Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beware what you google

Sometimes you go looking for information and what you find is so not what you expected that you almost wish you hadn't gone looking in the first place.

In cleaning out the house recently, during one of my "everything must go!" rampages, I pulled out a white 3-ring binder labeled "Addresses." I compiled this notebook years ago, back before I was digital, when we lived in our first home. It's fairly organized, and I've just sort of kept stuffing everything in there as we went. The invite list for our wedding is in there (that's actually a keeper, but in our memories boxes, not stored on the limited shelf space in my digital darkroom), and several sets of pages printed from contact lists from when I'd leave a job and move on.

I brought some of those into work so I could go through and make sure I have everything entered electronically, which is perfect timing as I started addressing Christmas cards last night. Plus there are some vendors I've forgotten about and like to have readily available should I need, say, an anorak emblazoned with our spa's logo.

So here I sit, going through these pages and checking names and addresses, and filling some in, and recognizing way-outdated addresses. It's going swimmingly, and I've already got a nice pile of paper to recycle.

Then I stumbled across a couple names that were real blasts from the past. Two old college professors who were fantastic and whom I adored, and whom I only kept in touch with for about a year or two after I graduated (Bad alum! Bad!). Every once in awhile I'll google them and see how they're doing and what they're up to. I did the first one, and she's now head of a communications department at a good university, and they even featured a picture of her on the site, which I love, because I like to see that she looks healthy and good and hasn't aged a bit and, "Oh, look, there's Birgit! She's so cool!"

And then I googled the other one. Sigh.

I'm not sure why I think it's sad that my old professor is now a Remax real estate agent in Flagstaff, Arizona, but there it is. And yes, there was a picture included and so it was confirmed that he, indeed, is now an "Arizona Department of Real Estate Certified Instructor, teaching salesperson and broker prelicensing plus continuing education course for the Best School of Real Estate and Appraisal, Sedona, Arizona."

This is the man who once held my future in his hands, for whom I had to drive to Kansas City, Missouri, to present a semester-long project that developed a year's advertising campaign for Farmland pork producers to him and the Farmland muckety-mucks. He led my capstone course, and asked me to serve as his TA (which I respectfully declined, having already been asked - and accepted - to TA for my favorite copy writing prof). We used to debate ethics of journalism and work through major campaign issues for hours.

And now he has a "hard to find, affordable, FOUR bedroom, two-bath, 1344 square foot home built in 1992" that he'd like to sell me. Good news, though, it "features a large master bedroom, bright and room country kitchen/dining room combination, comfortable living room, vaulted ceilings, textured walls, efficient wood stove, and two full baths." Wait, didn't he already state that it had two baths? Ach.

So, there it is. My view of college professors living on academic pedestals has been shattered. What do I know, though? Maybe the real estate market in Flagstaff affords him an opportunity he just couldn't pass up.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A tisket a tasket... baby's in a basket:
We swear, she did this all on her own. It's faintly reminiscent of the old Bonzai Kitty internet hoax, and it cracked us up. What's even better is that she managed to fit Hoot in there with her. But of course.

"And when you purchase this convenient Popeil Toddler Carrying System, we'll throw in 12 ginzu knives and 38 bangle bracelets...all for the low, low price of 14 monthly payments of $19.95 each!"

This one has nothing at all to do with the basket shots, but I thought it was funny enough to post here. Let's just say she's not afraid of Mommy's camera.

Morning Leaves

Awaking from the tryptophan coma

I took a few days off from blogging to, you know, enjoy the holiday and stuff my face with good food, and I'm finding it hard to get back in the routine of finding creative things to write about.

Could be that I'm battling a head cold this morning, which stinks, and stinks double because I'm pretty sure I got it from my darling little girl. Whom she got it from remains to be seen, but I'd like to find that person and smite him or her.

Yes, I just might get back on my smiting kick. Just in time for the holidays.

I didn't go work out this morning not just because of feeling lousy, but because if I were healthy and some germ-infested snotball hopped on the treadmill next to me, I'd be seriously pissed. The gym provides disinfectant in squirt bottles conveniently attached to every piece of equipment, but my observations show that the people who should most use it almost never do.

Zozo and I slept in, unlike M, who had to be at the airport before bright and early for a 6 a.m. flight. At 7:15 she started stirring, so I hauled myself out of bed, scrubbed up like the guys in M*A*S*H, and headed in there.

It's so not fun trying to tackle an energetic little girl who is rebounding off the sides of her crib when you feel like you could lay down with your head in the kitty litter box and not care, and go right to sleep. I managed to get her corralled, changed and dressed, then bundled up in her coat, hat and gloves and out the door for the short walk to Grandma's house.

On the way, as she pointed out everything she sees, ("Shed! Roof! Moom!") and commented on the temperature, ("Hot! Brrrrrr!" - she has problems remembering that hot and cold are different), I noticed that it was the perfect time of day and the perfect temperature to create beautiful outlines of frost on the fallen leaves in our yard.


This, of course, meant that after dropping her off at Grandma's and forgoing the kiss goodbye (which darn near kills me, as I live for those kisses) to avoid transferring the cold right back to her, I ran home for the camera.

Is it smart to wander around the backyard in a sweatshirt, pajama pants, no socks and Merrills when it's 30 degrees and you have a head cold? Probably not, but I couldn't miss that light. Plus, if the temp rose even a little bit, those frost outlines would fade quickly. I didn't have time to dump the images into the Mac or play with them as I needed to get to work, but I'm happy I got something. Maybe tonight I'll play around and have something to post.

Just FYI, after consulting my favorite flight tracking site, M is at 35,000 feet cruising at 591 mph with 36 minutes left in his flight. I like watching his little plane arc over the states and knowing that he's landed safely even when he forgets to call.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

By Request: His FULL Name

Jim Winkler

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks for not lying

Awhile back, one of my younger (read: trendier) friends started using the phrase, "I'm not gonna lie to ya..." He'd pepper it throughout his speech, and sometimes kick off a whole paragraph with it. It was funny the first time he used it. Then it became mildly annoying.

Since then, I've noticed all sorts of people use it. Way. Too. Often. In fact, my favorite columnist on the Post-Dispatch's site began this week's column with it. So I started thinking about it, and what it means.

I'm not going to lie to you.

Saying that right before or after a statement precludes that everything else you've said, apparently, were lies. And if you were going to lie to me, would you come right out and say, "I'm lying to you right now"? I don't think so.

Let's just assume that I'll treat everything you tell me as the truth, unless I have really good reason to think you're lying, which makes the whole "I'm not gonna lie to ya" sentence completely irrelevant.

It's like when people say, "To be honest..." or "To be frank..." That only connotes that all the other times you speak, when you don't say that disclaimer, you're not being honest or frank.

So, I really wish people would stop telling me they're not going to lie to me, because it only makes me wonder when they are going to lie to me.

I like to ponder the big things in life, I do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's 10 p.m., do you know where M is?

Here is my boy, hard at work at 10 p.m., sitting in the driveway with his trusty laptop and flowerdy lawn chair, creating a symphony of visual pleasure just for you, ladies and gentlemen.

I was directed to not take photographs of him doing this. As usual, I did not listen to him.

I just think people should see some of the behind-the-scenes effort he puts into creating the display every year.

Or perhaps it's normal for folks to hang out in their driveways with their computers at 10 o'clock at night.

I prefer to work on my computer inside, as it's not a laptop and therefore not very portable. I'd have to use quite a few purple Rubbermaid bins, not just two as M does. Plus there would be the three printers I own, and the wireless router, plus the back-up drives. Not to mention my compact flash card reader or my speakers.

The speakers are vital to my workflow. Right now, for instance, my blogging journey has the soundtrack of The Best of Sam & Dave, because good blues always makes me feel better. Ironic, no?

I went to the eye doctor today for a check up, and it turns out that my right eye is still stronger than my left eye, which completely blows since I'm left eye dominant. Grrrr. Still, 20/25 and 20/15 is damn good, and I won't complain.

M has just informed me that he will be reading this post before I throw it up for live viewing, to which I say, "Down with censorship! Don't tread on me!" I also threw out some First Amendment crap, but he's claiming that I'm as bad as the paparazzi. He's my very own Britney Spears, you could say, only he's not a complete dumbass and is cute as a button, which is why I like to take photographs of him. He should really get over that. I'm not planning to stop any time soon.

Sigh. Time to let the Blog Nazi read this. Keep your fingers crossed for an uncensored post. I shall let you know tomorrow if my civil liberties reigned supreme.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This one's juuuuust right

A friend recently pulled a Nikon DSLR ad out of her purse, handed it to me and said, "I'm considering getting this...what do you think?" I gave her my spiel about buying a camera, which is pretty simple: you can't go wrong with Nikon or Canon; you just have to get to a camera store and hold them. Really, the camera has to feel good in your hands. It can't be too small or too big, and you have to make sure that when you use it your nose doesn't bump into a command dial. (That can be a real issue for those of us who are left-eye dominant, since most cameras are designed for right eyers.) Basically, I firmly recommend the Goldilocks method of purchasing a camera, once you narrow it down to a few well-known, trusted brands.

She looked at me like I was crazy (my friend is, after all, someone I'd classify as "the lazy rich") and I sighed and said, "Okay, I'll dig into it and let you know."

Being The Photographer among friends and family means I have the honor of researching/choosing cameras for them. Which is fine by me, as it keeps me current on trends and technology and it's fun. Too much fun. Just ask M.

Because this is what happens. Last night I went to Nikon and checked out the D40 for my friend, and in the process got sidetracked by the D200 and the D80, both of which are considerably newer than my pal ol' Mr. D100.

Now, the D100 is a great camera. I love it. Love love love it. It's enabled me to take tons of fantastic shots and has been a reliable, faithful friend.

But its 6.1 megapixels whimper in comparison to the 10.2 of the D200 and D80. Yowza! We won't even get into the spot metering capabilities or frames-per-second or anything like that.

I'm like a small child who is easily distracted by shiny objects. Or, in Zoe's case, the mere mention of ice meema (ice cream). My friend's possible D40 has become a mere footnote, "Yeah, yeah, it'll do what you need it to...good camera...I recommend it..." while I salivate over the new technology.

In other words, it's the equivalent of M seeing a Corvette while driving his Acura RSX. He loves his sporty little car until he's sitting next to a 'Vette at a light, or more accurately, until he's sitting in some Corvette's dust after one blows past him on the highway. Suddenly the RSX feels like a Pinto in comparison. It's not a bad car, it's just a bad car relatively speaking.

Which is what I'm saying about my D100. It's not a bad camera. It's just a bad camera relatively speaking.

This is the point where M will tell me that I can have a new camera body when he gets a Corvette. He's right, but damn, it's going to be hard going back to shooting with a Pinto.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'd rather be shooting

Weekend consisted mainly of M putting up (even more of) our Christmas lights and me trying to stay out of the way. It seems that whenever I wander out there he claims that productivity drops. This results in a much scowling and furrowing of brows, so I did what any self-respecting wife would do in that situation: I went shopping.

Saturday was a girls day: me, Zozo, Mama/Grammy (or Meme, or Hammy, whatever Zoe wants to call her) and Beans/Aunt KK. We ate lunch out, then circled West County Mall's parking lot for about a frillion years before finally giving up and heading to Barnes & Noble for Beans to pick up a gift. We all ended up getting something good there, so it was a great stop. Plus, Mama and Beans got to see Zozo in action in a bookstore. It's like Curly (of the Three Stooges, duh) with tassles; when she's surrounded by that many books she just bonkers out. (This is a super-secret test for Stooges fans out there...only they know what happens to Curly when he gets around tassles.)

Today M went back out while I resigned myself to sticking closer to home and actually, sigh, cleaning. Not exactly tons of fun, but much needed. Having to clean (not organize, mind you, which I love, but actually clean, like, pushing the stupid vacuum around) is a real spirit killer, in my humble opinion. I'm currently working on convincing M that we should look into hiring a cleaning service, but it's not going over too well so far. This, obviously, is because he does not do the cleaning.

He's responsible for the lawn, which for reasons unknown to me, he actually enjoys doing. That's great, more power to him. If he told me tomorrow he wants to hire a lawn service so he could spend just that much more time on the lights, I'd be all for it. See, I'm a supportive wife like that.

So, I would very much expect that my request for a cleaning service that would free up more of my time so I could spend fun time with Zozo and have more time for photography would be met with agreement and even, I dare say, glee.

Not so much.

I say, hey, we're both working full-time. We're professionals who have jobs that, while we love them, contain a fair amount of stress. We have a small child. We have commitments and obligations to friends and family. I, for one, am working to shed this friggin' baby weight and get back in shape (and, don't forget, get arms that are ripped). We make decent money, and we budget well and are quite frugal.

This, to me, is as much of a no-brainer as the decision to (finally) take his dress shirts to the cleaners.

This, to him, is incomprehensible.

So today I puttered around and cleaned and felt sorry for myself and grouched about it incessantly. I sank deeper and deeper into one of those foul moods where nothing is right, and I'm pissed at the world. This feeling only makes me angrier and so then I feed upon myself until I'm pretty much unbearable.

Looking to make someone else feel as crappy as I did, I wandered out to decrease M's productivity before heading to Sam's with Zoe. Instead, I saw it.

I had it stuck in my head going in to this weekend that I was going to shoot our Christmas card before returning to work Monday. This is opposed to doing the card the way I've done it for three or four years running, which is waiting until about a week and a half before Christmas and going, "Oh, shit. We need a card."

The only problem was, I had no idea what to shoot. Normally I get an idea and run with it. This weekend, I had nothing. Probably because my brain was fried from cleaning (yet another reason to hire someone!). I had given up hope of figuring anything out when I saw my shot after I walked outside. Granted, it wasn't perfectly set up or anything. I saw a component of my finished shot and knew, instantly, what it was.

Ten minutes later, the shot was in the can, and my mood was considerably better. After Sam's, I came back in and opened up a can of whup-ass on Zoe's room, cleaning out her dresser drawers and her closet.

So, now, here I sit. The laundry is done (clean, folded and put away), the house is clean, the bed has fresh sheets, and my money shot has been cropped, leveled and sharpened, and is ready for printing on our Christmas cards. Because I picked up that camera today, I'm in great mood.

I think this is what M counts on. "Why spend money on a cleaning service? She'll get over it...just get that Nikon in her hands!" I hate it when he's right. I'm still pushing for the cleaning service, though.

P.S. No, I'm not going to post today's take here, because, well, that would completely defeat the purpose of shooting something special for our Christmas card. You'll just have to wait to see it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Say what?

Zoe was kissing her animals before going to sleep tonight when it happened.

Mommy: Who do you want next?
Zoe: Lambie.
Mommy: Okay, here's Lambie. Who do you want next?
Zoe: Monkey.
Mommy: Okay, here's Monkey. Who do you want next? Do you want Armadillo?
Zoe: (pauses and looks inquisitively)
Mommy: That's too long for you to try to say. Can you say 'dillo?
Zoe: ...

Well, I can't write what she said because this is a family-friendly blog.

Suffice it to say that she stuck an extra letter right in the middle that most certainly shouldn't be there. At least not from the mouth of a 2-year-old.

We wrapped up night-night kisses quickly, as M and I could barely keep it together.

Beware of mug!

So one of my ad reps took me to lunch today to discuss my holiday advertising package, and as a treat she brought me some goodies, emblazoned, of course, with her publication's logo. Great, another baseball cap I don't need (already given away to a colleague). Great, a cheapo Bic pen with the logo (already stashed in same colleague's desk for her to find later). And a travel mug. Oooo, now that's pretty good. "I'll keep the travel mug," I thought.

It looked pretty good even before I unwrapped it from its protective plastic bag. Nice size, good handle, stainless covered in red plexi. Even the logo is pretty subtle. I like travel mugs because I can go charging through the spa with my coffee and not worry about scalding myself or a client.

As I unwrapped it, though, I saw there was a piece of paper tucked inside. I pulled out a little slip that says this:

Congratulations! Here Are A Few Tips To Enhance Your Enjoyment Of Your Drink Ware Product. (I Just Love It When They Capitalize Every Single Word.)
  • Wash all parts in warm soapy water before using.
  • Hand wash only; Dishwasher may damage and greatly reduce the life of your mug.
  • Do not use bleach or cleansers containing chlorine to clean.
  • This product was designed to keep liquids hot or cold for an extended amount of time. When drinking hot liquids, please allow to cool to a drinkable temperature before securing the lid.
  • Be careful when securing the lid as liquid may escape via the drink hole. Always check to make sure your liquid is secured before drinking.


  • Do not overfill. Hot liquids can scald the user.
  • When filled with hot liquids, exterior of mug may be hot.
  • This product is made with stainless steel. It is not for microwave use. Use in microwave can result in fire or damage to the microwave and your product.
  • Do not place products on a stove top or other heat source.
  • When filled with hot liquids, keep out of reach of children.
  • Do not immerse item in water.

Only in America do we need an 11-bullet instruction list for using a friggin' coffee mug.

Roughly translated, the slip could mean several things:

  1. Use this coffee mug at your own risk. Possible perils may result from use of mug, including but not limited to: burns, scorching, fire, and death. We are not accountable for anything bad that might happen to you upon use or misuse of this mug.
  2. Some complete f'ing moron did all the things we are listing here and then sued us and won, and so our lawyers say we now have to include this with all our mugs for liability reasons.
  3. We think you're really that stupid.

Bottom line: I'm not going to use the travel mug. Call me lazy or cowardly, I don't care. I'd rather stash it in my colleague's desk and keep using my good ol' fashioned easy-to-use, easy-to-clean, no-dire-warning-attached coffee cup.


Yesterday afternoon I ran over to Ann Taylor Loft to look at a dress. I saw this dress in an ad in Real Simple (love love love that magazine) and even though I could only see part of it, I had one of those instant epiphanies. "That's it! That's the dress!"

I am not a Dress Girl. I have never, ever been a Dress Girl. If you discount all the frilly little girl dresses my mom put me in before I could talk (and shout, "no!"), I could probably count the number of dresses I've owned on both hands, and that includes the five weddings I've been in (one being my own, where I got to wear The Mother of All Dresses, complete with a big poofy butt-bow just for M).

Recently I thought about becoming a Dress Girl. Dress Girls have it easy. They always look good. Put together. Feminine. Dresses work for almost any occasion, because there are adorable little sun dresses and long, elegant dresses and everything in between. Besides, every girl should have a LBD (little black dress). My last LBD was purchased when I was in college and not only do I know it wouldn't fit anymore, I doubt I could even find it. It may very well be hanging in my mom's closet, as it was such a versatile LBD that we shared it often.

So, this summer, I tried to become a Dress Girl. I went shopping with a friend and I tried on dress after dress after dress. I learned one thing: dresses are not made for curvy girls. Most dresses are designed to be worn by twigs, which I most certainly am not. Even in the best shape of my life I was not a twig. I have The Girls on top, which thankfully sort of balance out the big ol' hippos down below. I could lose virtually every ounce of body fat and still have those two areas of wobbly bits.

Wobbly bits, in case you're wondering, are so not flattering in a dress. Well, they're not flattering anywhere, really, but with good, tailored pants you can camouflage a lot.

Well, we've got some special events coming up, namely, weddings. After 10 years of being the only married cousins on M's side of the family, we're about to be joined in holy matrimony by not one, not two, but three cousins. That's not to say that we are marrying them. This isn't Arkansas, you know. Anyway, I decided that I really, really want to wear dresses to the weddings. Everyone's going to be all dolled up and glam, and I don't want to be boring Pant-Suit Girl yet again. I want to be flirty and fun, dammit.

So off I went yesterday to Loft with my favorite shopping buddy who is brutally honest and supportive at the same time, and we tried on The Dress. Okay, I tried it on while she waited outside the dressing room and drank her Starbucks. It would have looked rather silly had both of us tried to get in the dress at the same time. Anyway, it not only fits, it looks fantastic, if I do say so myself. Wahooo!

Since I was on a dress high from that success, I tried on another one. It didn't look awful, but I could have used one size up. They didn't have any 12s, so I had tried on the 10. It was just snug enough that it wasn't completely flattering, but holy cow did it feel good to easily get the zipper up on a size 10. 10! To put my glee in perspective, let me share with you that the khaki shorts I purchased for myself just last summer are size 16. I'm pretty sure come next summer I'm going to have to go shopping for new shorts. I haven't been a 10 since around college, so I'm feeling pretty proud.

That thought helped when I froze my tuchis off on the way to the gym at 5:25 this morning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Peeve of the Day

You know, besides adults who prey on children (see post below).

I hate it when people write "yah" for "yeah." The voice in my head pronounces them completely different. "Yah" is pronounced like the German "ja," which is "yes." Which I suppose means the same thing as "yeah," so technically it's okay to write it. But the majority of the people I know who write "yah" do not speak a word of German, and are meaning to write "yeah," which is what we say often here in America.

It just kills me to read "yah" knowing that the person thinks she/he is saying "yeah."

Because in my small, addled brain, they are most certainly not the same. Yeah!

Horrible story

Oh. My. God. I just read this and I am so completely appalled and shocked at the behavior of an "adult" in this situation. My heart goes out to that little girl's family; may they find peace and comfort. As for the other family...I can only hope that they'll get theirs in the end.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I love going through my image archives and finding little treasures.
It's like finding a fiver in your winter coat pocket the first time you put it on for the season.
My question is, who is the moron that caused someone to say,
"Okay, now we need a sign..."

Good good good morning

Most people have coffee in the morning to perk them up. I like to have coffee, too, but adhere to a rigid self-imposed caffeine restriction. I limit myself to decaf after experiencing several negative side effects of joe, the worst being that I consistently overwhelmed my colleagues with excessive chipperness and rapid-fire speech. I have those issues anyway...caffeine just amps them up to inhumane proportions.
So, while I don't need caffeine to get myself moving most mornings, it's handy when something steps in to start the day right.

Today it just happened to be the gorgeous light falling through the autumn leaves in the front yard of the guy across the street. I am a total sucker for gorgeous light. I found it when I went to eat my daily bowl of Raisin Bran (I'm all about the fiber now, you know) after my shower. So, picture this: me, in my bathrobe with wet hair, opening my dining room window (I will not shoot through dusty glass thankyouverymuch) and screwing on a zoom lens to try to catch the light. First I shot with my standard workhorse lens, but that didn't get me close enough and captured instead the not-so-gorgeous power line that runs over our sidewalk and right through the gorgeous light. Grrrr.

After debating how long it would take me to Photoshop the damn thing out, I remembered, "Hey, stupid, you have a longer zoom." My current camera bag is too small to carry all my gear (okay, most of my gear), and so I tend to forget that I have other lenses at my disposal. It's that whole out of sight, out of mind thing. The bag is big enough to carry the D100 body (which is huge in and of itself), one lens (attached to the body), and the kick-ass flash. I'm addicted to the flash, so it's been stock in the bag for many months now. Unfortunately, the flash displaced two other lenses: the longer zoom and the sweet 50 mm prime. I haven't used them in probably over a year.

So I dug out the longer zoom and screwed it on, and shot again. Passersby think that I'm stalking my neighbor, but if they turned around and saw the gorgeous light, they'd know exactly what I was doing.
I was trying to capture this:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not much, you?

Weekend was good, if busy. But a good kind of busy, not the crappy kind of busy that makes you wonder where the hell your weekend went and if you really had one at all.

Stef came Saturday, and I took her to the Lodge, where I sweated my arse off while she, well, didn't. I'm not sure what it's going to take to out-athlete Stef, but I'm pretty positive I don't have it in me. I, at the very least, held my own.

Saturday afternoon I cleaned the house (wahoo!) and I don't remember what I did Saturday night. We went to 5 p.m. mass, which was an exercise in trying to teach a two-year-old to whisper. She knows "shhhhhh," and does that well, but she thinks it's hilarious and then cracks up laughing, not in a whisper. In our case, it shouldn't be called the "cry room," it should be called the "party room."

Sunday I dug into my laundry room, which has slowly been disintigrating into a massive mess over the last few months. It's all cleaned out now, and everything organized (bins for tissue paper, wrapping paper, gift boxes and gift bags, with subdivisions within the gift bag bin for girls, boys, holiday, kids, and specialty). Sigh. I know, it's a sickness, but dang it, I'm prepared for any sort of gift wrapping emergency.

Today it was back to work for me, and work around the house for M. He repaired the beam in the garage (good-bye 2x4 support tower!) and the light in aforementioned laundry room that's been broken for many moons now. There's just about nothing I like better than throwing a bunch of junk out and getting a bunch of repairwork done.

Okay, this post sucks. It sucks bad. I've fielded about 400 phone calls though, since I started writing it. It's hard to be witty when you keep getting interrupted.

Plus, I'm tired. Today was very busy and I got a lot done there, too, and then tonight was running around with Zozo (and by running I mean literally, running around the house, which she likes to do right at bedtime), and now I'm just tired.

Fun fact of the day (before I retire): I share a birthday with Tina Modotti, whom none of you know unless you happen to share my adoration of photographer Edward Weston. She was his muse, his student, his partner. She joined several different revolutions and was kicked out of a few countries before meeting with a sad, tragic end. I don't know much about her past her relationship with Weston, but the last time I was in Ann Arbor and Stef took me to my favorite used bookstore there I found a biography of her. I love biographies, and especially biographies of photographers (and the founding fathers, but that's another subject entirely). Last night, while reading it, I learned that we share August 16 as a birthday. Not sure why yet, but for some reason, that's important to me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Change stations NOW, beyotch!

My friend Stef is, to put it nicely, athletically inclined. If she were a guy, I'd say she's a stud. But she's a girl, and I don't know what the female equivalent of "stud" is. I refuse to sink to using "studette."

She plays every sport that's been invented, and probably a few that haven't been yet. She plays soccer and volleyball and softball and raquetball and tennis. She golfs (which I don't necessarily consider a true sport, per se, because you don't really need an incredible body, good cardio or even stamina to golf, just access to a motorized cart and cooler of cold beer, in which case I, too, could be considered a golfer). On top of all that, she exercises regularly and is in general quite a fit person. Her idea of a great vacation is to go hiking in Peru or backpacking around the base of Mont Blanc. My idea of a great vacation is valet parking, turn-down service and mints on my pillow. Or anything that involves laying somewhere other than my own couch.

Our typical conversations used to go like this:

A: "What did you do yesterday?"
S: "I worked out before work, played volleyball over lunch, a round of golf in my league at 5:30, and had a soccer game at 10:30. It went late, so I worked out for only 90 minutes this morning and I'll probably be tired for softball tonight, but it's a double-header so I'll get my second wind sometime in the 3rd. What did you do?"
A: "Sat on the couch and watched TV. Again."
S: "Oh."

Then a friend at work joined Curves and invited me to try, and I went, and it was good, and I signed up. Curves is a great intro-gym. It's not intimidating or overwhelming, and I was adopted by all the octogenarians there (the fact that the median age of the other women was about 40 years my senior should have been a clue that I wasn't taxing myself) and I had a good time.

So, when Stef came to visit last year, I convinced her to go with me. I knew it wasn't going to be a workout for her, but I wanted to show her that I was at least making an effort. We went and she gamely climbed in all the machines and marched on all the cardio pads, but I could tell she was stifling laughter every 30 seconds when the disembodied voice cheerfully commanded, "Change stations now!"

We went through the 30 minutes and left, and went to Starbucks and had coffee and exchanged birthday presents and Christmas presents (our birthdays are both in August, but neither of us can find a post office in a reasonable amount of time, so we exchanged our gifts at Christmas. This is why we're so good at being each other's friend). We were fine with going straight to Starbucks as we hadn't so much as thought about breaking a sweat from our "work out" at Curves.

After that day, Stef started her campaign to transform me from premature old lady to fit thirtysomething. She would say things like, "It's nice, but I'm surprised you don't get bored. Going around in a circle every day, doing the same thing. By the way, I can bench press 457 pounds." Okay, she didn't say that last part, but it was implied.

Finally, it sunk in, and I realized that yeah, I was getting pretty bored. And, what's the point of doing something for a half hour every day if I wasn't even sweating at the end. And, my old-lady friends, while perfectly lovely and fun to be with, so did not have the same goals as I. So, as you know, when my year contract was up, I looked into other options and found The Lodge, where I have been happily working out 5-7 days a week since late August.

Stef is in town this weekend, and while she has to do the requisite Family Time, I have commandeered Saturday morning. And you bet your ass I'm dragging her to The Lodge with me.

When I finish my daily workouts now, I'm pretty well out of breath and drenched in sweat. I've done 40 minutes of strength training and 30 of cardio, or I've run 5+ miles. I've had great music banging through my ears and I'm ready to kick ass and take names. First name on the list? Stef.

She's been backtracking the last week or so, "Oh, gee, I don't know. I haven't been to the gym a lot're going to kick my ass..." I think she knows I'm on a mission. I know, I know, I could never, ever out-sport Stef, but this time, at least I can make her sweat.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Famous and Infamous

M comes home today! Yay! He had a great trip to Rhode Island but misses his Bug and is looking forward to returning. He went through new employee orientation and the final part of the two-day session was to break up into teams and use a pile of disparate items to build a tower. They were given three sheets of flip chart paper, masking tape, paper clips, Jenga blocks and a small APC stress ball, and their task was to build the tallest free-standing tower possible using these materials and ensuring that the ball was at the top, and that the ball rested on wood.

If you know M, you know that challenges like this are right up his alley. He's such an engineer. So, of course, his team built the tallest tower, and of course, he asked the facilitator what the record was. Then, of course, they set out to beat it.

Beat it they did. By something like 12%. I think his record will stand for quite awhile; he said by the time they got done the ball was inches from the ceiling. I've asked for a photograph, as this is something that is definitely blog-worthy, and he's trying to track down the one guy who had a cell phone camera and was able to document it.

Apparently this is a big dang deal at APC. M fielded a call later that day from someone not connected to the orientation congratulating him on beating the record. Word had spread throughout APC, and now M is famous.

I'm going to ask for his autograph when he gets home.

Today's song of the day running through my head: Gimme More by Britney Spears. What can I say? It was the last song on VH1 this morning as I was finishing my workout. Britney's life right now is a like a car accident on the highway. You don't want to watch, but you just can't help yourself. Well, at least it's a decent song to work out to. I find it funny that her mother is giving interviews saying that Britney's children are her soul or some such nonsense, when there is mounting evidence that she really doesn't value what little time she has with them. Who goes chandelier shopping during your court-monitored visitation? And she left the kids in the car with the monitor!

Watching Britney self-destruct has become one of my new favorite things to do, and I can't even explain why. I don't know if it's because we had our babies together (okay, well, not together, because she's famous and lives in California and has millions of dollars and I'm relatively obscure and live in Missouri and have $2.38 in my wallet) and we apparently share a love of Starbucks, or if it's because she's simply empirically watchable, but I'm fascinated. Sometimes I go here during a coffee break, just to see what she's up to. Plus, whoever is writing about Brit Brit for them is hilarious. For instance, upon Brit's chandelier shopping, "Ding dang, them things is sparkly!"

Perhaps I like watching because it's just such a completely different lifestyle than mine, or anyone I know. For instance, I now know that there are such places as chandelier stores. I guess had I thought about it before, I'd have assumed chandeliers were purchased from regular old lighting fixture places. Here in Missouri where there isn't really that big of a market for chandeliers, it's okay to just lump them in with the ceiling fans and torchieres at Home Depot.

Okay, now that I've devolved into blogging about Britney Spears and chandeliers, I really do think it's time to step back, regroup, breathe, and dig deep to try to find something else, anything else, I can write about here. Writin's hard, ya'all!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Zozo BlackBerry Pix

M is in Rhode Island for New Employee Orientation (it always cracks me up when employees have to go through orientation months after they start) and so we've begun our nightly ritual of snapping pix with the BlackBerry and sending them via BlackBerry instant message directly to M wherever he happens to be. Last night, he received these images while sitting down to dinner with a colleague:


The Naked Baby Run. A nightly ritual.

She's very pleased because she's just deposited all dirty laundry down the laundry chute.

They look much better on our tiny BlackBerry screens, but I thought I'd throw them up here anyway since I always receive requests for more images of Zozo.

She's a little firecracker, that one.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Updates (and ranting)

Okay, a few last things, then I really am going to bed.

I've cleaned house here at Latent Images. If you check out my links bar over there to the right, you'll see that I've removed the links to my friends' and family members' blogs and MySpace pages. Why, you ask?

Because they're all a bunch of cyber couch potatoes when it comes to keeping their stuff updated, and I don't like to have stale bread sitting around. You've heard me talk about how I keep the house pretty streamlined, well, I like to keep my blog house clean, too.

Ahhhhhh. Feel that? It's the feeling of simplicity. Fresh air. A clean slate.

I think it's highly ironic that some of the folks from over there whom I've cleaned out (just out of the blog, mind you, not out of my life), are the first ones on me if I miss a day of posting. Hmmm. Hello, Pot? Kettle calling!

I have added one link. I'd like to introduce you to, one of my most favorite Web sites. It's the place to go to debunk all the garbage that flows through your e-mail box. Here are a few little tips from me to you:
  1. 99% of the crap that gets forwarded to you is just that: crap.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  3. If it tells you that you have to forward it to X number of people for something to happen, it's wrong. There isn't technology out there that does that. At least not that we civilians have access to.
  4. Missing children are not searched for via e-mail. I've seen the same girl about eight times with different names from different parts of the country. She's not missing. You can sleep at night now.
  5. People are not going to find out about toxic Tupperware or lead-based lipsticks thanks to e-mail. The American media will make damn sure you know what's killing you before you get something from cousin Burl.
Please please please help me in my one-woman mission to stop perpetuating the crap that clogs up everyone's box. I love a great joke with the rest of 'em, and I don't mind getting those. What I don't like getting are all the alerts and attentions and please helps and foward this to five million people so something will happen on your computer screen. The only thing that bugs me more than getting one of these in my e-mail box is to see that 400 other people got it, too.

All I'm saying is, take 30 seconds to check it out on Snopes. If it's real, send it on. If it's not, do us all a favor and hit "delete."

And on that note, I'm deleting myself right to bed.

Stepping off my soapbox now.

zoom zoom zoom

Once, when I was in high school, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and thought it was time to go to school. I got up, showered, dressed, did my hair and make-up, and only then realized that it was nowhere near time to go to school.

This morning, I got up and, in the dark like I do every morning, pulled on my workout clothes. I took out my retainers and put them in their glass with the denture cleaner. Put in some eye drops, and headed out into the hallway. As I pulled the bedroom door quietly closed, some part of my brain woke up and said, "Wait...did that clock say 2:15?!"


I woke up again at 3:20, and again at 4:40. I didn't get up either of those times, as the now awake part of my brain was keeping tabs on the other part and told it to shut up and go back to sleep.

I haven't been sleeping well lately anyway, and unnecessary nightly mental battles like that don't help matters.

My solution is to try to go to bed earlier, as I think I've been staying up too late. It's like when Zoe goes past her bedtime and gets that second wind...we call it The Zoomies when the cats do it, and now our two-year-old does the same thing: manic running through the house. Anyway, I think I've been staying up too late and my brain gets The Zoomies and then I'm pretty well jacked for the rest of the night.

So, on that note, I'm signing off for the night, to sit on the couch and get a couple cat scans (Papa's term for when cats lay on their humans) and retire at a reasonable hour. Like 9.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Easy as A-B-C

Zozo got lots of great things for Halloween, which is remarkable given that I never thought Halloween was a gift-giving holiday. Apparently, however, there is a special code Grandparents live by that is different from the rest of us. Giving your grandchild gifts for holidays like Halloween falls under the Spoilage Clause, where it is outlined in great detail that Grandparents are exempt from all normal rules of raising children. Bedtimes are broken, nutritional values for meals are discretionary, and gifts are given for every reason under the sun, and sometimes for no reason at all.

Anyway, Zozo received some wonderful gifts for Halloween, one of them being a Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set. It comes with a magnetic letter reader that, upon insertion of a letter, sings a little song. "B says 'buh,' B says 'buh,' every letter makes a sound, B says 'buh.'" There's also a little music note that, when pressed, sings the entire Alphabet Song. It's a great toy and Zoe loves loves loves it. She sings along, which means she says "Buh!" about one beat behind the letter reader. It's adorable, and we all have fun with it.

Tonight, though, as I was doing my weekly ritual of picking up the house and gathering things for trash and recycle, I came across the box. In the process of breaking it down to put it in my cardboard recycle bin, I read this purchase incentive statement on the back:

Includes all 26 letters!

Well, duh. Wouldn't it be a pretty shitty Magnetic Letter Set if it, for instance, randomly left out letters? Or would they target those pesky, seldom used letters like X and Z? (I'm not saying Z is a pesky letter, on the contrary, I'm rather fond of it.) Wouldn't people tend to not purchase alphabet learning toys if they didn't include all 26 letters? Do people really buy things like this that don't have exclamations on the outside of the box and say, "Well, gee, I sure hope all 26 letters are included in this, because if P is missing, we're going to have a helluva time getting Johnny up to speed." Or, "I'll open this at home, and by God, if there aren't all 26 letters included, I'm taking it back!"

At what point did the marketing department at Leap Frog say, "Hey, be sure to put that this toy includes all 26 letters...that's a huge selling point!" Or was it that they had a bit of extra space on the box, they had already listed all the other attributes, it was late, and they wanted to go home. "Oh, hell, throw an exclamation point behind that statement and make it sound exciting. Who's up for a beer?"

This is just a warning to everyone out there to always read the packages on your children's toys very carefully. Somewhere out there must be an alphabet learning tool with less than 26 letters.

In doing some research for this (yes, I sometimes do a bit of background research when writing the's how I can bring you fascinating and worthless pieces of information such as the percentage of red m&m's in each bag, generally), I came across this chart.

Frequency of Letter Use in English

A - 8.17%
B- 1.49%
C - 2.78%
D - 4.25%
E - 12.70%
F - 2.23%
G - 2.02%
H - 6.09%
I - 6.97%
J - 0.15%
K - 0.77%
L - 4.03%
M - 2.41%
N - 6.75%
O - 7.51%
P - 1.93%
Q - 0.10%
R - 5.99%
S - 6.33%
T - 9.06%
U - 2.76%
V - 0.98%
W - 2.36%
X - 0.15%
Y - 1.97%
Z - 0.07%

As you can see, J, Q, X and Z don't really have a case for being included in the Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set. They just lucked out or had an in with someone in engineering.

Personally, if I were going to get rid of a letter, it would be W. It's like a gift from the Redundant Department of Redundancy. We have a U, we need a double U? There are no other letters that get doubled...why is U so special? Hell, while we're at it, let's toss U, too, for having the sheer gall to double itself and create a whole other letter.

Besides, if we got rid of W, well, then, there are a whole lot of bumper stickers that would go away, and I'd never have to hear the word "Dubya" ever again.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bowlin' bowlin' bowlin'

About once a year it's fun to eat your dinner at a bowling alley. Preferably while you're bowling. With people you like.

You get to eat garbage food and drink cold beer and fling a spherical object down a narrow lane toward helpless little pins, all while wearing shoes that millions have worn before you.

For us, tonight is that night.


Just in case you're wondering, M doesn't have to wear the Million Man Shoes. He has his own. And his own ball. Received as part of a package deal when he bowled in a league in Arkansas. I kid you not...the trophy is on the bar downstairs. You can either make your own jokes, or call any of his cousins to get theirs.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Our the middle of our street

I read an article written by a woman who doesn't live with her husband. She was making a case for "living together separately." There are many practical reasons they have this arrangement (they live in Manhattan, where the rents are huge and the living spaces aren't), he likes uptown and she likes downtown, he's a neatnik and she's a slob, etc. She also had some emotional reasons (they fight, like all couples, and when they do, one can just leave and go home, which is somewhere other than where the fight occurred), every couple needs space, blah blah blah. And, before you think, well, that sounds reasonable, keep this in mind while you ponder the idea: they have twin six-year-old boys.

Now, call me crazy, but the whole reason I looked forward to getting married was to, you know, actually live with my husband. Even though sometimes he makes me want to scream in utter frustration, I love living with him and couldn't imagine living apart.

I, just like the woman above, have my practical reasons. M is my bug squisher and my light bulb changer, and lately, my dishwasher emptier. He changes the furnace filter and keeps the sump pump back-up battery charged. He is anal-retentive about the lawn (whereas I'd be perfectly content to let it become one of those wildlife reclaimation areas), which keeps us in good with the neighbors.

I like to think he's got practical reasons for keeping me around, too, namely that I can find everything he can't (which is, actually, everything) and that I can change poopy diapers without gagging.

But there are lots of emotional reasons, too. I love that he still willingly lives with me despite my hairbrained ideas. Like when we suspected we had a mouse and I insisted that we purchase the more expensive, no-kill traps. As much as the thought of having a mouse in the house disgusted me, the thought of finding a dead mouse in a trap, his head at some cockeyed angle, disgusted me more. And even though he said it wasn't a good idea (for obvious reasons, not the least of which being that in order for it to be a no-kill trap, you have to check it regularly, which he knew I wouldn't do), he still indulged me. And then a week later, when I finally remembered to check the no-kill trap, only to discover that it is indeed perfectly capable of killing a mouse when the mouse goes in there and then is stuck for a week, and then squealed in horror and disgust, he grimly disposed of the mouse (and the trap) and just gamely shook his head. And then bought the old-fashioned kind of traps.

I love that I know that no matter what time I go to bed, late or early, he'll either be there waiting for me or will join me later. Either way, I wake up with him in the morning.

I love that our home is our home, and has been created in a loving spirit of compromise. We still have a few things here and there that are holdovers from the pre-marriage days (the dining room table he bought when he got his first job and moved to Arkansas that he loves, and that I abhor and call The Sam's Dining Room Table with Wagon Wheel Chairs with great disdain, and my cats that I love despite the fact that they are purely ornamental (see need to purchase mouse traps above) and that he barely tolerates due to their cat-like habits of spreading fur, food crumbles and kitty litter rocks around the house), but by and large, our house is a good reflection of us, as a couple. Not just me. Not just him. But us.

I like looking around our home and seeing the things we picked out together, that we chose to surround ourselves with. They are physical representations of our union, our choice to truly share our lives, every aspect, good and bad. We have our niches: he's owner of the garage and all its contents, and he's now sole proprietor of the BAS, and I have carved out my corner of the living room for my digital darkroom and antique camera collection.

Even though he considers the library half his, we all know that it's really like 95% mine and only 5% his. That one little section of shelves where he keeps his old textbooks, all his Corvette and train books, his Guiness Books of World Records, and his I Am Spock Leonard Nimoy autobiography entitle him to the 5%. Although, given the toys that are now in there, it's more like 95% Zoe's, 4% mine and 1% his.

I guess what I'm saying is that while living apart seems to work for the woman in New York, I know it could never work for me. To each her own, and I'll keep mine right there with me, in the house that we built, thankyouverymuch.