Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Barb was here this week for the holidays. I had dinner with her and another couple of friends on Wednesday night, and she came over today and Bob and I went to lunch with her. I find myself talking more with her than I talk with anyone--I don't think there's anyone (except maybe Bob) who would think I'm a talkative person, but when I'm with Barb, I find myself chattering on and on . . . maybe it also has to do with not seeing her very often. She lives in San Diego, and while we exchange emails and the occasional phone call, we only see each other once or twice a year. But it's always fun.

Yesterday I had gone out to Barnes & Noble to spend a gift card I got for Christmas. I wasn't really in the mood to shop, but I went to the tarot and spirituality section, because that's where my interest has been mostly, lately. They don't have a very large selection there (they have a better one at Border's), but I picked up a little book, the Tarot Bible, that I had seen before, but hadn't bought. I carried it around for awhile, along with a blank journal and a package of bookmarks, and then just thought that I shouldn't spend the money on frivolous things, that I should wait until I really needed something (like a Spanish phrase book for Mexico!), and I put everything back.

When Barb and I exchanged Christmas gifts today, that same book was one of my gifts! She said she had bought it way back in November; I just thought it was amazing that I had looked at it a couple of times and not bought it, and especially that I intended to buy it yesterday, but didn't.

We went to Jason's Deli for lunch, one of Bob's and my favorite places--it's just someplace where he can get a sandwich and I can get a salad, and it's kind of low-key and fairly inexpensive. The only thing that bugs me about the place is that they have so many tables crammed in there that it's almost impossible to get around, particularly when they have a bus cart parked in the aisle while someone is cleaning off the tables.

But anyway, it was good. And (when the machine is working) they have free soft-serve ice cream, always a plus!

We sat and talked here for awhile, and Barb took off a little while ago to go to another friend's house. Bob and I are going to have a quite New Year's Eve here at home by ourselves. While I was out with Barb, we went to the grocery store and bought cheese and bread, and I'll make fondue for dinner later. Bob and I stopped at a liquor store last night and bought a bottle of sparkling wine, so we have wine, bread and cheese--what more could we want?

I will probably think more about resolutions tomorrow, but for tonight, I only have two: to be better about remembering birthdays and send cards to all of our nieces and nephews and friends, and to give more to charity--to give something every month, even if it's small.

I'm sending out wishes for much love and happiness to everyone for 2007--hopefully it will be a magical year!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Last week we took my eMac down to the Plaza to the Apple store. It had been doing fine, but I was afraid to shut it off -- as long as it didn't go to sleep, everything was okay, but if it went to sleep, or if I shut it down, chances are that it wouldn't come back on. I had discovered that there was a recall for a power problem, and mine fit within the manufacturing dates and serial number range, so I was sure that was what was wrong with it. When Bob bought it for me, he had bought the extended warranty, but because of the recall, Apple had extended the normal warranty to three years, anyway.

So either way, I had until summer, but I didn't want to wait until the last minute, even though it was working fine.

So we took it down Tuesday evening, and had dinner--our usual pre-Christmas visit to the Plaza. It was kind of a whirlwind trip, because Bob was going to get up at 1:30 a.m. to go hunting with his brother. We ended up eating at Panera Bread, which was actually perfect--there weren't very many people there, we had a great meal, and it was quick and fairly inexpensive.

The "Genius" at the Apple Store (that's not being sarcastic, that's what they call them) opened up the eMac, and said that it didn't look like the problem was the same one that had caused the recall. It had to do with capacitors (or something like that) that were defective and had bulged and leaked, like a battery. Mine didn't show that. But when she started it up (I was holding my breath!), it came on at first, then the display started flashing streaky blue lines, then died completely. I was frankly SO relieved--when I'd taken it in earlier, it worked just fine in the store, but that was before I knew of the pervasive problem.

So it obviously had a problem, just maybe not the same one.

They called on Thursday and said that when they had opened it up, one of the memory modules wasn't fastened down tightly, and that was the only thing they could find wrong with it. He said that once he pushed the memory in all the way, the computer started up fine, and they weren't able to replicate the problem again. So we went back down on Saturday to pick it up, and had brunch at the Classic Cup and walked around for awhile. I wished I had brought my camera; all I had was the camera phone. But I took a couple of cute pictures anyway.

Little glittery tree on our breakfast table:


Statue on the Plaza:

I was up until 2:30 last night wrapping gifts. Since I had the eMac back, I watched movies on it while I wrapped -- Home Alone, and Christmas With the Kranks, two of my favorites. We ordered Chinese for dinner, which Bob went out and picked up, and at about midnight, I baked chocolate chip cookies.

Today Bob is boiling shrimp for the Christmas Eve buffet dinner at his parents' house tonight, and I need to go to the store to buy stuff to make scalloped potatoes to take to my parents' tomorrow.

We had a wonderful Christmas lunch on Friday at work--Cello took us to Morton's, which was wonderful. I like a little bit of steak, but I knew I wouldn't want to eat a whole one, so I ordered chicken, and Dave gave me a bite of his filet. We had a white elephant gift exchange, and I ended up with a ceramic kitty treat container from Eugene -- I can't help but think that he bought it with me in mind -- and no one had the heart to take it away from me.

It's been a lovely Christmas so far, and it isn't even Christmas yet!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas week at my house

Cranberry-Peppermint candle:

Peppermint ice cream:


Christmas tree-shaped candy dishes:

Christmas wall hanging (I didn't make this, and it usually stays up all year because I love it):

Bob spent about two hours last Tuesday night getting this Neil Armstsrong ornament to work. You hook it up to one of the tree lights, and when you push a button, it says, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Because, you know, it just wouldn't be Christmas without Neil Armstrong.

A little catnip sock on the mantel for Doña:

Bob and Pyewacket's stockings. I crocheted Bob's (it resembles a Converse All Star hightop sneaker and sock) when we were dating, so it's over 30 years old!

My stocking and Dinah's -- Bob bought mine years ago at a mall where he had my name put on it in glitter.

Holiday punch: Diet 7-Up, orange juice, cranberry juice:

And last, but not least:

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Christmas movies

I ran across an article about The World's Most Obnoxious Xmas Comedies tonight. Is it a coincidence that I own three of them? Ghostbusters 2 (how could I have forgotten that one the other day, particularly since I'd just watched it!)? Also, Jingle All the Way, not a great movie, by any means, but not THAT bad. And Christmas With the Kranks--I love this movie!

And looking at my original list, I see that I forgot White Christmas. I put Holiday Inn on the original list, but not White Christmas. And I like Miracle on 34th Street, but I've never been a fan of It's a Wonderful Life. Bob loves A Christmas Carol, but I can take it or leave it (mostly leave it), and the same with the George C. Scott version, Scrooge, which I bought for Bob this year. Ooh, and Scrooged! I haven't seen that for years!

So, a new, better list of Christmas movies (Christmas movies I like, not an exhaustive list of Christmas movies, obviously):

  1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  2. Die Hard
  3. Home Alone
  4. Home Alone II
  5. Jingle All the Way
  6. Ghostbusters 2
  7. Nightmare Before Christmas
  8. White Christmas
  9. Holiday Inn
  10. Christmas With the Kranks
  11. Love Actually
  12. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
  13. Miracle on 24th Street

Here's another Christmas movie article: Christmas with the cranks, or "anti-Christmas movies." It only includes two from my list (Die Hard and Nightmare Before Christmas).

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Time travel, bubonic plague, Christmas lists, etc.

I mentioned last week that I've been coding a monograph about biological and chemical terrorism; this morning I was working on the section about bubonic plague. The discussion of buboes reminded me of Connie Willis's novel, The Doomsday Book. The book is set about fifty years in the future, when time travel has been accomplished, but not perfected. A young historical researcher is sent back in time to the 14th century--she's supposed to arrive several decades after the Black Plague, but a mistake is made and she arrives right in the middle of it.

I almost never read historical fiction (after a lengthy period of it in high school), but I love Willis's work, so I tried it, and was completely drawn in. So much so that after reading it several years ago, I listened to it in audio book form last year.

But the reason I'm mentioning it now is that they celebrate Christmas in the book--Willis is a huge fan of Christmas (witness Miracle and Other Christmas Stories), so I suppose it isn't surprising that she worked it in. I guess it should go on my list of Christmas books.

I was thinking about Christmas books again, and I remembered -- how could I have forgotten The Hogfather?? I hadn't read Terry Pratchett until a few years ago; I think Hogfather was probably the first thing of his that I read, having been attracted by a cover and then, the Christmas theme. Or rather, "Hogswatch," as the holiday is called on the Discworld. The Hogfather's sleigh is drawn by four pigs: Gouger, Tusker, Rooter and Snouter.

In the book, the Hogfather has been kidnapped by an Assassin (on Discworld, the Assassins have a union, the Guild of Assassins) hired by the Auditors, because they (the Auditors) don't like things that take on reality due to people's faith in them, i.e., the Hogfather. But Hogswatch can't take place without the Hogfather, so Death decides to take the his place and solve the mystery.

It's really a great book if you like that kind of thing. I listened to it in audiobook form a couple of years ago. Thinking about it reminded me that I have a bunch of Christmas audiobooks and that they should go on the list of Christmas books, too. I just finished listening to Blue Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews, and I'm currently listening to Mistletoe Man, a China Bayles mystery by Susan Wittig Albert.

Two books that I listened to last year were The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore, and Visions of Sugar Plums - Janet Evanovich, both of which were good. I'm not a Janet Evanovich fan, and haven't read her Stephanie Plum series (I tried to, but they just didn't grab me for some reason), but I did enjoy the holiday installment.

The Christopher Moore book probably isn't one of his best, but it's not bad for a humorous holiday story.

Just as an aside, there was apparently an NPR story about Christmas music on the radio today. I didn't hear it this morning--I was listening to the audio book--and haven't had a chance to listen yet, but the page lists several interesting-sounding holiday albums.

I should mention that the little yellow kitten found a home with Kristi's mother-in-law. I really wish we could have kept him, he was such a cool cat. But he will have a good home there.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Right now: Ten Things

  1. My left eye is driving me insane. Periodically it does this thing where it waters constantly and I have to keep blotting it -- attractive, huh? I'm pretty sure it's stress related, so who do I see about it? A psychiatrist seems a bit of overkill, but man.
  2. I'm a little bit too warm, because I'm running a little fan/heater that my dad gave me when I was out there for Thanksgiving and said that sitting here in the basement was kind of cold.
  3. I'm listening to "Thin Blue Flame" by Josh Ritter on the iPod, and it's a little bit intense, maybe not exactly what I need to be listening to right this minute.
  4. I'm coding a medical monograph called "Biological and Chemical Terrorism," not the lightest of subjects.
  5. Someone just rolled something huge down the hardwood floor hall right above my head. Sounds like they're bowling up there.
  6. John has his dog here with him today, and he's keeping her on a leash. They just walked by. She's beautiful, black and feathery, and shy. Her name is Pepper.
  7. Okay, man, I hit the button to go to the next song. This is better: "Winter Wonderland" by Lenny B and Madison Park. Some kind of dance mix, very peppy.
  8. My phone just rang -- it plays the "Linus and Lucy Theme" when Bob calls -- hm, I should change that to a Christmas ring. He was calling to tell me that he finished proofing "Common Ear, Nose and Throat Problems" -- he's doing some proofreading for us at home -- and that he's going to the wholesale club to pick up a steak for dinner.
  9. I can't change my phone ring yet because you can't do it without playing all of them, and I don't want to do that here. I'll try to remember to do it in the car, or tonight at home.
  10. I just got an email saying that we're going to put up Christmas decorations tomorrow afternoon here at work. Yay! That should be fun. Cello's wife and mom and little boy will be here. Maybe I'll bring my camera.

Okay, that's enough of a break. Back to work. Biological Terrorism. Yay. Actually, though, it's pretty interesting. It's just that the photos are a bit unsettling.

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