Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Wednesday...

Dear Wednesday,

Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot. I know you've got a silly nickname, but I try not to call you that, so please let's be friends. I won't hold it against you that today started with a headache and I haven't managed to stop being a whine-filled ball of crank since. Please don't hold it against me that I like other days better than you. I mean, Monday is the black sheep and Tuesday is sort of the underdog. Thursdays are generally just overlooked on the way to Friday, and everyone knows that Saturday and Sunday are the pretty girls we all wanted to be in grades K through 12. Anyway, we're here now, and I'd really like to enjoy you. It's Date Night tonight after all, and that's a really big selling point. So, if you stop the random acts of malfeasance, I'll be sure to tell everybody that you're really the best day of the workweek. Please consider my offer.
Respectfully, Crabby Baby

Dear PT Cruiser,

You know that I've dreamed of having you since your debut so many years ago, right? Other than a 1998 Red VW Jetta, there is no car I've wanted more (that I had a reasonable chance of obtaining in my lifetime, because it would be a disservice to compare you to any Aston Martin). My brother may think you're ugly, but I don't. I think you're cute and spunky and I've taken really good care of you these past two years. So please stop the diva-like behavior. You do not need constant attention from the guys at CarMax. You're better than that! You've got more self-respect than that! You go for your regular oil changes and maintenance. Igot you detailed just a few months ago. You're not neglected! So please stop blowing random fuses and flashing your "check engine" light at me. Is this because I chose to drive the Rondo to work last week? Are you feeling jealous? Listen, it's not you, it's me! I just needed the extra gas mileage. I love your Turbo GT whatever. Your leather seats get so delightfully scorchy in the Texas heat. I adore the bliding rays of sunshine from your sunroof. I've even completely adapted to the window controls being on the center of the dash instead of by the actual windows. Please, can't we put this petty repair business behind us? Sincerely, The One Who Buys The Gas

Dear Aaron Sorkin,

You're really good at writing. Geez, what a crappy sentence. Ok, it's true and I don't have a more eloquent way of saying it. I got hooked on West Wing and I don't even like politics. Then again, it wasn't really a show about politics any more than Studio 60 was a show about a tv show. As my Improv instructors have drilled into my brain, all good stories are about relationships. Anyway, because of you, I've decided to watch everything that Bradley Whitford has ever been in, except for whatever show has him in that ridiculous mustache. I can't do that one. Anyway, thank you for ending Studio 60 in a highly satisfactory manner. There is nothing worse* than getting to the end of a series to find a bunch of cliffhangers, un-answered questions and what-ifs, and yes, I'm looking at you, Joss Whedon! So, Mr. Sorkin, thanks for stealing many of my couch-time hours to fill my head with good stories of real-feeling relationships between characters that feel like people I know. (I'm such a Donna sometimes, right? I know!)
With affection, The Holder of The Remote Control

Dear Treadmill,

We need to have a talk. I know that we're both new to this relationship, but I'm finding that I'm getting increasingly frustrated. I've tried to talk it out with you, but you just don't seem capable of change. The problem really isn't me, it's you. You're too loose. And I'm not talking about the fact that you will give a free ride to every cat, dog, or husband who happens to saunter on by. No, the real issue here is your belt tension. I got into this relationship looking for something challenging, but familiar. Your incline is a little steep, but I can deal with that. What I can't deal with is the fact that you seem incapable of only two speeds: Run For Your Life, Zombies and Hip Replacement Rehab. As you may have noticed, I don't run, so that's right out. Also, I may be a former president of the Universal Convention of Awkwardness but I can manage to walk at a smooth and steady pace, so that leaves us at an impass. Don't tell me that because you are a "manual" treadmill the speed is my responsibility. I wish that were the case. If that were true, we wouldn't be having this conversation. No, you need to get your belt tightened so I can tighten mine. Relationships are about compromise, so why don't you just give me what I want so we can both be happy?
With Respect, Trying To Be Less Blubbery

Monday, June 27, 2011

This was harder than I anticipated

So, sticking to my own rules for closet purging turned out the be quite a challenge. I did pretty well with the sock drawer. After pulling all the socks out and putting them in pairs, I did a really good job at getting rid of pairs that I don't like, don't wear or didn't have mates. I still wound up with enough purple socks to completely cover the bottom of a 3' wide dresser drawer:
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I started with the best intentions, but when confronted with actual clothing, my resolve began to waver. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be firm. I wound up having a lot of conversations (with myself) that went like this:

Self: Oh! I love this shirt! I'm totally keeping it!
Me: When was the last time you wore it?
Self: Um... I think in 2003. But the memories! Man, do you remember that one time at the Bricktop? The guy? The "on a plate with biscuits" guy? That's this shirt!!
Me: Yes, but when did you wear it last? Has it even seen Texas at all?
Self: I've put it on a couple of times.
Me: Have you worn it out of the house?
Self: No... I always seem to change my mind at the last minute.
Me: Give it up.
Self: Are you crazy?!?
Me: Follow your own rules! If you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it!
Self: But I will wear it! I know I will. I love this shirt. It's amazing, and I don't own anything like it. It's not like it's just another t-shirt or anything.
Me: I let it slide for the past 2 clothing swaps, I am putting my foot down. You've got to get rid of it.
Self: but...but...but...
Me: No "but"s! Just do it. Put it in the "donate" pile.
Self: *sigh* fine. But I don't like it.
Me: You don't have to like it. Someone else will give it a good home, I promise!
Self: Ok. What's next?
Me: An entire drawer full of tank tops.
Self: No problem! I can cut that in half, easy!
Me: Great! How about this one?
Self: No, that's a good staple to have around, a basic and essential wardrobe item.
Me: When was the last time you wore it?
Self: ...I... put it on a few times last year...
Me: And how did you feel when you put it on?
Self: ...fat and ugly...
Me: So why is it still here?
Self: Because it's so pretty!
Me: Do you feel pretty when you wear it?
Self: think I will feel pretty when I see it. Does that count?
Me: No! Get rid of it!

So yeah, there was a lot of... deliberation. In the end I did a pretty good job of removing most of the clothes that made me feel fat or frumpy. It was hard. Lots of things look great on the hanger and just... don't make me feel good when I'm wearing them. Those were the hardest to get rid of. The good news is I did manage to clear out basically 2 entire drawers, 1 shelf and 3' of closet space. What's scary (to me) is I'm pretty sure I did the same thing last year, only I don't remember buying that much clothing between now and then. And some of these things I've had for years, so I know I didn't follow all my rules last year. I think this is progress!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Separating out the chaff

Last year, a wonderful tradition was started: The Semi-Annual Closet Swap! Twice a year (so far, in summer & winter) we (my girlfriends and myself) get ruthless with our closets and bring the cast-offs to share with others. Then, we go shopping in one another's old clothes and give things second life, or to Goodwill, depending.

So, as I prepare to go through my closet, I have to remember to be ruthless. If it doesn't make me happy when I put it on, I'm getting rid of it. If it's stained, torn, stretched out or falling apart, I will put it in a pile to Not Pass Go, Straight to Goodwill. If it just doesn't fit right, I'll give my friends a chance to save it. Mostly what I'm finding is that nothing is long enough--not pants, shirts, skirts, dresses or... scarves, whatever. It's all too short for my liking. I can't figure out if I recently grew 1" in all my vertical measurements, or if everything in my closet shrunk in the Texas heat. I don't feel any taller, but maybe my ideas grew. Maybe I suddenly decided that was previously just fine is now unacceptable. Thankfully, I still have an entire closet and 9 drawers full of clothes so purging even 75% of it would still leave me with a decent wardrobe, and one that I loved. That sounds really stinking appealing. The only thing that doesn't sound appealing is the thought of having to do laundry more often. Although if I didn't have 8 loads worth of clothes, it probably wouldn't seem like such a daunting task.

Reduce! Every shirt that isn't on a first-name basis with the waistband of whatever coordinating bottom-covering garment I wear it with is right out. I want all my shirts to cover my belly and be able to wave at my hips. The trick is being able to show that I have a waist without emphasizing the fact that I have a hudge. I think I'll settle for an overall effect that is less hippo than giraffe and call it good. Any skirt whose hem is closer to my thutt (that gray area between butt and upper thigh) than my knees is getting ejected from my closet! All pants that don't touch my feet or waist (by which I mean have that annoying 2" gap where they expanded to fit my hips and didn't come back ) are going in a pile to be donated to someone with less length of leg or a smaller hip-waist-ratio-thingy. The problem is, I don't think I know anyone who fits BOTH of those things, so those pants might just wind up at Goodwill waiting for some other person I don't know to give them a home. Of course, now that I think about it, after the Great Pantsless Escapade of 2011, most of my pants are pretty acceptable right now and I only have a bare minimum of pants, so they'll probably get spared from the masacre.

Re-use! I will take those un-wanted shirts, pants, skirts, etc from my friends that meet my standards of length and love, and Iwill give them a new home.

Recycle! Um... I think I might take a few of the just-too-short pants and make them capris! Well, I might, but I don't actually sew, so... nevermind. To Goodwill!
Also, I'm getting rid of single socks. If I can't find a matching sock to put on my other foot, I am NOT keeping it. I'll make them into sock puppets or something, but no more basket of socks that I can't wear. I have an entire drawer full to bursting of fun and interesting socks. That will suffice! Although, speaking of sock puppets, I need to work on my Flora puppet a bit. I like that her hair is sewn on in such a way that I can customize it as neccessary to match my own hair style, as seen here, squinky face not withstanding:

and for the life of me, I don't remember who took this picture... bad Bean...

Anyway, my fascination with sock puppets is totally the fault of one Ronn Lucas, and if I could ever get his show on DVD with Scorch & Buffalo Bill I would be so very excited. He disassembled his puppet on stage, and then HIS HAND talked to him! In SPANISH! And then he turned it into a sock puppet with just a tube sock and a rubber band and some googly eyes and it was BRILLIANT! It really did require ALL CAPS, that's how great it was. Trust me.

And away I go... in a few months

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Worth some words, but probably not 1,000

Ok, so I've seen lots of people do "Wordless Wednesday" posts where they show a bunch of awesome pictures, but that would mean I would have to take awesome pictures, and I don't... as any of you watching my "Year in the Life of Bean" are aware.

Still, this is what you get today, because for once, I'm out of words that I want to say in public.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Mom Finger

I can’t believe I’ve never told you the story of the Mom Finger! Well, looking at my followers (hello! Thanks again!) I’m sure I’ve told all of you, but I haven’t told The Internet, and that's a different thing entirely, don't ya know...

So… this tale starts many years ago when my mother and father were living… somewhere with a split sink. That’s important. Their sink had two sides and therefore in the middle was that big metal no-man’s-land that’s like a bar of metal, except it’s really just the two edges of the two sinks joined together. (Photo courtesy of Elegant Kitchen Cabinets)

Anyway, I should say that neither my brother nor I were present for this event, and by “present” I mean “present in the world” or “born”… I don’t think. I definitely wasn’t there, and as far as I remember, my brother wasn’t either, but I’ve been wrong about my brother before, so take that with a grain of salt.

EDIT: Updated information from my mother! The Mom Finger was created on August 5, 1983... I was there, I just don't remember it, being only slightly less than 3 at the time... that's my excuse & I'm sticking to it!

So, my mom is washing dishes, specifically some really nice wine glasses that may have had some emotional importance or sentimental value... I don't know, I wasn't there and that part of the story is escaping my memory at the moment. So, she's washing these very lovely wine glasses. (Photo courtesy of FurnitureFind)

She is washing them by hand. Hands + soap + water = slippery. Basic math. She’s washing and washing and then… one of the wine glasses slips. Cue gasping!

My mother tries to salvage the situation by reaching for the glass to save it. However, in between the glass leaving her hand and her brain saying, “Hey, you can totally catch that!” the glass has hit the center not-a-bar-but-two-edges-of-sink part, thus breaking the pretty bulby drinking part of the glass into a wickedly sharp, jagged edge thing of hurting. She cuts her finger. She is calm mother, who may or may not be a mother at this point in history, but regardless, is calm. She calmly grabs a dishtowel and wraps it around her hand before calmly telling my father that he needs to take her to the emergency room as fast as possible. Which he did, and she was fine.

Not The End!

See, that’s just the story of how my mother’s index finger on her left hand came to be scarred in such a way that it neither extends nor curls fully. This is important because that finger became The Mom Finger. With capitalization and everything. It didn’t become The Mom Finger for many, many years however because even though that was the finger with which she would scold us when we were being smart-alecked brats that was just regular Mom finger. One time, she was shaking said finger at us (and for the life of me I don’t remember which one of us did it) and told us to, “go over there!” And she pointed. With the crooked finger! So we followed the bend in her finger and went where she actually pointed, not where she meant… oh, there were consequences to that action, let me tell you! Not the least of which was that the angrier or more upset Mom got, the more she angled her wrist, so that eventually, her hand would be bent perpendicular to her arm and the crooked finger would be pointing straight at you! A well-trained eye could actually tell the difference between "in deep trouble," "up the creek without the proverbial paddle," and "your best bet is to move to Canada and change your name," by the angle of her wrist. That was the beginnings of Mom Finger, but only the beginning!

No, it became The Mom Finger on whatever fateful day my brother or I turned to someone and started wagging our finger at them and noticed something odd…

The finger we were wagging was not pointed in a firm and stern manner. It was relaxed, and thus half curled… just like Mom’s! It turns out that the natural bend of a relaxed index finger is nearly identical to the amount my mother is able to extend her left index finger. Subconsciously, my brother & I were so conditioned by the shape of that finger that when we scold or nag or lecture or fuss at someone, we make sure that we give it the proper emphasis, and in our brains that emphasis is a curled index finger, JUST LIKE MOM’S!! Ok, only it's not just like Mom's, because we both do it with our right hand... because when she was facing us, that's the side it was on... and our brains never did translate it to the other side...

There it is, The Mom Finger!

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's a good thing embarrassment isn't actually fatal

Do you ever have awkward conversations in your head to see if there is some non-creepy, less-awkward way to say what you’re thinking? I do all the time, mostly with the conclusion that nothing that comes out of my mouth (or fingers) is ever going to sound the way it does in my head, because the rest of the world operates under a completely different set of rules of logic than my brain does. Also, on a side note, it’s very difficult to disguise the fact that you are actually talking to yourself when all your co-workers decide they’ve got better things to do on a Friday afternoon than sit in their cubes being a cover-up for your inane mutterings. Totally rude.

Alright, so, this awkward conversation thing… I can’t offer you an actual example from real life because I’m contractually bound by the UCA (Universal Convention of Awkwardness) to only publish a certain percentage of my awkward for free as a learning tool to the general public as an example of what not to do. It’s true. Contractually, I have to keep the vast majority of my awkward antics for personal use or live performance. One more reason why it’s better to know me in real life… but you don’t know that there’s a list of why it’s better to be my real-life friend than my internet friend because I haven’t gotten around to publishing that post yet… yeah...

See, I’m coming dangerously close to exceeding my daily quota already, so I’m going to manufacture a COMPLETELY FICTIONAL and RANDOM example…and I had a great one when I was thinking all this up in the car and now it completely escapes me.

So, while I wait for that thought to come back to me, I’m going to blather* on about my personal highlights reel, which is what I affectionately and sarcastically call the mental playback of every stupid, selfish, awkward, bad decision I’ve ever made that likes to taunt me and replay the whole catalogue every time something new is added to the (already extensive) file. Again, I’m prevented from sharing actual excerpts from said highlights reel, but if you ever saw that movie The Final Cut then these are the kinds of things you really hope are edited out of the movie montage they play at your funeral. For example, times when you accidentally or on purpose asked a non-pregnant lady her due date or gender of her upcoming child? Yeah, that would be on the reel, as would any time you may have accidentally grabbed a friend in an inappropriate place on accident because you thought it was her shoulder, and then through a complex series of brain-to-hand malfunctions, rather than removing your hand immediately and with great swiftness spewed forth a string of apologies, maybe you instead sort of… squeezed… to test the theory that maybe, possibly, it really was her shoulder and everything was fine… and then a very long and wholly inappropriate time had elapsed and meanwhile your friend was just paralyzed with shock about being suddenly and inexplicably groped at BIBLE STUDY of all places… that’s just an example of something that MIGHT be on one of these reels… not an actual example of anyone that we know. It must have been some other legume not known to me or my associates. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Right! Awkward conversations that one might have in their heads… I can’t remember what I was going to say about that, but I think we’ve covered enough examples of awkward behavior to sufficiently surpass my daily quota, so I’m going to have to really be judicious with my awkward the next few days to even things out. Be warned! Extra awkwardness in real life situations is mandatory! Seriously, I just wrote more than 600 words of a post in which I had forgotten my primary example because I couldn’t remember what I was thinking when I was driving. That’s the truth, and I should totally use the voice-recorder function on my phone for such things, but I really hate the sound of my own voice outside of my own head** so I avoid listening to recordings of myself, which is why I never made it as a DJ even though I really loved my job at the radio station. Also, using the voice recorder while driving would require me to navigate buttons on my phone in an almost-texting-like capacity, which I’m pretty much against, since I have enough trouble being paranoid about people killing me while operating a motor vehicle to add something like “operating a smartphone while driving” to my list of concerns.

OH! I remembered! As my friend Shannon would say, "Kiss your brain!" (She teaches kindergarten, and one time had to tell an over-enthusiastic student, "I said 'kiss your brain' not 'make out with your brain'."

Anyway, my example was the un-friending/un-following thing. Why the heck is that so fraught with guilt? I don't really care too much when the person is a celebrity, because, honestly? Nathan Fillion doesn't give two figs about whether or not I follow him. His followers are still in the millions or something, so, you know, whatever. When I want to see what he's up to, I know where to find him, but for the time being, my Twitter feed was getting a little too full of stuff I wasn't really reading, so I pared down the list and Mr. Fillion is none the wiser, so there.

But this is a HYPOTHETICAL awkward conversation, not my actual inner-monologue, because, as previously discussed, the UCA people! So, when you're going down your list and trying to get rid of stuff that isn't really relevant to your interests anymore, there is a ridiculous amount of guilt and baggage over clicking "unfollow" or whatever that translates to on Facebook & Google Reader and stuff. And like I said, famous people don't care... or they might care, but someone somewhere is probably following/friending/subscribing right that very minute too, so they're likely not to notice. And some people feel like celebrities, but really are just mostly normal people who have been doing this for longer than you, or random people you found clicking through sites on the internet and seemed like they were a kindred spirit at the time, only now, they're not so much kindred as still interesting but not enough to really stay reading all the time, and then you prepare the "it's not you, it's me" speech in your head in case they ever get around to asking you why you stopped following, which you know is never going to happen, because they have lives and probably are totally cool and secure in the knowledge that people change and grow apart, and it's not them, it's you, and all that, because, really, if they were all uptight & paranoid about whether you, a random Internet person, liked them, they probably wouldn't be all awesome and stuff which, of course, they are, because that’s why you started reading in the first place, and even though things are different now and you’re not really on the same page, it’s not a reflection of your like of them as a human, just a state of the world in which we find ourselves. Then, you’d realize that the only reason for thinking all this is because you think that it matters, because maybe it would matter to you, because your worldview obviously has a place where you matter, where as their world view doesn’t, so it’s sort of totally self-absorbed to think that they even care, because what kind of narcissistic jerk are you for thinking that a random Internet person matters to them… so you try to phrase your whole defense of not-following in such a way that says that you realize that you don’t even matter that much, which comes across as self-deprecating and needy instead and all this because you just wanted to de-clutter the stuff in your inbox! Seriously!! Why?!?!

But that’s just an example, not at all founded in real life experiences of this Bean. A fictional example. Again, because of contractual obligations to the UCA. Which is totally a real thing and not an organization I just made up. After a while, the word "awkward" just stops looking like a real word and instead becomes a collection of letters awkwardly arranged, and is there a word for when that happen? I'm stopping this now before this gets any more out of hand...

*Blather! What a great word. Also, there’s this thing called “The Blathering” that’s happening in Austin this fall, and I’m trying to decide if I’m going to go, because I never would have heard about it if it weren’t for Temerity Jane’s twitter, and looking at it, it sounds really awesome, and the very nearness is a huge incentive, but… you know… it says everyone is invited, but I don’t know anyone else who’s going, and not that I have a problem talking to strangers (I have a semi-amusing anecdote about that, but I don’t know how to footnote a footnote… these are the struggles of my life!), but I would hate to feel like I was crashing a party, but can you really “crash” something that has an open invite? But I get the feeling that lots of these bloggers already know one another, and this isn’t the first Blathering that has happened, and the only blogger that I read who is going is TJ and I think she’s fabulous and hilarious, but I’m pretty sure that in person I might do something that would add to the highlights reel, like try to hug someone I know to be a non-hugger, because that is what happens to me when I meet new people. I seem to have a countdown timer built in that says I must embarrass myself within X amount of time, which is fine, because, whatever, not every person in the world was meant to get along with every other person, and this is getting dangerously close to one of those conversations that I can’t share, because the UCA has some STRICT punishments, people! I know, I’m an occasional chairperson for several committees.

**My father will tell you that I’ve always loved the sound of my own voice, which is pretty much the only explanation for why I talk so freaking much…even in an office devoid of co-workers… as previously mentioned

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Technological marvel

Here I am, watching the Lunar Eclipse live on YouTube.

It's geeky and I love it. Watching the transition from what looks just like a regular crescent moon to this glowing orange thing of craziness. So, here's some info about this lunar eclipse: Thanks Wikipedia!

I'm a little peeved that North America is the only continent left out of the viewing party though. "The 100-minute-long celestial event will be spotted best from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia." That's 5 of the 6 populated continents on the planet. Sheesh!

Thankfully, through the wonders of technology, I can see the whole thing without even setting foot outside. The "presenters" or whatever that keep chatting on behind the picture of the moon are talking up the next solar eclipse which happens in Australia. Now I really want to figure out a way to go to Australia to watch the sky turn black during a solar eclipse...

Except for the fact that while I like the idea of travel, I'm not really good at actual travel. I mean, I don't think I am. I haven't had extensive opportunities to travel. I went on some cool trips as a kid with my parents. Car trips to Reno and camping and skiing sometimes. We went to Hawaii and even took a trip to Yellowstone when I was mostly an adult. But as an adult the only trip I've taken has been to Ireland for our honeymoon... which was INCREDIBLE. My husband wants to go back as soon as humanly possible. I... I think it was great, but for me, it was great because it was such a rare thing, you know? I like to spend most of my time at home, in comfort, with the people I know and like and my things and my cats. I think I want to see things, but the idea of actually traveling and doing the stuff associated with traveling, especially to very exotic places... well, it sort of freaks me out. There. I've confessed. I'm not an adventure-seeking travel junkie! I like comfort! Air conditioning and familiar food. Speaking the language of the strangers on the street and knowing what to do in an emergency. I like those things.

I think if I had the opportunity to travel I would take it. Take the risk and do the crazy stuff required to leave the country and see other cultures. I think I would. However, I'm pretty much stuck in the States until such time as more funds become available for things like international travel. I might make a trip to San Antonio this summer. That might be my travel option for now. Not that you have to leave the country to see cool stuff. The US has lots of neat things to see and diverse climates and stuff. Plenty of exotic things to see in my own "back yard" right? But... India... Isreal... the other side of the world, which is Indonesia. I only know that because I have friends who moved there, and other friends who are going to visit those friends in a few weeks. "I" countries, I seem to like those. Again, in theory. In theory, I love the idea of seeing new things, meeting new people, doing new things. In reality, I think I'd like it for a little while, then want to be home. So I guess I could settle on short trips... not a life-long world traveler, but maybe weekend trips... but then would you get to do all the things you want to? I mean, I haven't even seen and done all the things in my own city that I want to do and I've been here for almost 8 years! I like the idea of seeing far away places, but know that at heart I'm more house-cat than mountain lion... right?

Ok, so the bottom line is:

Lunar Eclipse- Totally cool
Exotic Travel- Undecided

EDIT: I still love the thought of travel and have a "desire" to see so many different places, but after hearing more and more stories from friends and what-not about the realities of travel, I think I've sort of realized that I like to dream about traveling more than I might actually enjoy travel to some of the more exotic places on my "wish list."

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Rules of WoW

So, I realized today that I've been playing World of Warcraft for a long time. Something like 6 years. I still really have only the one character, and she's max level and pretty cool, if I do say so myself...and I do. She's purple, casts spells and can kill things without ever having to touch them, which is important because I'd hate for her to break a nail or something. She makes potions, cooks, fishes, can make band-aids and stuff, and has multiple festive outfits for many festive occasions. Oh, and she has 94 little pets to follow her about*. Ok, I do all that stuff in this game. She's just pixels on a screen. And yes, I have a pet problem.

Anyway, over the years, I've learned some rules about playing the game. I'm a casual player for the most part, so it's taken me the better part of those 6 years to absorb this knowledge. I've said them often enough to the people I play with that they've become sort of standard guild rules now. It also makes it an...adventure to let me explain any boss fight.

I share with you my standard rules of WoW:

• Don't be a jerk
• Follow the kill order (also known as “Kill what the tank is killing”)
• Kill the adds
• Don't stand in stuff on the ground
• Don't stand in front of the orifice of a dragon
• Hug the wall
• Do your job

That right there will serve you pretty well in pretty much every instance, raid, fight, group, whatever. It’s taken years for me to understand and follow these rules, no matter how self-explanatory they may seem.

These are my auxiliary rules of WoW:
• Don't pull things with your face
• Don't start to kill it until the tank has threat
• Don't go over the tank's threat
• If something is killing you, run to the tank
• Don't start a fight when your healer is OOM
• Stay in Line of Sight of your healer
• Don't break CC, especially not with a DoT
• Spell Reflect means DON'T CAST STUFF
• Moonfire is like bacon, it makes everything better (except CC)
• Listen to your Raid/Group Leader Warnings**
• Pay attention to all the things, not just your DPS

All of these are rules because I’ve broken them, sometimes habitually. My darling husband is very patient and has to be to keep playing with me. We do not at all play the game the same way. I do what is fun for me. He does what makes sense to him. Thus 45 levels of frustration when he rolled a mage specifically to play with me since his hunter main was already 100 levels ahead of me (and I couldn’t figure out how not to put a DoT on his trapped target). His little squishy, cloth wearing mage had this crazy idea that since I was a druid and could turn into a high-armor non-squishy bear, I would do that so we could play more effectively and efficiently together. That made sense to him. But being a bear wasn’t fun for me, so I didn’t do it. Of course, if killing things with speed and fury were fun for me, or I knew how to do that, I might have been able to do enough damage to keep the threat of the things we were killing so as not to endanger my squishy mage-playing husband… but that is a great stretch of the imagination, so what really happened was we would both cast spells, I’d wind up putting a Moonfire on the sheep (which is a spell mages can cast as a form of crowd control) and the mage would blast away doing 250% more damage than me and then dying 250% more than me, which was both no fun and made no sense to him… so it should come as no surprise that he doesn’t play that character anymore.

What I'm trying to say is that while there are "game rules" about the mechanics and what you can and can't do because the people who made the game said so, the more important rules are the ones I make up. It's just funnier that way.

Glossary, for those few non-WoW people who made it this far (congratulations, you deserve a cookie):
Adds- additional monsters, critters, dudes, or whatsits that appear mid-combat
CC- crowd control. Spells cast to keep things out of combat so you can kill other things more efficiently and don’t die a gruesome and completely avoidable death
DoT- damage over time spell, usually instant cast, meaning once you’ve touched the button there’s no stopping it
DPS- damage per second***
Dragon- large, usually winged snake-type thing that will breathe fire in your face or knock you around with its tail. Basically it can kill you with both ends.
Moonfire- instant cast damage over time spell that is the staple of the Balance Druid spell rotation
OOM- out of mana, meaning unable to cast spells
Tank- the big brawny person with lots of armor who gets (and holds) the attention (threat) of the thing you're killing

*Only one at a time though

**No lie—one time, I was in… some instance somewhere and it was shortly after I had installed some add-on that had “raid warnings” which basically means that my computer flashed messages to me of stuff I needed to do during complicated fights. Hooray! How useful. So there I am, killing this big bad guy, spread out around some circle so that whatever I do, I am not standing next to other people, and suddenly my computer flashes the message “Astaldolinde is the bomb!” and I think… why thank you! I am doing a rather impressive job killing this guy right here. My spell rotation is rotating at optimal efficien___WTF?!?! Why am I dead?!?! Then I say, “WTF?!?! Why am I dead?” and everyone is all, “Well didn’t you see the raid warning? You were the bomb.” Only then I realized that they meant “explosive device about to do massive damage to my person and other people” not “totally awesome DPS machine!!!” like I thought. How embarrassing.

***I did, for a time, ask my husband frequently what my DPS per second was… I didn’t have my own counter nor did I understand what I was talking about

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Squash vs. Cleaver

If you've had a bad day, a really stressful day, I suggest eating squash for dinner. Not summer squash or zucchini, although those are very tasty, but I had in mind something bigger... something gourd-like.

Photo Courtesy of Sunrise Seeds

I suggest the acorn squash. Not because it is super tasty, though it is. I won't tell you of its deliciously creamy texture or the beautiful smells it creates as it's baking or of the myriad of delicious things you can stuff into it, or the ridiculous number of ways to prepare it. It can be sweet or savory, which makes it a beautifully versatile little thing. But I don't care about that right now. This isn't about taste or texture or creativity of culinary delights. All those things are good and might help you to unwind and de-stress, but that's not what I'm currently recommending.

I don't recommend it because acorn squash (and most squashes in general, particularly "winter" squashes, although acorn squash is technically a "summer squash" even though you usually don't see it until fall like all the others) is super-healthy and packed with good stuff that's good for you, like beta-carotene, vitamins C, E & B6, fiber and potassium, although that is also true. It's probably got anti-oxidants in it too, which is great, because no one likes oxidants anyway. They do bad things and make us unhappy like make guacamole turn brown or faces turn wrinkly, or so I'm told.

No, none of these thing is the reason I recommend an acorn squash for dinner after a long and stressful day.

This is the reason I recommend it:

Photo courtesy of the Betty Crocker Store

The Cleaver!

See, after a hard day, nothing feels quite so good as taking a very large cutting implement and hacking into the firm and mostly unyielding flesh of a good squash. Well, ok, a hot bath, a good book and some nice wine might feel good too, but I didn't have any of those things last night. What I did have was a cleaver and a squash. Butternut in my case, but that's beside the point.

See, a good squash won't open up easy, so you have to use some force. I, having cheap and unremarkable countertops, like to use the back of my hand to get the cleaver situated in the squash. Then, because the squash doesn't want to open up, it sort of holds on to the blade, so you can pick up the squash with the cleaver...

Then I like to bash said squash against said countertops until the thing splits open. I do not picture the skulls of people who annoy me. I do not imagine that I am busting through obstacles and impediments with the same blunt force that I'm applying to my squash. No, I simply enjoy the process of beating the crap out of something in a useful and productive manner than leads to a delicious and healthful meal at the end of it all. Healthful, that is, if you don't drown the thing in butter and salt, which is how I like my squash.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do you salt your watermelon?

It's that time again... the time of year when the watermelons abound.  Does anyone else hear the word "abound" and think of objects bouncing around like bunnies, or is that just me?  Anyway, I walked in to the office yesterday and in the break room (which is conveniently located right behind my cube, which makes my desk a very popular spot for random office-type congregations with a party-like atmosphere, or at least that's what I tell myself) and was greeted (metaphorically) by a huge bowl of watermelon wedges.  It was bliss! Fresh, seedless watermelon for breakfast.  Then they brought in barbeque for lunch and it was like a summer picnic had erupted in the office.

Then the debates began. To salt or not to salt one's melon, which isn't a euphemism.*  I'm pretty sure I learned the wise and beautiful practice of salt-on-watermelon from my dad.  Beyond that, I don't recall where the battle lines were drawn in our house, though it totally wouldn't surprise me if my brother were a non-salter, because he's also totally weird and doesn't like potato salad or baked beans, which pretty much makes him a great big downer at any back-yard picnic type function, except for the fact that he's really good at grilling, and honestly, since he doesn't like those things that just means I don't have to share with him and get more to myself, so I rescind the previous party-pooper accusation but still claim he's a weirdo!

Where was I?  Oh yeah... salting watermelon.  It's good.  I'm not going to explain or defend its goodness, because it's one of those things that you're either for or against and can't really be talked out of.  I mean, watermelon without salt is still good.  Of course it is.  I just think it's better with salt.  It's not like the mayo-Miracle Whip thing.  Miracle Whip is a weird impostor and I'm sort of sad that it lives in my house but I love my husband enough to put up with his weird "salad dressing" needs.  I guess it's sort of like the pickle thing: Bread & Butter pickles are ok... but if given the choice, I'm always going to choose a dill, because... come on!  DILL!

Anyway, we've already talked at length about some of my other food preferences, so I'm not going to go into that again, but I am surprised by how very vehement people can get about the way they like their food.  I don't really care for olives, but I'm not going to make faces at people who eat them... well, not to their faces anyway.  And sushi... it makes my eyeballs want to roll back into my brain to get away from it, but I am glad that there are other suitably cool people to eat it.  I accept the fact that I am just not cool enough for sushi and bleu cheese and capers and stuff.  Ok, I can't take the total moral high-ground here because I'm pretty sure I'd squirm and make faces just hearing about some of the stuff that people eat in other countries... and then I try to explain pickles and cheese and realize that maybe someone somewhere is totally freaking out that I let rotten moldy milk touch my food--ON PURPOSE!  So anyway, all's fair in love and food.  Except Miracle Whip.  Ew.

*Neither is "Let me show you the one-eyed goldfish."  There actually is a one-eyed goldfish at the Chinese food restaurant that my bosses like to go to for their birthday lunches. It's hard to see in this picture because a) my camera is still FUBAR, 2) he was, you know... swimming, and D) my phone camera is pretty crappy on a scale of Ansel Adams to your average finger-painting rendition. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

What I know, which is not What I learned

So, due to limits of brain function, time, funds, and other limited resources, we, as humans, don't know everything about everything there is to know on the planet. That's just the way it is. We have to pick and choose what we care about, what we learn about, what facts we hold on to and which just roll off of us like water of some damn duck's stupid back. This frequently frustrates me when I realize that there is something cool that I want to do but can't seem to find the time to learn given that I already have a list 17 items long of things I want to do/learn/be when I grow up. That being said, we each have areas of our lives where there are large gaps in our knowledge. Some people are fabulous repositories of trivia and know a little about a lot. I'm like that. I recently learned an easy way to explain the difference between Brittain, the UK and England, in case you're curious*. Some people know a lot about certain areas--like my friend Bill can explain why soap works. Ok, none of this is revelatory or new, but I'm getting to a point, I think. We are ignorant of some stuff, either willfully or accidentally. I think that's the point I was getting at 200 words ago.

I am accidentally ignorant of the number and kinds of agricultural climates on the Asian continent, among a startling large number of other things. I am willfully ignorant of most things pertaining to sports. It's not because I'm of the gender with mostly internal plumbing. Of the few close friends of mine who are fans of sports, half of them are women, and the most fanatic half too. So, it's not a boy vs. girl thing. It's a uncoordinated, non-competitive person vs. other people thing. I know some of the basic rules of the major sports that are around and advertized on my radio. I know how things are scored in football, basketball and baseball. I think I even understand what an inning is, but I'm totally lost when it comes to soccer. I'm willfully ignorant, as I've had it explained to me before, I just don't retain the information. I also watched a four hour movie explaining Cricket and still only have the foggiest idea of how that works--you have to run a lot while other people throw stuff... that's what I got.

So, from sports, we go to games in general. I do not know the rules to most of the games that I enjoy playing. I know that makes no sense, but if you go back to yesterday's revelation about favorites and strategy, it does make sense. I know how to play lots of games, but I sort of bend the rules a bit in my brain to make them more fun. Like Scrabble. If you're playing Scrabble with the sole intent of getting the highest score and stumping your opponent, you might stick to rules like no proper names or words in other languages. I think that makes things significantly less fun. If, instead, you play to see what kinds of words you can make on the board, with bonus points being awarded for ingenuity, creativity, flair, and sheer determination--well, that's a lot more fun. There is certainly more laughing, more animation and less consultation of Mirriam Webster. MBFJC and I once spent an afternoon in Hawaii doing that. I was sunburned from the nape of my neck to my Achilles tendon from the previous day's snorkeling adventure, despite the repeated application of sunscreen and the fact that I was wearing a shirt over my bathing suit... anyway, walking was painful, so while my parents went on a hike over beautiful and senic terrain, we lay about the condo room eating Cap'n Crunch (with Crunch Berries) and giggling hysterically over the various and sundry words we managed to come up with. It might have been the best day of that vacation actually...

Anyway, the Cap'n Crunch thing is what brought all this crazy tangential thinking about. Tomorrow is the first Saturday after Faire... the first Saturday in 13 weeks that I don't have to be awake and getting ready at 6:15. That's a beautiful thing. Several years ago, my friend Shannon shared with me her Sacred Saturday tradition--Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries. The first Saturday of rest, she made sure to have that cereal on hand, and spent the day in her house, doing house-type relaxing things. I'm sure she puttered in her garden and tended to her fur-babies and maybe watched a Jane Austen movie... who knows. The point is that relaxation had a ritual that signified the begining of the next stage of things in our lives. For me, the cereal of choice is Cocoa Puffs, because that's the cereal my grandma always made sure to have for me at her house when I came to visit.

So, while I remain ignorant of many things agricultural and athletic, I will venture to the grocery store after work and procure my box of cereal for tomorrow morning. I shall eat cereal on the couch, with my cats, and rest.

*It's like a Venn diagram, actually

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Irrational favorites

I have multiple favorites in most categories where favorites are picked, which after consulting the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, I no longer feel bad about. While the common connotation of "favorite" is closer to "best" of which you technically can really only have one, I think... wait... I think you can have two bests if they are equal...

Alright, forget that first part, because it doesn't have as much to do with what I want to say as I thought it did at first. Yes, I know I could just delete it, but there's something about the authenticity of my bizarre train of thought that gets me from point A to the point I was trying to make that I find compelling, so I'm leaving it right were it is.

So, some things it sort of makes sense to have favorites of: songs, movies, colors, foods, actors, cars, toothpaste, and stuff like that. Preferences for certain things like despising spearmint and wintergreen will cause things with more preferable attributes to be seen as favored over things with less desirable attributes. Right. That's just plain logic taken and twisted with ridiculous words until it seems like something that I just thought up. Which I didn't. In case you were fooled. The sky is also mostly blue, due to light scattering through the atmosphere in a specific and scientific way that I can't adequately explain.

There are many other things that it seems pretty silly to claim that any one is favored over another. And yet... I have some pretty irrational "favorite" things. For example, the carpet tiles in my office have a stripe pattern, but the tiles are laid at right angles to one another, so the over all effect is sort of like checkers... with stripes. My favorite tiles are the ones in which the stripes are pointing the same way as my feet. So, obviously, my favorite changes every time I turn a corner, and I would have no favorite if I weren't standing parallel/perpendicular to some squares. If there are only two choices, and one is better than the other--in a prefered way, not in an intrinsic value sort of way, then that one is the favorite. By definition, that's the way it works. Logically. Rationally. And yet, it's totally irrational to have a favorite carpet square, right?

Squares aren't even my favorite rhombus. I like the slanty kind of parallelograms better, and six-pointed stars even better than that. In general, I prefer shapes that have even numbers of sides to odd. This is all beginning to sound a little more OCD than I imagined.

See, it all started when I was playing Bejeweled and began to think that maybe one of the reasons that I wasn't better at the game was because I tended to look for combinations that included "jewels" that I liked rather than ones that I was indifferent towards. As far as strategies go, it's pretty crappy, but also fairly representative of my thought processes. Rather than focus on the whole picture, trying to make the best and most beneficial combinations, I choose to focus on ones with the purple stones, or the diamonds. That kind of thinking will never lead to a record-breaking high score. Then again, if that were my goal, I'd live in a constant state of disappointment. Since I play to make pretty patterns and pass the time, I'm generally quite successful. If I were smarter, I'd apply that approach to the rest of my life--not the pretty patterns and time wasting part (I think I do enough of that already), but the "define the goals that make sense to you rather than strive to achieve goals set by someone else" thing.

But first... TACOS!
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