A Series of Unfortunate Events
Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 12:57 p.m.

It begins like this: the Cat and the Dog are quietly napping next to one another, a scene of perfect peace and harmony. Then, the Human enters the room, sees the two animals, and takes a picture. As the flash goes off, the Dog awakens from her slumber.

The Dog, being an oafish and simple creature, is thrilled that the Human has appeared, and expresses her pleasure by first furiously wagging her tail, then whining, and finally by rolling over. The Cat, as unimpressed by the Human's presence as the Dog is thrilled, has not moved a millimeter in order to express the full depth of its disinterest. Which means that the Dog rolls squarely on top of the Cat, smooshing it flat.

The Cat, justifiably distressed, is nevertheless fully consumed by the bulk of the admittedly fat-ass Dog. All that remains visible of the now-smooshed Cat is one tiny paw, furiously grasping at the concrete floor in a last, desperate attempt to escape. The Dog is still completely unaware of what has transpired and the Cat is about to suffocate. So far, the Cat has been unable to make much noise beyond an initial indignant squeak.

At this point, the Human drops the camera and rushes to free the Cat. The Dog, still unaware, is startled when the Human flips her over to reveal a hissing, spitting Cat. The Cat scurries away, mostly unhurt, cursing both Human and Dog, and assuring each of them that vengeance will be both swift and painful.

However, because the Cat is a passive-aggressive creature, it instead unleashes its wrath upon another Cat napping nearby. Later, the Human will find that the Cat has also pulled the lower branches off the Christmas tree, presumably as payback for its humiliating ordeal.

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But I am le tired
Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 12:19 p.m.

So here we are, on the third day of Christmas, and I'm back in the office, feeling nearly as unproductive as I did BEFORE the holiday started. This year we traveled up to Hendersonville to spend the holiday with my parents, and we just came home yesterday, so I guess I'm still in vacation mode. Actually, I'm probably still in a stupor from the acres and acres of FOOD.

I took as many pictures as you might expect over Christmas, although I failed to break out the camera until we arrived at my sister's house. However, the favorite photo of the weekend has nothing to do with holiday celebrations and everything to do with FANGS.

Zeus says, "I KILL YOU. (With my breath.)"

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Killing Time
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 - 03:43 p.m.

I'm always a little irritated at how the South is portrayed in movies and the media. (Not that some of it's not true, its just that the stuff they make fun of us for isn't exactly confined to one geographic region.) Now there's an ad campaign directed at dispelling some of the stereotypes about Mississippi, and it's actually got some pretty good posters. It's been out since 2005, but this is the first I've heard of it. Go check it out.

So I'm at work, and I really want to be a good employee, HONEST, but all I can think about is Christmas cards and Christmas cookies and Christmas presents and Christmas traveling and Christmas music and, of course, sleep. I have plenty of work-related stuff to do (oh, PLENTY), but my motivation to do said stuff is pretty much directly proportional to the number of days left until the holiday. Last night, with Todd's help in conveying me to the very center of the seventh circle of Hell that is Parkway Place Mall at T-minus 5 days, I finally finished up the majority of my Christmas shopping. Now I just want to get home to make some cookies and wrap the presents while drinking Bailey's-laced hot chocolate. Oh, and sleep. Yeah, that'd be nice too.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 10:41 am

Hey there! Guess what we did this weekend? We PAINTED. And then we painted some more. And then we heaved the furniture back into the living room. And THEN, we finally decorated for Christmas.

We actually decided to completely rearrange our living room. Before, the sofa faced the fireplace and the TV was on the right side. Now it's much more open. I'm not sure what to think yet, honestly. I'll have to judge it once the Christmas tree is gone and we have the new end tables, lamps, and rug. But for now, it's nice to have our living room back in some semblance of order.

I love this time of year, but with everything being so busy and decidedly un-Christmasy at home, I was starting to feel like we were going to completely miss the holiday. Now that we've decorated, I'm finally feeling the Christmas spirit. We're a little a lot behind, but at least we're still getting to celebrate.

Of course, part of the fun of the holiday is the familiarity of it all. Everyone seems to have their own little Christmas traditions, apart from the usual stuff. Here are a few of mine:

  • Every mid-December, under cover of darkness, Jessica and I meet at the UAH Engineering Building to steal holly from the massive hedge along the parking lot. This tradition started back in college, when neither one of us had cars and we were both limited on decorating options. The first year we hacked at the bushes with a borrowed pocket knife that was so dull it probably couldn't have cut butter. This year, I finally remembered to bring clippers. Ah ha!

  • During the week before Christmas, I always re-read The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. I'm not sure when I actually received my copies of the series, but this book in particular is nearly falling apart after so many years. It's not really a planned thing, but every year I get a hankering to dig it out from the back of the bookshelf. Maybe it's all the snow?

  • Every Sunday, my husband and I go through a little Advent ceremony my family used to do when I was growing up. A few years ago, I copied the booklet while I was visiting my parents, and I've been meaning to make a cover for it ever since. I don't know if anyone else in my family still goes through the candle-lighting, but I like it. I think it makes Todd feel a little awkward, but he participates anyway. One of the many ways in which he's a pretty great guy.

So, what are some of your traditions?

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Monday, December 17, 2007 - 12:57 p.m.

Today, one of my oldest friends (time-wise, not age-wise) announced that he and his girlfriend are (finally) engaged! This makes me deliriously happy. :-D

Congrats, Jeff and Sara!

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Indecisive much?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 10:13 a.m.

This whole home improvement thing is really cutting into our holiday time. I just now started my Christmas shopping. We haven't decorated for Christmas yet, aside from a wreath and some candles in the front windows. And cards? HAR!

Yesterday, a coworker of mine was asking me if I plan to take the PE exam this spring. Part of me really wants to go ahead and get it over with - just dive in and hope for the best. Then another part of me looks at how much time the work we've done so far has taken and how much work we have left, and wonders just how much study time I'm going to have. I mean, the test is basically three months from now. Can I find the time to study? Sure. Will I WANT to use my last drop of spare time to review four years worth of engineering material? GOOD QUESTION.

It's partly an assessment of priorities. Getting my PE is important, but is it a huge priority? Well, on one hand, I sure would like the house to be finished. On the other, with a PE comes a pay raise. Of course, the status itself is purely symbolic since my company has an extensive verification process for senior engineers. Assuming I could even jump that hurdle only five years in, I don't want that responsibility right now anyway.

Then, there's the FEAR. I'm not scared of failing, per se, I'm scared of having to re-take the sonuvabitch. I'm afraid of wasting my time, of going through the pain, only to have to do it all over again. Although, to be honest, maybe I am scared of failing, because my straight-A, over-achiever, competitive self, the one whoís failed ONE test EVER (and that was Cal B, so itís excused), is afraid of looking bad. (Letís not mention that my darling husband took the PE exam without studying and passed his FIRST TIME, the asshole.) But I'm also scared that if I wait too long, our situation will change and it will be even harder to find the time and/or motivation.

The deadline for registration is January 15th, but there's an acre of stuff I have to get together to submit, including reference letters from five people (three of whom have to be professional engineers). I'm not at all certain I can get everything I need before then anyway, but I don't know if should go ahead and try or just take the coward's way out and wait. I don't WANT to take the test in April, but would it be for the best? Eeeeeeeeeee.

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Grumble gripe grumble
Friday, December 7, 2007 - 10:23 a.m.

This morning, Rachad Hollis WAFF 48 News did a live report on the "controversy" surrounding the film release of The Golden Compass. Now, Rachad is painful to listen to even on his best days - let's just say that he and the spoken English language ARE NOT WELL ACQUAINTED, despite his degree in Communications from Alabama A&M. So of course, they decided to put him on a story about a film made from a book he's never heard of, that's being compared to several other books/movies of which he's also never heard. Anyway, because it was a slow news day, in the 20 minutes I watched, his segment aired twice. The first time, when comparing the movie to the film version of the Chronicles of Narnia, he pronounced Narnia as Nar-NEE-ah (emphasis on the second syllable, insert inappropriate Ebonics joke here). The second time it was Nar-NEE-via. Apparently the v in Narnia, while definitely not silent, is invisible. I'm not exactly sure what he said next because I involuntarily stabbed myself in the ear with my breakfast fork.


It occurs to me that a company bitching about safty records, constantly harping on accident reduction, and then still refusing to pay for employee PPE is like throwing someone out into a blizzard without a coat and telling them, "Don't you dare freeze!" It also really pisses me off. I'm just glad all my PPE is paid for by my department.


I suppose there might be a time when the head of Homeland Security would need to waive environmental laws in defense of das Vaterland America's sweet, innocent children, but I just can't come up with a plausible scenario. That aside, I'm pretty sure this entire sorry story is exactly why the Department of Homeland Security SHOULDN'T have that authority.

You know, it's not the blatant disregard for environmental concerns that bothers me so much as the end run around public notification. Even my piddling little projects have to go up for a 30-day public comment period. It's our right as citizens to be informed of and to comment on these kinds of things, and they deliberately cut the public out on this one.

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You can't have it both ways
Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - 08:52 a.m.

Yesterday while driving home, I happened to hear an interview with Mitt Romney on NPR. It was pretty standard Romney fare (meaning best ignored lest you involuntarily slam your head into the steering wheel) up until Robert Seigel brought up a question from the CNN You Tube debate. During that debate, the candidates were asked whether they believed in every word of the Bible.

ROMNEY: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. And I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it's a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible.

ANDERSON COOPER: Does that mean you believe every word?

ROMNEY: You know ó yeah, I believe it's the word of God. The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I donít disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it.

So yesterday, during the NPR interview, Robert Siegel asked Romney about his response to that debate questions.

SIEGEL: [That] left the impression ó and I want to ask you ó do you hold a literal belief, say, in the Genesis version of creation?

ROMNEY: You know, I find it hard to believe that NPR is going to inquire on people's beliefs about various parts of the Bible in evaluating presidential candidatesÖto be asking presidential candidates about their specific beliefs of books of the Bible is, in my view, something which really isn't part of the process which we should be using to select presidents.

Now, sure, normally I'd wholeheartedly agree with that. I don't believe religion has a place in our government and I expect leaders to be elected on their proposed policies, not their religion. By extension, that means questions about a candidate's religion aren't relevant to the discussion.

Unfortunately, so much of the campaign has involved the candidates, Republicans AND Democrats, trying to out-Jesus each other. Not only that, but the majority of the Republican candidates have clearly stated that their goals are to apply selected religious beliefs to the entire American population. They have blatantly stated their willingness to ignore the line between Church and State, and by doing so have made religion a critical issue. After all, if during your campaign you've said "if elected, I will do my best to force the country to adhere to these specific religious beliefs," it stands to reason that the country would want to know what those are.

In this instance, rather than accept Siegel's question as a legitimate follow-up to the debate answer, Romney decided to play the "I'm offended" game. It's funny, though, that he didn't seem so offended when he was asked that same question surrounded by a friendly Republican, conservative crowd. And to point out the hypocrisy even more, Romney actually has an entire speech on his religious beliefs scheduled for this Thursday.

So, to sum things up, Mitt Romney is willing to use his religion where it helps him, then scold people for bringing it up when it doesn't.

Or, to sum it up even further: Mitt Romney = colossal douchebag

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Significant Progress
Monday, December 3, 2007 - 01:19 p.m.

Saturday evening at 6:00, we started gluing hardwood. At almost exactly midnight, we finished.

At the last minute, we decided to do a different pattern in the dining room, rather than carry the board straight in, hence the sharp line at the doorway. We plan to put in a border of two light boards and one dark board, then place the light interior boards at a 45-degree angle. Hopefully it will work, but Iím horribly afraid weíve forgotten something and didnít take enough time to plan it out properly. Last-minute changes always give me the heebie jeebies.

One thing you canít see in the pictures is the line of paw-prints across the entire living room. Around 11:00, I let the cats out to use the litter box without first making sure there was no exposed glue (I blame exhaustion and glue fumes). Of course, once free from her bedroom prison, Nala made a beeline straight to the window, right through the glue. Then when Todd and I both loudly expressed our dismay, she scurried straight back to the bedroom...across the new hardwood floor and the new carpet. Fortunately, no real damage was done, but for a moment there we were all very VERY unhappy.

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