in, deliverables, and responsibility matrix - plus I got eight more hours of it today. I can manage the fuck out of your projects now). After work was much better as Dr. Mystery presented me with a case of beer and a mix-CD that he made for me. I can't really explain how great the mix-CD is. We have been together for 6+ years and the guy has never made me a mix tape even though he is constantly producing mix tapes (he has probably made 500 mix tapes since we met). He's always said he thought it would be cheesy, which it kind of is, but it is still totally nice. And I really don't think anyone has ever made me a mix tape before ever.

Other things I got for my birthday:
1. Three e-cards, two nice emails, and two happy birthday comments.
2. A bookcase from my parents.
3. A rockin paper-mache cat and a shiny fish mirror from tjd. I hung the mirror up in our kitchen way up high in an interesting spot that needed some shinyness and the kitty is in the living room so I can look at it all the time because I love it.
4. As yet unknown presents from my two sisters, one of whom actually has the same birthday as me since she was born on my sixth birthday. I lamely didn't get her anything but love this year, but she got me something anyway. What a good sport.
5. Three birthday phone calls.

So, overall, the day was a success. I was able to apply my learning and creatively manage the 29th birthday project. Yay!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Neligh Namechecked

I had a very productive long weekend, reading-wise. Not only did I blast through five magazines in my increasingly out-of-control magazine pile, but I also managed to read Nebraska, a book short stories by Ron Hansen. Josh read this a couple of years ago and really liked it, so it had been on my radar for some time. I expected that I would enjoy it, particularly since I'm from Eastern Nebraska, just like Hansen, and the towns and scenery and people that I know are featured throughout the book. I ended up really really liking the book, however, and not just because familiar rivers and cities popped up every couple of pages. The stories are generally ambiguous and dark, and sometimes kind of sad or happy in the regular way that life is. They take place across a 100 year period -- as early as the big blizzard of 1888 (maybe my favorite story in the book), and as late as the late 1980s when the book was published. They include historical-fiction, ghost stories, 1940s gangsters, and old dudes who play golf. Plus Hansen is a nice Danish dude from Omaha, and who wouldn't like that. Thumbs up on this one.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Well dog my cats....

Can you believe that all these Romanian stamps were on one envelope?

I picked the two cutest ones for the purpose of blowing your collective minds. Consider yourself blown. Blown by cuteness.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


"Operatunity" -- say it with me folks, "Operatunity." Not only is it a hilarious pun and lots of fun to say (go ahead, say it again), its also a BBC reality show from a few years ago that acts as a kind of American Idol for opera singers. My love for reality shows where people sing and/or dance has been proven before, but would I like a reality show where people sing opera? The answer: if I can say Operatunity a few more times, I love it.

This show originally ran as a four or five part series, and was released on DVD with an additional "where are they now" episode. I saw a condensed version of the series on PBS the other night. Several things made it so much better than usual reality shows:

1. Everyone was a grown up.
2. No one tried to be mean -- they didn't show the "bad" performances (at least in this shortened version), and no one made snide comments.
3. Everyone was British and had nice accents.
4. No commercials (in the PBS version), so it didn't have that irritating build-up / re-cap cycle that so many reality shows fall into. This also resulted in much less filler.
5. The prize wasn't a million dollars or a recording contract or a new life, it was a chance to sing a role in a professional production of the English National Opera.

They ended up picking two winners who split the lead female role in Verdi's Rigoletto. I don't really know anything about opera at all, but they both did a really excellent job. And from what I can tell from their websites, they are both giving a go of singing careers and have each released solo albums.

The show also made me want to learn a little more about opera -- do any of you know anything about it? I saw a production of Carmen when I was in college that I liked, but I felt like I didn't know enough about it to really get everything that was happening onstage. Opera is kind of intimidating, but less so when you see nice grocery store cashiers, blind housewives, and investment bankers with British accents singing it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Take that, turkey!

Josh and Kristy Thanksgiving 2005 was a resounding success. Either one or the other of us was cooking for about five hours straight (I made molasses spice cookies, Josh made the beautiful pork/onion/apple stuffed poblano peppers with walnut cream and chile colorado sauce pictured above. Oh yeah, also really good black beans). Then I spent a good chunk of time cleaning up -- almost three loads of dishes, we used just about every pan we had. We had morning beers to help us cook, then tons of food, then a drive over to Mt. Bonnell (which we thought would be empty but was actually more crowded than I've ever seen it), then home for movie watching, wine drinking, and Monopoly playing. I give this Thanksgiving five thumbs up.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I recently finished reading The Mammoth book of Golden Age Science Fiction: Short Novels of the 1940s,(1989) edited by Isaac Asimov. I loved every story in this anthology with the exception, strangely, of the Asimov story, which was the one I was most interested in reading. It was taken from his Foundation series, and I felt like I might have liked it better if I was more familiar with the other stories about the Foundation. A little too much intergalactic politics.

The complete table of contents includes:
Time Wants a Skeleton, by Ross Rocklynne
The Weapons Shop [Isher], by A. E. van Vogt
Nerves, by Lester del Rey
Daymare, by Fredric Brown
Killdozer!, by Theodore Sturgeon
No Woman Born, by C. L. Moore
The Big and the Little [Foundation], by Isaac Asimov
Giant Killer, by A. Bertram Chandler
E for Effort, by T. L. Sherred
With Folded Hands... [Humanoids], by Jack Williamson

A surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising) awesome story is Theodore Sturgeon's "Killdozer!" about a bulldozer that becomes possessed with some kind of ancient kill spirit with a vaguely science-oriented twist. It is obvious that Sturgeon worked in construction in his past with the lovely descriptions of operating and repairing heavy machinery, and yet none of this drags the story down or makes it any less exciting than you would want the story of a killer bulldozer to be.

Other stories include space travel, the mix-ups possible with time travel, robots, mutant rodents, robots, futuristic political systems, and more robots.

There is something about the pulp stories from the forties that really appeals to me, be they detective stories, romances, westerns or science fiction. Its like these guys are really real writers with typewriters and cigarettes and a whole industry of cheap magazines to publish their work. And science fiction in the 1940s has this great atomic power / distrust mixed with total excitement about the power of science and space travel and such. So good.

Me and my Shadow

My building is along a street that runs parallel to the interstate at a point where part of the interstate is raised up off the ground and part of the interstate runs below. At a certain point every morning, my window (which faces East) and the sun line up perfectly so that the shadows of the cars on the upper deck of the interstate make really fast shadows all through my office and trees around my building. Usually I don't notice it, but whenever I do it makes me a little nauseous. Guess I'd better go home early....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rub a Dub Dub

A guy just walked by my window and I would have sworn that he was wearing a nice fluffy bathrobe. I thought, how strange, maybe he forgot something at work and he is just running in before he has completely finished his morning routine. Then he walked by again and I realized it wasn't a robe, it was a coat. The moral: If your coat can be mistaken for a bathrobe, it is time for a new coat.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hic Hic Hic Hic Hic

I've got some nasty hiccups this morning that won't go away. Even my tried-and-true, works-every-time solution of drinking water upside down isn't working. This is very irritating. I'm I to be cursed with work hiccups all day? Someone come scare me or something....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Recipe for Fun!

200 beers for dinner = an excellent idea!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fruity gift idea

Wondering what to buy me for any occassion? Try any kind of paper made out of fruits and/or vegetables. I'm particularly fond of the Kiwi paper and the cucumber paper. I will also accept anything from this page. Oh yeah, I suppose people besides me might like these too, but do they deserve them as much? Of course not.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Splish Splash

This is freakin' awesome, except that you just know it will be overrun by irritating college kids. Makes me almost want to get a recreation pass... Almost.

Scroll down for the best part of the website - an interactive Flash layout of the complex. When you hover over different areas of the map, you hear the associated sounds. The people in the reception garden sound like real assholes. And why doesn't Storage sound like anything? I want to hear boxes shuffling around or something....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My New Band

And the most recent perfect band name from the archives is:

The Rainbow Pipeline

(this one from an oddly named oil company effort from the 1960s)

If this doesn't work out as a band, I'm planning to license the name to a GLBT group of some kind. Or a series of porn movies.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another year of reading!

I know you have all been sitting on the edge of your collective seat just waiting to find out what I was reading eight years ago. Ah, 1998. It was a good year. I was a junior/senior in college, it was my last year of working at Barnes and Noble, and I apparantly spent most of the year reading books.

Lets take a look, shall we... (oh, and you can click here to get a more readable version of page one, and page two of the list)

Observations from 1998:
1. Still in college, so still a lot of school books. I took some awesome classes in 1998, though, including a history class where we read all about witches and saints and crazy ladies and an independent study on novels of sexuality. Hot.

2. Got a little royalty in there with Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, and I still remember which of Henry VIII's wives died how by the little rhyme from that title (the whole thing is divorced, beheadead, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. I think. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong.)

3. Apparantly in 1998 I could read whole books in Spanish (I was, after all, a Spanish minor). I don't think I've read any books in Spanish since 1998. I bet I could do it if I really tried though...

4. When I looked over this list a couple weeks ago I was surprised to find that I had read Masuji Ibuse's novel Black Rain. I saw the movie based on this book recently and had no idea that I'd ever read the book. I still don't remember reading it -- I don't think it was for a class, and I know I don't own it. And I don't think I ever bought it. The movie is really good, and I'm assuming that the book was too, although I'd really have to read it again to be sure.

5. I remember really not liking Julia Penelope's Speaking Freely, and yet for some reason I wrote it down twice on my list and had to cross one of them off. I must have been really glad to be done with it.

6. Junebug loaned me all those Dave Sim Cerebus books. Those were awesome. He only had the first four or so volumes, though, so I never got past those. I would like to reread these guys and catch up with all of that crazy pig's adventures.

7. Wuthering Heights is so good. I really want to read that again.

Have you read any of these books? Did you read any of them in 1998? If so, perhaps we are the same person! Or else we took some English classes together....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Miss Congeniality

After several unsuccessful attempts to engage me in the apparently enthralling subject of my height ("Wow, you're tall." "How tall are you?" "You're taller than me!" "Do you play basketball?"), this dude in line behind me at Walgreens asks me "Do you think that being taller than other women has given you any advantages in life?"


I thought I was just standing in line at a drugstore buying an economy sized box of tampons, but I must have inadvertently stepped into some kind of Miss America pageant. Luckily another register opened up before we got to the swimsuit competition.

I heard that.

Five things I love about Christopher Walken:
1. The dignity
2. The voice
3. The humor
4. The dancing
5. The unsettling hotness

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Get to the airport, Toma, and find out what the hell is happening!"

That's right, everybody, I just finished reading Toma #2: The Aiport Affair by the fictional character of David Toma and the second-billed writer Jack Pearl. Little did I know when I purchased this book that it is actually part of a series of books inspired by the ABC television show "Toma" (1973-1974) staring Tony Musante as Toma, the loner New Jersey detective who played by his own rules and was also a master of disguise. His superior officers didn't always respect his methods, but you know they always respected the results. I think now would be a good time to take a look
at Toma himself. Don't forget to listen to his theme song.

Now that we are all in the mood, lets take a look at the back cover (the aspect of the book that originally attracted me) [oh and a more readable version can be found here]. The book is basically your standard undercover cop story -- in this case Toma is infiltrating a mob fencing ring at the airport that keeps stealing diamonds and fake plane tickets. Does Toma get his man in the end? You'd better believe he does, but not everyone likes the way he does it. No sir. This was actually very readable and pretty fun, with a few neat twists. The only really silly bits are when Toma puts on his costumes (which actually isn't as much as the back cover might lead you to believe). He dressed up as a hippy a couple of times and later dressed up as an Indian woman for a long chase scene at the airport that ends with this lady getting her head knocked off by an airplane.

Here's a trivia tidbit for you all -- when Tony Musante wanted to quit the show, the producers decided to cast a certain Robert Blake as Toma. Blake didn't want to be a Musante replacement, however, and insisted that they retool the show and give it a new name. That was the birth of the "Baretta" that we all know and love.

Shine on you crazy diamond... Shine on.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Completely unnecessary

My random work-related browsings brought me to this site where you can view, among other treasures, a record sleeve embossed with the same song as the 45 housed within the sleeve. Pure genius.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Watch out for that cactus!

Find this and other fantastic action shots from my parent's visit this past weekend here. Make sure you don't spend all your time just looking at Josh's pratfalls -- you should also take a look at my awesome new birthday bookcase. Plus many shots of nature.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Off with her head!

You may be wondering what on earth I'd been doing with my time since finishing The Wind's Twelve Quarters oh so long ago. Well, folks, I've been reading a super gigantic biography of everyone's favorite Catholic martyr, Mary Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser. I also interspersed it with some magazine reading, since I have to do my best to keep up with all my subscriptions, and sometimes the tiny print in my 1971 mass market paperback would be too much for my tired eyes.

As you may know, I love royalty, and Mary Queen of Scots is great because she fits right into the Elizabethan period, which happens to be the part of English history that I know the best. Mary is also particularly wonderful because she was really tall for the period (actually even pretty tall for nowadays) at 5 foot 11. I just love tall ladies. Her story is also very salacious and ends with a dramatic execution. So the outline goes something like this:

Mary's father, James V, dies just a few days after she is born. She is his only child and becomes the queen of Scotland. The nobles tussle over who she should marry for awhile, eventually sending her to France to be married to Henry II's son, Francis, the heir to the French throne. She grows up there and marries Francis when she is a teenager, but he is in poor health and dies after about a year. They had no children and many historians question that they ever even had sex. Mary is shipped back to Scotland (a place she hasn't been since she was 5 and her mother has since died). She's got all kinds of problems because she is Catholic and her subjects are Protestant. Henry the VIII dies in England and they run through the short rule of Edward, the bloody rule of Mary, and then stick in the Protestant rule of Elizabeth for most of Mary's life. Mary desperately wants to meet Elizabeth, partly because Mary is really the next heir to the British throne if Elizabeth dies with no children. Elizabeth doesn't really seem to like Mary for this and many other reasons (especially the Catholic stuff).

Mary marries this cute young guy that she loves, but no one else likes him and he ends up being kind of a playboy and a gambler. They have a son (the future James VI of Scotland and James I of England). The Scottish nobles plot to kill him (probably without Mary's consent) and do, then the main conspirator kidnaps Mary when she is moving from one castle to another (possibly with her consent), "ravishes" her, and forces her to marry him. Pretty much no one likes this. Mary gets a bad reputation with her people and the nobles, and ends up fleeing to England at the age of 25 for Elizabeth's help (which she promised to give). Instead, Elizabeth puts Mary in jail for the next 17 years before executing her on a trumped up treason charge.

And I know this has gone on for way longer than anyone is probably interested in, but let me give you a taste of the execution from Fraser's book: "The time had come for Jane Kennedy to bind the queen's eyes with the white cloth embroidered in gold which Mary had herself chosen for the purpose the night before. Jane Kennedy first kissed the cloth and then wrapped it gently round her mistress's eyes, and over her head so that her hair was covered as by a white turban and only the neck left completely bare... The queen without even now the faintest sign of fear, knelt down once more on the cushion in front of the block. She recited aloud in Latin the Psalm 'In you Lord is my trust, let me never be confounded' and then feeling for the block, she laid her head down upon it, placing her chin carefully with both her hands, so that if one of the executioners had not moved them back they two would have lain in the direct line of the axe. The queen stretched out her arms and legs and cried 'Into your hands O Lord I commend my spirit' three or four times. When the queen was laying there quite motionless, [the executioner's] assistant put his hand on her body to steady it for the blow. Even so, the first blow, as it fell, missed the neck and cut into the back of the head. The queen's lips moved, and her servants thought they heard the whispered words: 'Sweet Jesus." The second blow severed the neck, all but the smallest sinew and this was severed by using the axe as a saw."

Very exciting, folks. It makes me really want to see the movie from the 1970s with Vanessa Redgrave. Plus Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth? Awesome.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Getting younger?

I only have a few gray hairs -- they started showing up about a year and a half ago, and they really only pop out sometimes depending on how my hair is parted. I kind of love them because they are so cute and different, but yesterday evening while I was brushing my hair, the longest and cutest of the gray hairs just fell out. Poor little guy. I'm going to have to work on growing him some replacements....

Friday, November 04, 2005

Eat them up, yum!

I just heard the song Fishheads by Barnes and Barnes on the internet radio station I've been listening to at work (Dr. Yo) and it made me really happy, even though in the past the song has really annoyed me. Why do you think that is? Am I more open to fish heads now than I have been in the past? Is it because I probably haven't heard the song for ten years and it brought back happy memories? Is it because I have a big plate of roly poly fishheads here on my desk just ready to be eaten up? The mystery continues....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Constant Cleaning

I just spent a solid 90 minutes just on cleaning our tiny kitchen. That is one clean room. The occassion? A parental visit, starting tomorrow. So don't be sad if there isn't too much blogginess as I will be entertaining through the weekend. Of course, my parents do go to bed early, so who knows, perhaps I will type away into the night. Stay tuned to find out! Shazam!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


While we are on the topic of commercials that infuriate me for no good reason, we should mention the horrible Gatorade commercials where people sweat out brightly colored Gatorade sweat. Ew. Josh can verify that these commercials make me cringe, almost cry, and have to shut my eyes or leave the room. They really go beyond irritating me and enter the realm of making me physically sick. Why have they been playing these forever? Do people like the idea that they are drinking so much Gatorade that their sweat is no longer water-colored but Gatorade-colored instead? I certainly don't like that idea. I also don't like Gatorade, and thanks to these commercials, I like it even less. Yuck.

In fact, now that I think of it, I probably shouldn't have put one of the offensive sweat-pics up here as I will now no longer be able to look at Spacebeer until the picture has moved off the page (even that picture of the toilet paper from yesterday puts that irritating bear-butt-wipe jingle in my head instantly). I'll have to be tough. I hope you all appreciate the sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Oddly Troubling

I can't explain why, but the animated toilet paper commercials that feature bears singing about wiping their butts really disturb me.

Sample lyrics include: "Hey little fella gotta change your touch / What you thought was enough might be too much," and "A deeper clean you can get behind"

Very disturbing.

Monday, October 31, 2005

New Red Shoes

Do you know what I love? New red shoes is what. Particularly if they are also suede and moccasins.

Look, here they are again!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday Morning Lists, 1997

For the past nine years (minus one year where for some reason I didn't keep a list), I've written down all the books I read during the year. Now, I believe, is the time to revisit these lists and see what the hell I've been doing with my time since 1997.

For your viewing pleasure (click to make bigger, of course), page 1:

And, page 2:

What conclusions can we draw from the list of 1997:
1. I was in college, and I was an English major, and more than half of these books were read for class.

2. I was really into Louise Erdrich, none of those were for class and I read four of her books and one book by her (now ex) husband.

3. I love Jane Eyre, I should read that again.

4. I was working at Barnes and Noble, and several of these books were picked up from the free stack in the break room (in particular, The Mutant Message Down Under which I barely remember and She's Come Undone which I think was a Oprah book).

5. Hey, I did read Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf. I was just looking at that and wondering if I'd read it or if I just thought I'd read it.

6. I had a fascination for the Spanish exploration of the New World which can be seen in my reading of Broken Spears, The Crown of Columbus, The Conquest of America, The Conquest of New Spain, Castaways, and the unfortunately titled When Jesus Came, the Cornmothers Went Away, most of which were not for a class.

7. I have no memory of The Water from the Well by Myra McLarey, but I must have read it since I wrote it down. I will need to look around and see what the hell this book is about. I don't think I read it for a class, and I know I don't have it now...

8. Its a good thing I keep lists because my memory stinks.

Friday, October 28, 2005

British time wasters

The British National Archives has put up a fascinating site of digitized public information films from the 40s and 50s. My favorite so far is Watch Your Meters, but they are all worth watching. Educational and entertaining. Thats edutainment, folks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Hot Toddy Love Affair

I am still sick. Bleh. The only good thing about being sick is that I make myself lots and lots of hot toddy's. I make mine with bourbon, because that is what I usually have, but you can make them with any whiskey, or even brandy if that is what you are into. Some people brew some tea and put that in there instead of plain hot water, but since half of the point of the hot toddy is to make me sleepy, I try to make mine as caffiene free as possible.

Just look at me before I had my delicious toddy: I am tired, listless, I can't breathe and nothing will make me happy. I tried to take a nice picture of myself post-toddy, but to be honest, I still pretty much looked like crap, although the toddy did give me enough energy to get out of my robe and put some clothes on. The good feelings induced by the toddy can not be conveyed to you in picture form, so you will have to take my word for it. The lemon, the honey, the hot water, and by god the bourbon all made me feel so much better. The only problem with hot toddy's is I want to drink about ten of them, which causes its own host of ill feelings the next day. And getting trashed really isn't that great for curing the common cold either. Sure is fun though.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Which kind of blow job do you prefer?

From the UT Campus Watch report:

Criminal Trespass:  A non-UT subject was found sitting on the south side of the building holding a hair dryer in one hand and a beer in the other hand. The hair dryer was plugged into an electrical outlet on the south side of the building.  The subject was issued a written criminal trespass warning. Occurred on 10-24-05 at 8:00 AM.

2000 Robert Dedman
Driving While Intoxicated:  While on patrol, a UT police officer observed a red Ford 2-door on the side of the road.  The vehicle's engine was running and its lights were turned on.  The officer observed a non-UT subject sitting in the driver's seat with his head back.  The officer also observed a second non-UT subject leaning over the lap of the driver.  As the officer pulled behind the vehicle, the driver put the vehicle into gear and turned the vehicle's wheels in what appeared to be a distracted effort to pull away.  The driver was found to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to the point he was driving while intoxicated.  Occurred on 10-25-05 at 2:25 AM.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sometimes TV blows my mind

Yesterday I was feeling all sick and like doing nothing but watching TV (actually, I feel like that today too...). As I languidly flipped through the stupid Sunday afternoon shows on the 7 channels that come in on the TV in our bedroom, I ran across Twins on the WB. Have you heard of this show? It has three qualities that combine to totally make my mind explode:

1. Melanie Griffith (on TV? on the WB? Zuh?)
2. Sara Gilbert (Darlene! I love her, I think she should do more movie stuff. She should not be on this show as it is pretty dumb).
3. Mark Linn-Baker (Larry! from Perfect Strangers! He is also in Noises Off, which I love. He actually should be on this show. He has great timing, and a way of saying stupid lines so that they come out not as stupid as you would expect.)

This show should be seen to be believed. From what I can tell, the plot has Sara Gilbert and this blond girl as twin sisters -- blondie is the "pretty one" and Gilbert is the "smart one." Griffith and Linn-Baker are their parents, Griffith is an ex-model and I think the dad owns the design company where they all work and where most of the show is staged. The twins are apparently working there too, the blond one as a model and Gilbert as a designer or business woman of some kind. Not that exciting of a plot, but somehow the strangeness of the cast makes it enthralling.

While watching the WB I also saw part of a show with Jennie Garth on it and another show starting Reba McEntire. What will those WB dudes think of next...

Obviously I need to watch some more TV.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Suspending Belief

Its a little hard to see in this shot, but a young man wearing suspenders came again during the course of my weekend. Yes folks, its Freddy from Return of the Living Dead, who wears suspenders with a tank top throughout the film (later he puts a jacket on top of it, as he gets real cold once the zombie gas hits him). I wouldn't say the suspenders really look that great, but they don't hurt the movie one bit. Go see this now.

Snotty Sunday

I have been awake for an hour and a half, and blown my nose at least 20 times. The nose blows have all been preceeded by a series of massive sneezes. Post nose blow I usually come up with some sad little coughs.

I blame Josh who put cold germs all over the apartment earlier this week and also made me kiss germs.

Don't kiss germs everybody, that is my public service message for the weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Proven Wrong

I get home from work and Josh has this picture of Tim Roth from Made in Britain as his desktop wallpaper. It blows my whole suspender theory out the window.

Mysterious equations of life

Old man + suspenders = cute

Young man + suspenders = stupid

Nostalgia or Creep-out, the Avian version

I couldn't decide between this fine drawing:
[which is the Medowlark, and happens to be the Nebraska state bird and the mascot of my elementary school, the May Morley Medowlarks]

Or this one:
[which is obvioulsy an awesome scary scavenger eating the head of a deer]

Whatever your style, you will find something to ooh and ah over in the online version of Audubon's Birds of America. Its even fun to just look at the bird names, which are often hilarious. I also like the scetches of interior bird anatomy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Open letter

To assholes with headlights:

If you are parked somewhere at night, or early the morning, and your headlights are pointing right into someones window, the polite thing to do is turn them off. This goes for the guy in the giant truck that woke me up at 2 am with an extended headlight blast that lit up the entire room like it was on the surface of the sun, and the dude parked outside my work right now with his headlights facing me for the past 5 minutes. Just turn them off folks, there is nothing to see here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pigtail Experiment 2005

If you leave me alone in the apartment for too long, I put my hair in pigtails and take pictures of myself. You've been warned.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sci-Fi Fantasy Blast

This picture, which is of some of the failed Ripley-clones from Alien Resurrection (if you haven't seen it, it is much more awesome than you would expect it to be. I love the Alien movies, and if I don't stop myself I will get carried away in describing my love for them. Probably best to save that for another post), doesn't have very much at all to do with Ursula K. Le Guin's collection of short stories entitled The Wind's Twelve Quarters (there is a bit of a connection though, just stay with me). This collection of stories spans the first ten years of Le Guin's career (1962-1974). Its the first of her books I've read (I also have The Left Hand of Darkness), and it made me want to read more, although some of the stories can get a little too fantasy-myth-like and not enough science-fictiony-like.

One of the stories that had no dragons or magic and took place in outer-space (all good story elements), and which also happened to be one of my favorite in the book, was "Nine Lives." Its the story of an exploratory mining crew that is sent out to super distant worlds (so distant that by the time they go there and get back to earth, pretty much everyone they know back home will be dead). Two guys are on this volcanic mineral planet, getting kind of sick of each other and figuring out where the uranium is. The ship with their support crew arrives, and ten people climb out -- ten copies of the same person that is (that's right! clones! now the picture makes sense!). There are five women and five men, all made from the DNA of one super smart guy (they just took the boy chromosomes off for the girls). They all act independently and (sort of) have their own personalities. They generally wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, have sex with each other (masturbation or incest? Its an interesting question). But what happens to the one clone left behind when the other nine die in a mining accident?

I won't tell you. I will loan you the book if you want, though.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Eat it, Sucker: Its the Saturday Morning Restaurant Review!

Have any of you ever been to the restaurant that used to be the Piccolo Cafe and is now Tony's Italian Vineyard over on 29th street just down from Vulcan and across from Texas French Bread? Because seriously, whenever I go in there (except one time for dinner) there are only one or two other occupied tables. And with their new expanded hours of 11 am to midnight every single day, there really isn't any reason for you not to check them out.

The menu seems to be about the same, and the food is always very delicious. The servers are adorabley serious, because this is a pretty nice restaurant, but its not that expensive (there are expensive things on the menu, but it ranges from maybe $6-$15 for most entrees -- and there is plenty of good stuff under $10), and its in the middle of a student neighborhood, so they don't seem to get a really high end clientele. They are also just the right amount of attentive, without going overboard, as some "nice" restaurants do.

And speaking of sandwiches (which I do a lot), Josh got one of their panini sandwiches the last time we were there and it was soooooooo good. It also comes with a big serving of homemade thick potato chips. All that for only six bucks. So if you work by campus and want a new lunch spot, or if you need a fancy/casual place for your next date, check out this tasty spot.

[Also, I don't know anything about wine at all, but they certainly have a lot of it. I've had the house wine a few times, and it certainly satisfied me. Plus its fun to order half a carafe of wine. Just try it. Even if you are at McDonald's or something. Ask for half a carafe of orange drink. It will be fun!]

Friday, October 14, 2005

The DBs

Joolie's post about douchebags (and accompanying awesome illustration) reminded me of the very first time I ever heard the word "douchebag." I was a young junior high girl and after some kind of theatre set building evening at school, me and a few friends went to the local Village Inn (which is kind of like a Perkins or a Denny's, I don't think they have them in Texas). As was our usual custom, we ordered bottomless pots of coffee and one order of french fries with a side of brown gravy for the whole table. We then proceeded to stay in the restaurant for 2 or 3 hours on our three dollar check and be pretty obnoxious as you might imagine a booth full of junior high theatre dorks with bottomless cups of coffee and nowhere to go could be.

After we really made a mess of the table by playing tricks with the creamers and making weird beverage concoctions out of sugar packets, ketchup, and ice cubes, the manager came over and told us to cool it or else we'd have to leave. We said sorry and after he left started giggling a bit, then the guy at the booth behind us turns around, leans in toward our table and loudly says "Man, what a douchebag!" We then broke into unadulterated pure junior high giggle fits and really did have to leave the restaurant, but on our own volition in order to get away from the "douchebag" guy so we could really really start laughing.

Douchebag. It still makes me giggle...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Morning Art Time

I found a link to this online Heath Robinson Exhibit in an email from my dad this morning and I just love it. Go and make sure you also take a gander at "Stout members of the sixth column dislodge an enemy machine gun post on the dome of St Paul's," because it is my favorite.


If you are in Austin and up right this second, the sunrise is pretty nice. Not spectacular, but subtle and interesting.