Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New blogs

I want this blog to be my main anchor and be sort of varied, so I made two specialty blogs to keep it uncluttered.

One is Daisy Chains and Laughs, which is just for jotting down what I do each day. I was writing this in a notepad file, but I like the idea of having this stuff backed up somewhere online. Plus, I like reading what other people do each day, so I figured somebody else may enjoy that too.

The other is The Musical Box, which I'm saving specifically for writing about music. (Music posts would quickly overtake this entire blog if I put them here.) I was using last.fm for that, but something about the way the blogging there works bugs me. Plus I want to keep things together on Blogger more, since I have a tendency to strew blogs all across the internet.

Both of those blogs are completely self-indulgent and I offer no promises that they're not totally boring ;)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall is here!

Hooray, it's finally fall! Well, officially that is. Here in Florida it still feels pretty warm, and our leaves basically don't turn until January. But I decided to put up some fall decorations anyway, since it isn't quite time for the Halloween ones yet.

This is our table, which looks a lot nicer when the cat isn't rearranging it to suit his comfort needs. Those are our regular placemats and candles, and I just added a tablecloth I found in the dollar bin at Target.

This is my bedroom window. You can't really see it, but those are jack o' lantern lights. I got them from Target or Walmart, I forget which, a few years ago. And then there's also a string of regular white Christmas lights. The leaf garland I made, out of silk leaves from the dollar bin at Target. I painted them with glitter-glue and then hot glued them to a string of brown yarn.

And that was my uncharacteristic Martha Stewart moment. Revel in it now, because there probably won't be another one for several thousand years.

Oh yeah, and for good measure, here is a fall meme. I got this from Dawn over at By Sun and Candlelight.

When does fall begin for you?
I start thinking about it in late August, but to me fall starts right after my birthday (9/17).
But we don't get fall weather till mid-October :(

What is your favorite aspect of fall?
Cooler weather, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the fair

What is your favorite fall memory?
Hmm... I have a lot of memories that happened in fall, but I guess a good fall-specific one is going to the corn maze with the elementary school kids a couple times.
They have a HAYRIDE

What do you like to drink in the fall?
Aside from the same crap I always drink, I looove apple cider. Especially heated up in the crockpot with cinnamon and stuff, yum. And sometimes I will venture out into Halloween Jones Soda if I'm feeling brave.
I also liked Mountain Dew Pitch Black a lot until they discontinued it D:

What's your favorite fall food?
Sweet potatoes, well I like them all year but they taste better in the fall. Squash casserole, pumpkin pie, all the stuff we eat on Thanksgiving basically.
Also Halloween candy, especially those little things that are made of candy corn but they're shaped like pumpkins

What is fall weather like where you live?
It stays pretty warm until mid-October, then cools down pretty crisp.
Well, crisp by Florida standards, which is like 70F in the afternoon

What color is fall?
Red and orange, and kinda brown in November.
I do not know why I associate November specifically with brown, but I do

What does fall smell like?
Pumpkin pie spice, and that smell after it just rained and is kinda chilly

Holiday shopping in fall: yes or no?
Yes, if I have money.
I like to get stuff done early so I'm not rushed

If you could go anywhere in the fall, where would you go?
Somewhere cold enough that I can dress in layers.
I always like "fall clothes" but it doesn't get cold enough here to wear them until winter

What is your favorite fall sport?
Eww, sports.
Does diving into piles of leaves count?

Do you have a favorite fall chore?
Favorite chore? If it was a favorite thing I wouldn't consider it a chore. I guess decorating for Halloween, and Christmas (we decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving).
But that's not a chore, that's fun :p

What is your least favorite thing about fall?
It doesn't cool off fast enough and makes me hate Florida even more than I already do :p

What is your favorite fall holiday?

What's your favorite kind of pie?
Justina and I were talking about this the other day - I think pumpkin and pecan are tied for first in my pie hierarchy.

What was your favorite Halloween costume?
When I was 16 I dressed up as an "alien" with as many bizarre neon colors and glitter and stuff as possible.
I looked like a raver, basically

What's your favorite Halloween candy?
Reese's cups, and those little Tootsie Rolls that are like, fruit flavored

What's your least favorite Halloween candy?
Mary Janes and bubblegum

Which do you prefer, the Farm or the Fair?
Fair!! Though honestly our fairs around here are kinda like going to a farm too, in that there are animals to look at and the whole place reeks of cow poop

Do you have a favorite fall book?
Most books I read are not seasonal.
Though I usually reread the one Babysitters Club mystery about the haunted masquerade around Halloween, because that book is just creepy

How about a favorite fall poem?
I don't pay attention to poetry.
I guess The Raven is good for Halloween :p

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fill-In

1. There is no need to keep wearing clothes that don't fit (literally and metaphorically).

2. Where in the heck did the dog hide her toy, and why does she expect me to find it?

3. Watch the Venture Bros. and eat sunflower seeds is all I managed to do.

4. Prospects for employment are not looking so good.

5. All you need is love is the message.

6. Simplicity and tranquility are things cats are really good at, and it makes me jealous.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to deciding how to spend my birthday money, tomorrow my plans include grocery shopping and Sunday, I want to be lazy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Soviet Russia, Train Graffitis You

I love reading about what people do in a day, and I had a particularly interesting day today, so I thought I'd share some of what I did. Well, most of it is more things I talked about and read about, but there were a lot of connections and it was fun, and there were some themes that just kept coming back up over and over.

I was talking to Justina online early this afternoon, and showed her my blog post about playing guitar. She mentioned Guitar Hero and I said that I think playing Guitar Hero actually helped me on the real guitar, because it gets you used to that kind of hand coordination. She agreed and said she's had other friends say that, and then they get used to the real guitar and can't play guitar hero anymore. I mentioned I'd wondered if real guitarists, famous ones like Eric Clapton or Eddie Van Halen, were good at Guitar Hero and if, say, Michael Jackson is good at DDR. Justina said it'd be neat to get rock stars to play their own songs on Rock Band and imagined a fantasy band with Eddie Van Halen on guitar and Phil Collins on drums and stuff, all playing Rock Band together.

Thinking about famous guitarists made me remember I haven't read Brian May's blog in awhile. (Seriously, a rock star AND an astronomer, and he still takes time to blog! How awesome is that?) There's some great posts on there about the Large Hadron Collider (he even linked to the Large Hadron Rap), and a nice post about slugs and how it's cruel that people kill them just for a pretty garden. There's also a post where some Queen fan in Kharkov, Ukraine had painted some beautiful graffiti of Queen + Paul Rodgers, who played to a crowd of 350,000 there (I can't even comprehend a crowd that size), and then went on to play a show in Moscow. I showed the graffiti to Justina, and I don't remember where the conversation went from there, but we started talking about graffiti we've seen and how some is really beautiful and some is ugly.

Meanwhile I was planning my trip to Terry's house tomorrow and talking about driving six hours and how for me that's still the same state but for Justina (in England) six hours would be driving cross-country. Then we started trying to figure out the relative size of the UK vs. the US, because Justina said from Southampton to the very north of Scotland would be about a 15 hour drive. I know Spiffy drove 14 hours from New Jersey to here last fall, so I figured the UK is about the same length as most of the East Coast without Florida. I went looking for a map online that compared sizes of countries, and couldn't find one, but I did find this cartogram that compares populations of countries. I found out all of Australia has close to the same number of people as Florida. Justina was surprised the UK had so many people compared to the US considering how much bigger the US is, and I pointed out how we have a lot of large states with not many people per square mile. We were talking about how Americans have to keep getting on planes a lot to fly back and forth and see different relatives in different states. Justina said she'd rather spend a week on a train. We started talking about trains and I said I've never been on one, and we mostly get freight trains around here and you're just sitting there watching graffiti go by. So we were talking about graffiti again. Somewhere in there I also said "Americans use subways more, but they're not as nice as English trains I bet", and she laughed and said English trains aren't really that much nicer than subways.

Later Roni signed on and I was talking to both of them, and Roni is learning speech pathology so she was explaining some things about phonetics. I'd seen someone mention today was "El Grito" and I asked Roni if she knew what that was; she knew what the word grito meant (scream, yell or cry) but not what the day was. I looked it up; it's Mexican independence day. We started talking about connotations and how they don't translate well, because she had translated "grito" as scream but in el grito de independencia it means more like cry; the cry of independence. She mentioned how it's easier to learn sounds in other languages if you know about phonetics. I started trying to explain a German umlaut sound and couldn't do it, and she mentioned she had a link for a phonetic font at home so we can all download that and describe things in phonetics.

Later in the afternoon I noticed it was nice outside and not too hot, so Mama and I decided to take our dachshund, Frieda, outside to run around. We walked around with her and the cats for awhile, it was nice. When we came in I watched the Simpsons, and then an MTV Cribs special on VH1 Classic that was all "classic" rock stars. (I don't know how "classic" I'd call Sebastian Bach or Dee Snider, but the point was they're older, I guess.) After that I started looking for my cell phone charger because I wanted to go to bed early and pack in the morning, but I wanted to charge my phone first. Well, it took me AN HOUR to find the charger. I was freaking out thinking I'd have to drive five or six hours by myself without a phone. I finally gave up and sat down, and then remembered I'd been messing with Christmas lights in the area where I keep my charger, because I was putting up some white lights with my fall decorations. I checked the box where I'd put away some lights I wasn't using, and sure enough, my charger had gotten tangled up in them. I don't know HOW I thought of that, but thank god I did. Phone chargers don't work too well when they're buried in the bathroom closet.

By then I was wide awake, so I got up, took a bath and then listened to music for awhile. I was listening to "Rasputin" by Boney M, which is somewhere in my playlist in the sidebar, and thinking about making a playlist of Russia songs: Rasputin, and "Moskau" by Rammstein, "Back in the U.S.S.R." by The Beatles, and... what else? Then I remembered The Nutcracker, which is all Russian because Tchaikovsky was Russian, but there's also a song called the Russian Dance. So I put on the Nutcracker and listened to that while I packed.

Then I saw something on a blog about making putty or gloop or something, and that reminded me I'd seen Thinking Putty in a ThinkGeek catalog I have and was wondering what it was. So I looked that up, and read about the different properties of dilatant compounds.

I was talking to people on MSN when I was writing this, and I showed Tim the cartogram and told him about the population of Australia being the same as Florida, and he offered his version. I like it.

Also, I looked at Brian May's blog again while writing this, and saw that Richard Wright of Pink Floyd had died. That made me really sad, especially since I've only just become a fan of theirs and (embarassingly) didn't know anything about him yet. But everyone who's been in Pink Floyd is brilliant. RIP, Richard Wright.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting how trains, graffiti, and Russia came up several times today for different reasons. I can't even begin to try and put any of this stuff in subjects; there's geography and statistics and art and science and language and math and everything. And most of that, really, was sparked by talking about guitars and rock music. I guess that's a good example of one interest connecting to everything in the world :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I was blogsurfing today and found this list, from Very Good Taste. While I definitely don't agree with the author's assertion that everyone "should" try all these foods, I think it's an interesting meme and there are certainly things on here that I'd consider trying.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

(I'm also adding asterisks to what I haven't eaten, but would particularly like to try)

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue*
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi*
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes*
19. Steamed pork buns*
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche*
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (yum!!)
30. Bagna cauda*
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (Clam chowder grosses me out)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (no to the cigar, not the cognac)
37. Clotted cream tea*
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O*
39. Gumbo* (I actually can't remember if I've tried this or not)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala*
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone (endangered)
54. Paneer*
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle*
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips*
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst*
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain*
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (It is bizarre not to see this written "chitlins")
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong*
80. Bellini (I despise peach)
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (???)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab (Only because they're kept in one piece *shudder*)
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (Despite being a Floridian, still no. Though I will admit the fried gator tail at the fair smells good, at least.)

It was extremely useful that Fez was online while I was doing this, so I could bug him about all the weird Indian/South Asian foods and whether they're good or not. (This was probably mean, since it's Ramadan and the middle of the day in Singapore and the poor dude is hungry. Darn, I guess I won't be winning any "World's Greatest Friend" awards anytime soon. Ah well, I'd probably lose them anyway due to excessive Myspace bulletins and never checking my voicemail.)

I also want to add that I have totally eaten ants, but they weren't whole. They were crushed up in chocolate. See, in a biology class I took a few years ago, the teacher offered us something like 2 points of extra credit if we'd eat these things. (There was some vague educational relevance to this, but I don't remember what it was.) I wanted the points, so I ate a piece. It was actually pretty good, kinda like a Crunch bar. But later I got a job as that particular professor's assistant, and she told me one day about how her students jump through hoops for all these little points even though the total points for the class were so many that two points couldn't possibly affect your final letter grade. I started to laugh at her students' failure to realize this, until it dawned on me that I'd been one of her students. "Hahaha, those dumb- HEY! Wait a second, I ate ants for you! ANTS!!"

Oh well. At least they were chocolate-covered.


I've been learning guitar!!

I know, I know, lots of people do that. But this is a bigger deal than it sounds like. See, when I was twelve I got a clarinet, and a piano AND a keyboard. (My parents were not rich, but they eagerly supported my interest in music, so when I asked for instruments they'd usually scrape up the money somehow.) And I learned both of them pretty quickly: the clarinet through school band classes, and the piano by playing around and picking out songs by ear, then learning chords, then playing with "fake books" (where you play the melody and chords, instead of playing "proper" piano). I felt like there wasn't any instrument I couldn't learn.

Then, when I was 13, I got a guitar.

It wasn't the classical guitar seen here; I got that when I was 17 or 18. No, I was into rock music, and I had to have an electric guitar. So we bought one, and we brought it home, and I picked at it a little and played with the amplifier and tried to make it sound all disorted and grunge-y. And then I tried to learn actual chords, and it made my fingers go numb and they kept hitting the wrong strings and I got all angry and why does this have to be so hard I just want to play Smells Like Teen Spirit dammit!! So I stuffed it in the closet and decided I just couldn't learn string instruments, and felt guilty for asking my mom for something so expensive and then giving it up. I asked for an acoustic years later (I don't know why my mom bought a classical-style one, but it doesn't make much difference to me), hoping it would be easier to learn on that. It wasn't. So I shoved that in the closet too, and now I was wasting two guitars.

If you're keeping score, I'm almost 23 now. That means I've been a guitar owner for nearly ten years without learning to play a single chord or even clumsily pluck a song on one string. As someone whose life pretty much revolves around music, that's pretty embarassing.

But! I figured out what my problem was. I was trying to teach myself guitar. Somehow, I thought guitars were bigger and better than me, and was afraid to play them "wrong" lest they implode or something. I thought this was a big mysterious instrument you had to take serious lessons on - I mean, the piano was just pushing buttons! Guitars had all these scary complicated parts and you can play the same note in a bunch of different places and the music is written in tabs and chords instead of regular sheet music and and and!! So, I was letting it intimidate me. That's a lot of power to give a box of wood with some nylon tied to it.

But now I've decided I want to try again, mostly because of this guy we saw at Yasumicon who just randomly had a guitar and took it up in a tree with him and started playing Led Zeppelin and stuff. I thought, "Dude, I wanna be able to randomly play music wherever I go!" There's no climbing up in a tree with a piano. But this time I just let myself play with the guitar, the way I did when I was learning piano. And you know what? I'm learning a lot faster. I'll just start plucking a melody on one string, and then go "This would be a lot easier to play if I used more than one string; I wouldn't have to move my hand so much". So then I'll figure out how to play it on two strings, then three, then four. And it's fun, and there's no feeling like a failure when I don't do something "right". I still haven't learned chords, but here are the melodies I can play so far:

When Johnny Comes Marching Home/Ants Go Marching
You Are My Sunshine
Scarborough Fair
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/The alphabet song/Baa Baa Black Sheep
The Twelve Days of Christmas
"And I Love Her" by The Beatles (just the basic melody)

And I'm working on these:
Greensleeves/What Child is This
God Save the Queen/My Country 'Tis of Thee/The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen


Friday, September 12, 2008

Reminder to Myself

Dear Self,

Please remember not to sleep until noon. It makes you feel painfully tired and nonfunctional all day and you become cranky and rude and whiny like a toddler who has missed her nap. And you won't be able to nap either, you'll be in zombie-limbo, checking Yahoo and Myspace over. And over. And over. And over. And over.

Go to bed early and get up at 7 or 8, or maybe 9. You'll have energy and enjoy the day and you won't be a crazy woman snapping at everyone for not understanding your incoherent ramblings.


Friday, September 5, 2008

My playlist

I'm trying to figure out how to get this in the sidebar, but for now I'll just post it here. ETA: Or not, because it doesn't work.