Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Tyrant in The O.C.
Last year on my yearly (yikes, I hate to say 'yearly' as related to having gone on this trip for my job twice before) business trip to L.A., I met a Bachelor. It was a chance encounter. Yet somehow, it seemed meant to be.

This year, I plan to stalk the cast of Alias. As well as Nick & Jessica. This may prove to be difficult, as we will be in Orange County this year, rather than actually being in L.A. And also, since I'm a famous Blogger, it will be hard to make my way around L.A. without attracting a massive mob of fans.

But, Michael Vartan, you will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine.

Since stalking Alias people in the O.C. will take up the rest of my week, you will find a lack of new blog postings here while I'm away from the blog. But feel free to read favorites from the past, as listed to your right. They're still good, even the second or third or fourth or fifth time.

And if you haven't already done so, be sure to visit the Bloggie Awards and vote for me to win the Best New Weblog category. Votes must be in by January 31.

I promise to return next week with fabulous tales of The O.C. and me. Hopefully having something to do with a special, unplanned guest appearance on Newlyweds, as Nick & Jessica's new best friend.


Uninvited Guest
I live alone. For a reason. I like my space to myself.

So to discover last night that I apparently have an univited guest taking up residence in the space underneath my furnace was a bit unsettling.

This is one of my worst fears as a homeowner: an unwanted critter that I will have to deal with.

It's an old house, full of creaks and groans and other house sounds. I've grown used to most of them. The heater took awhile to get used to, as it knocks and hisses while it prepares to blow hot air. It's making a statement, I suppose. After the first few heart attacks at the sudden commotion in the furnace closet, the sound has become soothing. It's expected. I'm cool with it.

What I'm not cool with, however, is the sound I heard last night. As I ate my dinner, I heard a new unidentified sound. I couldn't quite place it, but I jumped up and worked my way through the rooms of the house, checking to see that all was well. I was concerned about the candles I had lit in each room, thinking perhaps one was speaking to me as it burned out of control.

The candles were fine. The noise stopped. The heater came on. I finished my dinner.

Later as I began packing for a trip I have this week, I heard the sound again. Louder, and longer. I followed it to the furnace, but quickly noticed that the furnace noise was not the same noise I was hearing now. I looked down and noticed a small pile of shrapnel near the vent on the floor underneath the furnace. And as I realized that I was hearing what was likely some sort of living, breathing, heavily-clawed creature, instead of a mechanical heating system, I flipped on the light in the room and prepared myself to be attacked by whatever was behind the vent.

Yes, something was behind the vent, scratching to get out.

As the light came on, the noise stopped. I ran for the flashlight and (crouching down a safe distance away from the vent), pointed the light into the vent looking for signs of life. I turned off all noise-making devices in the house (ie: the TV) and listened. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. No eyes peering back at me. No silent shapes in the shadow moving about. Nothing.

Was I imagining this? No, there is definitely a pile of rubble on the floor where something is trying to scrape away the wood from around the edge of the vent. As I continued to stare into the vent, I hoped the vent was still securely in place, so that I was not about to have a critter in my face, trying to escape from my house.

At this point, I realized I'd actually been in denial since the weekend. Saturday morning I had been awakened by the sound of scraping above me. Something running around. But as it was early, I assumed I hadn't heard what I thought I'd heard. And upon investigation of the situation (meaning I went out to the backyard, saw a squirrel in the yard, peered up at the roof, and determined that the squirrel had been running around on the roof), I felt sure nothing was going on in my attic.

After all, things like this will just absolutely not happen in my house. I will have none of it. Creatures, stay out.

So, after I peered into the vent for awhile with the flashlight, and after finding nothing, I went back to my packing and puttering around the house. I kept listening for the sounds of the critter, but never heard it again the rest of the evening.

Once in bed for the night, I prayed a fervent prayer that either there was not actually a critter in my house, or that it would decide of it's own accord to vacate my premises, or that it would just simply magically disappear. I do not want to have to call anyone to investigate the critter. And worst of all, I don't want to have to check into anything myself. I just want it to go away. And most of all, I want it to be quiet so I can sleep through the night.

Well, by this point I'm obsessed about what the creature could be. When the house was inspected a few months ago, the inspector saw no signs of rodent activity. My house was mouse and rat free. Since then, I have done nothing to invite them into my house. Therefore, I sincerely hoped that what I had in my furnace vent was nothing more than a stray squirrel, or perhaps a nice, sweet puppy.

A puppy I can handle, and will gladly rescue and raise as my own. I will name him Scratchy. A rodent of any type? Not so much. Not allowed.

I finally began to drift off to sleep, when I heard it again. Every time the furnace came on, the critter apparently decided this was the time to get busy with the scratching of the wall. Much like Tim Robbins in Shawshank, when he bangs the pipe with the rock every time he sees lightening, in time with the thunder. Clearly this critter is extremely brilliant and clever, and was trying to mask his attempts at freedom to coincide with the sound of the furnace.

Or, it's just really hot in there and it wants out.

I jumped out of bed, grabbed the flashlight again, and went to investigate. This time, the house was dark, and I tiptoed close (ie: no closer than three feet) to the vent. I paused to listen. I heard a slight rustling sound, but couldn't be sure it was anything furry. I pointed the light into the vent again, but still saw nothing. Whatever it was, it was hiding really well. And it was freaking me out.

I went back to bed, and finally fell asleep. I then had a really vivid nightmare about creatures in my house. On the news the other night, I saw a story about a woman who had a giant snake living in her attic and in the walls. She said every night they can hear it slithering around, and they keep finding these gigantic snake skins on the floor of the attic. But they can never find the actual snake. So it just haunts the house, crawling around, torturing them.

I dreamed I had a snake in the house. And a squirrel, and a rat, and by the end of the dream, my house was completely torn apart by the numerous rodents and reptiles running amok in the house. I finally woke up when I dreamed someone (aka a psycho stalker) was on the outside trying to get into the house by breaking all of my windows.

Clearly I was having subliminal issues with feeling safe in my house. This is never usually a problem. I blame the scratchy furnace critter.

When I woke up this morning, I heard nothing. The pile of shrapnel hadn't gotten any bigger. I had no time to do anything about the situation, so I left for work, leaving my house to the critter and giving him one more opportunity to leave on his own.

Tonight, if it's still there, I will have to do something about it. But I don't know what. I fear if I leave it unattended, I will return home from a business trip to find the house in shambles and a family of critters making themselves at home. However, if I get brave enough to open the vent to investigate further, I fear I will only provide the opportunity the critter has waited for to dart out of the vent and roam freely about the house.

I haven't told anyone about it. I even talked to my mom this morning, but said nothing about the critter issue. I'm embarrassed to have a critter in what has been designated as a Critter-Free Zone. Yet, I feel like I'm an adult with a grown-up house. I should have to take care of this stuff on my own, without telling my mom.

However, it is icky and I'm freaked out. And it's just alltogether rude for the critter to torture me in my home, where I will inevitably have to do something with it to get it out of my home. I haven't decided if it will be worse to deal with it dead or alive.

I'm highly offended. . . and ridiculously optimistic that I will make it home after work to find a note of explanation from the critter, with an apology for keeping me up all night, and a promise that it will never return.


UPDATE: Tuesday night-
It was, in fact, a squirrel. It was very dead when I got home. And after a very disgusting process, I was able to extract it, wrap it in at least 108 plastic bags, and take it outside. It wasn't fun, but my home is now critter-free. I think I grew up a little today.

Another UPDATE: Read about the removal of the squirrel here.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Tough Competition
I was introduced last night by a friend to his girlfriend. He went so far as to label me as his friend that is 'possibly one of the five funniest people on the planet.' Now, I don't know about all that. I mean, I'm funny and all. But one of the five funniest people on the planet? Shoot, that makes me blush. I'm not that funny.

But, what if I am that funny? What if my friend is an expert on 'funny', and he truly sees me as one of the five funniest people on the planet? That would be a HUGE honor. I'm not sure I'm prepared for such a weighty role in society. That's a lot of funny to bear.

Of course, being considered one of the funniest five people on the planet would imply that my friend knows everyone on the planet, and has been witness to their funny-ness, or lack thereof. Not to slight him in any way, but that's a lot of people to know. He knows a lot of people, but everyone? It's possible, but unlikely. So is it even fair for him to make the assumption that I could compare with the level of funny contained in each person on the planet? There could be undiscovered funny out there that he doesn't know about.

But then again, he could really know. Who am I to say?

And then the more I thought, the more I wondered why I'm only one of the five funniest people. Why am I not the funniest of the five people? I guess that would make me the funniest person on the planet, and not just one of the five funniest people on the planet. And I'm sure he would have introduced me that way if he really thought I as the funniest person on the planet. But why can't that be true? If my friend can be so bold as to say I'm one of the funniest five people on the planet, why stop there?

Let's have a Funny-Off. Let's figure this out.

Who are these other four people and what makes them so funny as to be included in the group of the five funniest people on the planet? And how do I rank among them? Am I the second funniest, or the fourth? Fifth? Are they famous funny people, or just everyday, run of the mill, undiscovered funny like I am. I'm perplexed. The whole idea confounds, yet challenges me.

If I'm that funny, as in 'five funniest people' funny, why not go all the way? Why can't I be Number 1?

Actually, it would probably be a lot of work. And then there would be the fame and fortune and prestige, responsibilities to the public, to my fans. Never a moment to myself. Always having to be funny for people.

It would cut into my blog time.

So . . . nevermind. I'll settle for 'One of Five', and remain virtually unknown, yet nearly the funniest person on the planet.

The world may never know.


Friday, January 23, 2004

More Tales of The Old . . . er
Well, now I'm older, and therefore one step closer to wearing my pants above my waist and SAS shoes in a variety of browns.

And what do old people do? They talk about the intracacies of things related to their bodies: hair in weird places, warts, ailments, medications, arthritis, joints, you name it. If I had a nickel for every time my grandmothers told me a story about what ails them, I'd be Paris Hilton rich.

So, in light of adding another year to my age, I feel inclined to join in this tradition of grandmas worldwide. Hence, it is time to talk about my chin hair.

I have a chin hair. Just one. On my chin.

In highschool I had a cheek hair. Just one. On my cheek. It was less like a real hair, and more like a fuzz-hair. It was lighter than the weight of a hair, and also light in color. It was hard to see. But apparently, it was there.

I didn't realize I had this cheek hair until one day when a boy at school pointed it out to a group of us standing around chatting about things non-hair related. It must have caught the light just right or something, because he reached over and pulled at it. It caught me by surprise, and I was embarrassed. He proceeded to point and laugh and tell everyone within range that I had a weirdly long hair on my cheek. For the rest of the week, I was the girl with the cheek hair.

I went home the afternoon of the cheek hair discovery, and I plucked it. I did that every time I noticed the hair returning to the place it insisted to occupy on my cheek. I kept careful watch. I stayed ahead of the hair.

The cheek hair eventually went away. I don't remember when, but it's gone now. I don't even remember where it was on my cheek.

But now, I have a chin hair. Although this one seems to be the same darkness as the hair on my head, so it stands out more obviously than the cheek hair ever did.

I've only recently begun to notice it, and I hope that I have been the first to notice it. I'm frightened by the thought that I could have been offending millions of people with a rogue chin hair that grew and grew for years, escaping my watchful eye and daily grooming rituals. Hopefully no one else has seen it, or was shocked and awed by the chin hair before I had a chance to tame it upon discovery.

The first time I noticed the chin hair, it was longer than I like to admit. I don't know where it came from, or how it got there, or why it decided to grow at that exact point on my chin. But there it was, taunting me, like the evil twin of the cheek hair that lost the battle many years ago.

I tossed around the idea of doing something fun with it, embracing the chin hair and possibly starting a new trend. Perhaps a bead fastened to the end of it, or giving it highlights, or perhaps braiding it or using a Hairdini with it in some way. But the more I thought about the chin hair, the more I realized it was unique. And not in a good way.

So, when I see the chin hair, I tweeze it. Otherwise, I don't know what I can do about it. When it's long enough to see, I worry that others have seen it. But until it is long enough to be seen, and therefore tweezed, there is nothing I can do about it.

I'm not about to shave my one chin hair. That's a little too extreme, even for a hair in a weird place. It makes me feel a little odd, as though I'm classifying it as an actual hair problem, when really it's just one stray dark chin fuzz.

I may call it a chin hair, and an actual hair it may be.

But by golly, I am not old enough to start shaving my chin, yet.

Hopefully I won't have a full beard, until I'm at least thirty.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Party Like it's Your Birthday . . . with a Sandwich.
Since my place of employment isn't really a 'take you out to lunch for your birthday' sort of place, I've had to take matters into my own hands.

Today is my birthday. I'm enjoying my favorite sandwich for lunch. With a Coke. And I'm loving it tremendously.

It makes turning one year older worthwhile.

Last night I had all of my favorite food groups with some friends who pulled together a somewhat surprise party. Had I not arrived at the same time two of them got there, I would have likely been more surprised to see more than one other person there. It was quite fun for me, nevertheless. Any group of people who will gather in my honor to eat pizza and watch reality TV while wearing sweatpants, these are people I love.

It was a magical evening. There was pizza, my #1 favorite food group. It fulfills all my dietary needs. Then there were chocolate chip cookies, another important food group. There is never a wrong time for chocolate chip cookies. And, M&Ms took the place of a cake, which is the best idea ever. At first, I was alarmed by the new black & white M&Ms, but I grew to love them. They taste the same. But I anxiously await the return of the colors.

Then, the best part if the evening was a guest appearance by . . . Nick & Jessica. Yes, it was a Newlyweds evening, filled with episodes from last season and the season premiere of the new season. It was the moment I'd been waiting for.

The best birthday present ever.

Who knew Nick & Jessica would be so thoughtful as to join me in celebration of my birthday and present to me the start of a brand new season of Newlyweds?

In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say reality TV was trying to impress me all week, just for my birthday. FOX came through with not one, but THREE American Idols this week. America's Next Top Model is on tape for me to watch, off to a great new season (technically starting last week, but my birthday celebrations seem to have started last week, too. so it counts as a birthday present for me.)

And finally, Nick & Jessica. Always there when I need something stupid, yet strangely familiar.

This week was also the premier of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. Being unable to change the channel after American Idol on Monday night while I was in the middle of a craft project (people who don't understand this just need to understand that when I am in 'craft mode', ain't no stopping til I'm done. I have to remain very, very focused, even in the midst of bad TV), I was forced to witness some of this show. And you will all be relieved to know that I will NOT be adding this to my wonderful world of reality television. Folks, this show is too bad even for me to watch.

It's that bad.

Good friends, good TV, good sandwich.

Happy birthday to me.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

No . . . more . . cake . . parties . . .
I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I strongly vowed to not do any more cake parties. I would blantantly refuse to participate. Or, run an errand to get out of it.

Of course, my birthday is this week. So unfortunately yesterday I was forced into a cake party . . . for me.

Every month, my office does one big cake party for all the birthdays in that particular month. This month, there are two birthdays: me and a co-worker. Personally, I can do without the attention around here. But folks here insist on the cake parties. So, cake parties we shall have.

Now, I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I do appreciate the thought, the effort, the time, the singing. Well, not the singing. But, I'm just not a 'cake-party' kind of girl. Just tell me Happy Birthday when you see me in the hall, and if you don't see me in the hall because I'm hiding in my office, I'm totally cool with that.

As long as I've been here, the cake parties have always been the same. They let us know to meet downstairs for the party, usually the same day, allowing no time for planning an escape or arranging my schedule to be there. I guess the assumption is that everyone needing to be there for the party is in the office that day, and everyone will always have time for cake. We all group together, round up the birthday people, then sing and eat cake and ice cream. I usually don't eat the cake or ice cream, just because I'm not a huge fan of cake or ice cream. I get stared at for this.

Well, yesterday's cake party was an effort at the element of surprise. Except the surprise was that no one was surprised. I went to check my mailbox yesterday morning and noticed that everyone's box had a bright orange flier in it, except mine. And I think if I'd looked closer, I'd have noticed that the other January birthday person did not have a flier, either. I saw that the orange fliers (which blinded me as I entered the room) had 'birthday', 'january', 'today', and '2:00' typed on them in big, bold letters, with my name and the co-worker's name on it, as well. Obviously, this was an announcement about the January cake party.

It was almost noon. The flier said 2:00. But, so far, I wasn't invited to my own party. There was no flier in my box, no one had mentioned it to me, nada. Yet, it was beyond obvious that there was to be a party. And the party would start soon.

I didn't quite know what to do with this. Was I supposed to not know about the party? All I did was walk in the room, and I knew. It was completely an accident, but I didn't know if I'd done something wrong by checking my box and seeing the nuclear orange fliers. I should have stuck with my 'never leave my office during the day' rule. Although, you'd think something that was supposed to be a secret would be printed on white paper that doesn't stand out from other papers in mailboxes, or perhaps by email where I definitely won't see anything.

Then I wondered if I should be mad that they had such little respect for my time that they didn't make sure I would be here during the time of my party? What if I had called in sick today? What if I had an appointment at 2:00? What if I was on the phone with someone trying to give us a million dollars, and if I try to end the conversation before 2:00, they give us nothing? It's not like all things revolve around cake parties.

I determined that I was annoyed at the situation, and most of all, I just wasn't in the mood for cake.

At 1:30, I wandered downstairs to return a cup to the kitchen. This was a recon mission. I figured if I wasn't supposed to know that there was a party, then it would be no big deal for me to wander through the 'party' room and survey the situation, as I might on any afternoon returning my cup to the kitchen. If I saw no party stuff, then obviously the radioactive fliers were incorrect. But if I saw party stuff, then I would know that today is the day for my cake party.

I saw no party stuff. I was confused. I went back to my office.

At 2:15, I still sat in my office, actually working. I was paged on the phone and asked to come proofread something. At this point, I knew this was a ruse to get me to the 'surprise' party, but I played along as annoyed just for the heck of it. He was asking me to proof something I'd already proofed, saying they'd made more changes. I asked him just to email it back to me to save me a trip to his office. He said that just couldn't be done, I needed to come down to look. It wasn't convincing, but I told him I'd come take a look.

I toyed around with the idea of waiting for awhile, until I could take a break from what I was working on. But then I decided that was mean, and I should let them have their fun cake party, at my expense.

As I descended the stairs, I was greeted by a room full of people cheering and singing Happy Birthday. The party stuff had materialized as if from nowhere. Everyone looked up at me as I came down the stairs, much like I was walking down those big stairs on the stage at the Oscars. All eyes on me. I was hoping I would trip for a distraction.

I think it was the first attempt at a 'surprise' cake party in the history of my office, and I just didn't know what to make of the whole thing. I went along with it, all the while wanting to run away. Too much attention on me! I tried to hide behind the other January birthday co-worker. But, eventually I had to give in and participate in the cake party.

I even ate cake.

So, thinking back, I'm assuming the call to proofread something was actually just to get me to the party. I can tell you if he calls me again to ask me to proof it, I am not leaving my office.

No more cake. There's no 'surprising' me twice.


They should have kept the scooter, instead of Scooter Girl . . .
And, Elvis should have left the building. Plus, Jesus can't sing.

These exciting headlines and more have so far taken place on the new season of American Idol 3: Idols take a Lickin' (okay I added that last part). The talent is worse, the brutal honesty is better, and alltogether things are harsh in the beginning auditions for the show this season.

Yes, the judges seem out for blood this year. They're meaner, they laugh out loud at sad contestants. They mean business.

And yes, as many of you have been waiting for, the Blog Alliance is back. Will we be wrong? Will we be right? It's too early to tell, but one thing is for sure . . . we will be your favorite guides through another season of American Idol.

So far, I've been unimpressed with the singing that has been considered 'good enough' to pass to the next round. The gimmicks have been weirder, the tempers have been bigger, and the egos have been even bigger than that. But still the fact remains, most of America just can't sing a note to save their lives, or mine.

Scooter Girl is my biggest point of confusion. This girl rides around on a scooter, sings a song she wrote about the scooter, gives a confessional about how wonderful she is, yet is recovering from anorexia, and generally is annoying in every sense of the word. She sang okay, but then again, I can't help but feel the scooter could have sung better on its own, had it been given the chance. All in all? I feel Simon, Paula, and Randy should have kept the scooter, and had Ryan give the Scooter Girl away to the man on the street instead. That way, at least they have a scooter for the rest of the show.

Then, there was Jesus. And his twin brother. I'm sure you're thinking this guy's name is "hey-seuss", like any normal person would name their son. But no, this dude's name is actually Jesus, pronounced just like our Lord and Savior, "jee-sus" Christ. So, whether he can sing or not, how can you say no to Jesus? Or his twin brother? Sure, these guys weren't the worst. But, I just wasn't feeling them. However, Jesus was good enough for Peter, Paul, and Mary (aka Simon, Randy, and Paula), and off they ascended to the next round. If Jesus wins American Idol 3, it will be a miracle.

Of course, what good audition process wouldn't be complete without Elvis? He arrived last night, and granted the guy could actually sing better than most of the hopefuls so far last night. But if it were up to me (as it should be), anyone arriving in costume will immediately be shot in the butt with a tranquilizer dart and put on the first bus out of town. He could have the most angelic voice in the world (unlike Jesus), but if he's dressed even remotely like Elvis, he's out. Nothing against Elvis, but he ain't Jesus. And the cheesy gimmicks need to come to a halt.

Now, did anyone else notice that the tall hot guy barely had to sing a note to pass to the next round? Sure, he was hot. But I wasn't overly impressed by his voice. However, since he did not come in dressed as Elvis or the savior of the world, I will condone his passing to the next level and hope that we get to look at him for a very, very long time.

Awards for the most bizarre and memorable auditions so far go to Scat Girl, who scatted her way through what she felt was a fabulous rendition of Route 66. To my knowledge, this word has songs, and not scat. But unfortunately, there is no room for scat in American Idol. However, I do sense a Scat Week theme coming on, so watch out.

Also earning a place in the Idol Hall of Shame was last night's Fame-Dancing girl, who ripped off her pants to reveal spandex, and then proceeded to give the worst rendition of a Dancing Famer that I've ever had to see. Then, she cried about how she lost 80 pounds to get there, and stormed out screaming about how this was all a big mistake. Luckily, her friend was there to greet her, tell her she was the best singer in the world, and put a hand in the cameras. Look out, America. Someday she's going to make someone, including herself, a lot of money. Perhaps as the spokesmodel for a new reality series, Things Not to Do on American Idol: The Real Stories of People Without Talent.

Tonight the auditions go to Houston, and if I know my home state, crazy antics will surely ensue. And maybe someone can sing well enough, too.

Don't count on it.


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

New Comments
Ok, so I broke down and switched to Haloscan for comments. I hated to lose all of my old comments, almost a year's worth of people interacting on my blog. But BlogOut has become unreliable and alltogether frustrating. So hopefully the folks at Haloscan can make up for that.

Let the comments begin. Again.


A Bit More Info About the Bloggie. . .
Okay, I'm a little excited about this. It's not a big deal, but it's humoring me greatly today. I only have one tiny thing to add about it. Then I'm done talking about it.

I swear.

Just a reminder, if you voted for me a week or so ago to be nominated, that's great and all. But now you must go back (just once more) to vote for me as a finalist to win. The first vote was just to nominate me. 'They' picked the people with the most nominations to be finalists, and now you must go back to vote for me to win the award, if you so desire for me to win.

I desire this.

I am a complete nobody and I don't even have cool graphics or anything to lure people here. I do this in my 'spare' time, and it's all about the writing. So to be nominated amongst other blogs is strangely odd, yet very cool.

If you are a regular reader, this is your time to shine and show me how much you enjoy spending time here. If you are popping in here for the first time to check me out and see if I'm worthy of your vote, please take your time. Look around. Read some stuff. It ain't the prettiest blog in the world, but it's got so much more than aesthetic beauty.

It has me.

Thanks for stopping in and voting for me in the Best New Weblog category, if you have a moment to spare. It only takes a second. I swear.

Now I'll shut up and get back to my regularly blog-cast writing.

You won't hear another word out of me about it. I'm done begging for votes.

I swear.


Signs I'm Getting Old
My birthday is later this week, and for some reason lately I've been obsessed about seeming and feeling old.

I am by no means actually old, in comparison with much of the rest of the world. I'm older than the kids my friends teach in middle school, but still younger than some friends who have rolled over the thirty-year-old hill. I'm still a twenty-something in the technical sense of how old I am.

But, my inner child is seeming far older than what I really am these days. And last night was proof.

I went home after work and got busy around the house doing Monday night stuff. I gathered the trash and took it out to the alley. Puttered around. There was a craft project at some point in the evening. I enjoy a relaxing Monday evening, and can always find 'house stuff' to do to keep busy.

So, the phone rings and I answer to find a friend on the other end. He asks what I'm doing.

"I'm sewing buttons onto my coat."

He was not expecting that bizarre answer, and unfortunately I couldn't think fast enough to lie-up something less lame.

Then, I stopped and realized what was going on. There I sat in my big chair by the window, with the lamp behind me fully lit up so I can see better. I'm covered in my blanket because I'm cold. I'm wearing my terry-cloth pants, which I think are cool, but which my dad pointed out were 'old lady pants' the first time he saw them. I'm also wearing fuzzy blue slippers. I have my glasses on, which keep me from not being able to see at all, but cause me to possibly look like I needed them just to see what I was doing by the light of my lamp. And, I had my coat on my lap, a needle and thread, and this is what I was doing at 8:00 on a Monday night.

I'm an old lady!!

He asked me if I was up for something, and even though I would have loved to spend time with him, I went on about getting these dang buttons back on my coat because it's so cold outside this week. Hang out with a boy? Or sew buttons on a coat. . .

I'm an old lady!! I inadvertently chose the buttons!

Needless to say, button sewing wasn't adventuresome enough for him, and he left me home alone to finish my task.

It was probably a good thing. This morning my coat stayed buttoned up completely in the cold.

That's good, right?

Young whipper-snappers, out until all hours of the night. What?? I can't hear you . . . you have to speak into my good ear . . .


Warning: False Ninja Content
I don't condone this site at all, but I'm amused by it. Thanks to a friend for directing me there this morning. The music alone is quite jovial and, well, appropriate.

Clearly the creators of this ninja site have not read anything by a true ninja. If they had, they would know that any information about ninjas available to the public is false. True ninjaness is only known by ninjas, and is never spoken about, written about, or put on the internet for all the world to see. That's what makes us ninjas so sneaky.

But, I give them props for the enthusiasm about ninjas.

We are, after all, pretty darn cool.


If you are a ninja, or enjoyed reading about ninjas, go here and vote for me to win a Bloggie in the Best New Weblog category.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
And to quit caffeine.

I'm off the wagon. Back on the caffeine conga line.

It lasted about a week and a half, being caffeine-free. It felt good.

But then, it felt better to have my Saturday morning cup of coffee over the weekend. And then another for Sunday morning.

Yesterday, I had no caffeine. I'm trying to control myself with a moderate semi-regular caffeine intake. I was mostly fine, just a slight teeny-tiny headache.

But, I have to say . . . it's good to be back.


If you enjoy random information such as this and would like to see more quality writing of this nature in the future, go here and vote for me to win a Bloggie for Best New Weblog. It's through your support that the Tyrant feels motivated to blog on.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Say it With Chocolate
My advertising people hate me. They sent me a two pound box of chocolates for my birthday, which is later this week.

There it is. Big Box o' Chocolate. Over there. Taunting me.

I'm not a huge sweets eater, as I'm neither huge, nor a big fan of sweets. But this is good chocolate. And it's my birthday week. I'm fighting an incredible urge to eat the entire box before I go home today.

So, I'm pacing myself. Or trying to, at least.

I actually can't decide if my advertising people truly hate me and want me to enormously fat when they see me for our conference next week. Or perhaps they do just want to give me something nice for my birthday.

Whatever the reason, good chocolate.

The scary thing about a big giganto box of chocolates is that they all look good, but inevitably inside a few of the chocolates is something I won't like. Sort some of creamy filling, maybe a fruity concoction. On the outside, they are all delicious. On the inside, a scary surprise.

Is it completely wrong if I take a bite out of each chocolate, then leave the morsels that repulse me for my co-workers?

To share in my birthday engorging, of course.

No reason why I should have to party all alone.


PS: If you would like to brag about having visited the Best New Blog of 2003 today, go here and vote for me under the category Best New Weblog.

Another Holiday I Don't Get
I mean, I understand it. But alas, I do not get Martin Luther King Day off from work as a holiday. And I'm not very happy about it.

But, rather than be bitter about it, I will look for the positive aspect of not getting a day off to honor Martin Luther King. Should he feel slighted that I am legally required not to pay homage to him today? Yes. He definitely should.

However, thanks to Mr. King, most of the rest of the world does not have to work today. Which means there was very little traffic for me to deal with this morning. I arrived to work in record time, without hassle or obstacles working against me.

Sure, I don't get to celebrate this great man and his accomplishments for mankind, as I'm forced to come to my office and work very, very hard all day, not allowing me a spare moment to remember Mr. King and his great historical impact on the world.

But, because of him, I made it in to work much earlier than the 'getting to work early' fiasco of last week.

So I say, Happy MLK Day, everyone.

I got to work on time.


PS: If you would like to have read the preceding example of blogging brilliance from an award-winning blog, go here and vote for me to win a Bloggie in the Best New Weblog category.

Holy Cow! Vote for ME!!!!
Birthday presents are coming early this year, and adding to the list of cool things for my birthday this week is that I made the list of nominees for a Bloggie.


Yep, I stumbled back onto the Bloggie site, just to see if, per chance, I had somehow made the list. And, after scrolling almost all the way down the page, there I saw my blog listed under Best New Weblog. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

ME!! Possibly winning a prize!!! I'M SHOCKED AND AWED!!!

So, now it is up to you to make sure I win.

Before January 31:
Go here. Scroll almost to the bottom of the page. Look for Cynical Rantings under the category Best New Weblog. Then, vote for me.

Click on the circle next to Cynical Rantings, and vote like you've never voted before. Tell your friends and have them also vote like they've never voted before.

And, apparently there is an actual prize. Seriously, I've never won anything in my life. So the prospect of $11.00 and a $50.00 gift certificate to Amazon is HUGELY cool for me.

Thanks to all of you who nominated me. It totally paid off. Now finish the job, and I will be eternally grateful, rewarding you with more and more of the best blog writing you've ever read.

For free.


Friday, January 16, 2004

Observance of the Week
During a week filled with the worst traffic in the history of mankind, I've had ample opportunity to observe things around me as I sat idly in the Jeep, unable to do anything other than sit idly in the Jeep. I seriously think at times the absurdly horrific traffic has propelled me backwards and away from my destination. But then again, I really can't be sure.

In fact, I may still be in my car, stuck non-moving on the highway right now. I have no idea.

Among the things I've observed are some of the worst drivers ever, the type that weave in and out, cut people off, and wedge into non-moving traffic as though changing lanes in the midst of four non-moving lanes will somehow put them ahead of the rest of those sharing the suffering with them. Then there are the slow, meandering drivers, who allow 15 car-lengths in between their front bumper and the back bumper of the car a half mile ahead of them. This is not helpful, nor is it safe, if that is the intent. It's just annoying and really, really frustrating to the rest of us who are thrilled to finally see traffic moving at the amazingly fast pace of twenty miles per hour, yet we are stuck behind you puttering along at a 'safe' four miles an hour.

I've also observed how traffic is solely controlled by the weather, and by that I mean any kind of weather seems to create massive traffic back-ups. Sunshine, clouds, fog, rain. It doesn't matter. When cars are determined to not move, whatever the weather, they will not move. Rain especially seems to cause immense turmoil on the roads, and the reason for this is something I just do not understand. Sure, the roads are more slick, and we should drive with caution. But seeing as it rains here in Texas most of the time, you would think Texas drivers could handle this without freaking out and causing all traffic in the state to come to a complete standstill at the drop of a raindrop.

Today, it rained and consequently traffic just stopped. A few drops of water, and people go nuts on the road. Accidents everywhere, stoplights not working, people rolling along slower than I can walk. In fact, had I walked to work this morning, I would have made it in earlier than I did fighting traffic for an hour and a half. And by fighting, I mean everywhere I turned to get around a pile-up, I only found another pile-up. It was a never-ending battle, and I lost. A lot.

It would be safe to say that no one got anywhere this morning. All of Texas is on the freeway outside my office right now. Just sitting.

But out of all the things I've observed whilst in traffic this week, the Observance of the Week award goes to . . . windshield wipers. These I have found to be highly intriguing, and strange all at once.

Specifically, the invention of the back window wiper may be one of the greatest inventions ever. This may be one of my single favorite features on my Jeep SUV. It is so fun to get that thing going, whisking water away from my back window. It even comes with a water sprayer, like the front wipers, so that I can shoot water onto the window and clean it with the wiper . . . while driving. Sometimes, I just let it go, even when it's not rainy or particularly dirty. It makes me happy.

So as I've sat in a lot of traffic this week, I've noticed windshield wipers around me. And my question is this: why don't all cars, trucks, SUVs, automobiles have this back wiper feature? I don't know what I'd do without mine, as my back window gets terribly mucky in rainy weather. I've come to depend on the back wiper so I can see out of the Jeep. I don't know how I survived without it on all my other cars. Why don't other cars deserve this wiper, too?

I tried to find a pattern as to which vehicles have back wipers, and which do not. But I've been unsuccessful. Most SUV's seem to have these wipers, yet I saw a Hyundai yesterday without one. How do they drive?? I can't help but think they must never use the back window for seeing.

Then, one would reason, if an SUV has a back wiper for an upright window, then why don't trucks have these wipers for the back upright window? It seems that if an SUV would have a use for it, then a similar window on a truck should also have it. It's the same window. It surely has the same rain-collecting and dispersing issues as my Jeep SUV window.

I noticed some hatchback cars have a back wiper, but not all. And almost no regular cars have the back wiper, but why not? Does a hatchback rear window have any more or less tilt to it than a regular car, allowing more or less natural slough-off of water? And why would a car rear window have any less need for a back wiper than a hatchback?

I also saw some minivans with the wiper, and some without. Mostly newer models all had the wiper, while most old models didn't seem to have a consistent wiper ratio. I would especially think the wiper would be necessary on a minivan. Safety first, people.

These inconsistencies lead me to wonder about the function of the wiper. If some vehicles have a back wiper, yet others do not, is the wiper more for function, or for aesthetics? On my Jeep, the wiper is hidden until in use, so this leads me to believe that it is vitally important to the success of the Jeep when rain is upon the window. I have come to depend on it in all types of rainy weather. I didn't pay anything extra for it. And I cannot justify driving without it.

So, my observance of the back wiper has led me to hope that one day, all vehicles of any shape or size will roam freely with standard rear wipers. Wipers help, not hurt.

It's a Rear Wiper Revolution. So far, just in my head. But I feel confident it'll catch on.


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

What the fog . . . ?!?!?!
In honor of being at my job for two years as of today, I decided I would try to be a somewhat better employee. Nothing drastic, mind you. But something subtle, yet valuable to my place in this organization.

So, I decided to make a better effort to arrive at work in a more timely manner, more consistently. I work my forty hours a week, mind you. But they don't necessarily always start at the same exact time every morning, more or less. I tend to use the prescribed start time as a guideline. Unintentionally, of course. I just need to be in a better habit.

Truthfully, there is a traffic issue. I have to drive through a major construction area everyday, and it is unpredictable on a daily basis as to how this will affect my time of travel to work on any given day. I've tried numerous other routes to work, all of which have resulted in making me arrive even later to work. I've tried leaving at different times, hoping to catch the construction pile up at better times. None of this has proven successful. So, I forge ahead through the construction, taking my chances and hoping my arrival can still be considered timely in some part of the universe.

My unfortunate solution to this situation is to accept that I need to get up earlier in the morning, and therefore leave earlier from my house. I have several issues with this. One, getting up earlier is painful and dreaded. It's already still dark outside when I am used to getting up. Arising even longer before the sun gets up is just wrong on so many levels. Plus, the earlier I am awake, the sleepier I will be come 3:00 in the afternoon.

Two, often getting up earlier and leaving earlier only results in me having to sit in my car longer on my way to work. Rarely has the 'earlier' business resulted in a shorter drive to work, or getting in to work significantly earlier than usual. I'm not sure why that is, since logically allowing more time to get there should put me there earlier, according to the laws of the known universe. Therefore, I am convinced my drive to work takes place in a parallel universe, over which I have no control.

Nevertheless, I decided to try again this week. Monday, I rose from slumber a bit earlier than usual. I made sure the night before to streamline my morning 'getting ready' routine as much as possible, so I could flawlessly move through the steps of preparing myself to leave the house for the day. I don't think or process anything very well before about ten a.m., so the less I'm forced to think as I go from task to task, the better. It's best to stick to the routine, which I usually perform in a semi-asleep mode of operation.

I managed to leave the house a bit earlier, only to be greeted by ridiculous amounts of traffic. I mean, it was insane. Everything was backed up. Cars were not moving. Yet, I never saw a wreck. People just seemed content to spend Monday morning loitering on the freeway, staring at each other. I, however, was not happy, nor content. I was trying to be a good employee! I must get to work on time! Abnormally difficult traffic was not part of my plan, and my plan was quickly falling apart.

I consequently arrived at work later than usual. This was discouraging, and alltogether disheartening. It was a complete backfire of my sincere efforts to be there earlier. I'd spent more time than usual in the Jeep, and even though I really like the Jeep, I don't particularly like to be trapped in it when I should be somewhere already.

Tuesday, I woke even earlier than I did on Monday. I was determined to arrive to work earlier. I left the house even earlier than Monday's departure . . . and was once again greeted by superfluously heinous traffic. What is the deal???

This time, there was a wreck. I try to have sympathy for these situations, so I remained calm in my Jeep. But, alas, I was sad to be stuck once again in horrific traffic. I did not discover the location of the wreck until I made it to my exit off of the freeway. The wreck was directly in front of my exit, which is why I'd been sitting on the freeway for an hour, in traffic backed up from the very spot I needed to be to continue on my journey to work. I nearly cried as I realized that fifteen minutes of that hour could have been spent back in my warm, cozy bed. But no, I'd sacrificed precious sleep to get to work on time.

And . . . I consequently arrived at work even later than I did on Monday. I was once again discouraged, disappointed, disheartened, and dangerously peeved. Clearly, the parallel universe did not want me to make it work on time, no matter how hard I try.

Today, I really needed to make it in to work earlier. For my own sense of pride, to commemorate another year at my job, and because I was in charge of a meeting this morning. I prayed last night that God would help me get to work on time. I figured that based on the previous two mornings, only a miracle from God would get me to work by the time I needed to be there. I woke up even earlier than the past two days, flew through my getting ready routine, and left the house ridiculously earlier than I'd begun my journey the past two days. By my calculations, I should have, in fact, arrived at work a half day early.

But, as I backed out of the garage, I noticed I couldn't see the end of my driveway. What the . . . ????


Everywhere. Fog. Not just any fog. Thick, soupy fog. Disgusting fog.

I knew this would seriously hamper my ability to get to work any earlier than the days before, but I prayed again that the fog would not be a factor, and I forged ahead. . . into precariously insane traffic.

Good heavens, people! It's just a little fog!! Go!! It can't physically stop you or slow you down. It won't hurt you!! You've seen it before!! So quit fearing the fog, put your foot on the pedal on the right, and go!!!!!

With care, caution, and courtesy, of course. But nevertheless, go!!!!!!

Seriously, how could this be?? Of all the things I did not expect to be a factor in my morning commute, I woke to the thickest blanket of fog ever. I do not live in London or any other perpetually foggy place. We have fog here maybe two days out of the year. Why today??? The parallel universe was playing a very cruel joke on me for daring to try and be a better employee. For the love of Pete, I just want to get to work in a reasonably timely manner!!!

Pete is probably already there. And we don't even have a Pete!!

I fought my way through traffic that would flow for awhile, then just slow to a near stop. I never saw a wreck, and I couldn't figure out why people seemed to enjoy pausing for a moment to embrace the fog. I'm all for safety first, but even a slow, steady pace would have gotten me to work in less time than it actually took me to get there this morning. What was with the stopping to admire the fog???

It's just white floaty stuff. Get over it!!

I feared I would be too late for my meeting, but I arrived just in time to get things started. No one at the office knows of my commuting struggles this week, but I was embarrassed, nonetheless. I was honestly giving it a good effort to turn over a new leaf and be punctual. And no one would ever know that it really was the traffic.

There was one good thing about the fog. It gave me ample time to compose this blog entry almost in its entirety, in my head.

But other than that, no good can come from fog.

Or getting up earlier.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

If Beyonce can make bootylicious into a word, then I can certainly create a word, too. Scrabble-icious.

It may not be in a Scrabble dictionary, but I hereby declare it a word.

I love Scrabble. It's the best board game ever. In fact, playing Scrabble is a family tradition, passed down from many generations on my Dad's side of the family. Scrabble is a way of life for us. We are the Scrabble.

I remember many times as a kid, watching my dad and grandma go at it in a heated game of Scrabble. My dad is literally a genius, very smart and able to recall things that normal people just do not know. He is also very sneaky and crafty and he absolutely hates to lose. He plays Scrabble ruthlessly, not afraid to cheat if he can get away with it. He will win, whatever the cost.

My grandma is also quite smart, and even more sneaky and cheat-y than my dad. She's wirey and scrappy and she plays dirty. So, games of Scrabble between the two of them are often a battle of who can get away with more words that aren't actual words. On more than one occasion, I would glance at the board only to recognize none of the words on the board, and to learn later that most of the 'words' I saw do not exist in any language known to man.

Eventually I was old enough to play with them, but this was a scary initiation into the Scrabble way of life. I, too, hate to lose. And while I am also a genius, I'm just no match for my dad. I had to learn the tricks of the game, quickly, to stay afloat playing with the pros: where to place words for maximum points, how to use the 'Q' most effectively, not to fear the 'X', and most importantly of all, if you think it might be a word, play it and keep a straight face about it. Bluffing is half the game. Especially if you 'accidentally' lose the dictionary before the game starts, and no one can challenge you to prove you are wrong.

Family times of Scrabble were always great fun, as well as nerve-wracking. It's an intense time of thinking, waiting, and strategy. I always pledge in the off-season to read more of the dictionary, so I can be more prepared with good words, but I never get around to it. My dad's vast knowledge of random words always throws me. I never know when to challenge him on a word that is likely not a word, even if I know it is not a word. Somehow he manages to put down words that are questionable, yet seem to exist in the dictionary we use on any given occasion. And when I'm wrong about one of his words, he will taunt me with that until the game is over, and beyond.

Of course, the few instances when I have successfully challenged and debunked his 52-point 'word' on a Triple Word Score, these have been oh so sweet. They are rare, but they feel good. Of course, I usually pay for it during the next round, but for just a moment, victory is mine.

As time goes on, so the tide changes with Family Scrabble. My grandma has since insisted that she is not smart enough to play with us anymore. I remember a few Scrabble-ings ago, she just simply refused to play. I don't know if I've gotten so good at it that she feels she can't compete with my dad and me, or what the motivation is for her retirement from the game. But, she bowed out gracefully. A true champion of the game. I don't think I ever beat her, and that's the way it should be.

My dad, however, is still the ultimate challenge. So in 2004, I feel it is time for another shift in the tide of Family Scrabble. I have vowed to hone my skills, to learn new words, to develop a better Scrabble-face for bluffing, and to most importantly not let my dad intimidate me with his Scrabble antics during game play.

People, it is on.

How do I plan to accomplish this? With my secret weapon: a Scrabble page-a-day desk calendar.

Every morning when I arrive at work, I can turn the page of my calendar for a new Scrabble fact, trivia question, or brain-teaser puzzle. All of which are fine-tuning my skills, knowledge, and genius in preparation for the next Scrabble match. I am learning while knowing the day of the year, all at once. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have 365 days of Scrabble goodness, on my desk at work.

It will keep me sharp and ready, always aware.

So far, however, it makes me feel really stupid. Who knew a calendar could be so much smarter than I am? Man, this is a tough calendar. Especially early in the morning.

It's a whole new level of Scrabble superiority that I hope to embrace and wield with confidence, forevermore.

I may, in fact, become too scrabble-icious for you, dad.


Monday, January 12, 2004

Mrmfr chasfmr tjerjk?
I love when I put an entire peanut butter cracker in my mouth, and then the phone rings as soon as I chomp into it.

Do you think people on the other end of the phone mind that I answer my office phone completely unintelligibly in this scenario?

Because truthfully, I don't mind at all. I enjoy my peanut butter crackers.


I Need a New Mug
I ask for relatively few things from my job. One, that it not fire me before I'm ready to go. And two, that I can have my morning cup of tea while it is still morning.

My on-going struggle with caffeine truthfully paints an inaccurate picture of my usual caffeine consumption. I am now six days caffeine free, and feeling pretty good. The headache lasted only three days this time. And I managed to stay awake for most of my weekend. It was a nice weekend.

I should be ready to re-introduce caffeine back into my diet soon enough. In moderation, of course.

But truly, I was not consuming exhorbitant amounts of caffeine prior to six days ago. I restricted myself to one Coke a day, at most. Coffee only on weekends, with a limit of one cup of coffee per day, at most. I have made a strong committment to not drink coffee during the week, especially while at work.

Opening the floodgates of coffee at work will result only in the longest, highest, strongest caffeine addiction known to mankind. Once I say yes to the wealth of free coffee located approximately 9.2 steps from my office door, there is no turning back.

So, instead of coffee at work, I have tea. I bring my own tea, and my mornings just aren't complete without my sugar-loaded cup of herbal goodness.

But apparently I also need to bring my own mug because cups are scarce around here. Especially when I need them most.

I can usually find a stash of styrofoam cups near the coffee machine located 9.2 steps from my office door. I venture out, holding my breath so as not to inhale the fragrant and tempting aroma of brewing coffee, grab a cup, then hightail it back into my office. From there, I grab my tea supplies (including bottled water), and head down to the microwave to heat my water and make my tea. I enjoy the ritual as much as I enjoy the tea.

Unfortunately, working in a homeless shelter, we run out of things from time to time. One would think that cups are a priority to keep on hand, since we serve many meals to many people who need a good cup of something to wash everything down. But alas, every once in awhile I find that there are no cups to be found. Where are all the cups?

One day I could not find a cup upstairs, so I ventured downstairs hoping to find one near the other coffee machine. There I found the world's oldest and most disgusting styrofoam coffee cup. I was afraid to touch it. And I decided to add it as a feature on the next tour I gave of our building to the curious public. One doesn't often find a styrofoam cup that is 54 years old. I imagine it's the shelter's first cup ever. It's a unique feature we can proudly boast. They weren't kidding when they said styrofoam isn't biodegradeable.

Then I ventured into the industrial kitchen we have here, where we cook tons of food daily. It was in between meals, and therefore quiet. Yet, I was afraid. The kitchen is a scary place. Again I asked, where are all the cups? I looked through every inch of the store room, yet I could not find what I was looking for.

I did, however, find one small stash of tiny plastic pink cups. They were still in plastic packaging, so I figured they were relatively sterile. And I wasn't sure the plastic of the cup would hold up in the microwave while I heated my tea water. But, I had no other choice. Either tiny pink plastic cup, or no tea at all.

I chose pink.

Today there are no styrofoam cups. All I want is my tea.

Once more I ask, where are all the cups?


Friday, January 09, 2004

TV and Me and Who I'd Like to Be
Admittedly, I am extremely fascinated with television. All kinds of TV. I'm not ashamed, and I don't try to hide my addiction. Granted, not every show on TV is something I watch, or would recommend. But in general, I'm able to consume a surprising amount of television, still allowing for plenty of time away from TV, and I'm not even ashamed to say I include some of the shows that are sub-par in my viewing repertoire.

It's an appreciation for television as a whole. And like many things, with the good comes the oh so very bad.

I was reading an article earlier today and was struck with the idea of who on TV I would most like to be. Out of all the shows I watch, or have watched in the history of my eyes being open and pointed towards a television set, if I could be one person or character for a day, who would it be?

There are many, many people to pick from. I can't even remember all of my favorites throughout the years, and believe me there have been many. When I was much younger, I wanted to be one of the Ingalls girls from Little House on the Prairie. I never decided which one I wanted to be, and I think I actually imagined myself in the scenario of being adopted into the family so that I could hang out with both sisters, much like they adopted drug-addicted Albert. I'm not sure why I found such a hard-working, rustic life to be appealing, but I wanted to be in that family. Pa Ingalls was like a superhero dad, strong and handsome, always helping everyone in the town. The kids got to run freely through fields and woods and ponds, riding horses and being outdoors-y. Sure, the girls had to wear the same dress everyday. But I figured I could find a way around that. The dress was the least of my worries.

Now that I'm much older and wiser, I feel I have a more sensible approach to which television personality I would like to be today. There are a lot of good possibilities. My first thought was to be Buffy, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, she has to fight vampires at night, constantly risking her life to save the world. But then again, she is an actual superhero disguised as a normal girl with fun friends and good clothes and witty banter. She doesn't often slay demons in a dress, so that's a perk. But of course, she does die a couple of times, only to come back slightly 'off'. So maybe Buffy isn't such a good idea.

Then I thought I would like to be one of the Friends gang. Everyone likes Friends, and who wouldn't want to be a part of that group? So which one would I be? Possibly Chandler, if Chandler was a girl. He's the best Friend, by far. He and I are a lot alike, very sarcastic and funny and weirdly neurotic. Of course, I don't have a superfluous third nipple, as he did. And Chandler actually isn't a girl. So to keep my imaginary game more realistic, I couldn't be Chandler. I love the other Friends, but I'm not sure I could commit to being any one of them.

So, if I consider the broad range of everything that I watch on television, and excluding all reality TV, since technically it's not really much of a game to choose to be someone as regular as I am anyway, there is really only one true answer to the question of who I want to be on TV.

Hands down, it's Sydney Bristow from Alias.

Sydney is not technically a superhero, but she might as well be one. She's amazing. She's a spy, she can get out of any tough situation, she's brilliant, and she can kick just about anyone's butt. Not to mention, she's hot. And I'd like to be that hot.

The great thing about Sydney is that she's human. We see her struggle, cry, laugh, and deal with her bizarre life in realistic ways. Of course, her reality involves guns and bombs and secret codes and flying all over the world like there's no such thing as a time zone or jet lag. But still, she's very real about it. She can come home from a long day of flying back and forth to Moscow to rescue some secret documents from a highly guarded prison, having to navigate through dark tunnels and blind passageways while in disguise as a Russian soldier, then relax on the couch with a beer and a book. No big deal.

Plus, she gets to hang out with possibly the coolest dad ever, even surpassing Pa Ingalls. Her dad is smart, cunning, and while he hasn't always been upfront with Sydney or his intentions in manipulating certain events and people, he looks great in a suit and can also kick butt when you least expect it. Her mom is also a super-cool, possibly evil spy. There's just lots of spy hi-jinx going on in that family. Something we all yearn for at one time or another, right?

And as if that isn't enough, there's Vaughn and Will. Two of the studliest friends a girl could ask for. Sure, Vaughn is married to someone else now, and Will is in Witness Protection. But that's all just part of Sydney's whirlwind life. She'll find a way to make it work.

Because she's Sydney Bristow.

And that's who I'd want to be.


Thursday, January 08, 2004

Technology and Me
Or, Why DVD Players Make the World a Better Place.

I used to pride myself on having cool electronic equipment. Having studied television and film production in college, I loved playing with fun gadgets. My classes and internships allowed me to learn new technology and play with all kinds of fun cameras and editing equipment. I felt smart and cutting edge.

Of course, my friends used to assume my degree in television meant I should automatically know how to hook up their TV with the VCR and the Playstation. Even though my degree had nothing to do with that, somehow I managed to figure it out and was consequently the on-call repairperson when there was a Playstation malfunctioning emergency. I seem to have a natural talent for hooking up electronics, even though I'm usually initially intimidated by all the wires and buttons and instruction booklets.

If you plug enough stuff into enough wires, eventually you'll get it right.

But then, I fell away from the gadgets. My 'career' took me away from the field of television and film, and I also became a poor, working adult, unable to keep up with the latest and greatest. I had TV, VCR, and stereo, and that would be it for awhile.

Then along came the world of DVD. This was something new. I heard and read about these DVD things, but never had any experience with them. Gradually, a few friends purchased a new-fangled DVD player contraption, and I was amazed at how cool it was. You could jump from scene to scene without hours of fast-forwarding. There were 'extra' things on the DVD besides just the movie. It looked better and sounded better than a VCR tape. It was unbelievable. I was jealous.

Soon DVDs started appearing on the shelves of Blockbuster. It was a revolution. On one side of the store were the tried and true VCR tapes, where I could roam freely. On the other side, DVDs were housed, where I still was not allowed to venture. Before long, the two were inter-mingled. And now, DVDs far out number the available tapes of any given movie. When I go to rent a movie, there are times when the few video tapes are gone and I can't get the movie I want. My VCR ways are slowly becoming obsolete.

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a DVD for my birthday. At the time I had a laptop computer for work that had a DVD player in it. I managed to watch the DVD once before I was laid off from that job, forcing me to give up the laptop. The DVD has since collected dust on a shelf, nothing more than a pretty package with a shiney object inside. I could nothing with it. I had no means to watch it.

Then, my dad got a DVD changer. Not just a player, but a 7-disc changer. It had finally happened. My dad was more technologically advanced than I was. Sure, technically I get my gadget-ocity from him, and he is usually ahead of me in many technological ways. But now he was also cooler than I was. I helped him hook it up to the TV, and we sat and marveled at the wonders of DVD in their home. Two nerds with a new techie toy.

I vowed then to acquire my very own DVD player. Soon. At this point in time, literally everyone on the planet had long-since owned a DVD player. I was the one remaining person on earth that was still trapped in the VCR age. Yet, I couldn't justify running out and spending my money on just any DVD player. It had to be the right one, at the right time, when I could afford it.

So, I waited, and watched. My friends scoffed at me, whatever 'scoffing' is. They taunted me with their DVDs, blatantly watching them when they knew I couldn't do that in my own home. Well, at least the thought of them with DVDs that I couldn't have taunted me. They really had nothing to do with it. And in fact, they were all very nice about letting me watch DVDs with them.

Finally, I decided on a DVD changer. It needed to serve as both a DVD player, and a CD player to make up for my broken CD player. My house was a world without digital video technology, and without music on a good stereo. It was suburban cave, silent and devoid of proper entertainment technology.

Just as I was preparing to make the big purchase, Christmas happened. There, under my parents' Christmas tree, was a large box with my name on it. Upon unwrapping the box, I discovered the very DVD player I soon planned to purchase.

It was beautiful. It glowed. I fell in love. I hugged it.

Yesterday, the DVD player arrived at my home, having been shipped to me post-Christmas from my parents' far-away home. I went straight home after work to find it waiting for me on the front porch. I scooped it inside, jumped for joy, and tore open the package. There, in all its glory, was my beloved DVD changer.

I was almost afraid to touch it, for I knew this would open up a whole new world of possibilities for me. Things would start happening for me now.

Pending I could figure out how to hook it up, of course.

After an emergency trip to Radio Shack for the proper audio cables, with which I was able to hook the DVD sound into my stereo for maximum surround sound, I had a successful DVD changer system hooked into the rest of my entertainment extravaganza. I managed to figure it out the first try, as it was surprisingly simple, and I am surprisingly smart.

I literally trembled with excitement. This was a big day.

I found my one DVD and watched it. I found some CDs and played those, too. Loudly, as I live in a house now. The louder the better, because the neighbors can't hear me. It sounded great.

And yes, I am not ashamed to tell you that for the first time in my new house, I danced in my living room. It wasn't pretty, but it was fun.

The Tyrant has entered the age of DVD.

It's great to be here.

If you need me, you will likely find me for the next week or so parked on my couch with as many DVDs as I can get my hands on.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I Quit
Or at least, I intend to quit. Drinking Coke, that is. Again.

I tried yesterday, but I forgot. I went to buy my sandwich for lunch, with strict instructions to myself beforehand to not buy a Coke with my sandwich. But after the lengthy thirty-two second journey to the sandwich shop, I forgot to not buy the Coke.

And since I bought it, of course I had to drink it.

Even though I thoroughly enjoy the tasty Coke-a-licious beverage and I am thoroughly convinced I cannot live without it, my funky stomach would prefer to do without the caffeine and carbonation. It's been speaking to me quite emphatically about this lately. I fear I must listen and heed its bidding.

Many years ago, a doctor told me I had some stomach issues. He gave me some medicine and handed me a sheet of paper detailing a strict diet that I was instructed to follow. I had to immediately cut out all caffeine, which was the major component of the diet, as well as a major thing for me to do without. I was a slave to coffee and Coke, and at the time thoroughly believed that water was not a valid beverage, as it had no taste or color.

Also on the paper was a list of foods I was no longer allowed to consume: anything greasy or fried, anything spicey, anything acidic, and basically all foods that I currently enjoyed. Being a pizza-loving, constant caffeine consuming, spicey food-eating Cajun, and already too thin as it was, I was really unsure of what food items were left in the world for me to eat. Up until that point in my young history, I was made entirely of fried cheesy stuff, and/or Coke, tea, and coffee.

I feared I would have to subsist on lettuce and water alone. I felt empty inside.

The mean doctor with the crazy diet restrictions assured me that this was a semi-serious situation, requiring an immediate and drastic change on my part. If I did not adhere to the diet and the drugs, my next visit to him would likely be followed by an invasive surgical procedure.

So, to avoid that, I haven't seen him since then.

I also decided I had no choice but to immediately embrace the diet. I began eating salads (minus the tomatoes) and chicken (grilled, not fried like mama used to make). I managed pasta without marinara sauce. And apple juice, as an alternative to water. I took the medicine given to me by my doctor. I was determined to go by all the rules, averting a health crisis.

I immediately noticed a difference in how I felt. The most noticeable difference being the enormous, brain-searing headache I had for three weeks, due to the absence of gallons of daily caffeine in my system. I quit Coke, caffeine, and tea- cold turkey. No adjustment period. It had to be done that way. I was crabby and on-edge for weeks, much like a smoker while quitting smoking. People steered clear of me. It was for the best.

But once the headache subsided, I noticed that my stomach seemed much less angry with me. Pleasant, almost. Sure, I was hungry all the time, and losing weight that I didn't need to lose. I missed food. But, the sharp ever-present ache in my tummy had substantially reduced in intensity. I no longer felt nauseous for most of the day. I could eat, and keep what I ate with me. I determined this was good.

Eventually I ran out of medicine, but fearing that returning to the doctor for any reason whatsoever would give him an excuse to operate on something pertaining to me, I forged ahead without additional drugs. I kept to the diet. And I found that I continued to feel good. I was cured.

The diet and I continued on for two years or so. It was at least two years without any sign of caffeine in me. I didn't need it anymore. I could stay awake without it. I could function without it. And truthfully, I felt better without it.

Soon, I began incorporating some of my most favorite foods of yore into my diet again. I figured my compliance with the strict food-free diet had repaired most of the stomach damage, and gently I began to test the waters of normal food again. Mostly for special occasions with family and friends, as they ate like normal people. I, too, wanted to eat like a normal person. In moderation.

I don't remember the day or time that I had my first sip of Coke after the caffeine drought, but I do remember that it was good. I decided to allow myself a Coke on occasion, but not as a regular part of my diet, and still no coffee. One Coke a day at the most. This worked well for awhile.

Then I spent more time with family, who are a large group of people that ingrained in me the former belief that water is not a beverage, due to the lack of taste and color. It's a caffeine-fest when they're around. So I slipped up a bit, having a bit more caffeine than I probably should, but only when on vacation and with family. Otherwise, the rule was no caffeine while in the city where I live. I stuck to it.

Then I trained for a 100-mile bike event, so I was back to a high-carb, no caffeine, no bad stuff diet. I felt great. I missed food, but the trade-off of how good I felt more than made up for it. My stomach had to be cured, at this point. I knew it. I didn't need a doctor to tell me. I felt more than confident that my self-diagnosis was good enough.

No more stomach worries. . . until recently. I've been careless lately with my diet restrictions, pretty much ignoring the 'restriction' part of the whole thing. Lately the things I've chosen to eat and drink have caused my stomach to once again voice a loud opinion of protest.

There is pain.

So, I decided to once again start eliminating things from my eating and drinking repertoire, one at a time this time. Until my tummy doth protest at a more endure-able level.

Today I have had lunch, but no Coke. I calculate my headache should start in about ten minutes. And I should be unable to stay awake about five minutes after that.

But, to combat the headache, and the sleepiness, I'm assuring myself that I'm not quitting for good again. I think I've put off cutting back on certain things because with that thought came the fear that it would have to be forever. Another drastic change that I just don't want to do again.

But this time, it's just until I feel better.

Or tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Is this your favorite Blog?
Or one of your favorites? Or at least a blog you don't hate?

Then nominate me.

I toil away here nearly everyday, providing you with humorous and/or poignant content for your reading enjoyment. I give you my best. For free, mind you. I ask nothing of you in return.

Until now.

Nominate me for a Bloggie award.

Never heard of it? Neither had I until recently, but I think it would be fun to see how I rank amongst the super well-known blogs of the world. Or at least to see if I rank at all.

I never win anything. Ever. Never. Ever. True, a Bloggie isn't exactly an Oscar (which I'm also hoping for this year, along with a Grammy). But blogging is what I do. Cool for me if I win something for it.

Do this before January 12:
Go here. Scroll down the page. Pick a category. Put 'Cynical Rantings' and the link to my blog as a nominee. And if all goes well, I'll have me a Bloggie.

Might I suggest a category or two? Nominate me in one or all of the following:

- Most Humorous Weblog
- Best Kept Secret Weblog
- Best New Weblog (mine began in February, 2003)
- Weblog of the Year (I have no chance at this, but it doesn't hurt to try)

The blogs with the most nominations are considered for voting by a panel of judges to choose finalists, then people vote again amongst the finalists, apparently. So spread the word to nominate me.

Try to avoid nominating me in categories that do not apply to me (ie: Best Asian Blog)

And truly, it is an honor just to be nominated. So with that, I leave you to go nominate myself.


PS: I may be nominating some of you with blogs, too. I enjoy many of your blogs as much as you enjoy mine. Let the Bloggies begin.

I Need More Publicity
I decided that my blog just isn't receiving enough attention. Therefore, I am not receiving enough attention.

So last night I was hanging out with Justin Timberlake, and I decided we should get married as a joke. You know, just something crazy. For fun. Can't hurt, right?

Then I woke up this morning and realized that I had just married Justin Timberlake on a whim. I hadn't realized what I'd done at the time! Oops!

So after consulting my best friend, Britney, she recommended a quickie annullment. Justin and I are not in love, so it's best that we not be married for more than a day. Besides, it was just a joke. Who knew spur of the moment marriages were real???

Everything should be taken care of this afternoon, and I will once again be a single woman. Silly me!

I just hope it makes the evening news. I need the attention.


Monday, January 05, 2004

Why I Shouldn't Do Math
I get intimidated by the numbers and lose all sense of the obvious.

I just spent a good portion of my afternoon (okay, at least several minutes, but it seemed like a lot longer) calculating figures and totals pertinent to where I work, related to the past year. I receive this report quarterly, and usually have to do some further mathematical functions using the incomplete data that I am given, so that I can use it for my purposes. Thus, I carefully added each column of numbers once, and then again, to make sure I had the correct number.

An hour or so later (or, now, as a matter of fact), I've discovered that these numbers that I came up with using my mathematical brilliance and genius (ie: my M&M-themed calculator) exactly match the row of numbers printed directly underneath the columns which I just added.

On one hand, my hardwork paid off with correct figures and a display of impeccable math skills (ie: no button-punching mistakes on my M&M-themed calculator). On the other hand, I just spent time adding numbers that were already added and conveniently printed on the page for me.

In my defense, those numbers have never been there on past reports, which is why I'm usually required to finish the usefulness of the report by adding the numbers myself. So in essence I was anticipating saving myself the time of looking for these numbers when I usually find they aren't there.

But then again, sometimes I just ain't so smart.


Cooking with the Tyrant
I don't really like to cook, so I don't cook often. But the best thing I've discovered about cooking is that when I cook, I don't have to cook again for a long time.

My mom loves to cook. She always cooked a lot when I was a kid, and she still cooks a lot now. She says it's therapeutic for her. Unfortunately, I did not inherit her desire, nor her skills for cooking. But surprisingly, when I do take the time and effort to cook, it actually turns out pretty good. For the most part.

I think my mom was disappointed that I didn't take after her in the cooking department. In highschool and college, she would always try to get me into the kitchen with her to learn how to cook her recipes. I think she wanted to pass them down to me. She even started a cookbook for me, and one for my sister, of all her recipes. But when my mom noticed that the book seemed to collect a lot of dust in my cabinet from non-use, she quit trying to add recipes to it.

My sister liked to cook and she would get into the cooking extravaganzas with my mom. She would sometimes even experiment on her own, and too many times I was the only one around to be the guinea pig for her 'creations'. I had to give her points for trying. But I think it was soon after the 'fluffy cheesy puffs' for her french class that I had to resign from my taste-tester position. The puffs were neither fluffy, nor cheesy, nor puffy. And I think I lost the will to eat for awhile.

My kitchen duties were eventually reduced to chopping things, and then cleaning up afterwards. These things I could do well. But times in the kitchen were something I absolutely abhorred. I was completely bored with the whole process of creating something that will soon be devoured and no longer in existence. Why spend so much time preparing something that doesn't last? Plus, there's a lot of waiting in cooking. You have to mix and let things set, sometimes cooking one thing before you can start cooking something else. If you have several things going at one time, it's like a circus. You don't know where your attention should be at any one moment, and when you focus on one thing, you are missing what's going on with something else. And that's when things burn and ruin, and you end up ordering pizza anyway.

I usually say, start with the pizza and save everyone a lot of time and stinky kitchen smells.

But then again, pizza gets expensive after awhile. So generally, I cook at home. And let me tell you that I consider macaroni and cheese, and frozen corn dogs heated in the oven as 'cooking'.

Then, every once in awhile, I get hungry for some 'real' food. I miss my mom's cooking, and since she lives several states away, it's not convenient for me to stop by for dinner and bring home the leftovers. So, at times I'll pull out the dusty cookbook she made for me and I'll choose one of the recipes for a real meal. The book is full of easy recipes that she's tried to show me over the years. Any time she would say, "Honey, you could make this," I knew it would end up in the cookbook and I would be expected to try it on my own before long.

So, throughout the past several years, I've developed a repertoire of about four regular items that I can cook well, which I rotate on a random basis. Sometimes I throw in another item to mix things up a bit, but mostly I stick with the ones I know and trust. Living alone and not often brave enough to cook for anyone else, as I care for people and do not wish to harm them, I have to be really excited about eating the same thing for at least a week, or I have to make something that freezes well. I'm a huge fan of leftovers.

I never cook anything for anyone unless I've made it for myself and survived. Then, I will feed it to other people, with caution. Unfortunately I rarely have people over for dinner because I fear they will soon discover that I only know how to make four things, and they'll get sick of those four things, finding me dull and strange in the process. It's very complicated.

Freezing food, by the way, is my other favorite thing about cooking. It's the greatest cooking invention ever. Anything that I can make which allows me to freeze part of it for re-discovery weeks later when I'm starving for 'real' food but not wanting to cook, I love it. I currently have an entire quiche awaiting re-discovery in my freezer right now. I can hardly wait to be ready for a week full of quiche.

This weekend, I had two cooking adventures. One involved the new waffle iron I received for Christmas. This was to be a new addition to my repertoire of cooking. Apparently my parents decided I need to make more waffles, so they bought me a waffle iron. This was also the case with the Fry Daddy my mom bought me at Thanksgiving. Apparently I need to fry more stuff. I haven't used it, yet, but I'm on the lookout for stuff I can fry.

The other cooking adventure was taco soup, from my Mamaw's recipe. This is a favorite of mine because it involves putting a lot of stuff together in a pot, and then letting it sit and heat for a long time. Things that cook while sitting and heating, without requiring me to keep a vigil over it, are things of which I am a big fan. This time, however, I would add a new twist to the process by using my new crock pot, also purchased for me recently by my mother.

My mom seems to think that now that I live in a house, people constantly stream by looking for food. Maybe she thinks my house is actually a front for a hidden restaurant. She has therefore equipped my kitchen as though I will either be cooking for lots of people often, or that I will be hiring a personal chef to use all the new kitchen equipment. Neither is true. But the shiny new kitchen stuff does look very pretty in my kitchen.

The waffles went off nearly flawlessly. Thankfully. Waffle mess can be a disaster. I made them for dinner Friday night. Breakfast for dinner is the coolest thing ever. My parents and I had made waffles for Christmas last week, using their new waffle iron. So I'd already had some practice. This time, however, I was on my own.

And, it was a success. Although I did discover that while the instructions said to use something plastic and heat-resistant to remove the waffle from the non-stick surface, my rubber spatula is apparently not heat resistant. It's now a funny shape. But I even (successfully) cut the recipe on the box in half, so that I wouldn't have thousands of waffles running amok in my kitchen. This was tough, as it involved math and measuring things differently than what the box told me to do. And even with half the recipe, I had more waffles than I could handle. But you know the cool thing about waffles?

They freeze well. I now have frozen waffles in the freezer, awaiting re-discovery. It's like homemade Eggos.

The taco soup in the crock pot went off flawlessly, as well. I'd made this soup before, but never in the crock pot. I have to say, the crock pot is a fabulous invention. I threw all the ingredients in there early in the day, and later when I was ready to eat, there it was. Already warm and melded together. Quite tasty.

And the best part? It freezes well. I put some of it into serving size containers, and one day when I'm hungering for taco soup, I will have a soup-cicle waiting for me in the freezer.

And even better than that, I don't have to cook for much of the rest of the week.

I cook not to cook.

I just hope I never run out of room in the freezer. That would be a disaster.


Friday, January 02, 2004

Mostly New People
I've noticed that I seem to have a high turnover rate.

Anne Lamott, my favorite author for a variety of reasons, wrote a book called All New People. The title refers to the thought that no matter what's going on now, every hundred years it's all new people anyway.

I love that thought because it's true. It's kind of sad, since I don't like the thought of people not being here anymore. But, it's kind of a comforting thought, too. The people you know now, in a hundred years all of you, including you, will be gone, and there will be all new people. So really, what's the worst you can do? Even when you think things are really bad, after awhile it's all new people anyway. Something about that puts into perspective what's really important during moments of freaking out.

With me, however, the rotation seems to be somewhere around every 3-5 years. Mostly new people. Not entirely all new people, as I do (thankfully) have some apparent keepers. But nevertheless, lots of turnover. Not quite as comforting as sticking with people for say, a hundred years. But not entirely horrible, either.

I thought about this in honor of the new year. I went to a great New Year's Eve party with lots of friends that I really enjoy. These are the people in my life now. But when I thought back a year, as is typically something people do at the start of a new year, I realized I was spending the new year with an almost completely different crowd than last year. And the year before that, too.

Not that this is a bad thing. I love the people I was with this year. But I also wonder where the other people went, and why.

It started when I was much younger, when my family would move fairly often because of my dad's jobs. He'd get transferred, and every few years we'd have to start over in a new place. Every few years, all new people. It was hard to form good friendships and lasting relationships since there was always the looming fear that we would only be around for a short time anyway. I think I still carry some fear that after awhile, I'll have to start over again, that people will be gone in a few years, even for no apparent reason. It's hard for me to picture people sticking around long-term.

Now, I stay put. On purpose. I need the stability of staying in one place. Yet, every few years it still seems inevitably, mostly new people. The people I was closest to a few years ago are not the same people I am close to now. I miss them. But then again, a lot of good has come from mostly new people.

I don't like to let go or say goodbye. Sometimes there's not even a goodbye, for whatever reasons. I've never been good at maintaining relationships. I try, and I have really good intentions. But I haven't had that many relationships to maintain for very long, so I'm definitely out of practice on what happens after the new-ness wears off. I struggle with making good decisions, especially the tough ones that lead me through changes in people and relationships, letting go, or forging ahead to make things work. I don't know why some people leave, and I may never know. I don't know why I've had to choose distance for myself, rather than perpetuating a seemingly losing situation. Sometimes, it's been best for me to do the leaving.

Most of all, I don't know how new people keep making a place in my life. That one puzzles me the most. Where do the new people come from, and why? How do they have room for me as a new person in their lives? Even when I think there couldn't possibly be any more new people, there they are.

As a hermit, it doesn't make sense that new people keep seeing something in me that makes them want to be a part of a hermit's life. I'm not easy to get to know. Yet, they try and they do. I'm baffled. But in a good way.

I don't understand the comings and goings of people depending on circumstances or differences or whatnot. I don't understand why I get to keep some people, and why some people are the ones I have to let go. And, I certainly don't understand why some people are inevitably stuck with me.

But I have seen that God continues to bless me by bringing wonderful people into my life at the right times, for the right reasons. Whether they stick around for awhile, or for the long haul, I've seen a purpose for most of them. All of them adding value to my hermit life. And even if they aren't around anymore, I'm thankful that they were here at one time. I can only hope whatever I had to offer at the time was equal to what I gained from them.

None of it makes any sense to me.

But thank goodness for mostly new people.