Monday, January 28

Once again, speaking out of my Ass.

I totally stole this from Bulletproof Bracelets. Montel Williams fought the good fight. Has Daniel Day Lewis struck anyone else as a little odd? Because I think Heath Ledger's death is a damned shame, and a tradgedy beyond measure for his family, but is this just my cold hearted cynical nature getting the best of me? DDL dedicated his SAG award to Ledger? I get expressing shock, horror, and sadness upon learning of his death--it was obviously news to him when he appeared on Oprah. Days later, to still be bringing it up seems wrong to me. I think I would feel differently if they had known each other--then dedicating a win would seem a little more natural.

Perhaps I just don't have the patience required for the artistic temperment. I identify a lot more with what Montel had to say than with any bizarre tributes to Heath Ledger from a man who admits they never even met.

Sunday, January 27

Life without Cable: Day 3,652 Writer's strike:day 185

We sank to a new low tonight.

The rabbit-ear elves that rule my living room are cruel, cruel, little fae indeed.

Some would blame it on the storm overhead, but I know it's those damned pixies. Like the legend of the changeling child, my English stations have all been swapped for Spanish. Unlike the dull, half lit children in the old tales, the Spanish channels are brightly colored! There's lots of screaming and jiggling flesh abounds! The English channels are fuzzy and cutting out--the Spanish stations have never been so stable and clear. The English stations are all reruns, or stuff so bad nobody wanted to watch it in the first place.

Tonight we were mesmerized by...

Well, I guess it would be Mexican Circus Act Idol.

I am ashamed to say it's not the first time we've been sucked in, but it was CLEAR tonight. I could see the makeup used to paint on muscular definition on the eight to ten year old boys--each team has one--and on the buffed twenty year olds with all the definition they needed. Somebody got creative on one of them and quite frankly, his torso looked like a sea monkee.

We could not look away. If we were able to break the hold and check the English stations for something--anything to watch, it didn't matter. The MCAI lasted for like THREE hours.

The teams didn't have names, just colors. WHY didn't the rope guys wear team colors when dangling 20 feet up? I don't know. But it bothered me.

When the yellow team's rope dancer started losing his blue spandex pants, the honey and I placed bets on whether or not we'd see his underwear (if any) and whether or not they would be thong. (FYI, I totally called it- thong. The honey was a little traumatized)

A new low.

Why couldn't these elves be like the elves and the shoemaker, and make us NEW, better rabbit ears overnight, or come on, a nice new HDTV ready flat screen appearing on my wall.

Shit, I'd settle for them matching the loose DVD's to their cases.

Wednesday, January 23

My name is Jennifer, and I am a game-o-holic.

Not even good games.
Silly, pointless games.
(okay, the free rice thing is good and pointed and brain building, but if I could access THEM at work I would be playing all of the dippy games I play at home) 
I have been playing with my kids, so the games played on the home computer aren't even WORD games. 
I can't even tell you how cheesy they've been.
I am ashamed.  My JanJenBloMoPoPo a Go Go or what ever the hell it was has failed.
But I cleared Peggle.

Saturday, January 19

Friday, January 18


I swear, if books were candy, I'd have been sprawled on my chair last night at 2 am, with chocolate smeared all over my face.
After a looong dry spell, I spent the last of my birthday money on Naomi Novik's fourth book in the Temeraire series.   I also stumbled upon one of my favorite Romance author's books at the used bookstore for seventy five cents--and it was one I hadn't read before!
So after finishing the romance, a good Jo Beverly tale, I sank into the Novik book. 
Is there anything more satisfying than a long anticipated sequel that lives up to expectations?  Conversely, is there anything more maddening than a sequel that peters out, or worse yet, has a slapped on ending that resolves nothing...
I don't know that Novik's books are my ultimate reading experience.  Oh, but they are well crafted, detailed and thorough.  I enjoy the alternate history aspect of it, too.  I can't think of who wrote the books where the island of Nantucket is zapped back in time, and they adapt their technology to the available resources.  I don't thinks it's Turtledove, Flint maybe?  No web access here, so I don't know.  Great stuff, though.  I used to love the Leo Frankowski Conrad books.  The series lasted one or two books longer than it should have, but what fun...  
I am often intimidated by the commentors over at SQT's site, because they are hard core sci-fi/fantasy readers who offer deep insightful comments on the books they've read.  I AM the Homer Simpson of Sci-Fi.  I was happiest at B. Dalton, where my simple mall customers wanted basic books.  There was none of that snobbery associated with B&N, where customers demanded LITERATURE.  The B. Dalton customers loved good books, too, they were just more enthusiastic and straightforward.  I always cheerfully introduced myself to newbies at B&N as the queen of cheap, mass-market fiction.  If you had a question about classics, I was not your girl.  But if your customer could only remember that it was a spy novel with an apple on the cover and their dad wanted something like it, I could show you things similar to Len Deighton.   
I don't do deep and meaningful.  I can think of nothing worse than being trapped in a room with nothing to read but Oprah's book club books.  How.Freaking.Depressing.  There's plenty of awful stories in the newspaper if I need the horror of what people are capable of doing to each other.  Give me light escapist fiction. 
Last night was wonderful.  I am dragging this morning, but it was oh, so worth it to close the cover on a book worth my time.
But now there's the wait for the fifth. 

Thursday, January 17

Day 3

My dream trip was almost over!

I had crammed in a double decker bus tour of Dublin before I had to be at the airport. (Again, why not at the beginning of my trip so I'd know WHAT I wanted to go see? Hindsight is such a bitch...) We drove past landmark after landmark, and our tour guide pointed out embassy after beautiful embassy. There were stately mansions galore, ivy covered and elegant.

The American embassy was coming up, and the Americans on the bus preened as the tour guide told us it was an award winning design...

The spastic recoil and sinking into our seats also identified us as Americans a few minutes later as the embassy came into view.

Oh, no. NO no no no no.

What a way to end my trip--head hung in shame for the big cement monstrosity we had foisted on the Irish people.

I had consulted with my innkeeper, and she was sure that the bus to take me to the airport went by right out front.

Imagine my horror as the bus number went by on the OTHER side of the street.

I ran across the street to the OTHER bus stop, and tried not to panic at the thought of missing my flight. I HAD money for a cab, but..but...I still had 2 weeks in Europe to get through! What if I blew it all now and found something FABULOUS later? My Irish money (ahem, no such thing as a euro back then) had been carefully changed to allow for a few souvenir coins...nothing more.

As I stood there weighing my options, a cab flipped a U-turn in the middle of the street and shouted something incomprehensible at me.

It sounded suspiciously like

"hzze Bzz areee ween?"

It was my same little taxi driver, and his accent was just as thick to me after two and a half days immersed in Dublin. He gave me a free ride to the airport so he could find out how my trip had been.

England was lovely as well. I made the mistake of drinking a huge glass of tap water in Oxford, and was hideously, deliriously sick all through France. Germany was full of history and fairy tale castles, and Holland was so cool I died that I was seeing it with my parents. I didn't make it to Scotland, and I'd like to go there if I ever get the chance--Italy and Spain, too. But ultimately I think there's a little piece of my heart stuck in a taxicab driving through Dublin, and when I had my kids and they tell you to find your beautiful peaceful place? I was back in Glendalough.

Wednesday, January 16

Wednesday Hero

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus
Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus
28 years old from Wolf Creek, Montana
3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
July 29, 2006

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus was the nephew of Montana Senator Max Baucus. He joined the corps in 2002 and was sent to Iraq in March of 2005.

Cpl. Baucus was killed alongside fellow Marines Sgt. Christian Williams, 27 yrs old from Winter Haven, Fla. and Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield, 19 yrs old from Clovis, Calif. during combat operations in Al Anbar province.

"Phillip was an incredible person, a dedicated Marine, a loving son and husband, and a proud Montanan and American," Sen. Baucus said. "He heroically served the country he loved and he gave it his all."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Vote for the candidate who talks about long term plans for the support and care of the troops who have served their country during this and other conflicts. From a strictly financial standpoint, the true cost of this war has only begun to be tallied, and will continue to add up throughout the lifetimes of these eighteen and nineteen year old kids we are sending to war.

Find me someone who will demand reparation from Halliburton, THAT'S my candidate.

Tuesday, January 15

The pics


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Day 2

Terrified of missing my only guaranteed meal of the day, I woke up at 5:30 and was sitting in the dining room at 6am.

Breakfast wasn't served until 7, and I scared the innkeeper half to death when she came in. I had a book and was reading quietly, but she wasn't expecting anyone to be lurking in her dining room at the butt crack of dawn.

Breakfast was bacon and eggs.

Now, in all honesty, it never occurred to me that the eggs would not be cooked to order. I had, in my sheltered life, eaten my eggs scrambled. Period. Fried eggs with their oozing yolks had never appeared on my plate. Until that morning. gulp.

I already felt bad for scaring her and making her feel like I was rushing her to feed me, and now I was looking down at two yellow eyes staring back at me, along with the thickest, most undercooked slab of pork ever. On the side, making the plate ever so pretty, were three slices of HOT tomato.

The need to be cool, urbane, and grown-up (and the terror of complaining) overrode my squeamishness, and much like the grinch, my palate grew two sizes that day. (The grinch grew three sizes, but that undercooked pork stayed on my plate like a red headed stepchild.) Still not a fan of the HOT tomato, but I gained a new appreciation for the humble egg.

I wandered the city until my bus tour started, thoroughly enchanted by the Georgian architecture (jeebus, I think it's all Georgian) with the brightly painted doors. I made it to the bus pick up and boarded the bus for Glendalough.

I guess a jaded Irish native would be sick to death of the happy rural stereotypes and scream that the REAL Ireland is nothing like The Quiet Man with John Wayne. They would be right, Dublin was a major City with all of the accompanying baggage. There were streets I wandered into that I quickly turned back around and got back to the tourist friendly path. But the people? They were every bit as friendly and helpful as the drunkest American's St Patrick's Day fantasy, and the landscape was every bit as green and lush.

As I rode that butt numbing bus into County Wicklow, we had to stop for sheep blocking the road. The bus driver explained that the gorgeous fields of yellow flowers were actually giant gorse bushes, the dreaded weed. Didja follow that link? Because it's a terrible gnarly weed, full of spikes and things.  But it's gorgeous to see a field full of it.  As we rolled though this incredibly lush green landscape, with little stone walls older than the town I grew up in, even their freaking WEEDS are pretty.

(Northern California break again: lots of red dirt, scrub oak, and manzanita bushes. Everything's a dull sage green or gray brown--even the birds are dull brown.)

We arrived at Glendalough  and once again, the history and blood and passion that goes into a historical church is just beyond comprehension  without seeing it.    I was raised Seventh Day Adventist (itself a "new" and not-so-historical religion) and am not terribly religious, but I am reverent, and that's the best word I can come up with.  The little stone church no longer had a roof, and long before there was stained glass, the church window was composed of these stones edging an arched opening looking out into the most beautiful peaceful valley. It looked like pictures I drew as a kid. Two big green hills overlapping, with a river meandering between them. The stones edged the window like jagged grey fingers, jutting into the view of the two perfect hills. This tiny stone church stands in the valley, like it has for ages, held together with mud, blood, animal hair, and faith. Looking out at that valley it's not hard to understand why they had such a faith in a God that gave them such a beautiful place to live (at least until the Vikings came and they had to scurry to the tower). I get that same feeling coming into San Francisco from the north, those lush rolling hills must have truly seemed like the promised land to people arriving by ship after who knows how long at sea...

Monday, January 14

More on that trip later, but first.....

Poor Katie Holmes.
For her sake, I hope she really is blissfully married and that he's not a psycho control freak.
But her appearance on Good Morning America could not have been more robotic and bland. 
Send some prayers, mojo, or juju (whatever your flavor)  to Fresno tomorrow.
My best Jen's family is going through some stuff, and I'm sending all my love...
I feel the need for a disclaimer, my Ireland story is nothing spectacular, as I was much too shy for an epic tale...
(When the choir from my high school went, they got to shake hands with U2.   They were all getting off of their respective planes at the same time. 
I cried when I heard that.  In front of all of my polyeser clad Taco Bell co-workers, I stood there with big fat tears rolling down my cheeks because so many unworthy people got to meet them and none of them mentioned how important the Unforgettable Fire had been to ME in my high school years.  My summer spent slaving in burgundy polyester never felt more unfair.)

Saturday, January 12

In which the shy bookseller goes to Ireland

My aunt was stationed in Germany, but was moving back to the states within the year. If we were ever going to go see her, it had to be THEN.

I still think the reason I got to go was because my parents didn't dare leave me at home with the bad boyfriend. Subliminally I suspect they hoped I'd drop him like a hot rock (or vice versa) when we left.

I was out of high school, but still seriously enamored with all things Celtic. So I scraped my meager bookstore shekels together and paid for a solo ticket to Ireland (from London) for three days. Our arrival in London is a story for another day, but after a day to recover, I waved goodbye to my parents and hopped on yet another plane.

In hindsight, that was a terrible plan. I had never traveled to another country WITH my parents, let alone without them, and I would have done things differently had I taken my solo trip at the END of our adventure.

I may as well have had a "Tourist" t-shirt printed up. We were traveling carry-on only, plus a fanny pack. I emerged from the airport in Dublin with the address of the tourism board clenched tightly in one hand, my bag in the other. I decided I was not ready for a bus, so I timidly climbed into the taxi and read off the address.

"hzze Bzz areee ween?"

Crap. I could not understand anything he was saying. His accent was glorious. I could have spread it on toast and eaten it up, but my dreams of being worldly and urbane were crushed as I had to ask him to repeat himself over and over. I think he was more excited about my first trip to Ireland than I was. We finally fell into a rhythym and he dropped me off with a big wave, and I probably tipped him waaaay too much, but what a sweetheart.

I wasn't sure about hostels(again, things I would have done differently...), so I opted for a bed & breakfast that was supposed to be just a few blocks away. The girl at the tourism office gave me a horribly xeroxed map and off I went.

To stare in horror at empty corners. There were no street signs. I finally stopped dead in the stream of traffic, dropped my bag, and ta-da!

I'm not even sure my bag had hit the ground when a hand took my elbow and a man asked where it was I was trying to get to. He pointed out that the signs were posted on the buildings themselves every other block, gave me some terrible directions to my destination, and hoped I had a wonderful trip. I floated up the street...

For a pathologically shy, (in my mind) chubby nineteen year old, the friendliness of the people combined with with the frenetic vitality of a large city were intoxicating. Did I got out to a rocking pub and meet a charming Irish lad? Good lord, no. I wish!

I was smiley and happy and still pathologically shy. But I had scheduled bus trips to see the sights for the next day, and spent the rest of that day wandering the streets of Dublin on foot, just soaking it all in. I found the backside of Christ Church Cathedral, which was amazing to a girl from California where every church was a ranch style stucco thing. California history didn't really take off until the mid 1800's where I grew up, and it was more saloons and courthouses than epic monuments to the lord built over time. If there was one thing that I brought back with me from that trip, it was that we need to tear down the churches here and demand that they be built with the blood and sweat equity of the faithful. Just breathtaking stuff.

I carefully set my little travel clock so that I wouldn't miss breakfast, as I was not a morning person, but had worked my included breakfast into my budget.


Thursday, January 10

random bullets, a la CRSE.

* Got my birthday card! YAY! I feel like their kid again.

* My mom called to tell me that she is almost out of peppermint marshmallows, and she has become addicted to them, She demanded more. Immediately! Her birthday is in February, and I am toying with the idea of Mochamallows...have to give this some thought...

* tons o' work, so my posting is down

* my yahoo is screwy so no access to flikr right now--sorry the blog is so plain.

* CHUUUUUUUUCK! Post something for fuck's sake! KIIIIM! Post something more often, or okay, just email me, chick! AAAAN! Thank dog you're back!

* I miss Greg Beck when I see the story about the guy who cut off his hand because he thought it had the mark of the beast on it. He took a circular saw and whacked it off(buzzed it off?). He cooked it in the microwave and called the police.

* I think of CRSE when I see on Oprah that there really is a reason for buoyant pooh. (It's probably been a year, but the line about apparently eating a lot of cork still cracks me up)

* Ooh, the landlady. In the middle of December she told us she couldn't pay the heater guy so we should just pay him and then take it out of our rent. I reminded her that her daughter had warned me against just that kind of thing. She got miffed and said it was none of her daughter's business (RED flag, anyone?). We had her pay the initial consultaion fee, and instead of the six hundred his company would have charged, the guy came back and did it under the table for one eighty. Let me remind y'all that this was freaking Christmas, and we had to come up with a hundred and eighty dollars. Now she has no memory of this, and feels like we have scammed her. I know she was scammed by the previous tenants, but I HATE that she thinks we are dong that to her. It makes me feel dirty, when I could have insisted that SHE write a check that day, but I didn't because she didn't have it. ugh.

Monday, January 7

Bre has a theory...

Her theory is that the world will one day be ruled by the children of immigrants.  Yeah, I get that we're all immigrants in America, we're talking about those precocious 10 year olds that conduct all business for their parents who speak no English.  Some of these kids have a better grasp on life than most ADULTS we deal with.
It was a conscious decision to have Big O interact with adults in little ways, like asking for a box at the pizza parlor, to foster that sense of how to behave in the adult world.  In writing this post, I am not sure I've done that with Little O.  She pulls the baby card a lot, and we let her.  Part of that is her father's inability to stomach whining.  He just caves in a surly way, just to stop the racket.  It's one of the things I could just smack him for.  Calm and consistent is not in his genetic make up.  In retrospect we may have been TOO calm with Big O, but I'm not sold on the Honey's method either.  It's definitely a style clash sometimes. 
Counting to 3 worked wonders with Big O in terms of keeping it calm and matter of fact.  They Honey thinks obedience should be instant--therefore he refuses to count, but then he caves, so what does he THINK is going to happen?  I need some subliminal tapes.  Or a shock collar. Maybe a taser for the whole crew. 
OOOOOOOHHH! I was supposed to be positive. 
I am positive that I will give you the story of my sweet elderly landlady tomorrow. 

Sunday, January 6

sunday silliness

I was torn as to whether this this belongs on dorkbloggers or here. but I'm already soooo lazy about dorkbloggers...


On a totally unrelated note, Charles is looking for feedback about marketing his book. I got myself a free copy of his first book, but do not have the attention span for ebooks or podcasts (although with DSL it might not be such a horible concept...) stop by and see him if you know a little something about those!


one of my guilty little pleasures is Vanity Fair, kind of a grown up People magazine. I just stumbled across the online version, and spent all day...

Friday, January 4

Power's Out since 6 am

Little O was thoroughly freaked out.
Today I am thankful that my children are well behaved enough that when emergencies come up, I can drag them in to my work and they sit miserable and quiet. 
Okay, Big O is quietly reading and Little O is miserable.  She has coloring books and stickers, but the need to chatter incessantly is inherent in a five year old.  She is a tough little soldier, though, and sings quiet little songs as she colors.
This will not last--it CAN'T last.  
That's okay, it just has to last until my lunch.  I'll take them home then, power or not.  Big O can have my cell phone and I'll buy them CrackDonald's, and it will be light enough to SEE, at least.  If Big O is consigned to a day of Candyland and Chutes & Ladders, well, there are worse fates...
She got Pretty Pretty Princess for Christmas!
I love my O's.  

Thursday, January 3

Pure Fat, Refined sugar, and um, oatmeal is good for you, right?

So for Christmas I made Oatmeal Lace Cookies, and they went over well, but the Honey really loved them and has been telling one of the guys at work about them ever since. 
(I love the guys at the dealership, because they are all Garbage Disposals, and jump on leftovers like starving wolves.  Then they hoot and holler about which was their favorite, and try to wheedle me into making their favorites for the Honey's dinner so they can get in on the leftovers.)
So last night I put the Honey and Little O to bed and told Big O to come make cookies with me...
He asked why Little O was in bed if we were making cookies, and I told him I thought just he and I could do it. 
In a stunning turn of events, my inner-Martha cross-channeled with my dad in his teacher mode, and I became the cookie Nazi. 
I could hear it falling out of my mouth--I tried to control it, but it still slipped out...
"Measure, Big O.  Measure carefully. 
Read the recipe, Big O.  No, re-read it. 
Measure!!! Measure!!
Sloooowwly,  be very careful... okay, now wash your hands."
We scooped the first glorious spoonful onto the cookie sheet, I let Big O lick the beater (AAAAARGH--raw egg!!! I'm going to give him salmonella----deep breath, unclench).
NO. Something looks wrong--crap! 
I  had doubled the buttah, which meant that after my lectures about the importance of mixing ingredients in the order and combinations listed in the recipe (There are chemical reactions taking place, Big O.  Cooking is SCIENCE!!!!"), I had to dump everything for the doubled batch willy nilly into the mixer and eat a big spoonful of crow.
The cookies turned out kick ass, by the way.  Yeah, we rock.
20 years ago, when I was in high school (okay, can I tell you how much it hurt to type that?), my dad and I were hanging out, wasting time, right around Christmas time.  My father had a wild hair to decorate the Christmas tree at the air ambulance hangar with HOMEMADE, CRAFTY ornaments.  Let's make angels out of finger splints, and wind curlex around for garland, and Oh, this is gonna be swell!
(Please note that I have inherited this gene, which has morphed into the birthday parties from hell with fear factor/alien/hello kitty themes)
My dad borrowed my mom's hot glue gun for the occasion, and then proceeded to give me a twenty minute lecture on glue gun safety.  I grinned and told him I'd been using the glue gun for years, I thought I could handle it. 
"Jen, this glue gets seriously hot.  You can get a second degree burn--AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!"
My dad looked down in horror at the glob of glue he had applied to his middle finger instead of the angel's wing.
He tried to shake it off, then used the index finger of his other hand to wipe it off.
"AAAAIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!"  Now staring in horror at the other hand.
What could a smug teenager do, but turn on the cold water and choke out through the laughter,
"Dad, hot things BUUUURN."
I can still tell him that to this day and we both crack up.
I don't know that Big O is going to chide me to measure carefully for the rest of my life, but it was definitely one of those moments for me.
Dork Pride, baby.  It's in the genes.

Wednesday, January 2

JanJenJuPoMoPoPoEnTodo: Day 1 (okay, 2, shut up already)

I am going to remain positive, not beat my self up for missing the first day of my new thang.
Does that count as my positive thing for the day?  Because the crazies are out in force. 
'08 can be declared el Ano Loco. 
Can I say that on January second?
"Year of the Nutjob" in English.
"Year of the ill-informed and unreasonably belligerent" in New-Age politically correct crapspeak.
"Year of the chronically stupid and heavily inbred" in the bitter shrewish tones I am trying to control?
"Have you been drinking?  NO-- today, ARE YOU DRUNK, MOTHERF*CKER?  Are you spitting and flipping out over (insert crazy ass reason here) because you have been tossing them back all morning?"  I don't know how to turn that into a year of....
Yep.  It's that year already, and it's just 11:46 west coast time.  I love my job.  I do.