Friday, June 30, 2006


WE LOST. THE WEEPING, THE GNASHING OF TEETH! I had BBC Sports Live Blog going from about the 50th minute on and I checked it periodically to excitement when Argentina scored first, then worry when Germany sunk one in the net, then sheer terror as the minutes of overtime ticked off without a thing happening. Then Hubster called, just as I was deciding to work out and get some lunch because I couldn't take the tension anymore. He said they'd gone into penalty kicks. "You should watch," says he. The worst happened. Apparently, that's the first time Argentina's lost in penalty kicks. I hate making history!

And it's all Hubster's fault for making me watch. Wah.

Oh, and I might have updated my template. Finally. It wasn't really worth the wait, I'm sure, but I'm flighty and I needed a change.

Now back to my misery. Y'all entertain yourselves today.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Linking What's Left of Thursday

1. This article was great. Lots of interesting ideas. The cynical among us will see this as a media guilt trip attempting to divest billionaires and their progeny of hard-earned cash-ola, but I think it's great. If no one is forcing Warren Buffett to give up his money, and instead he willingly gives his money to a charity which will put it to work, then BRAVO to him. May I have the same strength when I make my millions. (Stop laughing!) Good quote: "One of his aphorisms is that you should leave your kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing."

2. "Titles of Songs I Could Credibly Write if I Became a Rap Star." McSweeney's does it again. Favorite line right this second: "Roll Me a Blunt (Now What Does That Mean Again?)" Sweet ironic perfection.

3. Hubster found this earlier this week, and though it seems focused on professionals (or amateurs with MUCH sweeter gear than I), some of my readership has camaras I'd like to steal, so give these tips on photographing fireworks a try. I'm not going to invest in a remote trigger for my PowerShot, but I'll bust out the tripod and try out his aperture/focal length settings.

Oops, it's going on midnight. I'll be a pumpkin in five, four, three, . . .

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Installing . . . 10% . . . 20% . . .

Status Bars are NOT my friends today. Hubster won himself all KINDS of points by reformatting my harddrive last night. I was sticking around to help and feel a LITTLE less useless, but pretty soon I realized I was only underfoot, so off I went to keep reading The Island of the Day Before (Umberto Eco - and yes, it's pretty good so far) and managed to fall asleep. Husband: Saving Wife from Fragmented Disaster of a Computer. Wife: Asleep on the Couch. I think I won the lotto, peeps.

Anyway, I've had to install programs all day. He put on Windows and Office, but I had to install Adobe CS and then the upgrade to CS2. Then it was time for Quark 4, then the upgrade to 6. Then iTunes, then blah, blah, blah. I managed to make some stuff done for work, but it was kinda tough what with the Neverending Status Bars.

Ah, but my system, she does MOVE now. Sigh.


Sorry, I can't type when I'm trying to cover both corners of the rattan box on my desk from Ms. Chompers. I often say that our cats are our children, and it's totally true. Except they'll never grow up and do dishes.

Anyway, I should run along and work. That is, do battle with Status Bars and Product Registration Screens. Hasta mañana.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Long Post Defensively Proclaims: "I've Done Stuff."

Thursday night I made my way to Ann Arbor and spent the next couple of days getting schooled at PhotoShop Soup2Nuts. It wasn't all puppies and kittens and flowers, but most of the session were quite helpful and the whole thing cost CONSIDERABLY less than traveling to Vegas for PhotoShop World this year (both in the cost and probably the fun quotients, but hey, you can't win 'em all). Friday night we had our night on the Ann Arbor town. We ate at Cottage Inn on William St, OF COURSE, and on Brother J's girlfriend's recommendation (phew!) we also checked out the Rendez Vous Cafe for some crepes, which she neglected to mention were GIANT-SIZED. They should make warnings on their website. Seriously, when folded in fourths, they STILL covered a regular 12-inch plate. So much tastiness, though, and at least they got the batter right so my cinnamon-sugar one was spot on.

Saturday night we ate dinner at the nearest thing we could find when hunger hit us all like my cats hit their food bowls (that is: hard), and that place happened to be a Macaroni Grill, and the food was decent, but in retrospect it was unnecessarily fattening. I usually enjoy my nutritional sins, but I had "sauteed chicken breast with mushrooms, artichokes, tangy capers and smoked prosciutto in a lemon butter sauce. Served over capellini pasta." Translation: Death On a Plate with Capers. The butter sauce was smothering my food, not merely seasoning it, the prosciutto was not even seasoning either, preferring instead to sit atop my food like tiny chunks of pure, unmitigated fat. It tasted okay at the time, as franchise Italian goes, but WHY DID I EAT IT? I should have just created me own, much healthier pasta.

Also, I ordered a Cosmopolitan because suddenly, after tasting a good one in Richmond and successfully replicated that taste in Michigan, I LIKE COSMOPOLITANS. Plus, Death on a Plate with Capers wasn't killing me fast enough. Oh and then I had some Creme Brulee at the Westin restaurant because I wanted to read and sitting in my room alone wasn't really doing it for me. I've managed to consume food like a responsible adult since then and have, in fact, exercised since that day, but ouch. That one day's worth of crimes is awfully crimeful!

Wow, that was tangentially related AT BEST, but there I went - WHOOOOOOSH on the fatty-food-complaining train like a bat out of Hades.

Anyway, for me to have EATEN at the Westin restaurant, I must have stayed at the Westin Hotel, and I did. It's IN one of the terminals at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and it's awesome. I stayed the night for the following rate: $75. I CAN'T STAY AT THE HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS FOR THAT. I was so proud. And yes, the bed, shower, soap, and even notepad were all as Heavenly as they proclaimed themselves to be. The one blemish on the moment was the absense of Hubster since the last (and only other) time I there was with Hubster the night after our wedding.

Anything I say now will be irrelevant because you're all either making that stupid "Bow chica WAH OW" noise or rolling your eyes at everyone else who is.

Okay, everyone with me now? Goood. So I flew home Sunday and Hubster picked me up on the way to picking up his real love - a new desk. He's been eyeing some of the ones from IKEA, particularly this one, and he found someone in Reston who was selling a mint-condition one for a good price. We had a DICKENS of time getting it home in Hermano (for those of you just tuning it, it's our CRV - an Arrested Development reference) because the desk top is one huge polygon of car-packing doom. It wasn't exactly the most relaxing thing to do after getting up at 5:45am to travel. Meh, we ate at Chipotle on the way home and then spent the evening putting his new setup together. And he's in heaven. Speaking of heaven, you would not believe how excited he's been about the World Cup. MY HUSBAND. EXCITED ABOUT SPORTS. Perhaps what is most unbelievable is that I'm happy about it. What can I say, I love me some fútbol.

I still owe you a post about Detroit and a new template which I have done NOTHING about. Well, I've been tinkering with banners and color schemes, but I also need to reformat my computer and put Adobe CS2 on my system along with the PhotoShop brush and background sets we just bought at the convention, so I'll just put it off and pretend that's what it's about: improving quality with new tools, instead of admitting what it's really about: my utter lack of inspiration. And on that note . . .

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fast Times in the Old Stomping Grounds

It's been an emotional couple of days. I've had a lot of important conversations with family and friends. I've also done a whole of lot of sleeping having rediscovered the lost art of sleeping in past 10:00AM by means so occult as to escape my understanding, but hey, gifts and horses and mouths and all that. I went out with Em and RC yesterday night. We had drinks at the Blue Martini in Birmingham, Michigan and chatted about our lives and families. I had a Cosmopolitan and a Flirtini (Yay for half-price Ladies Night!), and I'm definitely going to try to replicate their recipes because mmmmmm, tasty! To "sober up," we got some good coffee at the Java Hutt Cafe, and adorable place with dark paneling and cobalt walls accented with original artwork. It was a good place to keep talking, much quieter than the Blue Martini.

My uncle took my mom and I on a driving tour of Detroit on Tuesday night. I hadn't seen any of the work they'd done for the Super Bowl this year, and it had been too long since I'd visited my city. I have no illusions about the economic and social issues that Detroit faces, but I love the city. I grew up from 0.5-10 miles away from it, I visited it with friends for dinners and festivities, and I learned a lot about its history. Seeing my uncle point out building after building that is being restored, seeing restaurants and cafes being put into key locations, and tasting the ongoing health of the Greektown district (hello, baklava!), I'm excited about what's happening in the city. I just hope the momentum keeps up.

Other than those evenings out, I've spent a lot of time talking to my mom, a little to my dad, and way too little to my brother. No matter how long you have, it's never enough. Still, though I'm off to Ann Arbor for this ordeal, at least I've enjoyed the few moments I got. More to come, lads and lasses, whenever my brain comes back down to roost.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pater & Mater Familias

What a lovely weekend. The flight out to D-town on Thursday night was fine, and jumping back in to the talky-foody family life was great. Friday we drove way out to Manistee, MI to commune with Lake Michigan and each other. Friends of the family loaned us their very nice cabin (for free - HOLLA!), and their sandy beach was quite nice. The stairs down the bluff were terrifyingly steep, but the water was cold and clear. I kayaked for quite a while with Hubster, shared some great conversations with aunts, uncles, and cousins, started reading this book (which, pretty good, even post Tolkein), and ate WAY TOO MUCH GOOD FOOD. One of my uncles went to chef school, and the family is littered with untrained-but-not-untalented cooks, so meal times were the best. Grandpa and Grandma, whose 50th Wedding Anniversary was the occasion for the shindig, told some tales of their lives as well as those of our ancestors, and it was great. My grandmother's story of being told by HER alcoholic grandmother to tapdance on the bar in a local waterhole many an afternoon brought much mirth. Our conservative grandmother. Hee.

The setting was be-ee-a-U-tiful. I have some pics I'll share next week when I'm working off the home system. The lake and trees were lovely subjects. I think I got some good shots of the peeps, too. I'll have to see them I can rip them off my camara and get them up to full size. My tiny screen is NOT doing them justice.

I'm still in Michigan for the rest of this week, though Hubster will have to head home soon for work obligations. I've set up some times to hang with friends, and it's nice to have more than just a day here for that sort thing. Today, the pastor's wife from my parents' church (still consider it a home church sometimes) took me out for Thai and some Royal Oak shopping (the tagline on that website is "A Trendy Tradition" and I have to say, that's so senseless it makes me giggle). She's a wise and witty woman, so we had a fantastic time catching up and goofing off. She also gave me a gift (so sweet!) some mango body lotion and such and a book, A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I'm excited to start. The icing on the cake was her handwritten note and the fact that she noted her birthday in the book. Too awesome for words.

Tonight, Dadio shall take his place before the barbeque and the fam shall feast. Again. WOO, VACATION!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Holier Than Thou

I got home from convention on Sunday night to find a tract from a KJV-only church sitting on my kitchen counter. Apparently they left it in our door jam and Hubster brought the paper in without settling it in the 86 bin forthwith. "Great!" I thought, "the same brand of Christian I dodge at conventions followed me home. These people are relentless!"

I just finished my last convention of the season. And I'm pretty happy that, for a few months anyway, there'll be no more wandering in to an exhibit hall and noticing that my choices brand me as a lesser sister in Christ. I wear pants, my clothing is tailored to flatter my body (which has breasts and hips attached to the uterus which determines my role in their society, FANCY THAT), I wear make-up and I have a short, some might say "androgynous" hair style. It should be noted that "androgynous" is synonymous with "unholy" because nothing that doesn't point out my role as a silent uterus is unwelcome. On a related note, I don't yet have children though I've been married for almost two years. Clearly, I am damned.

It shouldn't bother me - after all, they're making their decisions and I'm making mine. If we disagree, why then we'll just have to peacefully coexist, right? See, I'd like to think that. But then I look at their daughters who are constantly being told that the happiest day of their life will be the day the complete authority of their fathers will be transferred to their husbands who will then be their ultimate authority on earth. No joke, I had to stare at a book across the aisle all weekend whose title was Before You Meet Prince Charming (oh, yes - I DID just link to it, GAH!). Wow, are those girls in for a disappointment when their man needs to be saved occasionally, or when their man's "ultimate authority" makes him think he can manipulate you into having sex though you already have 5 children and you're supposed to be abstaining according to your Natural Family Planning schedule prevent hijo #6. Not that the men don't lose out in their system what with the exhaustion from working to feed those mouths without help from a second family income [Woman's place is in the home!].

But back to the tract. Let's dissect it, shall we? The first thing you notice are the giant letters "K J V" superimposed on a clipart image of an open book. Awesome - if that's not a picture of what they actually think, then what could possibly be? The KJV is more important the Bible itself. Brilliant.

When I open it, I'm expecting an invitation to their church with descriptions of their community and programs. Instead, these words meet my eyes: "If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?" The question is making me think, but not about what they're saying because suddenly I'm back at the homeschool convention I attended at the tender age of 13? 14? I'm sitting in the "Teen Convention" while they give us evangelism cards and we're about to head out to the streets of Columbus, Ohio for a little Street Assault Preaching. That's not what they called it, but I can't be sure that no Christian group has ever been tactless enough to use that name before. I'm willing to allow that someone, somewhere has had their eyes opened by a stranger's words of hope in the gospel, but I doubt it was ours. Our gospel, like this tract's gospel has the following main points:

1. Everyone has sinned.
2. God judges sin.
3. The payment for sin is eternal death in the lake of fire.
4. Jesus Christ died for our sins.
5. Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
6. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.
7. Salvation is a free gift.
8. Receiving the gift of eternal life.
9. Becoming a saint of God.
10. The sinner's prayer.
11. The promise of eternal life.
12. Angels rejoicing.
13. Faithfully serving God in a local Bible-believing church.

I look over the list and there really isn't anything wrong with, per se. I mean, I'd leave off the emphasis on avoiding eternal damnation because then it's more like a Holy Sales Pitch - "repent now, save the charred tush later!" I might also focus on the whole "communion with God severed by our sin" angle, but you know, whatever. I would also MAKE THE TITLES SYMMETRICAL, for the love of our shared Deity would it KILL them to observe some aesthetics? (Ahem, graphic geek got out of control there. Back to your regularly scheduled polemic.)

Anyhow, though there's nothing wrong with their literal words on the page, all the proof-texting under each section gets really old, really fast, and it seems out of place. First, unless you agree that the Bible is your source for truth, then there's no point in obsessively referencing it. Second, they need to note the philosophical and metaphysical assumptions. WHY does God have to judge sin? That's never really clear. You're just supposed to go, "yup!" and move on. Basically, both of those boil down to assuming a religious background that not everyone shares anymore. This isn't the 1840s, you know? I doubt whether a majority of Americans have been raised with a background that would make them immediately responsive to this kind of solicitation. And in the Washington DC suburbs? UM, NO! Shouldn't their tack be a bit more, I don't know, APPROPRIATE TO THEIR AUDIENCE. (Ahem, rhetoric/philosophy geek out of control.)

And it's odd that this is hitting me like a ton of bricks now because I have similar moments of unfocused but undeniable anger regularly during convention season. I read Amalah's manifesto on what drove her out of her mind with her fundamentalist Christian upbringing recently. I never went so far as to repudiate all organized religion, or even all organized Christian religion, but I can understand the desire not to be numbered with brothers and sisters like these. Maybe having that tract dumped in my lap felt like the an invasion. I walk into those conventions because it's my job. I walk into my home because it's mine, a shelter but also a refuge.

Upon reflection, though, it's hypocritical of me not to be able to stand these brothers and sisters when I keep saying they should be able to stand me as a sister in Christ. I'm getting as riled by their doctrinal differences as they would be with mine. Where does it end?

I guess it doesn't in a pluralistic society, but you learn to work around differences. I'm okay with my neighbors having a "Pagan and Proud" bumper sticker. I can talk to atheists and not feel uncomfortable. Maybe it's because I'm supposed to be one with my fellow Christians that the angst is introduced. Remember when I wrote about the racist I met in Mississippi? I vividly remember thinking that she only said what she did because our white skin said we were like her. Isn't it possible for me to be angry with these belligerent Christians if we draw the analogy, or is flawed?

I'm really asking the questions, guys.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Since Last I Blogged

1. I've discovered that my dishwasher is quite "vociferous" in its contempt for my character:

It should be noted that this display flashes for emphasis.

I photographed it knowing you wouldn't believe it. This kind of thing could only happen to good-two-shoes moi.

2. My father-in-law's company was one of the sponsors for a recent fundraiser for this fabulous hospital. The fundraiser was a polo match between the Argentine National Polo Team and a pulled-together American team (they couldn't get the entire national team out, I guess). A few days before the actual event, the Argentine Ambassador held a soire at his residence and I managed to get an invite along with my sister-in-law and, of course, Dad-in-law. HOLY RANDOM, BATMAN.

My partner-in-crime and myself INSIDE the building, suppressing the terror of social faux pas and the giddiness of proximity to power.

Oh, but it was awesome. They had an open bar, delicious cheeses out (including the first stilton I've had in ages, which WAH because it's SOO GOOD), hot and cold hor d'oeuvres, and round of alfajores, just like Mom makes. The event was also sponsored by Smashbox Cosmetics, which Dad insisted on calling "Smashmouth" or "Toolbox" or whatever he could get his hands on to make Sister S and I all ichy and annoyed. It was amusing. Also amusing: the antics of what I have termed the Polo Set. Too much money is what it is. At least they're funneling some of the money into rehabilitative hospitals. Anyway, here's fuzzy ole me in front of the residence of the Ambassador of Argentina. (eeeeeek!)

Sadly I missed the Argentine team kicking the Americans UP AND DOWN the field (and also kicking Ivory Coast's team at the World Cup simultaneously) because of other committments. That's right, not only did I miss it, but I had to work a convention in Virginia. Something about "insult to injury," right? Fortunately, Bee understood my troubles and bemoaned my state with me. I might have promised her some Smashbox samples from the loot bags Hubster was sure to round up for me, but that doesn't make her any less sincere.

3. The convention itself went fine. Steady business meant we never got to bored or too tired. We ate out one night at Beauregard's Thai Room where I had their Nur Pad King (Ginger Beef) and WOW. So lightly yet perfectly seasoned. Their indoor seating was nothing to write home about, and we carried out anyway, but we were sorry we missed the chance to sit in their New Orleans-inspired outdoor seating with foliage everywhere. Lovely. Another night we ate at the Capital Ale House, which, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for you beer lovers out there. Not only is their beer menu pages upon pages of glorious options, but their food is amazing. Get the lamb burger and thank me later.

4. This weekend Hubster and I will return to my stomping grounds of yore for a little Family Time with my mother's extended family. They NEVER get together, so I'm really looking forward to catching up with all of them. I have no idea what my posting situation will be like at that point, but I suspect Friday will be right out. Next week might be okay. Brace yourselves, y'all. Maybe look into other websites to keep you going between my posts. You know, it's a BIG WORLD, the Internet. You should surf. You might find gems like this from finslippy. Kittens with bad ideas, people, they're out there on the internet just waiting to amuse you.

El fin.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Submerged And Likely To Remain So

"Travel" comes from the root word for "travail," and let me just say: BOY HOWDY. I've been trying to make all the plans for upcoming trips and I'm up to my eyeballs in confirmation codes and phone numbers that DON'T SEEM TO BE HELPING. Maybe I'll post tonight, but for right, I've got to get cozy with the Hertz website.

Oh, and gmack, you said in my comments: "Speaking of not being inadequate...get on another post already." I say to you, sir, simply: "sassafras." For no apparent reason, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Don't be inadequate anymore!"

I may not be in need of M4le Enh@ncem3nt, but spammers still find a way to push my buttons. I got several emails with that subject line in the last month. Apparently, they've been reading my blog. See, I did yoga yesterday for the first time in . . . too long, and I'm sore today, so I didn't have to spend my lunch hour on that. That meant I could actually post on my lunch. And I've been staring at a blank screen for minutes now.

I'm trying not to be an inadequate blogger, I really am, but I'm just not in the writing mode. For weeks my posts have just been condensed versions of my activities, so now thinking about writing a serious post just seems odd. Or if not odd then certainly way too challenging for a lunch hour.

Despite not using my outlet, I have done a lot of thinking in the last weeks. I've read some good books. I've had some epiphanies over good music. I just haven't captured them in time, and I'm not about to recreate them out of tepid, half-remembered thoughts and serve them up as so much cold oatmeal. So I'm going to have to finally write down all those quotes from books and song lyrics and finally get around to some POSTING already. RRRR, I hate it when my hobbies start to look like jobs!

So after all that whining, I present a picture:

A Tree Grows in DC

I'm working on a new template for my site. I just finished Bee's over the weekend. We'll see when I stop being inadequate long enough to finish mine. Heh.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Too cool for Friday.

Hubster and I finally got a joint day off on Friday, so SORRY SUCKAS, but I chose him. We slept in (only a little - must be work guilt or something), we watched crap on TV, and we sighed with relief that a good portion of the work crappiness is over for both of us. His work's slowing down - he'll actually have normal hours. Weeeeiiird. I have one more convention this weekend and then a convention that I'm attending in a couple of weeks, but other than that, it'll be, dare I say it, NORMAL around here.


I know some of you are shaking your heads at the hypocrisy - "she never mentions him for weeks and then she's all YIPPEE when he's around? (pshaw, with hand wave)." I could have written the last few weeks of posts like "I miss him, v. 345" but I spared you that agony. Plus, I was kinda busy myself, no? Instead, I treated my frustration with my lack of time as a fact - like the fact that gravity still seems to be in effect and so far, our cats are still beg for food like it's the first and last time they'll ever taste that sweet, sweet kibble. It's simpler.

Now that we're not both crazed, I'm looking forward to the usual routines like "Hubster Comes Home From Work" and "The P's Eat Dinner." We indulged in some of those little rituals with late Saturday breakfasts, getting dessert and drinks at the Ram's Head Tavern, and talking quite a bit. It's funny how reassuring routines can be.

We also tried out some new things this weekend, like a restaurant called Levante's, a delicious Mediterranean cuisine place. It was in Bethesda, and the food was delicious. Also, good Turkish wines.

We also hauled our old dishwasher to the land fill (finally) and we dismantled the weight set we were given but were unwilling to allocate HALF OUR HOUSE to use and brought that, too. We were told to throw the offending articles over the side of a wall into a waiting concrete bay from whence our belongings would be hauled to their final resting place. I'm not usually big on it, but destruction is FUN! We've decided we should do date night there once a week because it was SO cathartic to hurl the metal over the edge and hear the loud scraping and snapping noises.

That was our weekend. I hope today is equally productive and boring.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Anybody order a Beatle?

Didja, punk? Huh? HUH?

I got my hair cut, in case you missed the taunting here. As in "I changed the style, so you should notice." I know better than to ask you if you notice anything different. I know you'd just get that wrong. But I STILL LOVE YOU, INTERNET! Anyway, here's the full cut.

Not bad for first solo day of styling, huh? It helped that I used sumotech. Then again, when DOESN'T sumotech help?

So, they style is a little bit elf, a little bit punk, a little bit 60s rock band, and pretty adorable, in my opinion. Also, even with blow-drying it's easy and takes little time. YAY for summer hair! I can't believe it's been five years since I had a style this short and easy.

Enjoy my 800° body on your feet. Oh, and PET ME!

And this is just cute. Both kittens have been extra cuddly lately, and the air conditioning is malfunctioning, I think, because though it's been cranked down to 65, it's still like 79 degrees in the house. So of course cuddling kittens are just what the doctor ordered for staying cool. But still, she's too cute to shoo, no?

Now the real question: was the build up worth it? Oddly, I think I don't actually care too much if you like it because I'm just too happy with it to be brought down. Not that I'm inviting you to try.

Please let me love my pretty hair!