Friday, April 30, 2004

The wildlife adventures have followed me to work. I do not ask for this stuff to happen. It just does.

Today's Friday afternoon work adventure has been harrowing, to say the least. I'm here, in my office, minding my own business. Just trying to make it through the rest of the afternoon so that my weekend can begin and I can get out of here.

I hear a rustling in the corner. I look over. I see a mouse peering back at me from atop a pile of papers and boxes.

THERE'S A MOUSE IN MY OFFICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A MOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He scurries away, as do I. I run downstairs looking for someone, anyone. What do I do?

I ask our secretary who to talk to about finding a mouse in my office. And by 'finding', I mean 'I found a mouse, tell me who to find to get it out of my office, RIGHT NOW!'

You know, I can handle a squirrel in my house. I can handle bird shrapnel in my front yard. But a mouse in my office???? This has really gone too far.

We don't technically have a maintenance guy here at my place of employment. Nor do we have a technical Director of Mouse Removal. Our secretary began calling people in the building, asking who we should talk to about the mouse. Mysteriously on a Friday afternoon, most people in the office seem to be MIA.

Maybe the mouse already got them.......

We finally track down the info that one of our program guys is serving as a 'maintenance type person', and he'd be the one to put on the mouse situation. Secretary and I go on a hunt to find this guy. We find him out back behind the building.

At first mention of mouse in my office, he laughs. Apparently it's funny for the young Development Director girl to be squeamish about a mouse in my office. Therefore, I'd like to set the record straight as saying that I am not squeamish. I just don't like the thought of a tiny furry disease-ridden thing roaming freely amongst the junk in my office, threatening to jump out and attack me with it's venemous fangs at any unsuspecting moment.

Is that so wrong???

I didn't think so. Get it out of here. NOW.

Maintenance Man tells me he'll be up to my office in a jiffy. My question then was, during this 'jiffy', what am I supposed to do? Hang out with the mouse?? I don't think so.

I spend some time in the restroom. I slowly walk back up the stairs to my office. I carefully re-enter the Mouse Zone, and I survey the area to see if I see the mouse before he sees me.

No mouse.

I approach my desk, where in one very swift nano-second before quickly evacuating at the sight of the mouse, I had swooped up and closed both my purse, and what was left of my snacks for the day. Priority Number One is to save the snacks. No mouse on this earth better come between, or get to my snacks first.

I. Will. Lose. It.

Once the purse and snacks were deemed secure, I decided to have a closer look into the corner where I saw the mouse. It was a little eerily quiet. This made me uncomfortable.

I then noticed Secretary standing at my door, surveying the situation. Was she waiting for me to single-handedly find the mouse and save the shelter from the rabid beast?? She would be waiting a long time for that. Turns out, she was scared of the mouse and feared for her own safety, even though her office is down the stairs and around the corner. Why is no one thinking of MY safety but me??

Soon Maintenance Man arrives and takes a look around. No mouse. And no apparent holes in the wall or ceiling. This is disturbing. Very disturbing.

I want to see where the mouse came in, and where he left. No hole means he is either (and most probably) still in my office and hiding someplace where he will jump out and eat me alive as soon as everyone else leaves me here alone to fend for myself. Or, he came in and left through the office door. A possibility that is oddly disturbing, as that means he blatantly ran across my floor and I didn't notice. Or, he has a secret entrance and exit that we will never find, and will allow him to forever after come and go as he pleases.

Find the hole!!!!!!

Well, it turns out the shelter is ill equipped to deal with a mouse situation, which I also found disturbing because a homeless shelter seems to me to be a place that mice would rather enjoy. This could mean that since we have nothing with which to combat a mouse infestation, there are literally thousands of them waiting to follow that one little mouse into my office and make themselves at home.

That's it. Either the mouse and his posse goes, or I go.

Turns out, I can't leave til my work day is over. Mouse Attack is apparently not grounds for 'please take the rest of the afternoon off.' So, back to plan Rid Office of Mouse.

Maintenance Man decided he could probably find a mouse trap, so off he went to do so. Leaving me alone again with the mouse somewhere in my office. I decided the safest thing to do at that point was to stand very still in the middle of the room, darting my eyes about the room in silent 'search' mode. I will see that mouse before he gets me.

Then, curiosity got the better of me and I ventured over again to the Mouse Corner. I began pawing through the debris in the corner, determined to find the hole, but hoping not to find the mouse. I found nothing. The mouse had disappeared. The hole was non-existent. It's a magic disappearing invisible psycho ravenous lethal mouse.

I went back to the middle of the office.

Just as I heard footsteps approaching, however, I moved back towards the desk so as not to look like Poor Helpless Staff Girl, and instead to look very, very busy rustling papers about on my desk. I don't need any more attention or fun poked at me around here. That's for sure.

Maintenance Man belonged to the footsteps I heard, and he triumphantly returned with the tiniest mouse trap I've ever seen. It contained a smear of peanut butter. This peanut butter was apparently there to attract the mouse.

Um, okay.

The trap was set underneath a cabinet next to the wall. Maintenance Man told me to let him know if it caught anything.

Oh you can bet I will definitely let you know less than one second after I hear anything snap from that area of the office.....

And, he said that's all he can do for now.

So, now I sit with an hour left until I can flee from here. My legs are folded into my chair so that my feet are off the ground. Anything near or dear to me sits in front of me on the desk. All food I do not intend to eat before I leave today has been thrown out. The M&Ms are covered tightly for protection. And I am typing while sitting as far away from the desk as possible, so that nothing can run across underneath or on top and come anywhere near me.

I'm an island, unto myself, fearing the mouse.

63 minutes to go, and counting...........


Thursday, April 29, 2004

Dear John:
Thank you for playing on American Idol. We hope your time with us has been worthwhile. Please remove the gel from your hair and return from whence you came, where you are now likely the coolest kid at your school. We hope this works well for you during prom.

We wish you the best as possibly the nicest contestant ever on American Idol.

The Alliance

PS: Thank you, America, for doing the right thing.

PPS: The rhythm actually did get me this morning as I dug out my Gloria Estefan Greatest Hits CD and listened to it while getting ready for work. It followed me to the car, too. Today I may only speak in Gloria Estefan phrases. Why? Because there's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

If you feed them....
They will come.

I'm going to need a bigger bag than the twenty pound bag. And that will definitely cost more than toppins per bag.

After the dispersing of birdfeeders with birdseed, I arrived home last night to find a yard full of birds. Not unlike the movie The Birds, in that there were lots and lots of birds in the trees and on the ground. But very unlike The Birds, in that the birds weren't not the scary black grackle kind. They were mostly tiny finches. Very cute. And not pecking at my head.

Apparently not all mass swarms of birds are evil, as the movie would have you believe.

I decided to sit outside for awhile last night and watch the birds. I noticed that all of the feeders were still intact and in place (thanks to the chain, I'm sure). It was very peaceful, tranquil, and quite enjoyable. I lounged in my chair with my glass of lemonade, in absolute awe at the display of birdness before me. As I watched, I was suddenly very excited to see a very bright and very red bird (a redbird, if you will) swoop down onto the grass beneath a feeder. Not too long after that, a beautiful blue bird (a bluejay, if you will) also swooped down into the yard. This I had not seen before in my yard. What an event! I ran inside to get my camera.

I ran inside to get my camera to take pictures of yard birds!!

At this point, I came to a startling revelation: I have turned into my grandmas.

I even tried to think for a second about where my bird book might be. With the intent of getting it and looking up the birds in my yard. Why do I even have a bird book?

My grandmas do this. All I need now is a birdbath and binoculars, and I will have crossed the threshold into the land of being seventy years old. This is the point of no return back to youth.

I almost don't care. My yard is so cool right now.

I can't help but in enjoy it, even in an old lady sort of way.

I am now Crazy Bird Lady. And I'm strangely okay with that.


Free Trip!!
Hee Hee! (I'm laughing)

I just saw an ad on a webpage to win a free trip to.... Oklahoma.

Why?? And again I ask, why?? Is this supposed to entice people who have waited their whole lives for a vacation to....... Oklahoma? Who are these people?

As in, yay, we're in Oklahoma?

Dude, I go to Oklahoma way too often to see relatives. I drive there, because it's close. Making it free doesn't make it any less Oklahoma. Or any more exciting.

No offense to my relatives of Oklahoma, but if I'm going to go through all the trouble of clicking a web ad, please don't send me to Oklahoma.


The rhythm is gonna get to turn the beat around, and here we are.
So, it was Gloria Estefan night last night on Idol, and let me just say that I was VERY excited about that. My sister and I had a fascination with Gloria Estefan, in that 'making fun of it, but we secretly like it' sort of way. We would blare Gloria to clean up the kitchen after dinner, dancing around in an effort to make the chore more fun, or at least to make it so annoying that my mom would ask us to never do it again.

Good times. The rhythm definitely got us.

But, last night on American Idol, the rhythm seemed to not get anyone. Except Randy. And Gloria. And Paula. Who all danced through the entire show from their chairs. Thank goodness for the Miami Sound Machine, or else the whole evening would have been really bad impersonations of Gloria Estefan on a cruise ship or some other cheesy vacation spot.

Worst performance of the night definitely goes to John Stevens, who forgot the words and decided to put the key change modulation about half a song ahead of where it was supposed to go. It was sooooo bad. Soooo, soooo very bad. Poor kid.

America, I swear this week if John doesn't go home, you are in serious trouble. I don't have a favorite from this week, except the Miami Sound Machine. I hope they win.

But I definitely know I want John to go home tonight. He's too nice to keep torturing him on stage every week. Put him out of his mysery.

And, while Fantasia's tribute to Jennifer by screaming out Jennifer's name several times during her song was touching, she might should stop making such a big deal about Jennifer's untimely departure because if it hadn't been Jennifer, it would have been Fanatasia. And 'Fantasia' would likely be harder to fit into a song than 'Jennifer', so I doubt she would have received such a tribute from Ms. Hudson.

AND yes, Diana DeGarmo, I also give your dress a ZERO. I was intently hoping she would stop moving so much and just stand still, because I was afraid the way-too-high-cut vertical blinds in the skirt part of the dress were about to show us way more of Diana's "rhythm" than anyone ever hopes to see.

Please do not wear vertical blinds on the show ever again. Anyone.


John go home.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Peace Offerings
Or, More Tales of Being an Old Lady at Heart

After doing some soul-searching, I decided to make an effort of reconciliation with the woodland creatures of my yard. Considering the squirrel, and the bird, I concluded that even though I'm not technically responsible for those two tragedies, I should be the bigger mammal and extend an olive branch to the creatures. It's time my yard experienced some peace and tranquility.

It's time to end the war.

So, last night I went to Super Target and bought birdseed. Now, before I get to the next part of the actual story, it's been a really long time since I've been in a Target of any kind. I'm typically a Wal-Mart shopper. Target has heretofore been deemed 'too expensive' because Wal-Mart is usually the kind of dirt cheap I'm looking for. But Super Target was more convenient for me last night, so I ventured in, not sure what to expect. And can I just say.... holy cow!! There's a Starbucks in there! It's like.... nice!! It was quite a pleasant shopping experience. Therefore, I can never go back. I would spend all of my money there, and quite possibly never go home. It's that nice.

Target didn't used to be that nice. Hooray for Target.

Anyway, on with my actual story.

The previous old lady owner of my house, from whom I bought said house, had quite a lot going on in the backyard. Most of it was dead, nearly dead, or just plain clutter. This clutter included four birdfeeders she thoughtfully left for me. When I first got hold of the yard, I cleared out anything and everything that wasn't living or that was more annoying than useful. This meant birdfeeders. I took them down and stored them in my shed.

Yes, I have a backyard shed. It's soooooo cool. If I was nine years old, it would be a perfect playhouse/fort. But since I'm old, it's not.

Ok, it is. I'm not that old.

I brought home a twenty pound bag of birdseed last night. I'd like to see the bird that can eat twenty pounds of birdseed, but nevertheless, I have twenty pounds of the stuff. I went to the shed and chose three of the four birdfeeders. They're actually nice birdfeeders, designed to be squirrel-proof, but not cheesy feeders shaped like a house or a barn or something stupid. Fancy and sophisticated, by birdfeeder standards. I'm sure the birds will be impressed by these dining facilities.

Next came the decision about where to put the feeders. One feeder I remembered as hanging from a hook on the fence. I decided it should go back there. However, I noticed that attached to the feeder was at least thirty feet of chain. This perplexed me. It seemed to me that a birdfeeder should be safe enough hanging from a hook, not needing a chain to also chain it to something. But maybe the birds tried to take it home with them on occassion? Or the squirrels tried to lift it? Perhaps the evil cat tried to claim it? Are there young neighborhood hoodlums that steal birdfeeders for hot items on the black market?? I wasn't sure, and no one really can be sure in this age of pesky squirrels and cats and hoodlums. But, I decided to remove most of the chain, seeing as thirty feet of chain just seemed like a lot of chain for one feeder.

We'll see if it's still there when I get home.

I then chose one of the two free-standing feeders. These feeders are on a tall pole, which is fastened/inserted/jammed into the ground with the hope that it remains upright when birds dine upon it. Fortunately, the ground was still pretty soft from all the recent rain. The combination of soft ground and my impressive upper body strength allowed for much ease in installing this feeder in a prime location near the shed and the fence. I stepped away from it, and it remained standing. This was good.

The last feeder I chose would hang from one of two chains dangling from my huge tree in the yard. Yes, more chains. These chains previously had things hanging from them, and when I attempted to remove the chains from the tree I discovered that the tree limbs had grown around/over the chain. Thus, the chains are now a permanent part of the tree. They hang low enough so that I only hit my head on them every so often. And they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

They are tree chains.

The tree feeder for the tree chains is a long cylinder-shaped feeder with a dome over the top to keep squirrels away. It's kind of a funky contraption, but I imagined the birds would appreciate watching squirrels bounce off of it, as well as being able to dine by the shade tree. I attached the feeder to the chain and admired my handiwork.

Then I realized all of the feeders were still empty.

So, I removed all of the feeders from their carefully chosen locations, filled them each with birdseed, and replaced them to their specified destinations in the yard. While my main goal was to offer food and friendship to the fowl of the air, my underlying scheme was to attract the birds away from my fig tree on the other side of the yard. Birds apparently love figs. Last year, they got to my figs before I could. This year, I want my figs. Thus, my hope is that the birds will be so happy with the food I present to them on the opposite side of the yard that they will completely forget about the yummy figs.

This plan is so-far foolproof.

Of course, what I realized after I placed my birdfeeders is that I've just made a committment. A major committment. I've essentially inherited many birds as pets. I am now committed to feeding them, faithfully, continuously. I am their life source. I am their supplier of food. They could starve without me. I now have the responsibility of making sure the feeders are always full. I must purchase and keep a supply of birdseed on hand at all times. I cannot let them down. It's an investment. It's a relationship. A one-side relationship. But a relationship, nonetheless.

What have I done??

Eh, I'm an old lady. It's what we do.

Bon appetit, my fine feathered friends.


Monday, April 26, 2004

What I love most about this e-world we live in is, as I've mentioned before, email. I loves me some email.

And, what I love most about email is random email. The email that comes at unexpected moments during the day, from people you know, that has absolutely no context with my day whatsoever, and no point to it other than just a random email.

I'm blessed with wonderfully random email friends.

These friends are also good for random conversation, which is also fun. But a conversation is never quite as random as an email, because if you are there conversing with someone, chances are there will be some (even vague) form of context leading to the start of the conversation. Nothing quite beats a random email in the middle of a work day.

With email, the random factor is endless. I am not with these people throughout their day. Therefore, I do not know what is going on with them at any particular moment, and I do not know what is going on in their head at any given moment. When that comes to me in email form, it brings me great joy. And usually a smile. And some laughing. Quietly.

For instance, today I get an email with the subject line of 'bunnies'. I'm at work. There are no bunnies here. No one I know works with bunnies, or has a bunny, or is obsessed with bunnies. So this tells me I'm about to read a random email. I'm very excited about this. And it did not disappoint. Who knew email 'bunnies' would be about the serving size of Easter candy? Aaah, much hilarity ensued. (the serving size for this particular bunny candy was a 1/2 bunny, by the way)

Now, I'm not condoning personal email conversations at work, of course. Nope, you don't get the go-ahead on that from me.

But, I do so enjoy the random email conversations stemming from a single random email sent at any given point during the day.



Friday, April 23, 2004

More Phone Phun
So, the phone is here.

It's so pretty. And fun. And, lest we forget, free.

I was a little wary of the new phone situation, since I ordered it from a website I'd never heard of before. And, because after all the rebates and discounts, the phone should actually earn me $50 above being free. It all sounds too good to be true. I was nervous. All week.

I fear change.

But, the phone arrived at my door nary two days after I ordered it, sooner than promised. Turns out the website is a local company. What a stroke of good fortune!

It came with all promised goodies, undamaged, and so, so very cute. This eased my nerves a bit. I half expected never to see the phone after putting it on my credit card, thus being unable to rebate anything and instead losing money. I have great fears about being taken advantage of financially.

Upon opening the phone, no less than 108 booklets and pamphlets fell out of the box about how to set up the phone, phone features, warranties, and other phone information. It seems it's quite a fancy phone.

I plugged it in and charged it up, trying to read through some of the start up guides on how to activate the phone. I tried to follow several of the steps, noting that a couple of the pamphlets didn't quite say the exact same thing. Confusion began to set in. But, I did not panic.

I grabbed my house phone and called my phone service provider people. I explained that I just bought a new phone and needed to activate my new plan. When the customer service rep asked me if I ordered the phone from them and I had to say 'no', I felt a little guilty, like I was cheating on them. But hey, it was a great deal that they weren't offering. When they offer to give me $50 to change phones, I will get it from them.

The rep began searching for my new plan and discovered that it didn't exist. I still remained calm and pleasant. He was very nice. Then, I noticed something I feared. On the invoice that came with the phone, this random phone supplier company had assigned me a new phone number to go with my new plan, even though I was staying with the same phone service provider.

Oh no .......

I immediately had flashbacks to my SBC troubles earlier this year when switching my house phone from the apartment to my house. I quietly started freaking out. I did not want to go through phone number mayhem again. I just want my old phone number!!

The rep looked up my plan with the new number and said everything seemed to be in place. I then asked if I could have my old phone number, as I didn't want a new number. He said sure, no problem. It would just take a while to migrate/import/teleport/hallucinate the number over to the new plan. Quite awhile, in fact.

Hmm. I asked how long this 'awhile' might be. Days? Weeks? Years?

He said probably as long as an hour.

An hour??? That's not long!! I'm very happy with an hour!!! Bring on the hour!!! If an hour is all it takes to phone number bliss, let the hour begin.

Again the nice phone rep guy said a few things, asked a few questions, got my home number to call me when the number transfer/import/transport/remodification process was over (we all know he just wanted my home number to ask me out), and I hung up with him to wait through the hour of phone uncertainty.

Phone uncertainty is a tricky time. No one knows which of my phones will work. I was actually expecting a call during this time. Would it come to the old phone? Would neither phone work? Would the person remember that I also have a house phone that is usable? It's like a no-man's land of phone. You're kinda cut off from the world, but you're not sure if you are. You know if you make it to the new phone activation without any calls, you're safe. But if someone tries to call during that time but can't get through and can't leave a message, you might as well have stayed on the other side and never tried the new phone experiment at all. You've lost one. They may never try to call again, and hate you for being unreachable.

Never leave a phone friend behind!

To occupy myself during this Hour Of Uncertainty, I began programming numbers into the new phone. I hate this process, but it's also good way to clean out old numbers from people I don't like .... er ... um... don't hear from anymore. Yep. It's a time of organization and spring cleaning. Very productive.

After about twenty minutes, my house phone rang. This was odd. It hadn't been an hour, yet. But the only people who call that number are my parents and my grandmas. I'd just talked to my mom, and my grandmas aren't up that late. Who could this be?

It was Adam. The Phone Guy.

He said my phone number was switched/swapped/merged/changed already. He seemed genuinely surprised that it had only taken twenty minutes, but he was very excited to deliver this news to me. He did a test call on the new phone, and it worked. No problem.

Could this be true? Could I have just bought a phone from a random website, had it delivered earlier than expected, and switched to my new plan without any catastrophes, all on the first try???

It just might be.

I thanked Adam for his help. He didn't ask me out. But really, long distance relationships never work out well, so I'm okay with that. I could tell he wanted to ask, though. He really did.

So, the phone is working out well. I'm in the process of reading through all the material to figure out how to use the phone. It's very phancy. I'm setting up pictures and special ringtones for different people as they call. It's highly entertaining.

I'm as shocked as you are that this has not turned into a fiasco. I'm much less nervous now that I have the phone, it's working, and I'm slowly understanding how to not hang up on people or laugh too hard at the silly ringtones during phone calls of grave importance.

Hopefully, all the rebates go through as promised and I've once again scored a small polyphonic gold mine.

Phree Phones Rock.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

That's all I have to say after what I saw on American Idol last night. I didn't even see the whole show, with the inevitable music video and whatnot. I just saw the last few minutes.

But I saw enough to see the absolute wrong Bottom Three of Shame standing in the middle of the stage, while the three who should have been there (Diana, Jasmine, and John) safely reclined on the couches.

Dude, if Fantasia had gone home last night?? I would have a lot more to say right now. And it wouldn't be pretty.

But all I have to say now is good-bye, Jennifer Hudson. It wasn't your turn, yet.

Expect a lecture before things get rolling next week, America. For now, you're in the corner.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The Void
There is just such a huge void left by the absence of Jon Peter on American Idol. I'm not even sure what to write about this week. The hour was incomplete without JPL. Sure, we all knew he wasn't a great singer and that he wouldn't win. But couldn't we have at least kept him around til the final three, for pure entertainment value?? America, you're just not thinking ahead.

I did dig Barry Manilow night. Good fun. But I'm not sure what was up with Simon and his comment that Barry made all the girls sing better. Because as I listened to Diana and Jasmine, I thought they sounded as terrible as ever. Off-key and annoying. No better than the week before, Barry or not.

George has lost the will to win this competition. He had another bad week. Shaving off all of his facial hair may have been his Samson-esque downfall. I fear he can't sing without the facial hair.

I'm pretty blah about this week, still mourning the loss of JPL. And with Simon's comments in favor of the girls that deserve to be removed from the show, who knows what will happen this week.

But, I predict the Bottom Three of Shame will be Diana, Jasmine, and George. I still think John deserves to go. His rendition of 'Mandy' was almost as bad as when Angel sings it on Angel. (If you know what I'm talking about here, you've won major cool points with me). But, he got good comments from the judges and he has fans. Not sure why, but he does. Being a nice kid seems to be the thing he has going for him.

I have no problems voting him off.

I miss you, JPL....


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

More Grocery Store Shenanigans
It's always an adventure shopping for groceries. It's quite a process, really. There was the cone incident, of course. And this past weekend, I found more things I couldn't find and issues I have with grocery shopping. Here's the story.

I do 'big' Wal-Mart grocery shopping about once every six weeks. I buy in bulk so that I don't have to go through that process very often. I hate Wal-Mart, but I also love it. It has lots of fun things for cheap, but it's a hassle to go there and spend any amount of time buying things for my survival. But with the invention of Super Wal-Mart, I can get both groceries and other random items all at the same time. Very convenient.

The signal for these big Wal-Mart trips is the lack of toilet paper in my house. When I run out of toilet paper, this is the sign that it's time for Mega Wal-Mart Shopping Trip Extravaganza. I buy tons of toilet paper at a time. I live alone. When the toilet paper is gone, I seem to also coincidentally be out of many other things. It's a good system.

These trips start with a list. A long list. I've learned the hard way never to shop without a list if there are more than three things that need to be purchased. Otherwise, I will forget at least two of the three things, and it becomes a frustrating waste of time.

I wander around the house, writing down everything that is empty, or nearly empty, or will be empty within the next six weeks. This is serious. I don't like to make superfluous trips to Wal-Mart in between Mega Shopping Trips. It's a waste of time. Get it all done in one shopping trip, or else do without.

I'm very strict.

Once I have my list, then I search through my coupons. I love coupons. It's debatable whether using them actually saves any money. Especially when you are required to buy two of one item to use the coupon. I live alone. There is only so much toothpaste I can physically go through in a year's time. But I'll buy two giant tubes of toothpaste if I have a coupon. It's the perception that I'm probably saving a few cents in the long run.

I grew up in a household of coupon clipping. It was instilled in me at an early age. Therefore, I am a serious coupon shopper. Every week, I clip coupons from the Sunday paper. I put them in a box and save them. Then on Mega Wal-Mart Shopping day, look out. I'm showing up with coupons.

Once I have my list and my coupons, I head off to Wal-Mart. There I will spend the next forty-five minutes to an hour wandering up and down almost every aisle. I do toiletries first, then I head to food and household supplies. This weekend I also hit Lawn & Garden, and Automotive. Plus One-Hour Photo. It was a full Wal-Mart experience.

Inevitably, I overlook things on my list. I'll miss a toiletry item, head over to the other side of the store where the food shopping commences, then realize I forgot deodorant. This means I'll have to trek back across the store, dodging small children and mothers in tight spandex pants who are not paying attention to their children, to fetch the deodorant. By this time my shopping cart is full and heavy and hard to maneuver. But, I can't leave without the deodorant. It will throw off the whole system.

This past weekend, I needed raisins. I can NEVER find raisins when I need them. Every time I buy raisins, it's because I'm wandering an aisle looking for something else, and there they magically appear. I grab them when I find them because I know they will disappear if I come back to find them. When I look for them, I've discovered I have no idea where they are. Much like the ice cream cones a few weeks ago, I looked all over Wal-Mart for raisins. I looked on the canned fruit aisle, the snack aisle, and every aisle in between. I even went back over the other side of the store where the candy is, yet still came up empty handed in my quest for raisins.

I also couldn't find diced chicken. I found every other kind of random chicken imagineable. But no dice.

Eventually, as I watched the butter that I found without any problems begin to melt in my cart, I had to make the decision to give up and head home. It was a tough choice. I never like to leave an item behind. But, I had to do it.

Then comes the challenge of finding a checkout lane that won't last forever. I always choose the wrong lane, so I don't even know why I bother wasting the time to try choosing what appears to be a faster-moving lane. They always come to a halt, have a price check, and sometimes spontaneously combust the second I get in line. Seriously. Don't ever get in line behind me. You'll be there all day.

I eventually pay for my stuff and heave the over-flowing cart to the Jeep. Once home with my Mega Stash of Groceries, I put everything away. Then comes the next most important part of the grocery shopping experience, for once I'm home from Wal-Mart the adventure is only half over.

I have to take my list and make a NEW list of all the items I either forgot or couldn't find at Wal-Mart. This list goes with me the next day to the grocery store, so I can complete the shopping adventure in a smaller, less chaotic environment. It can't be done all in one day. My head would explode.

So, the next day I went to the grocery store, in search of raisins and diced chicken and other random items, remaining coupons in tow. My first and major recurring issue at the grocery store (not so much at Wal-Mart) is shopping cart selection. I don't know why, but it's always a problem at the grocery store.

Here's what I've learned about cart selection. Never, EVER go for the lone cart standing by itself. This cart is bad, usually with a funky wheel or with some sort of goo on the handlebar. One too many times I've fallen for that ruse, only to be stuck with a cart that won't drive straight or gives me sticky hands the entire time I'm shopping. It's tempting, but leave it alone. It's NEVER a good cart.

Next, don't go for the longest line of carts. This usually means the lead cart that you would grab is wedged into the other carts too tightly. You'll grab it and pull it towards you, only to have five or six carts come after you, pinning you to the wall or running you right over. Or worse, no carts will come loose at all. You'll stand there pulling the cart, and nothing will move. It always makes lots of noise and creates lots of attention for you, and you'll never win. That cart is wedged in there forever. Leave it alone.

Your best option (and the one I'm finally learning to take) is the line of carts that has the fewest carts and is the shortest line. This usually indicates that people have been able to get carts from this line, so start there. Be careful backing out with the cart, though. They are tricky in reverse, especially when in between two longer lines of carts. You don't want to get stuck in there. Sometimes, there's no way out and you have to live in the cart corral forever. Trust me. I've seen it happen.

So, I get my cart, I wander the store. I get my few items, including the raisins which were on the canned fruit aisle (as they should be), and the diced chicken which was by the rest of the random chicken stuff. I produce my two remaining coupons at the checkout counter, not caring that it's stupid to only use two coupons, and I head back out to the Jeep.

Finally, after two shopping trips, my grocery needs are met for the next few weeks. Oh, I'll go to the grocery store about once a week for fruit and milk. But otherwise, I'm done.

I just can't handle this sort of thing more often than that.

My head would explode.

Thank goodness for bulk toilet paper.


Slashing Prices!
Ok, it wouldn't be entirely accurate to say my Tyrant Gear is flying off the shelves in mass quantities.... mostly because there aren't actual shelves and my stuff doesn't fly. Although it would be cool if it did. I should look into that...

Anyway, I can vouch for the Gear that it's really cool stuff. I've got quite a few items at home, proving useful, functional, and above all else, tons of fun and fashion forward.

I've recently slashed a few prices to make Tyrant Gear a little easier on the wallet. Plus, Cafepress is running some stuff on sale right now (hats, select shirts). So if you've been holding out for the perfect moment to hop on the Tyrant Fashion and Accessory Craze sweeping the globe, now is the most cost-efficient time to do that.

Check it out.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Stressful, (or perhaps just Neurotic) Decisions
I bought a new cell phone today. I've been agonizing over this decision for about a week. Why?

Because I fear change.

It all started about a month ago when my cell phone people sent me a $30 gift certificate in the mail, to be used on phone accessories or towards the purchase of a new phone. Up to that point, I was perfectly happy with my current cell phone. Sure, it's a couple of years old, a little banged up, and tends to shut off sometimes of its own free will. But, it's been a really good phone. I was very committed to sticking with my phone until it just absolutely lost the will to live any longer, which I estimated would be at least another five or 108 years or so. I like for my stuff to last.

When I bought that phone, it was free. So I'm also very committed to not buying another phone unless it is free. These two conditions (making my phone last for 108 years and not getting another new one unless it is free) have been firm rules for me to live by. I don't even talk on the phone that much, anyway. I don't need a fancy, new-fangled phone just for the heck of it.

But, with the arrival of $30 towards a phone in the mail, I began considering the idea. I should have immediately thrown it away. But instead, I put it aside and began thinking about the idea. I'm happy with my current cell phone people. I have no intentions or need to switch to another company. Maybe I should really consider the new phone and contract, if it will get me a new phone for free.....

The $30 gift certificate also came with two phone options that would make these two specific phones free, if used in conjunction with a store promotion and available rebates. The catch is that the $30 can only be used in store. Not online. Meaning, I would have to go talk to people and actually shop to use the $30. Not something I enjoy. But, for a free phone, I might make an exception.

Of course, as with any big (or little) decision, I began to do some research. I went online and looked at all the available phones and plans for my cell phone people. I figured if they are offering something for free, there might be better or other options available if I do a little digging. I was half trying to talk myself out of the new cell phone, for the sake of having to change phones and plans. But I was also half trying to justify a shiney, new, fancy phone.

For free, of course. Only for free.

After a few days of looking online, I convinced myself that it would be okay if a phone was mostly free. Not entirely free. So what if I had to pay just a little bit for an expensive phone?? It's still a good deal. And I want it to last. Might as well get a good one that won't have to be replaced as technology changes, or depending on how many times I drop it in any given day. Thus, if after all the rebates and $30 gift certificate, if I still have to pay just a bit, it's okay......

This was WAY off my "no new phone and definitely not a non-free phone" committment. I was over-thinking the situation, and talking myself into something I don't need to pay for right now. Thusly, it was turning into a stressful situation.

See, technically, I don't need a new phone. Mine works fine. Had I not been tempted with the $30, I wouldn't even be considering the idea, and I wouldn't be stressing out about the cell phone situation. In its day, it was a fancy phone. Then the next day, 108 new fancier phones were invented, and consequently since then it's been an old phone. But, it's been a good phone. Nothing wrong with it at all. Most days. And that one day I dropped it and it shut off and wouldn't come back on, and I thought I would be cut off from the world for the rest of my life since all of my phone numbers are in that phone and likely nowhere else....

But, it came back, I forgave it, and we moved on.

I continued to research the new phone situation. Unfortunately in all of my looking online, I had discovered a phone that I fell in love with, and I was determined by this point to make this situation work for me. I would have that phone, and it would be free.

The official cell phone people website were not offering the phone for free, even with rebates. So, I went to the actual store to check on the situation with my $30 gift certificate. Still not free. Close, but not free. I searched more online. There had to be a way....

Then I found it. A random website offering enough rebates and discounts so that my new phone would be.... FREE!! Could this be true? Could this be for real?? Probably not. So I checked further.

Friday, after doing some research on the website and the company, I decided all appeared to be legitimate. Days of searching and stressing had resulted in finally finding someone who offered my new phone for free.

Then, suddenly, I realized that this free phone would be the catalyst to the start of leaving my old phone behind, and embracing a new phone. This meant change! I'd have to get used to a new ring, move all of my phone numbers into the new phone, and not forget what my phone looks like when out amongst other people with phones. I was quite fond of my current blue phone. I decided I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye, yet.

I made the decision not to buy the new free phone .... until Monday. Today. Sometimes in a neurotic, over-thought situation, it's best to take a break and set it aside for awhile. I was thoroughly stressed by this new cell phone situation. I had to let it go for awhile.

So, I spent the weekend in the yard. Clearing my head, being with nature. I thought of all the fond memories of me and my phone, the good times, the bad times, the many short conversations since I don't really like to talk on the phone, and the loyalty of the phone. It's always there for me. It's a good phone. I decided I was okay keeping the phone.

But, then I received a sign. TWO signs, in fact. Within the space of an hour, last night, I was with two different people who had the same new phone that I was considering! I'd never noticed anyone with this phone before, and suddenly there were two of them. One guy had the phone for awhile and gave it a rave review. The other guy had just purchased the phone for $10, also giving it a rave review. I knew this meant I should have the phone. You just can't beat deals, or signs, like that.

This morning, I went back to the website to buy the phone. Or at least to talk myself out of it one more time. I almost hated to do it in front of my other phone.

But, I'm proud to say that I bought the phone today. And not only was it free, but an additional rebate had been added over the weekend. When it's all said and done I will have made $50 on the phone. In fact, it's a bad investment NOT to buy the phone, as I am essentially being paid to get a new phone.

I think that $50 will help me work through my fear of changing to a new phone. And when I break free from the old phone and embrace the new phone, I'll be able to capture the moment with digital technology, since the new phone has a camera.....


Friday, April 16, 2004

So wise, for such an old soul....
Ok, if this is even remotely true (and I don't believe that it is), then by my calculations, assuming that a person lives to be 75 years old on average, Ashton Kutcher should have 77 lines on his forehead. One line for every life he's had in the past 5,872 years.

For a 26-year old actor who makes a living with his face on everything, he may want to call it quits after this life. Another 5,872 years and an additional 77 lines are only good for Marlboro men, Freddy Krueger, and sharpeis.


PS: Please ignore the fact that the article comes from I don't usually read that. At least not everyday....

America, it's like you're trying to spite the Alliance or something. You voted off the wrong Jon last night.

Booooooooooooooo on you.

Jon Peter Lewis, we will miss you and your geeky, quirky dance. And since you are off the show now, it's okay for you to ask me out.

I cannot believe the quirkiness did not win out over John Stevens' one-genre display of talent. Seriously, (and I mean this in all seriousness) John Stevens must go next week. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Anyway and much more importantly than the battle of the Johns, did you see Jason Priestly in the audience?? Ryan Seacrest thought he could earn cool points by talking to him on camera. But dude, Brandon Walsh will always be WAY cooler than Seacrest could ever hope to be.

90210 forever........


Thursday, April 15, 2004

I never thought I could be mad at movies.
I love movies. But I am mad at them today.

Movie theme songs may have saved John Stevens from ejection from Idol this week, and for that, I'm afraid I have to be mad at movies. This could possibly ruin the Alliance plan to make sure he goes home this week. Why did we give him an opportunity to pick another Sinatra-esque song to show us that he can sing, but only when singing songs of that nature? This week should have been heavy metal or boy bands, to solidify John's certain inability to sing outside of his genre. Curse Casablanca....

I don't understand what happened to George. He'd been doing so well. Then he goes and picks a song from The Wiz, which everyone should know by now is the number one movie NOT to be sung from on Idol. The judges always hate it, as do I. And not only did he pick a horrible song, he sang it horribly. I'm not sure what's going on there. I really thought I could trust George to know better than that.

Diana and Jasmine** destroyed more perfectly good songs again. Except Annoying Theme from Titanic. Not a good song, but I almost can't blame the song for Diana's performance last night. There's just no good reason people should be singing Celine Dion or Titanic on this show. Ever.

Jon Peter was oh, so fun. His song had about three notes in it, but that was perfect for him. He kinda rocked my jailhouse last night. So quirky and funny and cute......

Jennifer Hudson, big and loud. As usual. Not bad, not good. Just big and loud.

But, props for the best performances go to Fantasia and LaToya again. They're just good. Although the whole emotional crying thing at the end was a bit much for me, Fantasia. You sang well. Don't go cheesing it up for extra points by crying because you were moved by your own singing. Too far.

Although sometimes I get emotional from my own blogging.... wait ..... I need a moment..... so beautiful...... tissue please.......

Ok, I'm fine now.

Personally, I hope Quentin Tarantino gets the most votes because I would like to keep him on the show every week. He's so fun, and I kinda loved him last night. True, he wasn't particularly crazy or mean. But he's fun and seriously into Idol. Can we vote him on to the show?

I hope the Bottom Three of Shame will consist of Diana, Jasmine**, and John. George sang poorly enough to be in the Bottom Three, but he has lots of fans and we know he can do better. So I think that might be enough to save him this week.

Tough call this week, and I would still be thrilled if John gets the boot, as was the Alliance plan. But I predict Diana goes home. Sinking. Like the Titanic.

I stole that from Simon.


** name here originally was typed 'Jessica', as I am far too obsessed with Jessica Simpson and seem to have subsituted Jasmine as Jessica without realizing it. The error has been edited. See comments in Superfluous Thoughts.**

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

This is a food I don't get. Don't understand it. And, I don't like it.

Apparently someone else doesn't like it much, either, because we seem to have had a large quantity of yams donated to the shelter recently. I keep seeing yams almost everyday for lunch. We've got yams.


It's like a regular good ol'-fashioned potato, but not. It's orange, but not good orange, like an actual orange, or those orange pumpkin shaped Halloween candies. That's good orange.

When cooked, yams are mushy. Mushy. Mushy food introduces all sorts of texture issues, unpleasant to the pallate, difficult to stomach.

The taste of a yam isn't quite categorize-able. It's not necessarily sweet, unless you make it into that yammy-sweet casserole served at Thanksgiving. And that essentially only hides the yam-ness with lots of brown sugar and marshmallows. I hate that stuff. Not the brown sugar or the marshmallows. But I hate the lot of it all mixed with the yams.

Blech. Yammy casserole.

A yam isn't necessarily potato-y in taste, either. Despite the look of a potato, it seems far from a potato. Just give me a potato. If it looks like a potato, just give me an actual potato. Not an orange imposter potato.

So is it a vegetable? I guess so. By default. What else would it be? It's not a fruit. We've covered how it isn't sweet of its own power. It's not a bread. Or a fish. Or a meat. Or a breakfast food.

I guess that leaves yam as a vegetable.

Yam. What is it good for?


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Just who does he think he is???
I've just received word that President Bush has pre-empted American Idol for tonight with some press conference.

Um.... excuse me????

Just like that. Rearranging the Idol schedule for his own personal gain. Does he not understand what's at stake here??? You can't just move a tv show like that. It's reality tv! People's lives.

It's like he thinks he owns the country or something.

This seriously messes up my week. What else am I to do on a Tuesday night??

I'm not watching a press conference. That's for sure.

Well, unless they plan to take turns singing, followed by voting one of them off the press conference. That would be cool.

Tyrant Out.


Monday, April 12, 2004

I am not a morning person.
So you can imagine my initial un-enthusiasm at deciding to go to the Easter Sunrise Service for church yesterday morning.

Sunrise. Have you ever even heard of such a thing? I just thought the sun was there in the morning, and then went away at night. Who knew it actually rose at a certain time early in the morning????

So very early.........

After a weekend of not much sleep, I did commit to rising very, very early to attend the service held by my church, at a freakishly early hour of the morning. I really wanted to go. I just didn't want 'sunrise' to mean 'before the sun comes up.'

Not only that, apparently 'sunrise' also means you have to be outside to watch the sun actually rise. The concept of staying inside (where it's warm and not wet) and watching the sun rise through the window is lost on these early morning Easter Sunrise Service people......

So very early......and so very cold......

My alarm clock went off, and it was early. And still dark outside. I got up and put on lots of warm clothes, since a cold front had decided to join us just in time for Easter and sunrise. Friday it was warm tanktop weather. Sunday- cold, sweatshirt, coat and gloves weather. Once bundled up, I ventured out into the dark, driving the empty streets to get to the location of where the sun would be rising for us on this fine Easter morn'.

I arrived earlier than I needed to, leaving me mostly alone and sitting in my car in a dark park. But soon fellow church people arrived. We wandered through the trees of the park to a very special sunrise location, and set up camp. Out came blankets, lawn chairs, sleeping bags, a table, and soon enough, coffee. We were camping for Easter sunrise.

In all reality, I had a much better attitude about it than what is portrayed here in my cynical writing tone. I was interested in this concept of Easter Sunrise Service, especially since my young Gen-X-Y-ish church meets in the evenings on Sundays. We're just not early risers- anything before 6:00pm being early. But, we had quite a crowd yesterday. Impressive.

I can't recall ever actually watching a sunrise, and I guess technically I didn't see one yesterday since the rain clouds kept us from actually seeing the sun at all. But it was a pretty cool experience to see things get lighter outside. Usually when I'm outside and it's that dark, I've seen it go from the light of day to the darkness of night. And it stays that way until I'm awake again the next day. I've never experienced things going from darkness to light, and that was a really cool part of the service for me.

In fact, that pretty much was the service for me. Just watching the sky from a blanket in the park. I didn't join in a lot of the singing, and I wasn't particularly listening to the speaking. I never get to lay down for church, so it was nice to just lay there and watch the sky change. Seeing the dark turn into light, that holds a lot of significance. It's kinda what everything is about, when you think about it. You know?

I'm never really excited for holidays anymore, since my sister is no longer with us to celebrate. Family time for holidays is now often sad or awkward efforts to not be sad. But I must say, starting Easter at sunrise with my friends and some of my favorite people in the world, to celebrate the day and an important reminder- that was nice.

I'm not a morning person, and I don't intend to make sunrise a habit.

But I was glad to see the sun come up yesterday. It seemed right.


And on the third day....
Nick & Jessica had a variety show. And thus, Easter was complete.

If you missed the Nick & Jessica Variety Show on tv last night, you missed something special. I can't adequately recap it to do it justice, but it was a fine, fine show.

Any show that can have a skit that is Ten Seconds of Awkwardness with Mr. T, and it's actually Mr. T. just standing there, being awkward?? Now that's quality tv.

A perfect end to a nice Easter weekend.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Animals Beware
We all know what happened to the squirrel. It was beyond my control. Yet, it happened. Truly unfortunate.

Well, another animal met an unfortunate end last night, at my house, out of my control. Truly unfortunate.

I don't ask for these things to happen. They just do.

I've blogged before (somewhere in my vast archives) about a critter that wreaks havoc on my yard. It's a cat. He roams the neighborhood, but seems to make himself quite at home in my yard. I've caught him snooping around there a few times, but he doesn't wear a collar so I have no idea who claims him amongst my neighbors. He digs holes in my flower beds, poops in my yard, and recently has decided to make my front flower bed his own personal bathroom. It's lovely.

Nothing deters him. The chili powder I dumped in mass quantities on my flowerbed last year only seemed to confirm that he enjoys spicey things. He kept on digging. And pooping.

Last night I invited my parents over for dinner. They live here now. Not 'here', like at my house. But here in town. I decided to be a good daughter and feed them.

During the evening activities, I took my mom on a walking tour of my yard to show her all of my growing sprouting things. I love my yard, and having things that grow (as opposed to things that wilt and die slow, sad deaths) is a big grown-up thing for me. My mom loves plants and such, so I thought this would be a fun activity for us. To wander the yard and look at stuff.

Before my parents arrived at the house last night, I'd taken my own walking tour of the yard, as I always do when I get home now that the sun is still up later in the evening. All was well in the yard. Front and back.

My mom and I completed the tour of the backyard, and happily adjourned to the front yard. All still seemed well.

We then noticed a lot (and by 'a lot', I mean A LOT) of black bird feathers strewn about the yard. Either a bird had decided to shed all of its feathers for a more streamlined and aerodynamic attempt at flight, or it spontaneously combusted directly overhead. Or something had fought with a bird and dispelled feathers about the yard for fun.

Oh no . . . .

We wandered around, not seeing anything other than feathers and my beautiful plants, eventually making our way across the driveway to the other side of where their car was parked. Then we saw it.

There, on the grass beside the car, was what was left of . . . a large black bird.

Now, the cat was nowhere to be found. But we can only conclude that there was a fight between the cat and this bird. And the cat won, 2 to 1. Meaning, two PIECES of a bird and one whole entire cat.

Yes, the cat had apparently decided to mark the arrival of my parents by sacrificing a bird of the air on my front lawn. Thanks, cat.

My mom saw the bird first, soon after which I noticed the head lying not so much still attached to the bird, but cast aside a foot or so away from the main part of the bird. This seriously ruined the tranquil enjoyment of our yard walking tour. I generally try not to have animal sacrifices on display when playing hostess for the evening. This sort of thing ruins my reputation as a good hostess.

Anyway, upon discovery of the head-free bird, I promptly ran inside and made my dad get up from his nap on the couch to come gather the bird pieces for the trash. When forced to do so, I will remove an entire whole squirrel from the inside of my house. But if a dad is handy I will gladly let him deal with bird body parts on the front lawn.

I can only conclude that all animals should stay away from my house. It is dangerous for them.

And I can assure you the next time I see that cat in my yard, he will be sorry he did not stay away from my house.

Danger, evil cat. Danger.


Handwritten Email
It's no secret that I'm a HUGE fan of email. I love email. I write it, read it, re-read it, type more of them, type still more of them, dream about them . . . . okay, I don't dream about email. But I do enjoy the email. I have a great talent for writing funny emails. I don't know why that's my talent. It doesn't pay much. But I do enjoy it.

I have a lot of conversations over email. It's so easy to converse that way. Easier for me than actually conversing, to tell you the truth. I'm much better at writing than speaking. Some emails even turn into really cool conversations, hold deep meaning, resolve issues, and help me connect with people. Relationships have strengthened over email.

It's a strange thing, this electronic writing that we do. It can get personal.

But sometimes, I wish it was more personal. I miss letters and notes. I miss handwriting. I may have a few friends whose handwriting I wouldn't recognize in an emergency. What if one of them wrote me a letter and forgot to sign it? What if they promised me a million dollars if I could only match a handwriting sample to whichever friend had the million dollars? I'd never know who it was from and I would certainly lose the million dollars because we don't write stuff to each other these days. We email.

There's something really great about getting actual mail in your actual mailbox, or handing a card to someone. I find I'm more likely to keep a handwritten note or card, rather than an email. When my inbox gets too cluttered, I hit the 'delete' button, erasing epiphanies and realizations and touching moments and good conversations with just a simple keystroke.

The other night I was looking for something and I found myself looking through a drawer of old cards and notes. The bulk of them were from several years ago, less and less in more recent years. It was cool to see letters and cards from friends and family, their handwriting on the pages, making a mark to identify who they are. I can write pages and pages over email, every letter of every word looking exactly the same in type-written format. But the few notes I caught myself reading in this drawer of old cards were really special in just a few short sentences of sloppy, uneven, wonderful handwriting.

Of course, there is a downside to keeping these notes and cards. Mixed among the cards that brought a smile to my face, I found cards from people who aren't in my life anymore. People who were friends and who were close, but now they aren't. Sentiments expressed and promises made that aren't kept anymore. There on paper, in handwriting, and now meaningless and hurtful. I hung on to that stuff because it meant something and was special at the time. Did it really mean anything then? If it did, would I be left now with only these pieces of paper and scratches of pen markings as reminders?

It's hard to think at the time when you receive a really meaningful note that it could one day be painful to read. You want to keep it, to remember it, to enjoy that good feeling from that moment again. So, you hang onto it. Eventually you forget about it, until one day you find it again. But those same words that were encouraging or special now hurt because the situation and the people have changed. It's funny how seeing that handwriting again brings up memories and emotions. It's a signature in more ways than one.

Still, I miss the handwriting. And I'm glad I keep the important notes and cards, even if the meaning changes over time. When I think about the people who aren't in my life anymore for one reason or another, the things I know they've touched become just a little more important, especially if that's all I have left of them or that time or that relationship. If it was worth throwing it away, I would. But I hang on to the ones that are meant to be kept.

Admittedly, I send a lot less cards and notes now than I used to send. People get a lot less handwritten things from me. It's just easier to shoot an email. Sometimes I print out emails that I really want to keep, but usually I forget to do that before it's time to clean out my emails. Even when I remember, there's something stale and sterile about a stack of white 8 1/2 x 11 paper in Arial font. Everything from everyone looking exactly the same.

Important words and great conversations. But a little less personal in email format.

I need to invent a way for emails to be written in an individual's own handwriting. That would solve the problem and bridge the two worlds- unique and personal messages with the convenience and ease of email.

I'm brilliant.

Don't steal my idea. I'll put it in writing.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

So much Idol confusion.
I don't know what's going on with this actual new twist of dividing the Idols into three groups based on the number of votes they received. To me it seems only another gimmick to turn what should be a three-minute results show into an hour-long process of musical chairs, without the chairs. Call their names, move them over here, rearrange them to there, send some back over there, take a break, then finally eliminate the one who can't keep up.

Thumbs down to the breaking up into groups.

But, thumbs up to the removal of a very teary Camile. The bad hair, the bad fashion (stretch pants will never be back in style if I have anything to say about it) - finally off the show. Why did Jasmine refuse to stop hugging Camile? I don't know. But she should have been helping her off stage in rapid fashion. Whatever that's about, finally, The Alliance is getting some work done around here. Our Camile Removal Plan finally came through.

I still don't understand how John Stevens did not make it to the Bottom Three of Shame. He'd better be the one to go next week. But after doing some research, I came across this article which may explain the bizarre voting on every season of American Idol. The people have too much power, and The Alliance doesn't quite have enough power. Yet.

Aside from the strange grouping last night, I noticed some other oddities throughout the entirely-too-long show:

- Whitney Houston is trying to make a comeback masquerading under the stage name Tamyra Gray, because someone seems to have stolen the Tamyra we loved and replaced her with Whitney Houston. She looked like Whitney, she sang like Whitney, the song was a nearly exact replica of every Whitney Houston song in existence. If it looks and sounds like a Whitney, it must be a Whitney. We'll miss you, Tamyra.

- Julia Demato. I don't really know what to say about her except that she was there, still in the audience as though people want to see her there (notice how former Idols that we want to see are asked to come back on the show to sing), and now she's plugging her new cd through some record company no one has ever heard of. Here's a hint- if you have to spell the name of your record company so that people can find it, it's not a real record company.

- The group medleys are back with a vengeance. And it's just not good. Watching Jon Peter do choreographed moves that were not like a full body hiccup was just painful. He should stick to his own brand of whatever it is that he does. Actually dancing really doesn't work for him. But I still like him.

Hopefully the theme for next week will make up for Elton John week. Poor Elton. Poor, poor Elton.


I've been shopping. . .
. . . in my own store again. It's addictive. One day I will have a different Tyrant outfit for every day of the week.

And you know what? You can, too! It's fun. Go shop.

While I was there I noticed I have some new items. One such item is a strange random bunny. Don't ask me why. But you know you want one.

Go see.


PS: The hats are on sale.

Shocking Idol Twists
Ok, I'm really reaching for something to recap about last night's show, other than 'it was bad - these kids can't sing.' Because quite honestly, that's all I got from it.

But, to further the tradition of 'shocking twists' on reality tv, I discovered a few 'shocking twists' from last night:

Shocking Twist #1:
Fantasia began her song from behind the audience and walked to the stage. As opposed to just standing on stage. I was shocked. This has never been done before on AI, and it was certainly a twist. Where is Fantasia? We hear her, we just can't see her. Oh here she comes. She's walking. To the stage.

Several other contestants also decided to wander off stage and through the audience, which is just never a good move. But apparently this week was shocking Venture Off Stage week, so there they went, wandering about. Combining walking with singing is usually too much for the Idols to handle. Diana DeGarmo proved my point, as she also incorporated high-fives while walking and singing. It was too much. Not a good performance. But did you notice how she walked by Amy Adams, last week's reject? Amy was having fun, apparently. And in a non-shocking twist, her hair was still pink.

Shocking Twist #2:
Elton John wishes he never, ever wrote a single note after hearing the Idols butcher every last one of his songs. It was horrible. Poor Elton John. He retracts every song he's ever written, because if he hadn't written those songs, none of us would have had to suffer through last night's performances. I'm sure in theory it sounded like a good idea to have Elton John week and bring him on the show. I'm just glad he didn't stay for the judging. He would have fallen out of his seat 108,000 times - once for every horribly-missed note in each performance.

Shocking Twist #3:
Camile's performance wasn't the worst performance. Don't get me wrong, it was really, really bad. But the award this week for Most Abysmal Performance goes to John Stevens, who just seemed to lose the will to even try to sing somewhat well. For such a nice kid, I hate to be mean. So I won't be mean. I'll be kind and just say it was awful, horrible, cheesy, terrible, and truly, truly abysmal.

Shocking Twist #4:
Pitch has left the building. Checked out. Gone home. No such thing as pitch anywhere to be found last night. All Idols must have been instructed to sing without the use of good pitch. Paula described at least 7 out of 10 performances as 'pitchy', but I'm not sure anyone knows what that really means. Because she says it every week, and yet each week more Idols have trouble finding the pitch. I can only assume that 'pitchy' means "void of pitch, but please keep singing that way because America continues to keep all of you around week after week, so we can only assume American really wants an American Pitchy Idol."

Shocking Twist #5:
Ryan Seacrest still insists on trying to make his 'Seacrest, out!' catch phrase catch on. Although for just a second last night, I thought he might not say it. He left an un-naturally long pause between the 'Seacrest' and the 'out', as though he had to remember his own catch phrase. Someone should really tell him it's not working for him. No one likes it. I don't even think he likes it. I'm embarrassed for him. But it's like he feels stuck with it. Insists on using it. Much like the Idols insist on singing week after week without the use of good pitch.

In conclusion, such a bad night last night. George, Latoya, Jennifer, and Fanatasia were decent, but not great. Although you would have thought Paula was ready to marry Jennifer last night after she belted her way through 'Circle of Life'. Because that's a great pop song and all. Especially sung really, really loudly.

It's really, really hard to choose who among these remaining nine should be sent to the Bottom Three of Shame. But in my opinion, it should be John Stevens, Camile, and Diana. Jon Peter was terrible, but I like him. So I want him to stick around for awhile longer, even though he probably deserves the Bottom Three of Shame.

We want Camile to go home, but I fear John may have earned himself a seat next to Amy Adams in the audience for next week.

It was that bad.

Shockingly bad.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Not growth as in 'goiter', but growth as in new things. Nothing against goiters or those who have goiters. That's just not what I'm talking about right now.

I'm amazed by growth. That things grow, begin again, continue on. I've seen this in my yard lately, as winter fades away and spring arrives. I get to see the whole cycle this year, as opposed to last year when I came into possession of my yard after a hot and dry summer. It's so cool to me, this spring-y grow-y season. And I just don't get how it's possible.

Even just a few weeks ago my yard was a yellowy-brownish, leaf-less wasteland of things that once were trees and bushes and grass. By all outward appearances, things looked dead. Everything resembled some form of twig- lifeless, pointless, hopeless.

Then things started to grow and change, beginning with the weeds. One day, no weeds. The next day, towering weeds of infinite numbers scattered unevenly throughout the yard and flower beds. I'm amazed by weeds, and not in a good way. How do they grow so fast without doing anything to make them grow? Why can't the things that are supposed to grow, grow that well? Weeds are the first sign of spring. It's a good sign, albeit troublesome and ugly. But a sign that better things are on the way, and life is out there in the yard. Somewhere.

At first, the other things in the yard slowly start to catch up to the weeds. The grass is a little less brown. The trees begin to have tiny buds and specks of leaves. It's the first sign of hope that the yard isn't dead. It's just been sleeping for awhile.

And now, just over the past week or so, my yard has exploded into an eden of new growth. It's insane. The fig tree has tons of huge green figs and leaves, soon to be ripe enough for me to pick and preserve. The leaves are almost too thick for me to see the trunk or get around under the tree, all in just a week.

I've discovered that two of my remaining 'mystery' bushes are, in fact, rose bushes. I didn't know what they were, having never seen them do anything. But now they've sprouted pink roses, with many more to come. It's the coolest thing I've ever seen. I never knew I'd be so in love with roses and bushes and trees.

The nearly dead tree that came back to life last year after I paid some attention to it is already huge and sprouting white flowers. The mostly dead twig-of-a-tree that I transplanted from the front to the backyard a few weeks ago is now sprouting and blooming and striving to be more than just a twig. It seems happy in its new spot. It's growing.

The holly bushes I planted in the front are quite jolly.

The grass is greener. The weeds are fewer. The season has changed. There is growth.

It's been really peaceful and exciting to watch it all happen, especially knowing I have very little to do with any of it. A little mowing, a little watering, a little weeding, a little pruning. The rest is up to God and the yard. I just get to sit back and watch.

It makes me think- I hope to be more like my yard. Not green and leafy and sometimes weedy. But growing in ways that don't seem possible, responding to change beyond my control.

Growth- especially when things seem lifeless, pointless, and hopeless.


Monday, April 05, 2004

Ice cream can be fun.
I'm actually not a huge fan of ice cream. But to say that I don't like ice cream usually returns a look of horror from whoever hears me say that, as though not liking ice cream means that I am pure evil and cruel to children.

Ice cream is cold. And too sweet. But I don't completely dislike it. I'm just choosy about when I like it, how I eat it, and which kinds of ice cream that I like.

Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream- hands down best ice cream on the planet, and something I will gladly eat almost any time. Except when it's cold outside. But especially in a comfort-food emergency. Cookie Dough ice cream is essential.

My other favorite kind of ice cream is Neapolatin. I don't like any one flavor - chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry - enough to justify an entire container of just one flavor. But all three together allows me just enough of each of them so that I will eventually eat all of all three flavors.

Of course, when I was younger I would go through a strawberry ice cream phase, as it is my favorite of the three basic flavors. This would often result in a container of Neapolatin that quickly ran out of the strawberry stripe well before the chocolate and vanilla. As an adult no longer living with my parents now, I can admit that I was the guilty one who left the partially empty (minus only the strawberry stripe which I had consumed) container in the freezer for the rest of my family to eat. My goal was for them to finish off the chocolate and vanilla, so we could get more ice cream. I had no problem leaving that container there, waiting for someone else to finish the ice cream.

This is not unlike the episode of The Simpsons when Homer pulls a carton of Neapolatin ice cream out of the freezer, notices it is full of chocolate and vanilla but completely empty of strawberry, then yells out, "Marge! We need more strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream!" I'm pretty sure they stole that from me.

Anyway, while at the grocery store yesterday, I had a HUGE desire for ice cream. It's spring, I've been playing outside. It's time for ice cream. And not just any ice cream- Neapolatin ice cream.

But more than just ice cream, I really wanted an ice cream cone. I wanted the ice cream, and the cones, and to make my own ice cream cones at home. With the Neapolatin ice cream- the best ice cream for cones. In fact, I prefer my Neapolatin, and ice cream in general, in a cone. I don't even really like to eat it in a bowl. For some reason, liking ice cream is much easier when it comes in cone form.

Locating the ice cream in the store was easy. There is a big sign in the freezer section that points any ice cream seeking person directly to cases upon cases of ice cream. As I scoured the selection for ice cream, I discovered a gold mine: there in all its glory was Neapolatin, on sale AND buy one get one free!

Holy cow. TWO gallons of Neapolatin for the price of one. It was meant to be!

However, I suddenly remembered that this whole ice cream thing would not work for me without the cones. I didn't want ice cream without cones. So I had to first find the cones before letting myself put the Neapolatin into the shopping cart. I began frantically combing the store looking for cones. Where are the cones??

This is when I became frustrated. I looked everywhere. But where do cones fit in a grocery store? What is their category? I looked in all of the logical places. They were not on the cake and baking aisle. Not on the cookie and snack aisle. Not on the breakfast food aisle (certainly someone eats ice cream cones for breakfast). They weren't even on the novelty seasonal aisle. Now I was getting angry.

I just want an ice cream cone!

So, I started going up and down every aisle. Lawn and garden, automotive, laundry detergent. No cones. I looked on the ends of the aisles for 'special cone displays'. Nothing.

Soup aisle? No.
Softdrink aisle? No.
Bread aisle? No.
Fruit department? No.

No cones.

I was determined not to ask for help, because I decided it might seem silly for a grown adult with a shopping cart full of fruit, cheese, water, and clearly without a child in tow, to ask directions to the ice cream cones. So, sadly and very disappointedly, I wandered back to the ice cream aisle to take one last look at my two gallons of Neapolatin. I could not buy it without the cones. I needed to say goodbye.

As I rounded the corner, I noticed a rack across the aisle from the ice cream. Wait. Could it be? Yes, it was.

The cones.

Crammed in front of the permanent rack of birthday party supplies was one rack of one kind of cone. While I'd hoped for some variety, or maybe the multi-colored cones my mom used to buy, all I was able to find after my long search was one kind of cone. I had no options.

At first, I was mad. I'd searched this whole store, and there they were right where I started. But then I realized that I had found the cones. So, I grabbed a box of cones. And I grabbed two gallons of Neapolatin. And I paid and got the heck out of the grocery store.

Do I feel guilty for owning two entire gallons of ice cream? No.

I earned it after walking that entire grocery store looking for cones.

These better be the best cones ever.

My ice cream will be fun.


Foiled Again
Turns out I never made it The Benefactor auditions. I could have sworn it was divine fate for me to be there, to wow Mark Cuban and the producers, and to ultimately win a million dollars from the show.

Guess not so much.

I had a prior commitment on audition day that lasted many more hours than I anticipated. The auditions were a last minute idea that I hoped to make, thinking that I would be finished with the other thing in plenty of time for an audition adventure.

But, not so much.

Even though it was a last minute long shot, I was still strangely excited about the idea of it, and slightly disappointed that I couldn't make it.

If for no other reason than it would have made a much better blog entry than this.

I'm all about whatever it takes for good blogging. And a million dollars on tv would have been a great blog entry.

Oh well. Truthfully, I would have been SO good on the show that it wouldn't have made for good tv. I would have won the million on the first day. The other contestants would have cried. The remaining six weeks of programming would have been recap shows of the first show.

We know it's true. It's probably best this way. For the sake of ABC's future of network success.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Reality TV Comes to Me
So I stumbled upon this earlier this week. It's as though the Powers That Be of reality tv are seeking me out to be an actual part of reality television.

I could be Lizzy.

Naturally I assume I should audition for the show, since it's right here in town and all. But then I realized the local auditions are . . . tomorrow. I'm not exactly prepared for that.

But even though I hadn't planned on it, I am going to make an attempt to get on The Benefactor, where Mark Cuban will choose one lucky person to win a million dollars.

I've never been lucky, and I've never won anything in my life. But for some reason, this seems like a good idea to me.

Here is what I have going for me:
1. I love (almost) all reality tv. I watch tons of it. I have studied countless hours of reality tv. I've read countless reality television show applications. I've even sent in tapes for a few shows. The only thing keeping me from being a professional reality television person is that I have not actually been on a show, yet.

2. I am a Dallas Mavericks fan. Hence, I am a Mark Cuban fan. I'm familiar with his antics. I'm in love with several of the Mavs. I can only come to the conclusion that I am supposed to be involved in this in some way.

3. I am clever and funny and quirky and would be a great character for television. Sometimes, I even photograph well.

4. I'm local. So, I won't have to travel far to be a part of the show (unless the show itself travels, and I'm all for that).

5. I'm poor and I work for a homeless shelter. How can they turn that away??

6. Mark Cuban has a blog. I have a blog. We are blog buddies.

7. I have literally tens of fans, due to my blog. The viewership from my fans will certainly cause ABC to skyrocket in the network ratings, if I am on the show.

8. I have fabulous plans for what I would do with the money if I won. Lives depend on it. How can they turn that away??

9. There is huge enterprising potential when you combine a million of Cuban's money, me, and my Tyrant Gear. (buy now while you can still support the little people - meaning that I'll be able to pay for parking while at the audition.)

10. I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed a million dollars.

At some point tomorrow, I will attempt to make it to the auditions and get in the door with the throngs of other people lined up for the show. Wish me lots of luck, as I have none and will need all of yours.

Check back for a report on my experiences with The Benefactor.


Thursday, April 01, 2004

After many, many years of scientific research . . .
I have come to the conclusion today that there is just no non-messy way to eat fried chicken.

Can't be done.

But I'm okay with that.

It's the best kind of chicken. Fried . . . mmmmmmmmm . . .


This is my new favorite word, because I like the way Simon says it and uses it to describe nearly everything on American Idol.

And in truth, the results show from last night was abysmal. It was just all wrong in so many ways (I'm not even going to mention the catastrophically bad music video of epic proportions in the grand scheme of horrible things to witness being done to an innocent group of kids). But in one good way we learned yet again that pink-haired people never win. Sorry, Amy Adams. And your mom. Who also has pink hair. I wonder if it runs in the family?

That would be abysmal.

So, not only did Camile not depart the show last night, she did not even make the Bottom Three Bad Awful Singers Group. I just cannot understand this. But the reasons for this problem are three-fold:

1. I mis-spelled 'Camile' in my last post, giving her far too many 'L's in her name. Clearly the power of The Alliance was distracted by not knowing which Camile was targeted (being confused with Camille - two 'L's - from ANTM).

2. The combined strength of Amy's pink hair and her mom's pink hair was too powerfully strong in distracting the power of The Alliance. It was confusing. Amy needed to go, but it wasn't her turn, yet. However, pink-haired people never win, and that was just too much pink hair to let pass to the next round. Next week her boyfriend would surely have had pink hair, too.

3. Camile's weird dance-step-hand-gesture must have been a hypnotic attempt to brainwash America into thinking she is a good singer. Next week we can only hope she sings in a straight jacket, so as not to be able to hypnotize America into voting for her. People, SHE CANNOT SING. She must go. Immediately.

Also not in the Bottom Three was John, who sang so horribly off-key the night before that I actually hoped he would stop singing and just talk his way through the rest of the song. Sure, he's a "sweet kid" and all. I wish him no harm. I just am absolutely sure he should have been in the Bottom Three last night. It should have been a duel between John and Camile, with Camile walking of shame all the way home.

A minor setback. But let's not let it happen again.

That would be abysmal.