Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
This year we carried on the now-annual Christmas get together. I joked about my past cookie problems. This year I just bought a tube of sugar cookie dough and let the others go at it. I'm not sure what happened, but the couple of batches were all burnt on the bottom and still raw on top.
Sonja and I have decided to rename this the party the Annual Let's See How We'll Mess Up the Cookies This Time Party.
Actually, other than the burnt cookies, we had a really fun time. Here's a shout out to Sonja, our hostess, who let us dirty almost every dish in her apartment. It was fun.
Friday, December 12, 2008
And then, of course, me being an intelligent creature, I promptly forget that yearly vow and do the same thing over and over again every year.
Don't get me wrong. Every gift I make for someone is a labor of love. Plus, I just really enjoy sewing. I'm slightly (OK, more than slightly) neurotic and stress about every imperfection that I wouldn't care about if I was making it for myself. I'm getting better at that.
The trouble is, there are only so many things that I make for gifts and I have to keep track as to who I gave what in previous years. This person's already got mittens? OK, then, it's a blanket for you!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Apparently, there are two time scales - one based on the Earth's rotation and the other independent of the Earth's rotation. Atomic time is based on a signal emitted by electrons changing energy state within an atom.
The International Earth Rotation Reference Systems Service monitors the two timescales and makes adjustments when necessary. The Earth does not have a steady rotation and is gradually slowing down, causing the time scales to get out of synch. Leap seconds have been added at various intervals since 1972. The last leap second was December 31, 2005.
2008 is the first year with both a leap day and a leap second.
2008 is not, however, the longest year on record. That goes to the year 46 BC, when Julius Ceasar introduced the Julian calendar. In order to correct the difference between the calendar date and the season, determined by the position of the Earth in its rotation around the sun, Ceasar added 2 months and 23 days, making the year a total of 455 days long.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Jenny looks on as James learns the fine art of carving a turkey
Here's the spread. The table wasn't big enough to hold all of the food!
Here's hoping that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
And on an even better note, someone brought in cookies. With frosting. And sprinkles. I consider this an appeasement for 2 days of sqished sandwiches.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
And so, I've taken it upon myself to educate the masses in office refrigerator etiquette.
- Try to pack your lunch so that it takes up a minimum of refrigerator real estate
- Make every effort to place your lunch in a clear space
- If you must move things around to make room for your own lunch, be gentle
- If you absolutely have to stack lunches, put the squishy stuff on top. Put the sandwich on top of the tupper wear
Remember kids, only you can prevent squished sandwiches.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This year I will be attempting to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. I like to think that my cooking skills have improved greatly over the last few years, but the thought of a full blown holiday meal is a little daunting.
I've been looking over some cooking magazines and scouting out recipes online. Waht can I say, I obsess about things, and this has given me something to obsess about. Also, it's a good excuse to spend an entire day cooking, which is something that I actually enjoy doing. I've got most of the menu planned out. This is what I have so far.
- Roast turkey - Duh!
- Turkey gravey with truffle oil - I've never used truffle oil, but it sounds intriguing despite the fact that many chefs think the stuff should be banned
- Mashed potatoes - Again, duh!
- Bruleed sweet potatoes - I got this recipe from Cooking Light. It is absolutely delicious.
- Sauteed brussel sprouts with leeks - Yum! I've made this for a few formal meals. It's good. Trust me
- Some other form of vegetable - Possibly peas and pearl onions, or possibly green beans. I'm open to suggestions.
- Stuffing - This will be a mix. Let's not get too crazy with the cooking. Most of the stuffing recipes I've found seem overly complicated for what you get. And I don't even like stuffing.
- Cranberry sauce - From the can, just like mom used to make.
- Rolls - Store bought. My baking skills leave something to be desired. If I'm feeling frisky, I might break out the Bisquick.
On a related note, I went to a free cooking workshop offered by Williams-Sonoma. The work shop was on cooking side dishes. On the plus side, it didn't turn into an hour long sales pitch. With that said, I was disappointed in the class. It was way more basic than I had anticipated. Williams-Sonoma is a high end kitchen store. I would assume that people who shop there know how to blanch vegetables, otherwise, what the heck are they doing with all of their overly priced gadgets and gourmet ingredients?
Next week's workshop is on pie. I haven't decided if it's worth going. On one hand, I already know the basics. On the other, I am pie crust impaired. Seriously impaired. Even when I follow the recipe exactly. I can make a pretty decent pie filling, but I have to get a pre-made pie crust. It's a tragedy, I know.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
In other change news, I had my first professional hair cut in some time. I decided that I had gotten my hair caught in the car door for the last time. I also recently managed to catch it in my top desk drawer. Everything was fine until I rolled back in the chair. Ow! So, 15 inches came off. It sounds drastic, but it's still pretty long.
What will be my next change? I'm feeling restless, so at this point only time will tell.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
First, the good news. This sums things up nicely...
America has its first black president with Barack Obama defeating John McCain. Not only is this a historic first, but we also have a progressive leader who has some good ideas to repair the damage that has been done over the last 8 years.
Now that we're done doing our happy dances (or pouting in a corner and pointing your finger at Sarah Palin, if you happen to be a Republican), lets not forget that we were voting on more than just the president on Tuesday.
The good news is that the Democrats picked up a few more seats, making it easier for our new progressive leader to pass through his agenda. Dems picked up an additional 6 seats in the senate, giving them a 57-40 majority. The bad news is that they did not reach 60 seats, the magic number that will give the Democrats a fillibuster proof majority over the Republicans. Keep in mind that Republican fillibusters have been a huge reason why the Democrats have not been able to accomplish much since taking control in 2006 with a razor thin majority.
In more good news, women will be represented at a historic high in both houses. 17 women (13 Dems and 4 Reps) will be in the senate and 74 (57 Dems, 17 Reps) will be in the House. While I'm happy women are gaining ground in politics, we're still abysmally under-represented. Think about it. Women are 50% of the population, yet hold only 17% of the seats in congress.
In more good news, voter turnout in this election was at an all time high. Turnout is estimated at 64% of the eligible voting population, besting the previous high of 63% for 1960 election where JFK squared off against Richard Nixon. A quick look at the statistics for other presidential elections put voter turnout in the low to mid 50's. It's even lower in non-presidential election years, hanging somewhere in the 30 to 40 percent range. People were excited this time around. That's a good thing.
There were a few ballot initiatives I was keeping an eye on. It turns out that America is pro-choice but anti-gay. Sigh. Here's the run down.
The most well known ballot initiative in the country was California's proposition 8, a law banning gay marriage. An estimated $74M was spent on this ballot initiative, the most for any campaign this season after the presidential campaigns. I am incredibly sad that this passed. There is no word yet what will happen to the estimated 16,000 gay married couples in the state.
Another gay marriage ban, Ammendment 2, passed in Florida. And yet another anti-gay item passed in Arkansas. Act 1 banned gay couples from adopting or becoming foster parents. On a happier note, Question 1 in Connecticut failed. Question 1 would have paved the way for more anti-gay ammendments by changing the state's constitution.
On the pro-choice side of things, the big one, Colorado's Ammedment 48, failed by huge margin; about 73% voted no. I am extremely relieved that it failed so spectacularly, but still disheartened that it got on the ballot in the first place. The ammendment would have defined a fertilized egg as a human being, with full rights under law. Had this passed, not only would all forms of abortion be outlawed in the state, but it also would have affected in vitro fertilization and hormonal birth control. There is no word on whether or not an autopsy report would need to be filed every time a woman gets her period.
South Dakota's Measure 11, an outright ban on abortion in the state, also failed. This is the second attempt for this piece of anti-choice legislation aimed at challenging Roe v Wade. Measure 11 contained an exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother ('impending organ failure') that were not included in the 2006 bill. The good news is that it still failed. The bad news is that these anti-choice groups just won't go away and have vowed to put another abortion ban on the ballot for the 2010 election.
On a related note, Proposition 4 in California also failed. This was a parental notification law that required minors to wait 48 hours to have an abortion after a physician has informed her parents. Isn't that a wonderful thing to do to a kid who's already terrified? The law did give an exception so that another adult relative could be notified in the case of abuse, but the abuse needed to be reported to the police by the physician, and the court would then decide on a case by case basis. It's wonderful stuff for a very time-sensitive procedure.
Lastly, Initiative 424 in Nebraska passed. This will eliminate equal oppurtunity language from the state's constitution and bans affirmative action programs by state agencies. What does this mean? Among other things, state institutions, such as public schools and universities, can no longer offer scholarships for minority students.
In local news, Jim Douglas won his re-election bid for governor with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. No surprise there, though I would have liked to have seen a Progressive as governor. I did in fact vote for Anthony Pollina. I console myself with the thought that a Vermont Republican would be considered a liberal in other areas of the country.
Representative Peter Welch easily won his first re-election with over 80% of the vote. I'm glad. One of the reasons that I like him is that Vermont's lone representative is very responsive to questions and concerns. I am one of those annoying people that write letters to Congress. The responses that I've gotten back have been timely and worded so that they actually address the issue that I asked about in the first place.
Also, I was very happy to learn that Kesha Ram won her bid for state representative, upsetting Progresive incumbant Chris Pearson. Remember her name. I predict that we will have be hearing more from the 22 year old in the future.
Monday, November 03, 2008
A few companies will be offering nation wide incentives for people to vote. Most of these require some proof that you actually voted, so show up with your 'I Voted' sticker or some form of proof if you voted early or absentee.
First up is free ice cream. Mmmm...ice cream. Ben and Jerry's will be offering a free scoop of ice cream nation wide on election day from 5pm to 8pm. I do wish that the offer was good for later into the evening, since polls here close at 7 and with long anticipated wait times, voters may not be able to take advantage of the offer.
Next we have an offering of free caffeine. Starbucks will be giving away a tall cup of regular coffee to voters on November 4th.
In the sugary treats category, Kispy Kreme will be giving out star shaped doughnuts with red, white, and blue spinkles. Dunkin Donuts, are you gonna step up to the challenge?
And if you really want to rock the vote....Babeland (Note - don't click this link at work!) will be giving out a free silver bullets (for the ladies) and sleeves (for the guys) at their New York and Seattle locations.
[UPDATE: I voted after work (around 4 pm). There was no line and check in was smooth. There were even parking spaces available in the area, which is amzing in itself on any given day.]
Friday, October 31, 2008
This year, I'm attending a Star Wars themed Halloween party. And so, in true Quartermaster fashion, I finished the costumes at about midnight last night. Let's hear it forthe last minute!
The roommates flak vest for his X wing pilot costume actually came out good. For the past three days I've been extremely frustrated by how it was turning out. I attempted 3 or 4 different methods of construction, none of which worked. Yesterday, I had the epiphany to just cut strips of fabric, fold them in half, and sew them on to the vest to create the ribbed look. It was tedious but not difficult. I wish I had thought of that 3 days ago.
His orange flight suit that I ordered off of Ebay hasn't arrived yet. I'm nervous about that since it is the main part of the costume. If it doesn't arrive, the backup plan is to get a pair of orange sweatpants and shirt from Wal-mart. It will look cheesey, but it will get the job done. I really hope I don't have to go that route.
I still need to put on the straps. We bought some grey ribbon that will look the part. I'm just going to loop it around him and sew in some velcro closures.
I got the lenses glued into my mask for the Jawa eyes. I think I'm just going to tape the leds into the lenses. If I have time when I get home from work, I'll sew a pocket into the hood to hold the battery. Otherwise I'll just wear the battery around my neck necklace style.
I should (operative word, should) be getting out of work today around 3:30. That will give me a little time to do the finishing touches on the costumes.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I have to keep telling myself that this is a Halloween costume, not a convention costume, so I don't have to be spot on. That's good, since I'll be possibly the galaxy's tallest Jawa.
Jawa Robe - Done! It's more like a Jawa dress then a robe, though. I was going to have it openable in the front (like a bathrobe) but I think it will be less work to just leave it closed. This means no hemming the slit and and not having to sew in velcro to keep it closed.
Hood - Mostly done. It's all sewn together and hemmed. I just need to sew to snap closure on the neck part and put in the velcro for the face covering. Speaking of which, I still need to cut out and hem the face covering.
Eyes - I ended up buying these already assembled from Ebay. They work great. I need to figure out how to mount them. I'm thinking I'll just fut some eyelets in the face covering and mount them in the eyelets.
Shoes - Not started yet. I did locate a pair of hard bottomed slippers that I have but never wear. They'll be sacrificed for this costume and covered with scraps of left over burlap. My intention is to sew the burlap on, but I think I may take the easy way out and grab a bottle of fabric glue.
Badoliers - Started but not done. The pieces are cut out. I put one of the pouches together last night. It didn't take too long but they're all going to have to be hand sewed. I was trying to avoid that. I might just do a couple of real pouches to hold my stuff (car keys, ID, money, chap stick) for the evening and do the rest as 'fake' pouches, like the fake pocket flaps you sometimes see on blazers.
Ion blaster - Not even started. I think I'll take a look at toy guns at the dollar store this weekend. If I can't find anything worakable, I'll just nix the entire idea.
As for the roommate, he's finally committed to being an x-wing pilot. I threatened to put a box over his head and call him an AT-ST if he didn't make up his mind. His original idea was to be one of the imperial guard. The costume itself isn't bad, really just a red velvet cloak. The helmet is the tough part. It turns out that these things are pricey, somewhere in the $300-$400 range.
I ordered the rebel pilot helmet on ebay earlier today. We had talked about getting just a generic white helmet and putting on rebel alliance stickers/decals. It turns out that the cost of the decals isn't much less than buying the completed helmet. Go figure. Since I'm not artisitic enough to paint the things on, ebay it is.
Now he just needs some orange coveralls and a few accessories. Looking through my box of scrap fabric, I found some grey vinyl that would work well for the flight suit scraps and also possibly the vest thing that the pilots wore. We also need the chest box, which will probably be a box with some miscellaneous switches and buttons swiped from the odd parts bin here at work glued on.
We've got a week to go. I think we can pull this off. I'm looking forward to seeing the whole group together. It should be a geeky good time. Hopefully, we can win best group costume at one of the local costume contests.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
On a related note...
My personal pet peeve of the day: people who claim global warming doesn't exist because it's cold outside. Or even worse, people who claim that global warming is a good thing because it's cold outside.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
That's not really as bad as it seems. When I first heard about the party, I was going to be unable to attend, since I would be taking the Clinical Engineering certification exam early the next morning in Boston. It turns out that one of my references didn't get turned in on time so that I'll be taking the exam next year instead. Which means I now have Halloween open. Yay!
My original plan was to do Jabba the Hutt. That would have been awesome and I had even started some of the preliminary planning. However, I would have had to start that costume in, oh, August, to pull it off. Plan B is to be the galaxy's tallest Jawa.
It will still look cool. I planned on rigging up some LEDs for eyes. The circuit is basically a couple of LEDs, a resistor, and a 9v battery. I actually found soeone who sells these already put together on Ebay, so for $5, I didn't have to deal with it.
I got the robe and hood cut out and sewn together last night. It's coming together nicely. I still need to hem everything, but the beauty of the Jawa costume is that it's ok if it looks sloppy. I'm planning on velcro-ing a piece of black burlap over the opening in the hood. I can still see through it, but you won't be able to see my face.
I haven't figured out how to mount the LEDs yet. I'll probably just wear the battery like a necklace under the robe. I also need to make the bandoliers. I may or may not get around to makiing a passable ion blaster. I've never liked lots of accessories with my costumes. It's always annoying carrying stuff around all night.
I'll post some pictures when it's completed.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
My roommate had never been to a corn maze and was pretty excited about it. I had never done one either, but it sounded like it could be fun. And we had beautiful weather to do it in; possibly the last real nice days until spring.
I had a blast and I'm pretty sure the others did, too. At the very beginning of the maze, you pick the trail that you want to start at, aptly named Eeny, Meeny, Miney, and Moe. The group split up right at the start. For the record, I took Moe. We found each other and lost each other several times throughout the day.
One of the nice features of the maze is the different shaped punches along the trail to mark your progress. The idea is that you can mark your progress on the map after you solve the maze. Also, when you come across the same shape that you've already punched, you've walked in a circle. After seeing the same shape 4 or 5 times in a row, I stopped punching.
Another feature is the bell of frustration. At the end of the maze is the bell of success. The bell of frustration is somewhere in the middle of the maze. I found it many, many times.
The website says that the maze will take an hour and a half to two hours plus to solve. Because our collective sense of direction is so fantastic, we were in the maze for about 4 hours. Around the 3 hour mark we decided to break down and ask the maze helpers for directions. Still, it was a blast. I will be doing it again next year and I recommend it to anyone who wants some good, inexpensive fun outdoors.
Monday, October 13, 2008
- I pulled these pants fresh out of the closet this morning. They went into the closet after the last time I did laundry. I do not recall ruining an entire load of laundry with ink stains.
- I tend to use blue pens for some reason. It's a strange preference. The lack of black pens in my immediate vicinity makes it doublely perplexing where this one came from.
- I'm pretty sure this pen wasn't in my pocket when I got dressed. Which means that the mystery pen entered my pocket some time in the last 5 hours.
- Also, I have been in the office all day so I haven't had a real good reason, nor an oppurtunity, to walk around with a pen in my pocket.
Strange. Either I have been visited by the pen fairy, or I suffer from unconscious cleptomania and shouldn't be trusted around office supplies.
Friday, October 03, 2008
My initial thought, and what was reported in the papers today, is that Sarah Palin did a better job than I thought she would. In fact, the headline in this morning's Burlington Free Press is "Palin Stands Ground in VP Debate" with the sub-headline "Republican holds her own vs. Biden". This all sounds warm and fuzzy for the McCain/Palin ticket until you realize that the expectations for Palin were really, really, really low going into the debate. Honestly, the fact that she could string at least two coherent sentences together and manged to go the entire hour and a half not humiliating herself means that she performed better than expected. Following up on that thought, if the bar was set so low for Palin as to be on the floor,what does this tell us about her ability to lead this country?
Some other random thoughts from the debate:
I will never understand why news outlets continue to poll people on who they thought 'won' the debate. How can you win a debate? If news outlets want to poll people on who they thought did better in the debate, that's fine, but can we stop this who won the debate nonsense?
Sarah Palin appeared nervous, but spoke well. Towards the end, she seemed to grow more and more anxious.
Joe Biden performed well as expected. He was careful not to come across as overly harsh, while still telling Palin why she is incorrect and getting in some zingers, such as comparing McCain's health care plan to the bridge to nowhere. He seemed frustrated with Palin's repeated use of disproven talking points.
One of my favorite moments from the debate was when the moderator, Gwen Ifill, called both Biden and Palin out for not answering the question. I think that she should have kept calling out the candidates when they danced around question without actually answering.
Joe Biden came off as very knowledgeable. For the most part, his answers were direct and contained as much policy substance as can be crammed into the 90-120 second answer period.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, did her best to avoid actually answering a single question (although she may have answered one by accident). Asked about the economy, she talked about Iraq, asked about health care, she talked about...something not remotely connected to health care; unfortuantely I do not recall exactly what. It may had something to do with Ronald Reagan.
Palin looked like she prepared answers for theoretical debate questions, and was determined to use those answers whether or not the questions were asked. At one point she made the statement to Biden, 'I may not answer the questions the way you or the moderator want to hear'. No, honey, you're answering questions that haven't been asked.
My personal favorite rebuttal was given by Biden, responding to Palin's wandering aswer on the environment and climate change, claiming that we don't really know what is behind our changing climate. Biden responds with 'If you don't understand what the cause is, it's impossible to come up with a solution.' I had the same thought about 5 seconds into her answer.
Biden looked relaxed and comfortable. He addressed his answers to Ifill, which makes sense, since she was the one asking the questions.
Palin addressed the camera. And winked a lot. What was up with that?
Another great moment came at the end of the debate. When asked about Dick Cheney's definition of vice presidential powers, Palin responded that she agreed with him. Biden responded by saying Cheney over stepped his power, citing Article I of the Constitution. Thank you, Biden.
Palin sure likes to mention Reagan a lot. In fact, in her closing statement, she said "It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don't pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we're going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children's children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free." It was pointed out to me earlier today that Reagan made this statement warning what would happen if Medicare was enacted. This might not have been the best choice of quotes, since a major difference between the two candidates is their position on health care.
More random thoughts...
The ever popular debate drinking game.
This debate, take a shot every time Palin says the word 'maverick'. Take another every time she winks at the camera. Take another shot every time Biden says the phrase 'middle class'. Sorry, that's the best I can come up for with Biden.
The moderator should be able to throw flags like a foot ball ref. When a candidate doesn't answer a question, call them on delay of game. Throw the penalty BS flag whenever a candidate spouts off an obvious lie or disproven talking point.
Also, don't forget to vote November 4th. And don't forget to register if you haven't done so already. The deadline in Vermont for voter registration for the general election is October 29th.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The above picture came from Cake Wrecks, a great blog with a level of snark that I can only aspire to.
Friday, September 26, 2008
It turns out that these are really easy to make. It's basically 2 squares of fabric, with a horseshoe cut out of one side.
I had a bit of a headache getting the thread tension write on my machine so I could sew the stretching fabric without the seams getting all bunchy. Other than that, it's the easiest thing I've ever sewn.
That's 2 completed projects in a week. I think it's a new record.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So, fast forward a little over a year later, and I'm making split pea soup for dinner. I run my soup through the blender to get the consistancy right. Also because I suck at cutting up vegetables into small even pieces. Anyway, I venture into the Cupboard of Rarely Used Appliances, the place where the panini maker and the rice steamer live. I pull out the blender and my first thought was, Good lord, this thing feels cheap.
Now, you have to understand that my blender was pretty hefty and had a glass container. It worked pretty good and had decent power. Roommate's blender is all plastic. It's very light and it felt thin. I had reservations about how much power the thing was capable of.
And then I turn the sucker on. I have to say, it's an amazingly powerful little blender. Far more powerful then my old hefty guide. I was put off by its small size and light weight, but now that I've experienced it, I am completely won over. It's a bit like comparing a small sports car to a family sedan.
Monday, September 15, 2008
My baby shower experiences are pretty limited. The last one I went to, we basically sat around, ate some food, talked, and oohed over the gifts. That seemed pretty good to me.
I did what anyone would do when stuck for lack of ideas - I turned to Google. I was dismayed at the results. These are some of the highlights of what I've found, which I will not be incorprating into the shower. No. Not ever.
- Guess how big around her belly is game. The idea is that everyone guts a piece of ribbon the length they think will go around the mom-to-be's pregnant belly. We then take turns wrapping our ribbons around her. Whoever gets closest, wins a prize. Publicly guessing a woman's waist size is not a good idea in the best of circumstances. Mom-to-be will be 8 months pregnant at the time of the shower. If anyone tries this sh*t, someone's getting stabbed in the eye with a plastic fork.
- Guess the flavor of baby food game. A variety of baby foods have had their labels peeled off. Guests are expected to guess the flavor of baby food. Whoever guesses the most correct flavors wins a prize, perhaps a bottle of antacids. Have you ever tasted commercial baby food? It's absolutely nasty stuff. No wonder babies spit up so much. And as a side note, mom-to-be is taking a class on how to make your own baby food, so she won't have to feed her kid that crap.
- Feed the baby game. Guests put on rain ponchos or trashbags with holes cut out for head and arms, 'cause this is getting messy. We then take turns feeding each other a bowl of pudding with a baby spoon. While I am a fan of eating large bowls of pudding, I don't get why we need the ponchos. Is it so difficult to get a tiny spoon into the mouth of an adult? If that's the case, the new parents don't stand a chance at all.
- Guess the poop in the diaper. I have to admit, I find this one hilarious and if I thought the crowd of elderly aunts would be equally amused, I would totally put this one on the itinerary. You get a bunch of diffent types of candy bars, some with peanuts, some with coconut, etc. Put each candy bar into a diaper and then microwave until the candy bar melts. Guests have to guess what kind of candy bar it is. They are allowed to touch, smell, and even tast the "poop". The idea is ha ha, we're eating poop. Remember that scene in the pool in Caddy Shack? You get the point.
- Baby bottle beer drinking contest. This also sounds vaguely fun in a keg stand kind of way. I have it on good authority that it is actually quite difficult to drink beer from a baby bottle. No one is going to be able to guzzle anything. However, I don't think mom-to-be will be impressed with drinking games that she can't participate in. Also, I don't think the elderly aunts would find this as amusing as I do.
So, my quest continues. Does anyone know of any baby shower games/activities that don't completely suck?
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
And all of this work would need to be done at the Berlin City Kia dealership with the lovely service manager who likes to blame me for every warranty problem with the car. Seriously, the guy once tried to tell me I was driving the car incorrectly when I brought it in for transmission work. It's an automatic. There's really only one way to drive it (well, OK, 2, if you count reverse). On top of that, I know it will need new tires to pass inspection this fall, and probably new brakes....and well, you get the point.
Instead of draining my entire savings account on car repairs to keep the thing running for another year or so, I've decided to drain my entire savings account as a down payment for a shiney new car. Yay me!
So, I began the car buying experience. I approached this in the same way as I do when helping my customers buy expensive medical equipment. Yes, I know I'm a geek, and Ido like spreadsheets, thank you very much.
Step 1 - figure out what I want. In my case, a smallish sedan with good gas mileage; I'd like to get at least 30mpg. And air conditioning. My current car doesn't have that.
Step 2 - figure out my budget. Realisticly, I won't be getting anything high end, shooting for less than 20k.
Step 3 - figure out what's out there. This is where an internet connection at work is my friend.
And on to step 4, the kind of fun but strangely annoying part, actually visiting the dealerships. I narrowed my choices down to my top 4 - Chevy Cobalt, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic. I also decided early on that if the first question out of the salesman's mouth was 'what color do you want', then I was immediately leaving. I didn't actually have to use that, and my roommate pointed out that it was amusing that I was talking about HP in the Cobalt versus the Civic, as opposed to the color.
The most obnoxious sales pitch I got was when someone, after my spiel about how I wanted a smallish sedan with good gas mileage, tried to sell me a Chevy Tahoe. WTF? It is neither small, nor good on gas. But jeeze, look how much money off of the price I'd save. Maybe that's because with $4/gallon for gas, no one wants one of those. Well, maybe if I had a family and 3 kids who all had to go to soccer practice or something, but since it's just me living in the city, no thanks.
Decisions, decisions. In the end, the Civic came out on top, just barely edging out the Corolla. Honestly, the two are very similar, but I decided the Civic was the sharper looking of the two. The Cobalt came in at #3, but looses out due to it's smaller interior and lower gas mileage. It was by far the peppiest of the 4 that I drove and if I was fresh out of college again I'd love this car. The Focus was, well, it was a basic economy car. That's about the nicest thing I can say for it.
As an amusing side note, I discovered that of the 4, the only one not assembled in the US was the Ford Focus. The Honda and Toyota are assembled in California, and the Chevy is assembled in Detroit. The Ford, on the other hand, is assembled in Mexico. Go figure.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
First up is the micro-est of microbrews that I found at the Burlingon Farmer's Market. It's called Rookie's Root Beer and I believe it's brewed in a home brewery in Colchester. The guy selling it (Rookie, I'm assuming) didn't have a business card on him and I don't remember all the details.
Anyway, Rookie's is an above average tasting root beer. Major points for using real sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. I forgot to ask if he uses a preservative agent or if he just brews in small enough batches that it's not a problem. It doesn't contain anise, which is one of the flavors I really like about root beer. Not too heavy of a liquorice taste. It has a decent amount of carbonation, but not enough creaminess; it would have benefitted from some vanilla. Over all, it's a good tasting root beer. It gets extra points for presentation. It was served on tap from a wooden cask. More bonus points for using all Vermont ingredients.
Our next contender is Capt'n Eli's. It's a micro brew out of Maine that I picked up at a random convenience store while on the road for work. With a pirate on the label, you know I was not going to pass this by. one I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy it was. Yay for anise. This is another one that uses real sugar. It's a nice trend in micro brew sodas. This one has earned a spot in the top 4, and just misses Maine Root. Hmmm...apparently Maine knows how to brew some good root beer.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I am taking Advanced Medical Instrumentation, at the request of my boss, who is teaching the class. I was not technically forced to take the class, but the question was phrased in a way as to suggest that declining would not be the best thing for my career.
Unfortunately, I was also asked to sign up for the class last Monday, the day the class actually started. Normally this wouldn't have been much of a problem, but the class is completely online and I needed to go through UVM's online registration system. After several phone calls to the registrar's office, information technology, and finally Black Board (the company that hosts the online courses), I was finally able to log on to the course content late on Wednesday afternoon.
Keep in mind that this is a concentrated 6 week summer course. I just missed 3 whole days. And so I have spent this beautiful 3 day weekend here in my room, desperately trying to get myself caught up on the ridiculous amount of reading I had to do. And the 3 new articles that have been assigned.
I am happy to report that as of 10pm Sunday evening, I am officially caught up on my course work. Whoo hoo. Let's see if I retain any of that information for tomorrow's quiz.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
First, WALL-E does not follow the standard animated movie plot. You know, hero is kind of a jerk, finds a group of friends, gains acceptance, royally messes things up, makes things right and saves the day, then lives happily ever after. WALL-E's plot is hard to sum up in a few sentences, and the whole thing is done with very little dialog.
The basic plot is that all of the humans have left earth because of all of the pollution. The humans were supposed to have been gone for 5 years to allow the WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class) units to clean up the mess. The humans never returned and the WALL-E units continued to work until they finally break down.
Our hero is the last remaining WALL-E unit and survives by scavenging spare parts from other broken down units. He continues to dutifully do his job cleaning up the garbage while collecting small treasures along the way. By picking through the trash, WALL-E gains the humanity that humans have discarded.
WALL-E himself looks like the love child of ET and Johnny 5. The Movie focuses on his fascination with the world. Throughout the first half of the film he collects treasures from the piles of junk. It's hard not to see the world through his very expressive eyes. He is the most lovable trash compacter that you will ever meet.
This is Pixar's darkest film. It's ominous without being overly scarey for the kids. It's hard to miss the enviromental message and the modern human, or at least American, life style is called in to question. There is also the threat of relying to heavily on technology that is implied in many sci-fi tales.
Like all Pixar films, there are some great little touches that you had to be looking for. WALL-E boots up every morning to the chime of a Mac. EVE is modeled after an I-pod. And the Auto Pilot is an obvious homage to Hal, complete with the 2001 overture during one scene.
All of this is wrapped up in a beautiful film. You would expect nothing else from a Pixar film. The animation is gorgeous. The musical score is fitting. But the amazing thing is that there is very little dialog throughout the moving. Everything is conveyed through expression and gesture, and it is utterly amazing how much is able to be conveyed in this way.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
For comparison, I am considering grocery store root beer to be the measurement of what an average root beer is. Think Mug, Barq's, and anything else you can find in a 2 liter bottle.
Here are my results so far
A&W - From the tap, not the bottled stuff you get at the store. Yum. This is what a good root beer aspires to be. Very creamy with lots of foam. Mildly flavored. This stuff makes the best floats ever. Unfortunately, I'm working on memory here, as the 2 A&W stands in the area are of a distance (one's in Middlebury and the other is Wilmington, NY). A&W from the bottle or can is pretty average stuff.
IBC - By far, the best of the standard grocery store brands. Creamy with a more pronounced flavor. If I had to choose between grocery store A&W and IBC, I'd definately take the IBC. I'm always sad in restaurants when I get this because there's no free refill.
Natural Brew - Gets points for not using high fructose corn syrup as a sweetner. Other than that this stuff is pretty dissapointing. Heavy on the liquorice and very sweet, it lacks the creaminess that I find really appealing about root beer. Not undrinkable, but not very good, either. It's gotten good reviews elsewhere and I expected more for the price.
Jones Soda - Also gets points for avoiding the high fructose corn syrup. It's light on the carbonation and has a good blend of spices. It's nothing spectacular, but not bad either. A good average root beer, though not as creamy as I'd like. One of the major selling points is the personalized label - for a nominal fee you can have any picture you want on the label of your very own case.
Virgil's - Blah. This one was nearly undrinkable and takes the dubious honor of being the worst root beer I can remember tasting. Seriously, on first taste I almost spit the stuff out. Upon giving it a second chance, I contemplated just dumping out the rest of the bottle rather than finishing it. Very heavy on the liquorice and leaves a nasty after taste. Not creamy and light on the carbonation. At nearly $6 for a 4-pack, I expected more.
Harpoon - Very tasty. A good, creamy, anise based root beer. Mmm...anise. So far, my second favorite to date, right after Saranac. I've heard a rumor that you can get this in a keg. If that's true, I am so getting one at some point this summer.
Saranac - Also very tasty. Creamier than harpoon. It's drawback is that it's difficult to find. I've only seen this in very few stores, and only as a single bottle. Just edges out Harpoon as my favorite bottled rootbeer to date.
Maine Root - A nifty little microbrew I found in the natural food section of my local Hanneford's grocery store. Very creamy with a good blend of flavors. On par with Saranac and Harpoon. This one's pricey - $5.50 for a 4-pack. Their sarsaparilla is also good. And yes, I consider sarsaparilla to be different than rootbeer.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
First, the federal gas tax pays for the Highway Trust Fund. A good chunk of that money is also distributed to state highway departments. You know, for things like interstates and bridges and other wonderful things that, as a driver, I've come to really love.
Second, suspending the federal gas tax isn't going to save the average consumer that much money, even assuming a best case scenario where prices are not raised by oil companies to cover the drop in price.
Let's do the math. Gas is currently $4 per gallon. Of that $4, 18.4 cents is the federal gas tax. My small car has a 12 gallon gas tank. It costs $48 to fill the tank, of which $2.21 is the federal gas tax.
Assume that the federal gas tax is suspended from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This is 14 weeks. Now, assume that I need to fill my gas tank once per weak (it's actually more like once every 2 weeks, since I don't drive to work). In 14 weeks, I will have paid $30.94 in federal gas tax. That's right, suspending the federal gas tax will save me a whopping $31 throughout an entire summer.
It's estimated that the federal gas tax holiday will cost the Highway Trust Fund 126 million dollars. All while saving consumers $31.
No thanks. Keep the 30 bucks. I'd rather have roads and bridges.
Monday, June 09, 2008
The weather has been hot and sticky lately. With highs in the 90's throughout the weekend my 2nd/3rd floor apartment has become quite warm. Saturday evening I gave in to the heat and went to see a movie, if only to sit in air conditioning for a couple of hours.
Last night the temperature outside was still 83 after the sun had been down for an hour or so. After spending the day with family, I arrived home and the heat insdie the apartment nearly bowled me over. It most have been over 100 degrees in the apartment. And upstairs was worse.
My window fan just wasn't going to cut it and I decided it was now time to install the air conditioner in the bedroom. I have the kind of windows that flip in so you can clean the outside. I flipped the window in to make it easier to take the screen out. I must not have latched it all the way when I pushed it back up.
I put the air conditioner in the window and everything looked hunky dory so I started adjusting the plastic fins. And then the window popped in. My immediate reaction was to catch the falling window, which in retrospect was a really bad idea because now I didn't have a hold on the air conditioner. Liberated from the window, the air conditioner crashed 3 stories to the ground. Luckily it didn't fall on anything or anyone.
I thought that kind of thing only happened on TV.