Friday, February 29, 2008

Time for a Make-Over?

Yep, it is time for a fresh, new blog banner. The previous one, though gloriously shabby (Thank you, Shabby Miss Jenn!) was Valentine-y. Besides, I've been itching to design one from scratch.

Stay tuned! I'm hoping to have it up by March 1st.
(CAVEAT: My parents arrive for a visit on March 1st, so if I don't get it uploaded before they ring the doorbell, it won't get done until after they leave.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've been tagged!

So this whole meme thing is a bit of a puzzle to me. I mean, why do people do it? But hey, since I've been tagged I'll play along.

Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.

Tag You're It!
A Man With Bread

A's Mom tagged me, so Lettuce Be on Her Head if you are inadequately enlightened or entertained by what you are about to read. Here goes...

I'm a total Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek. There I said it. And while I'm confessing, I am passionate about children's books. At one time I aspired to write children's books. (Once I even sent off a manuscript. Complete with a query letter and everything. Never heard back.) J.K. Rowling gives me hope and renews my faith, so who knows? I still may get published one day.

Enough stalling -- here is my entry:

The Algolian let out a steam-whistle shriek of fury and lunged forward while Macduff, brandishing the cane like a rapier, danced pudgily backward, threatening even as he retreated.

"Come on, you overgrown shore dinner," cried Macduff valiantly. "We'll have it out now, humanoid to lobster!"

From The Last Mimzy Stories, originally published as The Best of Henry Kuttner

The above excerpt is from a story entitled "The Voice of the Lobster." I like it for a couple for reasons.

1. The title reminds me of the Jabberwocky poem "Tis the Voice of the Lobster"

2. Henry Kuttner's work as a whole has a sublime, timeless quality that eludes many writers, especially me! So not only is his work a great read, it is also a fine example to emulate.

TED 2008

Last year the Executive Director of my AOL workgroup, an inspiring man in his own right, turned me and my coworkers on to the annual TED talks. TED is an acronym for "Technology, Entertainment and Design. The talks are extraordinary, heady stuff. Last year there was plenty said about saving the planet, as well as presentations that ranged from helping to catalog all life on earth to basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar discussing art!

This year's TED talks include a very inspiring and funny presention by J.J. Abrams on the topic of "The Mystery Box." It is a breakdown of why he creates (think Alias, Lost and Cloverfield). Incidently, he spoke at last year's conference as well, though about what I don't recall. (It may not have been discussed in the meeting.) If you'd like to see for yourself, videos of his and many other remarkable talks are available online for free.

Before you dismiss TED as too lofty or academic, watch 2 minutes of any of the funny, inspiring or jaw-dropping video clips. It will get you talking, thinking, laughing. There's a great clip of Dr. Roy Gould's World Wide Telescope project that I found fascinating.

I caught up with TED 2008 thanks to one of my favorite websites: Boing Boing. There are folks liveblogging from the TED talks as I type. If you are interested in getting up-to-the-minute updates about maverick and genius thinkers (or just cool gadgets!) check out the Boing Boing blog.

TED2008: The Day in Quotes
"Before the Web, there was just one guy running around saying 'I KNOW!'" ~ Robin Williams, ad-libbing, after taking the stage during a technical problem in the BBC World Debate

Tomorrow, the TED Prize session will be broadcast live at 5pm PST. The winners of the TED Prize get $100,000 and are granted a wish to change the world. You can watch the prize session here: Link

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yelp! Cupcake Commando

Honestly, I don't know how I find the things I find online. I just click a few times and I'm onto a page that sets off my twisted humor meter and before you can say, "Cupcakes for everyone!" (it'll make sense in a minute...maybe) I'm blogging about it.

Stray Thought:
I should count my lucky stars that I don't end up on questionable Internet sites. In fact, I can't explain how or why I DON'T land in the hellish fetish-oriented joints set up to lull unsuspecting Web surfers into XXX sites. I end up on innocuous product review pages or other spots where a turn of phrase jumps off the screen at me and my mind (the aforementioned home of twisted humor -- AND ramblings, did I mention ramblings?) goes hurtling down a slippery slope, careening headlong into a flakey snowbank of randomness. *sigh*

Tonight's escapade started out after reading a blog about Jelly Belly is the link to Lost Button Studio's post about Belly Flops. If anyone reading finds themselves in San Jose, CA, I would love it if you brought me back some Belly Flops. Clever merchandising gets me every time.

So I tried to find other food items that fit a similar bill. And I ended up at Yelp!

That's where I stumbled across the very funny reviews of "Cupcake Commando" Kristina R. of San Francisco, CA.
She used a writing device in her review of Boulevard Cafe that made me laugh out loud: the classic "double asterisk entendre." It's a lie. Oh, ha ha ha!

Cupcake Commando's entry titled Asian People appealed to the rebel and the writer in me. The writing was succinct and the wit, dry and biting. Here's is what she said:

Ah, you Yelpers amuse me.
When the revolution comes, you shall be spared.
Except you (pointing)'re just annoying.

Next came her shopping review of a store called Kawaii Corner. Nothing exceptional here except at the bottom, she used a word I've only heard one other person use in my lifetime. The person is fyrlocc and the word is blarg. I love this word! Kudos to you, Cupcake Commando!

Her next two reviews sealed the deal for me. Please, go and read them. They are so funny!

Curry House
I was really able to visualize the waiter with a defibrillator and the tiny life rafts she described. Oh, ha ha ha! She gets style points for the pop culture reference to the 70's sitcom Laverne & Shirley. Schlemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated!

And the piece de resistance... Gelayo Gusto .
I definitely didn't eat enough ice cream in my twenties.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

First Taste of Cuppy-Cake

Big Daddy finished editing the coveted First Birthday footage. Hurray!
Now everyone can watch Bruce's first taste of birthday cake.

Please Stand By

We're experiencing technical difficulties with the video code. Sorry for the suspense. Big Daddy will fix it as soon as he can. (You know how long it takes men to fix things...)

If you're still reading, here are a few highlights from Bruce's birthday bash. He was more interested in climbing on the gifts than opening them.

Once Little Man A (who knows what to do with presents since his birthday party was two months before) showed him the ropes, it was great fun opening presents!

Bruce didn't want to wear his party hat. (It was a sailor hat with the words "I'm One!" embroidered on the brim.)

It was a silly shark-themed party, so we decorated (wherever possible) with Bruce the Shark from the animated feature Finding Nemo. There was also a "How Tall Are You in Bruce Feet?" display where people could measure themselves. A standard unit was 1 Bruce Foot (4.25 inches or roughly 10.8 centimeters). Guests of every age enjoyed seeing how they measured up to the Birthday Boy Standard.

Big Daddy and I decided to bake Funfetti® cupcakes for his party because we weren't sure if it was too soon to give Bruce chocolate. Several friends and family members have questioned us about this decision. At his 12-month check-up, our pediatrician gave us the green light to feed Bruce chocolate cake, but no chocolate candy or other forms of chocolate. Too much caffeine!

We served punch out of a glass fish bowl and cheddar and pretzel goldfish snacks out of betta-size fish bowls. We scattered Finding Nemo confetti on the party table, and tied over a dozen helium-filled balloons around the room for a festive look.

Last but not least, no silly shark-themed party would be complete without a sing-a-long, right? So we sang a song (complete with hand motions) that Bruce's cousin learned at Scout Camp called Baby Shark. One of the older kids hummed the tune off and on throughout the rest of the party.

I think the best part of the party was gathering with good friends and letting all the kids play together for a few hours. Before I knew it, the fun and frolic had come to an end. Our little "baby shark" had played himself to exhaustion, BUT had fueled up on yummy cuppy-cake and crawled/toddled around for several more gleeful hours. Big Daddy and I, however, were utterly exhausted just watching him go (and go and go).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Little Casanova

Still catching up on myriad random thoughts revolving around Valentine's Day. What can I say? When winter weather drapes the drearies over everything in sight, I give myself a shot in the arm with frilly hearts and lovey-dovey decorations. (I'm such a girl.)

Of course I dressed Bruce in red for the occasion. **drumroll**

Here's my little Casanova showing off his dimples and waving. Isn't he a deadly little charmer?

Bruce is the best Valentine, and I thank my lucky stars daily for him and the joy he brings to my life. I thank Big Daddy too, seeing as he had a hand in bringing Bruce into this world.

Speaking of Big Daddy, here is the Valentine he made me this year:

Oh, ha ha ha! It's a three-pound, heart-shaped meatloaf!
Thank you, honey, it was very tasty. (No, I didn't eat it all myself.)

One more shot of my little Casanova, with those dark, expressive eyes that make my heart melt.

Who am I kidding? Hearts are melting all over the blogosphere.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

My dinner group recently met for a Not-Valentine's Day meal where we gorged our senses on delectable food, fine wine, sidesplitting conversation and all-around splendid company.
The theme for the dinner menu was "Iron Chef Chocolate" so
each dish had to include chocolate as an ingredient.

My mouth-watering entree:
[photo & recipe source:]

Cocoa and Spice Slow-Roasted Pork with Onions

This succulent pork roast was unbelieveably (even sinfully) delicious. As it states in the recipe, the dish needs a long, lazy roasting. But words just don't do justice to the luscious aroma that filled my home. It was an olfactory orgy of sweet and spice; a sumptuous feast in and of itself.

And here is one of the savory vegetable dishes we devoured:
[photo & recipe source:]

Now, I'm veggie hater -- especially squash and green veggies -- but I'll be the first one to exalt the praises of this dish. Plenty of flavor, and just the right amount of heat from the spices. It tasted like kicked-up kabobs without the skewers. ¡Es tan sabroso!

I could go on about the wonderful dishes that we polished off -- like the killer double-layer chocolate cake, the fried wonton appetizers with a creamy Nutella filling or the chocolate covered bacon (served very much tongue-in-cheek!) but I run the risk of drooling all over the keyboard.

It was a fantastic evening spent catching up with friends. As Miriam would say, "Oh, sweet mercy! It was soooooo good!"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hokie Pokie Time!

I couldn't resist sharing this 15-second clip of Bruce gettin' his groove on. Admit it. You have been checking in, waiting for more adorable baby footage. Isn't he just too cute for words?

Giant Microbes

See this cute and cuddly creature? It's a Giant Microbe. Those brainy folks at Mind Hacks used this image to illustrate their blog entry called Furry Neurons. I'm a big lover of Giant Microbes so I was drawn in immediately, only to get brain-slapped in 10 seconds.

What in the blue blazes is an oligodendrocyte? I can barely focus my eyes on that word, much less my brain. But a nagging feeling tells me that I should consider this weighty word.

The itsy-bitsy beasty pictured above isn't an oligodendrocyte per se. It is a brain cell (so it IS a neuron) and it is furry. But probably not so much the latest addition to my Giant Microbe collection. The lil' guy below, though...

It's a Red Blood Cell -- much cuter and more fitting to what my family is dealing with right now. It will remind me of my dog Julie's struggle to regenerate her RBC's.

Ooh, ha ha ha! Check out this T4 (bacteriophage). It reminds me of Jack Skellington, that slender, undead dude in the The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Oops. Before I got sidetracked I was noodling through how (or from where) I know the word oligodendrocytes. Because let's face it, it's not a word you see every day.

Wikipedia explains them in layman terms as the support staff (sort of like Administrative Assistants?) for neurons. Oligodendrocytes form the myelin sheath.

A-ha! Now we're getting somewhere. I've heard of "myelin sheath" in MS discussions.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a devastating central nervous system disease that claimed the life of my oldest sister at the age of 38. But more to the point, MS destroys oligodendrocytes which are the cells responsible for creating and maintaining (well whaddya know?) the myelin sheath.

Isn't the brain a funny thing? Thank you, Mind Hacks, for posting about Giant Microbes. You helped steer me back on target to a cause that is near and dear to my heart, the fight for the MS cure.

Now I wish there were a Giant Microbe of an oligodendrocyte so I could add it to my collection.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Randomly Generated Album Cover

I love my friends. They're never dull. On January 19, Marty posted in his blog about randomly generating your own album cover. He tells me he does it all the time. Even his kids do it.

I can see why -- it's fun!

Random Album Cover Generator
1. Use the random Wikipedia article feature — the title of the article that appears is the name of the band.

2. The name of the album is the last four words of the last quote on the random quotes page at

3. For the cover art, use the third image that appears when you visit Flickr’s interesting photos for the last 7 days.

Here is the album cover Marty made:
(as seen on A Man With Bread on Saturday, January 19, 2008)

Pretty cool, huh?

Give it a try. Email me your results.

More Sad News

Last night I pulled the "night shift." That means I was letting convalescing dogs in and out, in and out, and in and out to potty ad nauseum. Since I wasn't getting any decent sleep, I jumped on the computer to catch up on Marty's blog, A Man With Bread.

Farewell Kelly Kirk
Marty had e-mailed me a few days earlier to pass along the very sad news of Kelly Kirk's death. Kelly was 42. She was a vibrant lady and devoted wife, who died on August 6th of complications after gastric bypass surgery. She had been in the ICU on a respirator since then and was taken off the respirator on February 9th. This news has affected me greatly. I mean, I've known several people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery and everything went fine. I am still in shock.

Update: February 16, 2008 -- Today's memorial service was a full house -- a lovely tribute to a beautiful soul. Marty delivered an earnest eulogy that was a (damn fine!) tribute to her memory. You did Kelly proud.

My heart aches for her husband Joe, who has endured (with hope?) without his life-bonded mate since August and now must find the strength to carry on. Take heart, Joe. Find peace. And always let her special place in your heart be filled with love.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh Poe, How I Do Adore Thee

Like many bloggers, I keep tabs on blogs written by friends and relatives or theme-blogs that tackle topics of personal interest. The one that started it all for me is The Stone House a combination of breathtaking photos and commentary that always satisfies.

Recently Miriam posted about a subject close to my heart, Edgar Allen Poe, in Oh Charm City, How We Do Adore Thee. This post made me want to travel to Baltimore, MD, to see the Annabelle Lee for myself. And try the food.

Edgar Allen Poe fascinated me at an early age. Some of his brooding prose sticks with us all, but I think it was his macabre genius that made me want to be a writer. Once in high school I had a Humanities assignment and the teacher commented that I wrote like Poe. Was he trying to tell me I had a dark gift? Dunno, but I took it as a huge compliment. (Thanks, Mr. Zimmerman!)

Did you know that Poe has a secret visitor who pays tribute to his memory every year? Its quite dark and mysterious. Talk about keeping the suspense alive! Read all about it at The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe's Midnight Visitor.

Carver's Dog's blog sheds light on the origins of the "Poe Toaster": Of Poe and Pigs (Don't worry, the mystery is not spoiled.) The bonus is the Looney Tunes image. I like that about Carver.

I hope that someone places Cognac and roses on my grave every year after I'm gone. It's just so terribly romantic.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bruce!

The cupcakes are made, the table is set, the balloons are tied around banisters and chairs making the house look fine and festive. In five hours I must rise to start making birthday magic.

Bruce turns 1 today. HURRAY!

This year has gone by incredibly fast. Too fast! I just wanted to share Bruce's invitation with you and his thank you notecard. Both turned out really well, for someone who can barely run PhotoShop without having an apoplectic fit. All my PhotoShop-y friends will be so shocked that I did this. (Okay, so I had help from my husband, who is no slouch when it comes to PhotoShop. But I did a good bit of it all by myself and I'm proud.)

I'll post more about Bruce's Big Day later, once the party is over, the clean-up is complete, the sugar high has subsided and I've gotten a bit of sleep.

Oh my darling little man, how I love and adore you!
Happy Birthday, Bruce!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

'5 Blogs That Make Me Think'

It's late. But I needed to share these blog links because they really do make me think (and laugh and cry). They are in no particular order. Give 'em a gander and see if they don't expand your mind.

'5 Blogs That Make Me Think'
Mind Hacks

Crack Skull Bob


Missing My Bug
This is Redneck Mommy's blog about her Bug. If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a child, it's required reading.

Chicky Chicky Baby
With millions of us moms out in the blogosphere Chicky Chicky Baby is a real stand out. She blogs about her life and adventures as a mother. After reading the post, What could be considered grounds for divorce, I knew I'd be back, and I'd be back often.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Julie, the Continuing Saga

UPDATE: We just got the report back from the animal hospital on Julie's latest blood work-up. The last time her blood was tested was two weeks ago. There is much to be happy about, but one worrisome thing.

Julie's latest blood test results showed a rise in red blood cell count from 21.5 to 28. This count would indicate our "Miracle Girl" is approaching a turning point. Way to go, Julie Julie!

Her white blood cell count is elevated (anything over 16.3 is considered high and her count is 29.3). Her doctors are putting her back on a 7-day course of antibiotics to fight any infection she may have and get the white blood cell count back in line.

Lastly, there is NO EVIDENCE of new reticulocytes (or "retics") being generated. The actual number on the printout is 0.9% --
it takes a reading of 1.5 or higher to indicate retic generation.
Not good news.

She gets another blood work-up in 1 week. And we will go from there.

Statistics aside, Julie is more vocal, lively and healthier-looking than she has been since Halloween. Steroids have been making her ravenously hungry and she has put on 5 pounds in the past two weeks. Her hip joints appear to be giving her some trouble and next week she will undergo a thorough physical exam to check for tender spots, lumps or other unusual signs.

That's all for now. We'll be taking it day by day, and count each one as a special blessing. It seems our "Miracle Dog" still has a fight ahead. As much as her body has been through already, it doesn't seem fair that she will have to fight every step of the way. But life isn't fair.

If you've been following her continuing saga, please keep Julie in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Super Bowl and Snapple Cap Comments

Congratulations to Eli Manning and the New York Giants for winning Super Bowl XLII.

Today's Big Game was a good one. Neither the Giants or the Patriots are my favorite team, but I appreciate a hard-played sporting event. And who doesn't love rooting for the underdog?

Every year at this time I think about the Super Bowl counting system. When those roman numerals flash across the TV screen it's as if the NFL is screaming out how old I am.

That's right. That big, splashy logo is a neon sign of my age.

Does that make me as old as the Super Bowl? Well, yes and no.

A quick check of Super Bowl history casts doubt on a seemingly simple comparison:

Fact #1: I was born in July, 1965.
Fact #2: The first Super Bowl was played in January, 1967.

So, I'm not really as old as the Super Bowl. I was born 18 months before the first Super Bowl was played. But because of the way birthdays are counted and the month of the year during which The Big Game is held, I get to lay claim to being the same age as the Super Bowl.

It's an amusing little enigma. Just like me.

I used to pull out this bit o' trivia for cocktail parties. But let's face it, I haven't been to a social function in over a year and half. New moms don't often see the light of day, let alone sip drinks and make witty conversation. That's why we're called Stay-At-Home moms, isn't it?

Actually I think it's kind of cool being able to stay at home. (This from the career woman who swore she'd go back to work. Talk about life being stranger than fiction!)

And saying I'm as old as the Super Bowl is remarkable, if not entirely accurate. So, if I end up with Alzheimers, my family, friends and caregivers will have an easy way of remembering how old I am.

Or maybe dropping my enigmatic factoid at a cocktail party of their own.

Got a quirky little fact that's your claim to fame?
Leave me a comment and tell me about it.

I'll post a "Most Likely to Make It Onto a Snapple Cap" list, complete with roman numerals if you really want me to.

Come on. You know you're Snapple-cap-worthy!