15 December 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little...oh, whatever

I am, at this moment, firmly out of a Christmas frame of mind.  To explain, I shall quote Inigo Montoya:  "Let me 'splain.  No, is too long.  Let me sum up."

I'm not one for the whole commercialization, must buy things!, aspect of the holidays.  I know what should actually be the cause of celebration even if Jesus *was* born in the spring (Constantine + pagans=get over it).  But this season the continuation of working our way out of the coffee shop debt is just pinging on me in a way it normally doesn't.  I know it was God's plan for us to have the shop and I also know (and am generally okay with) that when He asks you to do something, it doesn't mean the end result will be all sunshine and roses.  Plus, usually I'm the one cheering on the Spousal Unit with, "Hey, we're doing good on the snowball debt plan.  We're hanging in there and things are going to get better!"

However, at the moment?  My pom-poms are limp. I'm having moments of "Hey, God...what's the deal with putting us *here*?"   I'm feeling tired and worn out and out of sorts about the whole holidays thing.  This year we've decided that in order to pay off some bills that will give us about $100 worth of breathing room (good on those off payday weeks when you're trying to figure out exactly how cheap you can get out of the grocery store for) we are going to delay buying any Christmas presents for anyone until January - except some small things for our granddaughters.

And that's okay.  It's understandable...but it still kinda sucks because even though we aren't big, huge, extravagant present givers, we still like to be able to give something.  Plus, I haven't bought my husband a Christmas present for the last few years due to finances and our 20th anniversary is coming up in February and I'd like to be able to do *something* for him, to be able to give him something he wants just because I can.  But we've got bills and medications and being all responsible to get through (and food - regular meals are good :)) and I just can't and it *sucks*.  The SU deserves many, many good things for being such a stand-up guy and for taking the reins throughout all this.  At the same time, I'm trying to balance my bummed-outness (is that a word?) over not being able to get him anything with the remembrance that God has continued to provide, that we've never been homeless, we've had food in the fridge, and we have each other.

So, I'll get over myself in a bit.  Sometimes I just have to talk about things in order to get them out of my head.  That way, they stop taking up space that would be better used for other things.

29 November 2011

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride

Brief observation: I have come to the conclusion that there are certain Southern traditions that I will never be able to get behind, thus leaving me always in the "transplant" category versus "native".

Case in point?  Okra.  Ewwww.  Okra is Satan's boogers.

27 November 2011

Project 365: Week 48

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com

Still trying to get back on track with P365!  These are some pictures I took this week.  I don't remember exactly when so I'm just going to post them with any accompanying commentary rather than assigning them days.

Say hello to Munchkin - or at least the parts of her you can see.  The cat faceplants into the sofa and the Spousal Unit and I marvel at how she can even breathe...and snore.  Oh my gosh, how she can snore!

Kitty TV!  I don't know what she sees out this window but she's over by it, gazing intently, for minutes at a time.

This is what I am greeted by most mornings when the alarm goes off and I stumble out of bed to go hit the gym.  Look at that face.  It says, "You love me.  You want to feed me.  NOW."

Who has two thumbs and is (a) happy it's the day before a four day weekend and (b) the campus is a ghost town so I can wear sweats to work?  THIS KID!!  (P.S.  The reason the hair looks funny is because I was wearing pigtails.)

The photographic record of most of my weekends this semester.  Laptop, notes, and a stack of journal articles and web site printouts off to the side.  Coffee and bottle of water NOT optional :).  On the bright side, OTOH, I think I am done - all 25 pages are written and cited and formatted correctly as far as I can tell.  Now I just have to get through my presentation tomorrow night and then turn the final paper in on the 12th.



20 November 2011

Ballad of the Overcaffeinated Grad Student (a segue)

I am currently sitting in a Starbucks, having arisen at the stupid hour of 5:30 in order to be up and revising my lit review by 7am with a cup of coffee and a bottle of water in front of me.  (I'm taking a break at the moment since I've worked through about one-third of my paper, moving stuff around...adding...deleting...pausing for a moment to think "the hell?" when I come across a particularly obtuse piece of writing.)

Of course, there was a moment when this almost didn't happen.  I have the luxury on occasion of being able to work on my homework at my job if it's slow.  I keep everything on a jump drive and take that jump drive home with me every day.  Well, every day except yesterday. 

I got all the way home, grabbed my backpack out of the back seat, and suddenly had a clear and vivid picture of me shutting down my work computer with my jump drive still stuck in the USB slot.  Cue me making sounds at a frequency and pitch that only dolphins should be able to make.  There may have also been a slight dance of "well...CRAP!".  (Ball fists, bend knees, turn in a nearly complete circle while trying to not give into the desire to punch the car or the side of your head.)

'Cause, see, my campus locks the buildings on the weekends.  Sometimes there is an entry door left open and sometimes not - it's like Jeopardy.  "I'll take the South entrance for $200, Alex."  The Spousal Unit and I drove down there Saturday morning while running our errands and hoping we were early enough to avoid the Razorback crowd*.  We made it and I ran across campus to my building to find the open entrance to Track 9 3/4...er, my building so I snatched up my jump drive, ran back out and we boogied on down the road.  Whew.  God likes me.

He likes me so much I'm here in Starbucks drinking bad coffee and playing my iPod really loudly in order to drown out the stuff Starbucks calls music :).

*Look, I know y'all here in Arkansas have the whole "Soooeee, pig!" thing going down for your cheer but  you still can't beat the cheer from my previous university:  Austin Peay (pronounced "pea").  Know what ours was?  "Let's go Peay!"  Yeah...

12 November 2011

Ballad of the Sad Grad Student: Really? Really?

I knew the silence was too good to last...

Visiting Dude has sent an e-mail to the group saying we should all join in a round of happy revisions and he'll put my document up on Google Docs so everyone can have input.  There should be enough time to rework everyone's input, right?


Don't make me angry.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.  Seriously...

I have sent VD and the rest of the group a letter.  It was nicely worded even.  I was polite.  I was cordial.  I used correct grammar and made no reference to anyone's cranial-rectal inversion.  I merely pointed out that I had three out of five people's input by the deadline and had the document ready by mid-morning the next day.  However, since two people DIDN'T BOTHER (ahem) to let me know they would not be contributing until they JOLLY WELL FELT LIKE IT (er, sorry), I was unable to send the document until I received all input on Tuesday.

The document was sent out Wednesday.  It is now late Saturday and he wants to send it round for more discussion.  No.  Not happening.  Not for the least of which is that apparently you and others cannot be bothered to actually give input and now you want to try and round robin input and revision of a six-page, fact-specific document before Monday?  No.  Nein.  Nyet.  Other people in the group have said it's great and, mysteriously, others have made no comment whatsoever.  In the meantime, my efforts this weekend are concentrated on finishing the rough draft of my literature review so I can spend the next two to four weeks revising and polishing it for presentation and final turn-in.  Dear VD, while I will be happy to look at the final document and consider adding to the final paragraph, I will not be doing any type of full monty revision on a document that is due in 48 hours. 

You missed your chance.  You are the weakest link.  Goodbye.  (Dear  Buddha juggling lemons while riding a unicycle, where *are* the stabbity things or projectile weapons when you need them???)

*goes off to corral homicidal munchkin before it escapes*

11 November 2011

Ballad of the Sad Grad Student (cont'd)

Here is a brief timeline of the second case study we had to do as a group project:

Case Study is assigned.  Date of 11/4 is agreed on by all five group members as the date for all input to be submitted to me so I can write the draft.

11/4 - I get input from two other people.  Superman's is excellent.  Sidekick...well, he tried.  

11/5 - I spend 4 hours in a coffee shop putting together our case study (six pages in total full of fun facts and budget figures)

11/4-6 - I e-mail the two missing members.  No response.

11/7 - Visiting Dude e-mails me his info along with 'Oh, I was out of town all weekend."  Me:  You couldn't get it to me before you left?  And hey, next time, you might want to let your group know so they don't wonder what the hell has happened to you."  Him:  "Oh.  Hey.  Good idea."

11/7 - 7:30pm - group case work time after class.  Other missing member:  "Oh, I had food poisoning all weekend."  Me (in my head):  "And you couldn't drag your carcass to the computer to write a two-sentence e-mail to tell me that?"  Out loud:  "Do you have your contribution?"  Her:  "Yes.  Two whole paragraphs."  Superman and me:  *facepalm*.  Her:  "But I can write more."  Me:  "That...would be good."

11/8 - Receive final input from Ms. Food Poisoning is the Silent Killer.  Add in what I can and then finalize draft.

11/9 - Send out draft to everyone.  Complete bibliography in APA style.  Superman responds that draft is excellent.

11/11 - Only other response so far from Visiting Dude:  "I think this needs a theme."  The homicidal munchkin in my head:  "THEME??  DID NOT YOU NOT READ THE SIX FREAKING PAGES I SENT OUT???  DIE!  DIE!  DIE!"  Me in e-mail calmly points out there is a theme - we are saying that the integration of the one agency into the other has not worked since 2002/03 and that money and manpower continue to be wasted to this day.

11/11 - No further response from group members to date.  TCH makes plans to stop by the liquor store on the way home.  Nobody should have to deal with this sober.

05 November 2011

Project 365 - Week 45

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com


Got a text shortly before class Monday that we were apparently missing our back deck (we live on the second floor of our apartment complex).  It seems that the complex decided to tear off all the siding on the back side of our particular quad and, in doing so, replace the deck...along with the window behind the TV...along with the sliding glass door.  And all with absolutely no prior notice! 

So the SU came home Monday and saw strange men walking in and out of our apartment and one of them said, "Hey, you live up here?"  He said yes and the guy said, "Well, you ain't got no deck."

Yeah.  And we still don't.  (At least they did replace the sliding glass door fairly quickly even if they forgot to install the hardware.  Us:  "You *are* taking all the ladders away when you go home at night, right?"
)  Oh, and did I mention that the back of the building was apparently decayed and about to cave in?  Good times...good times.


This is Beanie and her little brother, Collin; two of my favoritest kids and siblings to The Monkey.  Their mom knows I have a thing for Marvin Martian (he's one of my tattoos) and snapped this while she was out shopping with them.  Beanie is posing like a rock star while Collin seems to be trying to figure out where his head disappeared to :).


My son was working here in Little Rock this week (he's based out of Wisconsin) and called us so we had him over for dinner Wednesday night.  I can't believe it's been three years since we've seen him last!


This is my current state of mind after the first go-round on my second group project.  Can I just say  how much I hate group projects?  (For more from the Ballad of the Sad Grad Student, see below).  The SU keeps telling me I can't hold people to my standards but, seriously, my standards are basically that you do what you say will, turn it in to me when you say you will, and if you can't?  Let me know ASAP.  Not all that unreasonable or unattainable, but it makes me yearn for projectile weapons like you would not believe.

(Ballad of the Sad Grad Student:  OK, in our last episode, we had one person who did not turn in any work despite three attempts at helping her to do so.  Our group got marked down.  This time, I have had one person turn in work that was great - he was in my last group and I was so relieved to get him again.  Another person has turned in about a page worth of stuff with no citations or references for the blog, full of very vague ideas and his main source is eHow.com.  The other two?  Haven't seen hide nor hair despite a reminder e-mail on Friday and another one this morning.  GAAAAAAAAAH.)

04 November 2011

My personal philosophy

And the fact I use a sci-fi show to illustrate this pretty much assures my dorkdom :).

01 November 2011

Why I Dislike Urban Fantasy "Tough Chicks" (UFTCs)

You know, as I look through the list of books coming out at Amazon, I find myself snickering over the female urban fantasy "tough chick".

1.  Long flowing hair - nothing better to grab in a fight than untamed hair.  Here, Mr. Demon/Succubus/Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man!  Let me give you a handle by which to yank me around and snap my neck!  Of course, if it's tied back, then said heroine can't be pictured in her moonlit alley with hair gently wafting in a nonexistent breeze (which always makes me think of a wind machine just off to the side and a director yelling, "Sparkle!").

2.  Speaking of moonlight, do none of these people hold down regular jobs?  They work for so many shadowy, underground paranormal agencies that I'm starting to think they should unionize.  Either that or they are the "go it alone" types until they meet the really hot demon/half-demon/had a bad date with a wereturtle they're supposed to kill/maim/bring in for a bounty/give fashion tips to.  Suddenly, it's much less hunting and a lot more boinking.

2a.  And alleys?  Seriously.  You know how bad those things smell and what they're used for?  Well, in your world, they're apparently used for posing hip-shot with your breasts trying desperately to escape your flimsy tank top (or the ever popular "look over the shoulder" pose) versus peeing, shooting up, trash disposal, etc.

3.  The tramp stamp.  Siddhartha on a hippo, the tramp stamps.  First, thanks for the totally unwanted pictures of y'all's backsides with the waist of your jeans riding low enough to give me way more information than I will ever need, but seriously?  You guys can't come up with anything more than a vaguely Celtic-y or Native American-ish tramp stamp to provide some "authenticity" and "individuality"?  I'm starting to think any application to become a UFTC either has a place to describe your tramp stamp or you have to sign a form stating you will get one within your first six months of employment as a UFTC.

4.  The clothes.  Why must UFTC's dress like they just got hired at Hooters?  More accurately, the Amish Hooters - long pants required.  Let's see, you're fighting demons, ghosts, and other paranormal things - many of which are armed.  So, when choosing an outfit, let's got for something that shows miles of skin and provides basically no protection to boot - I've got it!  A tank top and a flimsy pair of "leather" pants.  To finish off the outfit, we'll put on some boots with stiletto heels because nothin' says I can run like the wind like a five-inch boot heel that is as big around as a toothpick.  If they don't die from falling and breaking their flipping necks, do the UFTC's have a health plan that includes bunion surgery?  And with the tight pants, please tell me you get coupons for Monistat.

5.  The ridiculous big swords or guns they hold behind their backs in the "look over my shoulder" pose.  Number one, unless you are Immortal, there is NO WAY you are going to be able to hide that sword anywhere that is not going to cause (a) a wardrobe malfunction, (b) serious injury or (c) some of both.  Besides, WE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE SUBSTITUTES FOR.  Same for the guns, sister.

6.  Please stop bemoaning that you will never fit in with the rest of the world.  You chose this gig.  No, saying you were somehow chosen by a higher power/your Chinese fortune cookie/a prophecy/family lineage doesn't work.  You picked this gig.  Stop whining.

7.  Yes, yes, we know.  He's a bad boy.  You're so conflicted.  Should you trust him?  Oh, who cares?  Just screw him silly and then act like a thirteen-year-old girl who needs a Valium the size of a pudding pop the next time he does something you don't agree with.  Rage against The Man about how he doesn't treat you as an equal in your dangerous world of demon hunting/ghost chasing/ballroom dance.  Pout and write in your diary when he does something that makes you think he's "gone bad" again.  But for God's sake, never apologize when you find out you're wrong and his motivations were all good.  *He* had nothing to do with it.  It was all down to your magic hoo-hoo.

7a.  And if you're really that untrusting, perhaps a bit of counseling.  Or maybe date a nice accountant.

29 October 2011

Project 365: Hello...

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com

Since Sara challenged me to try and get back into P365, I managed to take two pictures this week (the rest of the pics would have been of me staring at reams of journal articles as I try to write my literature review.  There may be one or two of those in the future but an entire week's worth would be really boring unless I could make one of those flip books out of them...and I suck at animation).  Anyway, we have...


For some reason, Munchkin had an inability to keep her tongue in her mouth.  It was like she was walking around giving everyone the raspberry all night.


You'd think he was reading his Kindle, wouldn't you?  Um, no.  This is the Spousal Unit post-inaugural colonoscopy as we wait for the doctor to tell us the results.  They gave him the good drugs so he was actually sleeping at this point.  I didn't have the heart to wake him up...but I can apparently take his picture with no problem :).

23 October 2011

An Anal Retentive Moment brought to you by TCH

Holy crap, has it really been almost a month since I've written anything here?  *checks date*  Ooops.  Guess so.

Sara - aka Mama 365 for purposes of this entry - has handed me down a challenge to get my ample posterior back on P365 (although I believe she mentioned wanting to see the cats versus, you know, me :P) so I'm going to try to take pictures this week and get them uploaded in time for next week's showing.  Kim *waves to Kim* also e-mailed me so I'll work on it.

I've turned in my annotated bibliography even though it's not due until the 31st.  I've finished it, I'm hoping to get some early feedback on it, and, frankly, I'm tired of looking at it!  I've started on my overall literature review/thesis beginning today while sitting in Starbucks and having my iPod plugged firmly in my ears. 

*bangs head against wall*   Dear Buddha riding a pony down Main Street while juggling, this sucks!  I've been writing both for school and for enjoyment purposes for years but this whole review/thesis thing...oy vey.  I mean, I know I'm anal retentive (see post title) and have my own perfection issues but I'm used to being able to write something close to a final version when I sit down and start typing.  This, though, has got to be one of the draftiest drafts I've ever written - and I'm not even done with it yet.  The thought of revisions to this fills me with about the same excitement as your average root canal, too (excluding the fact that the one root canal I've had was actually one of my best dental experiences ever.  I'm sure that was an aberration).

Other than that, however, class is going okay.  Our group finished its first project and, as a bonus, quickly located the deadwood within the group.  I can understand a little getting into the swing of things, y'know?  But when you are approximately my age (the answer to everything according to Douglas Adams) and I explain not only the assignment but what your part in it is and hand you web sites to help you find what you need, I should not have to come after you (a) three times for usable material for inclusion, nor (a1) should that information you've given me three times be completely unusable and wrong to boot - and I'm not even going to go into the potential plagiarism issues to which said deadwood almost exposed the rest of us.  Seriously, when I went back to the well for the third and final time (and re-re-explained the project all over again), her response was "Well, there isn't one web page that tells me all that".  So, unfortunately, we had to try and make up for Deadwood and that meant she got to ride through on our grade.  Another "grrrr" inducing moment brought to you by higher education :P.

And yes, I am practicing my thesis avoidance tendencies by typing this.  Why do you ask? :)

30 September 2011

Slight freakout ahoy!

I'm thinking I  may just have to call this "The Continuing Travails of Our Graduate School Experience".  That sounds kinda nice and old-timey...or, considering I just read the quoted title again, like I have several personalities just yearning to burst out.

We, uh, I'll never tell...

Got an A on my literature review so yay me :).  I spent yesterday morning working on my part of our first group project and I think I have a decent handle on my portion of it.  I'm part of the Federal Highway Administration and part of a group concocting a memo to our director re: a several-billion-dollar multi-year project.  My part is to highlight the positive way this project can have an effect on our relationships with our lobbyists.  We're all meeting online tomorrow night to discuss/show what we've come up with so far for our separate taskings.  And, of course, someone brought up in class how when you work in groups there is always someone who doesn't pull their weight and blah-blah-blah, it's not fair and how is that going to be dealt with?  I did love my professor's answer - which was essentially welcome to the real world.  Apparently we do get to all grade each other at the end of the course but, hello, not everyone in the work world pulls their weight so...suck it up, buttercup and get on with it.

My research project is approved!  This is good but also scary since this will evolve into my thesis over the next two-three years (depending on how many classes I cram in each semester and if I end up moving or not).  I'm researching gender equity amongst faculty at four-year state universities using salary and promotion as my focus.  Considering my annotated bibliography is due next month, I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time stuck in databases and then at Guillermo's trying to put all this in coherent form.  It's a proven formula from my undergrad days:  laptop + coffee + iPod = completed paper.

So, you know, slight freakout but  more in the "Aaah!  Paper writing!  APA style again!" versus the full and complete Kermit the Frog arm-waving freakout I was having just before classes started.  Improvement! :)

21 September 2011

At the tone, please leave a (new) message...

Continuing on over here in my little corner of the world...

Had a wee bit of a financial setback when the Spousal Unit's car blew up.  Say hello to a new head gasket and goodbye to...well, a good chunk of change.  It isn't like we haven't been here before but, still, there was that bit of holding my breath and waiting for the next shoe to drop as had been happening pretty regularly over the past few years.  Sometimes it's a lot more work to remember my brain needs to be more on the "God has provided and will continue to provide" side of things and less on the Chicken Little in the back of my brain yearning to break free and declare DOOOOOOOOOM.

(and while my brain tends to hear "DOOOOOOOOOM!" in a more stentorian, Darth Vader-ian voice, Chicken Little looks more like this:
and that tends to make the Darth Vader voice start sounding like Foghorn Leghorn.  It's a vicious cycle, I tells ya!)

The first semester of grad school is going pretty well from what I can see to date.  I got my first assignments back and received an A- and a B+, which was where the old messages hit the fan.  I can be somewhat hard on myself although I've improved over the years and, while I was bummed they weren't both A's, I was pleased that I'd navigated the assignments well enough to get good grades and I can see where I can improve.

Where I really got smacked in the face was when I talked to my mom.  I try to call her regularly and was just chatting with her about school and told her I'd received my grades.  She asked what they were and I told her.  Her immediate comment was "Well, there is always room for improvement."

Cue me getting smacked upside the head with the Two-by-Four of My Childhood.  In my family, it was always time for comparison shopping and I usually came out on the losing end whether it was me being compared to my brother, to other kids of my parent's friends, about my weight, or...pick anything.  Through much of my life, I have never been good enough.  There has always been something "wrong" with me and my family has been only too happy to tell me what it is - sometimes in excruciating detail.

What's the upshot of all that, er, feedback?  God became a performance-based God.  Love was conditional, based on how close I was able to come to the standard someone else believed I should aspire to.  It took me years to work my way out of that and to understand that God loves me regardless of what grades I get, what my weight is, or how often I mess something up.  I mean, yes, there are rules and I don't get to tiptoe through the daisies while setting off nuclear warheads a la Lyndon Johnson's famous commercial...

But.  But God loves me and sees me as someone of worth to the point He came to Earth and died an excruciating, humiliating death to take away the need for a relationship based on performance, on law while daily running the risk that I (or any of us) could decide, eh, this is too much trouble and just turn our backs.  And, like the prodigal son, if I did turn away and then come back, there wouldn't be any recriminations or lectures.  It wouldn't matter what I'd done.  He would throw a party.

So I sat in my chair after hanging up with my mom and thought about all that and I remembered a friend back from my old church.  It was shortly before we moved and they had prayed for me in the service.  As we were walking back to our seats, she said something (I don't remember what) in a teasing tone and I jokingly responded with "God likes me."  Her response was.  "He likes you a lot."

Yes.  Yes, He does.

01 September 2011

Catching Up...

I have been out of the habit of blogging for a few weeks and have missed P365 submissions as well.  It hasn't been anything major - no surprise trips to the ER (because I think the SU has maxed out on those thinking back on the past few years) or anything like that - but daily life seems to just get in the way sometimes.

The SU's car blew up about two weeks ago.  Thanks, Mr. Head Gasket!  We're still waiting on how much it will be to get it fixed.  I, myself, am firmly in favor of ditching that car since they don't even make them in the States anymore but since the loss of the business and the foreclosure of the house, it isn't like we have the additional cash or the credit rating to really go look at any car (new or used).  So we are a one-car family for now and it's not worked out too terribly bad.  I get to work much earlier than I might normally but our departure times are about the same minus the 30 minutes he has to drive from his job to pick me up.  And at least we have a car and can make it work so that's all to the good.

Grad school has started and it's been interesting - and busy!  There is a pretty even division between those of us older-type students and those that just got their undergrad degrees recently and went straight into grad school.  It leaves me feeling very "get off of my lawn!" sometimes, most recently when one of the younger students was telling me that she needed to remember to check her mail to see if her textbook had shown up yet.  Ummm...it's three weeks into the semester and we're supposed to have read the first two chapters by this coming Monday, and you don't even have the book yet??

Why, yes.  I am anal-rententive.  Why do you ask? :)

The instructor was talking about the MPA as a professional degree the first night of the class and brought up the stat that 70% of mid-career, in-service people (such as myself) will drastically change their career during the three years of this program.  I spent the rest of the night thinking about that because, honestly, I have never seen myself as having a "career".  I have always had a job.  In large part, it has been due to my following the SU around; move to a new state and find a job to make up the difference/allow us to do some of the things we want to in addition to paying bills.

To be fair, the SU has also always said that he doesn't mind moving for *my* job should that become a possibility but that has never really been on the radar.  I only had a high school diploma for many, many years and although I spent ten years at one company working my way up from part-time data entry to executive assistant, it was still just a job; something to help ease the monetary pain of living in Southern California.  Even when I quit that job, it was still pretty easy to get a secretarial job 'cause people always need those.

Now that we've moved three times since and I've spent a fair amount of years in defense contracting and higher education, I find myself wondering if I even want a career or what one would look like if I did.  What will I be when I grow up?

Huh.  Stay tuned, I guess :P.

Other than that, the cats are good if piteously crying about being starving and if someone can tell me how a 17 pound cat can starve in the space of eight hours while sitting next to a full cat dish, I'd be forever grateful.  My car runs, we've paid rent for another month and God continues to provide.  Even though He may not give everything I want, I definitely have all I need.

13 August 2011

Project 365: Week 33

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com


I traded with Alyssa to borrow Seasons 2 and 3 of Chuck since, per the Spousal Unit, the copy I ordered from Amazon "wouldn't arrive fast enough".  We watch 2-3 episodes per night.


My text for this semester.  I'd forgotten how dense public admin texts can be!


Greaaaaaat.  Thanks, Captain Colitis!  Geez, now I have to be a freakin' Yoga Master.  God did not give me enough vertebrae for this.


Meatballs for banh mi sandwiches.  They've just been seared off on the stovetop and are going into the oven to finish cooking.


This week's cat photo.  Yeah, she just likes to hang there like that...


To quote Homer Simpson:  "D'oh!  It just gets worse and worse!"  One innocent question to the doctor via my husband's appointment results in...this.  However, I can now honestly say I have proved the adage about not being able to find your ass with both hands and a flashlight.


The cat again - doing her usual favorite Saturday post-grocery store activity:  cage matches with the Kroger bags.

06 August 2011

Project 365: Week 32

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com

I don't have a week's worth of photos this time.  Honestly, I don't even remember what *days* I took some of these!  Mostly my brain has been a blur of (a) trying to get my departments to give me the information I need so I can approve their little darlings for graduation or tell 'em better luck next time, (b) finalize the setup for my own graduate programs, and (c) prepare for my own entry into graduate school on the 18th.  (One of the lesser things this has involved in having to re-do my MMR shots because who knows where my shot records from infancy are.  All I have to say about that is MMR shots HURT.)

I've been so scattered this week that when I went to go grocery shopping this morning, I forgot to buy toilet paper!  And, believe me, when you were already out of toilet paper, that's not the thing you wanna forget!

The extra $ from becoming full-time has helped in at least giving us a bit of breathing room in paying for grad school (even with the employee discount) and also continuing to pay for the insulin resistance meds.  Combined with my regular diet and exercise routine, I've managed to drop 20 pounds in five-six months which makes me a very happy camper.  I don't ever expect to be a size six again but I don't mind my body actually paying attention to what I've been trying to do and showing the effects of it :).

So, now to make myself stop prattling on, here are some pictures:

This is some Spanish chicken I made.  It has tomatoes, onion, zucchini, sherry, paprika and chorizo.  You start it on the stovetop and then let it finish in the oven.

The process of creating the marinade for carne asada.  Many jalapenos, garlic cloves and bunches of cilantro gave their lives so that I might have tasty meat inside a tortilla :).

Yeah, I know.  I don't even...*shakes head*

Gracie getting caught.  She's currently wedged herself behind the TV, speaker and printer.  For some reason, she is absolutely fascinated with the teeny-tiny section of the office wall/floor that's back there.  Normally...eh.  However, we've started hearing suspicious buzzing and shorting-out sounds which leads us to suspect that Al-Kitty's #2 operative has been chewing on things she jolly well shouldn't be.

23 July 2011

Project 365: Week 30

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com

I've missed one or two weeks of P365 lately. I think it's just the combination of getting back from Alaska, immediately diving into becoming full-time at work and just trying to get back on track with everything. The full-time has been pretty okay. The paycheck was definitely nice - worked out to more than the SU and I thought it was going to be! Thanks, God! I also got most of my videos up and made them visible on a blog that links to this one so I feel semi-accomplished, methinks. Now if I can just get to the rest of that to-do list I've made myself...

Anyway, here is this week:


This technically is from Alaska versus this particular week but I just love this picture.  Look at the SU and our granddaughter, Rylie, and tell me there's no genetics going on there :).


Made cream scones as part of dinner.  They're very fast to put together and only take about twenty minutes to cook.  They also store and freeze well.


OK.  I have to explain this one.  I was in my office when some faculty from another department came by and wanted to look at some rooms in our building in preparation for some kind of seminar they were holding.  I went to help them out and I noticed that this particular professor seemed to have some, er, issues.  I ended up trying not to walk behind him because I was worried there was going to be a full moon in the middle of the afternoon!


Yay!  New furniture!  I got to get rid of the ugly blue metal desk (you know, the ones that were the height of office furniture fashion in the 1960's and get a nice, new desk and table...and pay someone else to put it together :)).


The SU is not enamored of the cats as of late.  Curious Grace peed all over his laptop bag just before we left for Alaska and Munchkin apparently yakked on the couch while I was at work and he was home*.  He keeps calling them "fuzzy terrorists" and "Al-Kitty" now.  I took the pic to remind him that they are still kinda cute.

*I kept getting text updates while he was cleaning the couch.  They consisted of things like "Man, this stuff is one heck of an adhesive when it dries!", "Oh God, there's...hair in it!" and my personal favorite:  "Who knew one cat could have so much...bulk?"


Our Dean went to Harvard for a conference and brought us all back little handmade chocolate mice.


This is me being a dork :).  I had just finished my workout this morning and remembered I needed a picture.  Since the rest of my consisted of (a) the grocery store and (b) staying out of the heat and humidity as much as possible, I figured I'd better grab a picture while I could - please excuse the fuzzy camera phone.  It's also a rare picture of me in glasses since I don't like them and will wear my contacts until they fall out of my eyes.

Even with the spine injury, I still love working out even though I mansweat.  Some people glow.  Some perspire.  I go way beyond that :).  The only bad part is not all my hair is long enough to fit into a ponytail so I get these pieces by my face that get all wet and I keep thinking there is something on me.  It looks something like this:

Me:  *swipes hand at wet thing lying against face*  ACK!  Must be a bug!  ACK!
Brain:  No, that's your hair, Einstein.  *sighs*  I can't take you anywhere, can I?



Things that make you go "Awwwww..." followed closely by "WTH?"

I got up this morning and went go to workout in the gym.  That was fine.  Very sweaty.  Then I cam ehoome, showered and went to the grocery store.  All well and good.

Came home to find a fire truck parked in front of my unit in the complex.  When I got out of the car and grabbed some groceries, I could see our downstairs neighbors with their three boys and the the boys were getting their pictures taken "driving" the fire truck.  Awwww...cute.

I'd pulled most of the groceries out and gotten them into the apartment (hello, flight of stairs!) and when I came back down for the last load, my neighbors were coming back up the walkway.  I asked them if everything was okay, thinking that maybe they knew some folk in the fire department or something.

Well, no.  Seems that since 10pm last night, their a/c unit had been dripping on their hot water heater and it had been smoking and giving off other rather ominous signs.  They had been calling the complex emergency line since that time and NOBODY ever answered.  They called the fire department this morning because, you know, fire...not so good.  The fire department came and put it out but if our neighbors hadn't been home, our entire unit could have gone up in flames.  The fire department has also been calling the emergency line and NOTHING.  In fact, they're still out there.

Man, I so do not want to be the complex manager when the Fire Marshall finally gets hold of them...

(and thank you, God, that our neighbors were home and our apartment and cats did not end up crispy crittered.)

21 July 2011

Quote of the Day

"You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." - Anne Lamott

14 July 2011

This is the grad student you are looking for (apologies to Star Wars)

Thanks to everyone who said I was smart enough for grad school :).  I was officially accepted this week and turned in my letter verifying I would be entering the MPA program.  I'm still wibbling a bit - found an older syllabus from the professor this morning and kinda went Kermit the Frog for a few minutes:

Aaaaah!  In class presentations!  Small group work ('cause I always get stuck with the person who decides to coast on everyone else's work)!  And a research paper!  I've written those for my undergrad but drat Social Sciences majors and their reliance upon the APA style :P.

*breathes deeply*  All will be well, young Jedi.

12 July 2011

The Power of Ugly

Been reading "The Power of Ugly" by Jamie Stilson on the recommendation of a friend.  It's about taking off religious masks and understanding that we are flawed, that God's grace is reflected in our weaknesses and not in our ability to handle everything that comes at us with grace and aplomb.

Some quotes that have stood out to me:

"It is so easy to give others the truth of the Bible and never care enough to hear their story."

"...the truth that Jesus' resurrection was the beginning of the New Creation that God has promised - the restoration of all things.  His resurrection promised that our bodies will live again in a new heaven and new earth (2 Pet 3:13) - and this gives hope to all of creation!  This hope is the guarantee that nothing we do in Jesus' name is ever wasted."

"In the midst of all his loss and suffering, Job's answer to all of God's questions was to lay his understanding at the feet of the one he worshipped."

"Trust must replace questions if we are going to move past pretty worship and experience Ugly Worship.  Who God is must be enough, or the answers to our questions will become our god."

"After meany years of seeking and following Jesus, I have found this to be my experience, too.  It does not weaken my faith to have more questions than answers; it strengthens it."

"Isaiah saw himself in the light of the glory of who Jesus was...All Isaiah could say, as he marveled at this glorious Jesus, was 'Woe is me!' (Isa 6:5, KJV).  He was being broken.  Like grapes, the sweetness doesn't come until after the crushing.  What feels like being brutally broken often transforms us into people who are more like Jesus."

 It's a reminder that God can use us despite our imperfections rather than us needing to be or act like some perfect creature.  It's not that bumper sticker adage of "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven"; rather that sometimes being broken, being flawed and being "ugly" to use Jamie's phraseology can serve God much better than attempted perfection.

10 July 2011

Project 365: Week Twenty-Eight

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com

Guh.  Still slightly recovering from the Alaska trip.  Got back on a Wednesday and went to work immediately Thursday and Friday.  Thursday I was part-time and Friday started my current sojourn as full-time, so yay for increased budgets :).  I also managed to get my Combatives videos up and in one place here on Blogger.  I'm still trying to put up my fight video but Blogger keeps conking out on me.

Plus, somewhere in there I applied and was accepted to Graduate School (what was I THINKING??).  I start the MPA program in the Fall and I have been alternating between "this could be fun" to "AAAAAAH!" to "I am so not smart enough for this."

Ergo, in lieu of documenting-the-general-life-of-me pics, I'm posting a few more from Alaska (with a bonus cats picture at the end).  One day we drive down towards Seward to check out the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center, or as my husband and I put it afterwards:  The Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center of the Damned.

I'd like to introduce you to our first occupant:  the neurotically incontinent moose.  Anytime anyone lifted a camera (or possibly thought about doing so), this guy would pee.  Copiously.  With abandon.  I bet camels are jealous.  He's probably still peeing.

Our next contestant is The Very Challenged Porcupine.  As you can see, he's currently sitting near the corner of the fenced-in area.  Just off to the left is a wiiiiiiide-open space for him to frolic in (if a porcupine frolics).  Does he go there?  No, he would waddle the three or four steps into one corner, bash his head, and then turn around and do the exact same thing on the other side.  I must have watched him do that for a good five minutes.

I wanted to make him a little helmet but we had to move on...

Make sure you get my best side!

Next we have the clinically depressed bear (slightly blurred out to protect his anonymity :P).  He wandered out of his pseudo-log cabin and just flopped over on the porch before heaving a huge sigh and looking over at the people on the other side of the fence.  All he needed was some skinny jeans, a floppy haircut and a little emo music in the background :).

Now we come to the anti-social Musk Ox.  Whaddaya mean you can't see them?  They must have paid the caribou to sit in their place.  Here is what an actual musk ox looks like:

What I really love is the fact that their hair/horns looks exactly like the girl from the old Wendy's ads :).  All he needs is some bows (see below):

Finally, we arrived at the last resident of the Conservation Center:  Adonis, the one-winged bald eagle.

We certainly applaud the work the AWCC does and didn't mind paying our donation to go drive around and check out some animals we might never see otherwise, but it was just one of those moments that kept getting more and more bizarre the longer we were there.

And now, bonus cat picture...

Solar powered kitties!