C-and-P, no Crea-ti-vi-ty

Cutting and Pasting so you lurkers can learn what thoughts are currently rattling in my head.  Copied from a blog I stumbled upon (side note: the best thing about the blog is the titles of the blogs in the blogroll).  Memes are easier than originality.  I’m just not into writing lately je suppose.

  1. Explain what ended your last relationship? He stood me up.  A very unexpected end.  I actually took a picture of myself while I cried so I’d remember what real hurt was like and that I would never do that to another man.
  2. When was the last time you shaved? Yesterday.
  3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Feeding my godson breakfast.
  4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Trolling blogs.
  5. Are you any good at math? Stop laughing, fellow RPers! a-HEM. I am good at calculus and abstract math- was on the math team in high school- but still can’t grasp basic multiplication and addition.
  6. Your prom night? Which one? Okay, we’ll go with senior. I had a very serious boyfriend who had left for the military and we had thus ended our relationship (but ended up dating again later). I was panicked not to have a date so I asked someone quickly.  I went with someone I’d dated in the past but not a serious boyfriend. He was from a different city and didn’t know my friends, thus sulking most of the afterprom night in the corner. He was a nice guy but I was always sorry I didn’t let someone ask me.
  7. Do you have any famous ancestors? James G. Randall, Lincoln author.
  8. Last thing received in the mail? Cook’s Illustrated. i’ve already made the delicious Penne alla Vodka from it (can’t reprint for copyright issues).
  9. How many different beverages have you had today? Coffee, coffee again, diet A&W cream soda, orange juice…three.
  10. Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machines? Who still has an answering machine? I leave messages for my parents, but rarely on anyone’s phone- all are mobile with caller ID. If I want something other than to idly chat, I text.
  11. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? No. Never did.
  12. What’s the most painful dental procedure you’ve had? None. Didn’t feel wisdom teeth being cracked out of my head; never had a cavity.
  13. What is out your back door? A cornfield. Hey, is this Indiana? How’d I get here?
  14. Any plans for Friday night? Yes- a big party.
  15. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? Yes. it reminds me I’m on vacation.This is what a day of surf does to my hair.
  16. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? No. *whew*
  17. Have you ever been to a planetarium? Yes, with my neice.
  18. Do you re-use towels after you shower? Yes. Aren’t I clean when I use it?
  19. Some things you are excited about? Not very excited right now. Hard day!  Ask again, magic eight ball, when I’m not so tired.
  20. What is your favorite flavor of JELLO? Raspberry with raspberries in it, though plain raspberry is really good comfort food.
  21. Describe your keychain(s)? Ha. I have four keychains, each with one key, each for one car. It drives my sister crazy that I don’t have a keychain with 20 keys.  The car that is “mine” was a very recent gift from my wonderful husband.  We’ve been saving for a car for me for three years and I sold my Sebring over a year ago.  It was a very thrilling moment to take my beloved keychain I bought many years ago and add my new car key.
  22. Where do you keep your change? In my “aquarium fund” glass and in the change thing in my car to avoid downtown parking tickets.
  23. When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people? What’s large? Depends. Last month was group of important people, but not a LARGE group.
  24. What kind of winter coat do you own? A camel coat, a black leather coat, a red wool coat, a brown microfiber coat, and about 10 different hat/scarf combos to keep it interesting.
  25. Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? Closed mostly, to allow the cat to roam.

Life Comes at You Fast

Bottle Drip Souffle (if you aren't a Harter, don't ask)I was talking to a friend last week about how crazy my life is and how many people tend to quantify happiness by how much they do instead of how much they enjoy.  It kind of hit me in the face today.

Like my post about having dinner the other night.  I actually took the pictures knowing that Amy and I would like to blog it.  It reminded me of when I was seventeen and tromping around in Europe.  (Stay with my squiggly line of thought here.)

With my French class from high school, we toured all over France by coach.  We were particularly tired one day and were going through the motions of being in gorgeous Montmartre.  Our tour guide was Dutch- Albert- and he spoke softly but with humor and intelligence that really helped me learn about France.  He stood at the front of the coach and elegantly described where we were, and that while we were napping in the coach, all of France was passing by us.  With sleepy eyes, I watched as the poppies zoomed past my window, mad he was talking while I tried to sleep.  Some students picked up their cameras to snap pictures of the poppies on the roadside.    “No,” Albert said, “sometimes you must put down your camera and just look.  Just be.  Some of the best moments do not happen through a camera lens.”

While Albert also spent some time teaching me lessons I didn’t want to learn, this one was powerfully true.  I watched the poppies, still speeding merrily past me, and watched the colors blend- red, black, purple, green.  We’d visited Monet’s gardens and the poppies reminded me of one of his paintings: fantastic reality in a blur of color. 

Fast forward to today.  I’ve been living some moments of my life thinking about how to tell their story instead of just living them.  When I stop doing and stop working and just live- just be– the real meat of life happens.

My sister was hospitalized today.  No, it’s not serious; yes, she’ll be fine (she had the wherewithal to snap the pic of her IV).  But she needed me to watch her son for her and, when he slept, to make her soup and to talk to her and to give her medicine when she needed it.  We chatted about nothing in particular and I kept her from getting out of bed (if you know her, this is no small feat).  I was just with her.  Not trying to do anything really except keep her company and talk, or even just be quiet.  Those moments are the kind that I will remember forever.

So I’m not going to work tomorrow, and I’m going to spend all day taking care of her at her house.  And I will not try to do any work or any thing, I will



B Double E Double R, U-N

All we need is a ten and a fiver...I was going through my digital photos today to categorize them and I found this little gem from the Indianapolis 500.  My sister and I went on a beverage run toward the end of the race.  We were buying for our whole crew and then she realized that she needed to use the restroom.  Well, who’s going to take beverages into a public restroom?  Not she nor I.  Thank goodness for cargo pants- I’m packing 5 beverages total!

Aaah, the class and sophistication of the Indianapolis 500.

Blogging = Existence?

If they won't make the dough, then we'll put them to work spooning it onto the sheet!Am I becoming Madonna in Truth or Dare, where Warren Beatty comments that to her, life isn’t worth living unless it’s worth being on film/blogging? Nah.

Had some friends over for dinner, cooked some yummy food, drank some delicious wine, and had great conversations. Here’s a pic of Amy and Carlton, official back-seat-drivers of David’s and my cookie making abilities.

Once I’ve finished writing the recipe we made, this link will send you to it.

Things I have Done

I’ve been reading other blogs, and I’ve found it leads to blog games (yes CP, it is a better name, if less descriptive). So here’s the list. The game is for each blogger to highlight in bold the things he/she has actually done. I resisted the urge to comment on some of them, as it’s easier to copy that way.  After I was done, I noticed more bold than regular font.  I guess that makes me lucky, or it makes me desperately seeking experiences.  For my regular blog readers- #71- WOOHOO!
Enjoy- and copy!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea – from the shore
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Watched someone get a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently well enough to have a decent conversation
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Home Theater Construction

This portion of the site is dedicated to the saga of HT construction. As anyone who has done such a project can tell you, it is a labor of love. This page is dedicated to the timeline of the physical construction and the pictures of progress. If you would like to know more about the equipment installed, plus assessments of performance, look at Carlton’s equipment table.

Before Construction: 06 December 2004

Here is the room before construction. The home was purchased finished, so we had no choices. Our builder had made it into an exercise room with track lighting, glass doors, and a full wall of mirrors. The room dimensions were perfect for a theater with two rows. It’s also a windowless room. The glass doors added plenty of light and audio bounce, so they’d have to be replaced: we decided on exterior doors in order to reduce sound transfer. One problem was that the front of the room was only eight feet tall to allow for HVAC for the house (it can clearly be seen in the bottom left picture). In addition, the wet bar in the next room had a place for a full-sized refrigerator, which intrudes like a growth into this room.The refrigerator “bump” was a serious issue (see top right picture). Should it be removed and the screen be put on that wall, or kept so that the wet bar could have a refrigerator? In the end, we decided to leave it as an option for a refrigerator, and I had the idea to also use it for a half-rack for equipment. While the back of the room is nine feet, it still limits the height of the projector, the screen size, and the rear seating row height.

The task list was: remove mirrors, add soffit with indirect lighting and crown molding, sand and paint walls, wire for 7.1 sound, give ceiling a slip finish (more on that poor decision later), build rear platform for seating, cut hole and finish area for equipment rack, paint walls and ceiling, hang projector and screen, hang audio panels. Just writing the list is tiring!

Soffit Construction: 13 December 2004 – 19 January 2005

As can be seen by this before picture to the left, the refrigerator bump and HVAC bulkhead created some odd corners in the back (west) side of the room. Adding a soffit solves several issues. First and foremost, if the refrigerator space is to be used for an equipment rack, adequate wiring space is needed. While wire could be threaded from the mechanical room behind the screen wall (east), this task would be easier with more space. Second, adding the soffit allows for creation of indirect lighting and removal of the track lighting. Not only was the track lighting impeding viewing angles, the multiple angles created a lot of light bounce back to the screen wall. Third, this awkward construction would be visually more contiguous and therefore appear less like patchwork.

We enlisted the help of someone we know in construction. While I might have been capable of completing the HT myself, it would have taken about 20 years (not really exaggerating) and $35000 in construction equipment. Kyle brought expertise to the table…and when Carlton and I could not agree on the direction a part of the project should take, we would follow Kyle’s advice. I’m sure Kyle was not exactly happy about his mediator role! However, in many cases, he had so much more knowledge that his decisions were the better ones.

The bulkhead was constructed using 2×4 lumber. We wanted it wide enough to accommodate lighting without created a cramped feeling in the back row of seats. These pictures show the creation of the bulkhead. I helped by making cuts, creating the skeleton for the area above the rack, and using a circular saw to make the plywood structure… and cut through Kyle’s dropcloth. Oops. I also enjoyed using the air-powered nail gun, although I think Kyle wasn’t happy when one of my nails cut loose and nearly took his eye out of his head. You’ll see throughout the job this recurring theme: Kyle wishing he hadn’t taken the job.

After hanging the skeleton and adding the plywood base, we realized that the mini 4″ can light housing would not fit into the space between the 2x4s. After biting his lip and rolling his eyes, Kyle took a small circular saw and cut notches for the lights (see photo at left). Why am I relating this minute setback? Because home theater construction is not pretty, and it’s barely fun!

Side note: While wiring is a different section, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the wiring was pulled through the soffit at this point. Because the room was being wired for 7.1 surround and the projector would be ceiling-mounted, it was imperative to pull cables at this point. The hole to the crawlspace can be seen in this early picture, and the bundle is seen in the picture at right. Each portion of the project had to be managed with clear communication between all three of us. The wiring that Carlton was piecing together had to be ready before the soffit was sealed with drywall.

OK, back to the soffit. Have I lost you yet? Yeah, I’m only discussing one minor phase of construction. This is not a project that can be finished in a week (at least not by lazy people like Carlton and me). The first photos show Kyle’s and my skill at teamwork and use of hammers. OK, Kyle’s skill and my use of a hammer. This was one of the easier parts of the project, except that I have a minor fear of ladders. Next, Kyle is using drywall mud to smooth the surface so that I can start sanding. Carlton is doing unrelated finish work, spackling the holes left by the caulking used on the mirrors. The two jobs needed to be done at the same time so that all three of us could focus on sanding the drywall.

With this much work, the tension can be too much, so the three of us started pulling pranks on each other. I take that back. Carlton and Kyle started pulling pranks on me. I am ever-so-innocently sanding the soffit when Kyle begins to sneak up on me (kind of impossible on squeaky construction stilts). Apparently the look of death I’m giving him in this picture is no deterrent. The two of them had a good laugh. In the last picture, I have a “white hand of Sauron” mark on my nose and I’m covered in drywall dust from all of the sanding. LOADS of fun. I was, of course, as stated, TOTALLY innocent. Poor me, so mistreated.

Giving Back

I believe it is the responsibility of all of us fortunate enough to have enough to give back to our communities. I try to volunteer for projects to help those in need and to enrich the cultural diversity of my community. I’m not going to go on and on about the rich rewards of doing the right thing, so I’ll just say: go out and do the right thing…and have fun!
Juvenile Diabetes Walk for the Cure

Give directly to my team!

I’m walking with a group from Eli Lilly on 08 October 2005. Please give if you can.

Locks of Love I donated my hair to make prosthetics for children with cancer. You can too!

ISO Junior Group

IMA Contemporary Art Society

Book Meme

Saw this over at Oz’s, decided to spread the viral meme:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool??? or “intellectual??? book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

So what was closest for me was How to Walk in High Heels by Camilla Morton, ironically another cheeky Brit book like I mentioned in my latest grammar post. Page 123 is a chapter title page, so there aren’t five sentences, but I’ll post what I have:

How to be Filled with the Sound of Music

Extraordinary how potent cheap music is. -Noel Coward.

Stop the Madnes’s

Why? Why? Why?It pains me that we’ve stopped caring about grammar. Some might argue that language’s evolution is necessary; I agree. However, sloppy language is not evolution; it is the grammatical equivalent of wearing sweatpants everywhere. Other bloggers agree that it’s time to take back our language. Oh, and seeing it on a billboard or in the Times doesn’t make it right either. It’s either some ad agency trying to seem colloquial and hip or it’s just rampant laziness. Humans were also responsible for the meters-to-feet conversion debacle that confounded our engineers and astronauts. The navigation system of my new car even says “please wait for the GPS to find it’s location.” ARG!

Though I’m growing tired of all of the witty Brits’ books, Eats Shoots & Leaves was a grammar revolution. Word nerds like me (like I?) can actually play fun grammar games as a result!

Vote Intelligently

Last night was another gathering of the minds of five very different individuals.  We talked Heroes, gaming, politics.  We tasted beers and painted miniatures.  We listened to GBHII play guitar (always a treat); we talked about the upcoming holidays, upcoming elections, and upcoming gaming events.

It reminded me that informed people should always vote.  I may not agree with every stance of my guests last night, but I respected every opinion shared.  So here’s a link to educate people about candidates/voting records/interesting political studies.  The site does its best to be nonpartisan, which is a huge plus during the mudslinging of November.

Educate yourself- then vote with your brain and your conscience!