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Pictures from the weekend
Monday, October 30, 2006 - 12:47 p.m.




An alabaster ashtray that belonged to my great grandmother.




The maple tree behind my parents' house.




This is how I look most of the time.

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I love my friends
Monday, October 23, 2006 - 02:11 p.m.

Every Monday the six of us meet up for Movie Night. Movie Night rarely involves an actual movie, and activities range from watching TV shows to going to a restaurant to just hanging out while trying to steal Jessica's plastic banana without her noticing. Lately we've been in a Movie Night slump. The new routine is to send out emails beforehand fishing for ideas.

Jessica: "Anyone have any suggestions for tonight?"

Jeff: "pact suicide. will be late, start without."

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Things that automatically make today awesome
Friday, October 20, 2006 - 12:29 p.m.

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Now that's just downright disheartenin'
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 - 01:49 p.m.

A coworker of mine posted an invitation to his Halloween party on the bulletin board in our kitchen:

"Your invited!"

People, his wife is a teacher. She works at an elementary school not far from my house. She apparently can't tell the difference between you're and your. Excuse me while I go claw my eyes out.

:::

My experience with the vet was not exactly satisfactory. The receptionists were rude to me when I called yesterday morning and wouldn't give me any information about Lilo's condition except that they'd be keeping her for most of the day. Later, after hours during which I'd convinced myself that the cat had kidney failure or something equally bad, they finally called and said I could take her home. When I showed up at the desk they started shoving bottles, bags, and the bill at me before I could even open my mouth. "Give the cat this so he'll feel better, and you'll need to feed him this from now on..." Finally I broke in to tell them that I hadn't spoken with the vet so I had no idea what was wrong with my cat - who is, incidentally, a female - so maybe they could let me get the animal back and talk to the vet before I started swiping credit cards. Once we got all that straightened out and they remembered to actually give me the cat instead of an empty carrier, we finally headed home. And when we got home I discovered that the poor animal smelled as if she'd been rolled in an ashtray just before departure.

Not. Happy.

But at least the vet told me what he thinks is wrong with her. The food she's been eating has apparently caused some sort of pH issue in her system and she's developed crystals in her urine. So Lilo hates, yes, but you'd be pretty goddamn angry too if YOU tried to piss sand.

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I am the evilest of the evil
Monday, October 16, 2006 - 04:10 p.m.

Today I took Lilo into the vet and wound up having to leave her behind for observation over the night. They took her out of the exam room to do an ultrasound and just didn't bring her back. Apparently she might have a stone in her bladder that's been causing all this trouble. But I'm sure none of that matters in her mind. For her, my list of crimes stands at 1) jerking her out of a nice warm bed when she's sick, 2) unceremoniously dropping her headfirst into a carrier that smelled strongly of vet, 3) subjecting her to a terrifying car trip, 4) allowing a thermometer to be stuck up her butt, 5) allowing the vet to handle her internal organs like silly putty, and finally 6) leaving her to the merciless clutches of the techs at the feline equivalent of Gitmo. The searing look of accusation she gave me in parting pretty much made me feel like the worst person in the world. Behold, I am Sarah, Torturer of Cats, Abandoner of the Fuzzy, Neglector of the Cute and Sickly.

It's finally Fall in northern Alabama, which equates to "Allergy Death Season of Doo(ooooooooo)m." If you've never experienced this for yourself, you can simulate the seasonal adventure by mixing a quart of jello (or cottage cheese, depending on what stage you'd care to explore) with finely ground glass, then getting a close friend or family member to insert the mixture into your sinus cavities with a turkey baster sometime during the night. The weather is fantastic, but this allergy crap is a nightmare.

Things have been pretty busy at work lately, which explains why I haven't bothered to update this thing on a regular basis. Our department has fallen woefully behind on our state-funded work and a couple weeks ago we came up with a Plan to dig ourselves out of our hole by December 15th. If we accomplish this noble goal, we'll get the entire week after Christmas off. Since free vacation is a big hit with all of us, we've been busting our asses ever since. That doesn't leave me time for much else.

Also, my remediation system is still working out all kinds of kinks. I've been spending an awful lot of time troubleshooting odd problems and nursemaiding various pieces of equipment. I spent most of this morning helping a coworker dismantle one of the heat exchangers to correct a problem that cropped up last week. Last week it seemed like I was out there every day. The one good thing in all of this is how much I have learned lately. Wiring and electricity are still mysteries to me (and will likely remain so), but when it comes to the mechanical parts of the system, I'm feeling fairly confident that I can at least keep things running. That's a lot more than I could have said even a month ago.

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Sweet Home Alabama
Friday, October 6, 2006 - 11:47 a.m.

Well, we're back. During the two and a half hours we were sitting in the plane at LaGuardia, I wasn't so sure we'd ever make it out again (especially after we had to go back to the gate for refueling), but we finally dragged ourselves home around 1:00 yesterday morning. The cats were so thrilled to see us that they vomited three times during the night. *sigh*

I enjoyed the trip. Tuesday ROCKED start to finish, so it was definitely a happy birthday. However, I think we pretty much established that I am not well equipped for city life. My general impatience with assholes (I'm talking about YOU, crazy camera store cashier dude, and YOU, you bitchy Starbucks cow, and...well, all the rest of you, you know who you are) and my total inability to orient myself in any location where the streets are numbered instead of named ("Our hotel is on 46th? 42nd? 48th? 40ish...DAMMIT!") make New York and I somewhat incompatible. I enjoyed my stay, but it's good to be home.

The first thing we did after arriving at our hotel was leave for lower Manhattan to meet the woman who had ridden beside me on the shuttle to the hotel. See, Todd's belt clip for his phone broke while we were getting out of the van and she found his phone on the seat after we'd been dropped off. She called me on my phone, arranged a meeting, and off we went. It wasn't how we'd planned to get to know the city, but it worked out well enough. We navigated the subways, reacquired the phone, then started wandering. We meandered around Greenwich Village and Battery Park, then the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center.

Tuesday we went on a boat tour of Manhattan Island. It was a good way to spend the morning, although it turned out that we should have sat on the left side of the boat (Hello, New Jersey! Oh, look, Brooklyn!). After grabbing lunch at a really good little Italian restaurant, we made our way through Hell's Kitchen to wait in line to see The Daily Show. We were only the tenth and eleventh people in line, and we waited two and a half hours, but we still wound up being numbers 115 and 116 out of 150 to get in. If you ever go, go EARLY, because they have a ton of VIP tickets given out to people who didn't make it into a previous show.

Anyway, The Daily Show was great. Jon Stewart came out before the show and took questions from the audience.

"Jon, have you ever text-messaged your interns?"

"I don't have to. We keep them naked and chained to the wall in my office. I can just turn and say 'Fetch me another grape.'"

"Jon, that guy took my cell phone. Can I have it back?"

"One of our employees took your phone? I'm sorry but no one who works here takes cell phones. Just so you know, we don't have valet parking either. So if you handed over your keys, well, you don't have a car."

The show itself was a good one. We had seats in the center of the studio, on the second row, which isn't saying much because the entire studio is about the size of a postcard. I expected a little more interaction during the actual taping, but how you see it is exactly how it's filmed. There were no retakes and no breaks aside from the short commercial breaks. What you saw is what we saw. It was fun and I'd love to go again sometime.

Wednesday we had planned to go to the Skyscraper Museum, but instead we decided to go to Central Park. It was a nice break from the city and we spent the morning just basking in the blessed quiet. The rest of the day was spent either waiting at the airport or waiting on the plane and to recall it tarnishes the coolness of the rest of the trip, so let's never speak of it again. Overall, it was good birthday and that's all that matters.

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A brief update (also, holy crap, it's October)
Sunday, October 1, 2006 - 08:29 p.m.

So tomorrow morning Todd and I are heading to New Tork City. Tuesday evening, assuming that we arrive early enough, we'll be going to see The Daily Show. That's only the best birthday present EVER.

We're staying until Wednesday night. Tuesday is the only day we actually have plans; Monday and Wednesday we'll just play by ear. And Thursday morning the trip will be the distant memory that keeps me sane while I spend five soul-consuming hours at the State Troopers' office to get my new driver's license. Thank you, Alabama, for being retarded and not allowing me to go to any of the fifty DMVs scattered around the city. Thank you.

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