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Thursday, May 31, 2007

iPods Across America

Having just returned from vacation, I had to go out to Las Vegas.  For some, it's the happiest place on Earth.  For me, hell on Earth.  Really.  Heat + Lots of Smokers + Synthetic Surroundings + Hooters being the most tasteful advertiser for miles = Jill's Own Personal Hades.  But, duty called.  So, I went.  For as little time as possible.  

On the plane flight home, I was seated next to someone who looked uncomfortably like Dick Cheney.  Turns out, he was a nearing-70 marine corrosion expert (yes, really - the guy's field is rust on boats) who was into some interesting music.  We spent half of the 5.5 hour flight listening to the other's iPod, saying things like, "Have you ever heard ___?" and clicking scrollwheels for one another.

Sometimes, life is just whimsically cool.

Monday, May 28, 2007

For those of you who guessed Northern California

 You were right.

Obligatory tourist shot

I can highly recommend Sonoma Wine Country before the official summer breaks start as a great place to spend a relaxing few days.

Lavender fields at matanzas creek

Back to the grind tomorrow.  ::sigh::

Friday, May 25, 2007

So - Where Was I?

Clever people have probably inferred that I was going somewhere from my last post.  Other clever people might have said, "Eh - she's always going somewhere.  She's got one of those jobs that does that."  The first clever people would be right, and the second clever people would be right also - just more globally and less specifically.

We did go away - far(ish) away.  On our first vacation since our honeymoon, almost exactly four years ago.  You could say it's about time.  Where have we been?  Ah.  That would be telling.  How about you tell me in the comments, based on the following photos?  (Those who actually know where we were or who actually saw us there are disqualified.  You know who you are.  Those of you who cheat, well - that's what the Internet's for, isn't it?)


John and llama at nicholson ranch

Lavender art shot at matanzas creek

Gundlach bundschu

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hello, I'm Mrs. Mith. Hello?

"Hello, this is Deathtrap Airlines-dot-com service, how may I help you?"

"Hi, I'm Jill Smith, and despite being incredibly frustrated with your website, I'm being earnestly cheerful because I know it isn't your fault personally, but you see I had signed up for an upgrade when I bought this ticket, and it turns out they aren't letting me use the seventy-bajillion frequent flyer miles I have accrued to accomplish this, but are instead making me use some sort of arcane coupon which I don't have.  Since I don't have it, the website is asking me to buy it, which would double the price of the ticket, but I can't tell the website to just forget about the damn upgrade and go with my original seat, and so I can't check in."

"May I have your reservation number?"

"Yes, XYZ-PDQ-WTF." 

"And your name?"

Okay, I am over-explaining as usual, but geez.  I did introduce myself.  "Jill Smith."

"And who is the ticket for?"

"Jill Smith.  Me."  

"Okay, ma'am.  Please let me check on that for you."



"Ma'am.  You need the coupon for the upgrade."

"Okay.  But if I need the coupon, I don't want the upgrade."

"Yes ma'am."

"So I can't check in."





"Yes, ma'am."


[wars begin, empires fall, the earth becomes a charred husk]


"So, that's a problem."



[protozoa form in improbable, life-sustaining goo and become multiple-celled organisms]




"Yes, ma'am.  Let me check that for you ma'am."

Check what, exactly?  "Okay."



[multiple-celled organisms grow legs and crawl from their life sustaining goo]


[they invent sex]


[and television]


"Ma'am, I must put you on hold to check that for you, ma'am."

"Okay."  What was I on before?  Candid Camera?




"Okay - yes, fine - please put me on hold."


Oh, I see - being "on hold" means listening to a bombastic version of a Gershwin masterwork heaving away while I look at the table and realize that a piece of fishing junk-mail is addressed to "John S. Mith."  I'm married to a man named John.  I live at the address on the envelope.  Does this make me Mrs. Mith?  I guess it must.



Bombastic Gershwin surges and batters away.  It's the soundtrack to "multiple-celled organisms invent the internet and realize there's way too many cat pictures in the world."  Endless.



I swear to god, Gershwin is spinning in his grave like a chicken on a rotisserie.  Poor man.  dadadadadumdadadadadadaDADAdadumdadumdadumdadadaDUMMMM.....


"Ms. Smith?"  No, man - you've got it wrong.  That's Mrs. Mith to you, boyo.


"You cannot check in, ma'am?"



[multi-celled organisms the world over decide that House has jumped the shark]



"Yes, ma'am.  Let me check that for you, ma'am."

WTF is he checking?  What's with the checking?  Are you ever more specific than this?


"Ma'am?  If you log in and log out, you should be able to check in now, ma'am.  Thank you for calling Deathtrap Airlines.  Enjoy your flight, ma'am."

[The multi-celled organisms discover their front appendages and applaud]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Yesterday evening we had a Bug Incident.  Nothing major - just one of those bugs that looks suspiciously like a leaf until it moves and scares the crap out of you.  It was buzzing around the ceiling, three fuzzy faces following its progress intently.  It finally got tired and landed on the back of the couch, where Simon did his best imitation of a Wily Hunter.  

Stalking the viscious bug

The mighty paw descends...

He never actually hurt it.  I'm not even sure he knew what it was, but he was studying it with fierce intensity.  Simon, the Dian Fossey of the bug world...

Bugs are interesting!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Overheard on the Phone with Marietta (New Mom)

"Oh, this breast pump doesn't work like the manual one.  I like the manual one better."

"You know, it kind of sounds like a TARDIS.  Szhwozzh, szhwoozzh...  I think your breasts are going to Another Galaxy."

"Ha - I wish that would happen!  Okay - I really gotta go - this is making a mess."

"All right.  I'm blogging this bit of the conversation, by the way."

"Heh.  You have my permission."

Saturday, May 12, 2007


A friend (who knew me well offline and not on) once assumed I would be averse to emoticons.  I could see why, but for some reason, this is not the case.  I find a well-placed emoticon rather comforting, especially in online chat.

I am also almost inexplicably delighted by this.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Suburban Wildlife Friday

Our little Carolina Wren - the one who tried to force us to become slum lords.  Cute little guy, isn't he?

He also has a lovely song.  He stopped singing when I picked up my camera, but he's singing now (the third one in the link).

Carolina wren

Thinky, Thinky

Andrea, my friend and fellow Yogalilan has nominated me for the "Thinking Blogger" award.  Thanks, Andrea - considering that I find her blog always contains kernels of wisdom, I am well and truly honored.  As a nominee, it is my duty (in the meme-ly spirit of these awards) to go forth and nominate a few of the blogs that make me think.  So, here are three of the blogs that really make me think:

For longevity of thoughtitude, I have to go with Rana at "Frogs and Ravens." Over the years she has made me laugh, made me chime like a gong in resonant agreement, and of course, made me think.  Her writing is damn elegant, as well, which is always a plus in my book.

Lee Ann at "Fuzzy Logic Knits" is another funny, insightful woman.  Of late, she's also been dealing with some very weighty issues with grace, style, and humor.  Her honesty and courage impress me, even as she's making me laugh out loud.

Last up is not necessarily a blog per se, but fits enough of the normal standards for blogging in my book.  Jacob at Television Without Pity has a whirling, incandescent way with words, a geekily effulgent love for the subjects he chooses to write about, and an encyclopedic knowledge of poetry.  He weaves all of these together with compulsive readability in his recaps of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica.

There is a button to go along with the award, but truth to tell, I'm too pooped to put it up.  Lazy, nonthinking blogger that I am.  

ETA - Da Rulez:

Winners, now you get to nominate five [or so - Ed.] blogs that make you think. Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging [sooner than I did].

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The Freakonomics people seem to have fallen down their own rabbit hole a wee bit.  Like anyone running wild with a pet theory, these guys seem to find the same patterns in anything, even when making something fit the pattern means you have to twist it pretty hard and nail it down to keep it in place.  My friend Lianne showed me this article, and it set off a few BS-bells in my head.

I had an interestingly visceral reaction to the authors' categorization of things like knitting, cooking, and gardening as "menial labor," and realized I have a very definite mental line dividing things like cooking (which, thanks to John's skill and interest, I don't do every day - not even close, but often enjoy doing when I do it) and laundry.  The authors (of the article and the study) lump these things along a continuum, but I'm not sure it really works that way for everyone.

For me, the difference is the element of artistry or creativity.  There are many ways of making a dish interesting or adding creativity - flavor and aroma are certainly key, but there are visual elements as well - color and presentation.  There's little or no artistry or creativity in laundry (at least for me).  Clean clothes is clean clothes.

Notice I stayed away from knitting?  Well, yeah - because, honestly, I don't think it belongs on that continuum at all.  Production knitting is so archaic as a household necessity, it sticks out like a sore thumb.  Gardening, too (especially in urban or suburban areas where property values are high and space to grow things is at a premium).  I grow flowers and herbs, because I appreciate the color and the scent (and with herbs, to a lesser extent, the culinary value).  John grows tomatoes because it's fun to watch things grow - but also because there's no damn way to reliably find a tomato that tastes like a tomato anymore except to grow it yourself.

So - back to knitting as an archaic household activity.  There are other household activities that have fallen away in popularity because of modern mass-production methods.  Nobody churns their own butter anymore just for fun, right?  Well, I'd imagine because ratio of creativity to sheer backbreaking labor in the average pound of hand-churned butter is about zero to a zillion.

As for "menial," I have a definition in my computer's dictionary as, "not requiring much skill and lacking prestige."  Hell with that.  Cooking, gardening, and knitting all require a fair bit of skill to do well.  You might as well ask yourself why people blog, when typing is such menial labor?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Home Again, With Toes

I'm home after a reasonably grueling trip.  I'm getting caught up on e-mail and blogs, sitting on the couch next to Simon, who is sleeping in his usual nest at head-level on the back of the couch.  He drones a cat snore and occasionally he extends his big feet out in a half-waking stretch.

His feet are warm, and as they reach towards me, I bend my cheek over to rub their fuzzy softness.

It's nice to be home.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I Don't Know Whether to Cheer or Groan...

::Snort:: - a comment of mine was chosen by Josh as a runner-up to funniest comment of the week over on Comics Curmudgeon.

In all honesty, I think it was the first time I've ever commented on CC.  I do love Josh, though.  Nobody else can make me think, "Oh - I wonder what he'll have to say about today's 'Mary Worth.'"  (Granted, nobody else has even tried...)

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Maryland Sheep and Wool was much fun - I managed to do what I had set out to do (get a WooLee Winder for my wheel - man, but that sounds dirty, see if I could rustle up a couple more pairs of Addi Lace needles, esp. in sizes six and four, and get a super-secret surprise for someone I know).  We got in early (before 9), got out early (around 12:30), and managed to hit the garden center on our way home and get some gardening in as afternoon fell.  All without losing our minds or mortgaging the house.

I also got some nice photos: the alpacas were there, of course, with their groovy hairdos:


I can report that pygmy goats are really cute - just in case you weren't aware:

Pygmy goats - damn cute.

There were some really amazing-looking spinning wheels (yes, I still only possess one):

Spinning wheels

Spinning wheels

And the sheepdog trials (of which I took about 150 photographs - no exaggeration) were fascinating:

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Watching these two dogs working as a team was especially fun:

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Sheepdog trials

Friday, May 04, 2007

Public Service Announcement

If you see this woman at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival tomorrow:

Like i said - he takes a good photo

Would you please remind her that there was a time in her life that she wouldn't have considered buying yarn unless she knew what she was going to do with it?  And by "knew what she was going to do with it," I don't mean, "well, duh - knit it into something."

Thank you.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


John got us tickets for Patty Griffin at the Warner Theatre for my birthday - we went a few weeks ago.

I'm no music reviewer - just a geek, so all I can say is she was everything I could have wished for (except she didn't do my all-time favorite of hers, "Mad Mission" - but that's okay.  I'll just have to go see her again).  I (in common with many in my family) have a thing for simple, folky songs, especially with vocal harmony, preferably written in a minor key.  We love a good wail, in all its uncompromising sorrow.  We have little or no patience for the picardy third and its appeasement of those who seek the musical happy ending.  Thus, Patty is the yin to James Taylor's yang of my desert island disc fantasy.

Today, John brought home a colleague's copy of "Texas Music" magazine, where Patty is profiled.  In the article she says, "I was always drawn to the last sad song they tucked in on the end of the album."


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Grammar Geeks - Behold What we are Liberated From!

Language Log delves into the prohibition against clause-ending prepositions.  Turns out, it may have sprung from a big old "My prose style is better than yours, nyyahhh," from John Dryden.  

Dryden's prohibition against clause-ending prepositions and his basic argument (which was that his age's conversational and prose styles had evolved, making his prose naturally better*) were both nonsense.  Unfortunately, rather than chucking out the whole thing, a perniciously pointy-headed portion of the populace proposed to pursue the prohibition.  Thus we get phrases like, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put," which is sort of funny in context, but hideous in everyday application.