December 30, 2004

Is this a sign?

This morning went smoothly – I got up in plenty of time, had a cup of coffee (at HOME, as opposed to the cup normally chugged in the car on the way to work) – hell, I even had time to spare for 3 attention-starved kitties. The fashion focus for today is black – black socks, black pants, black shirt, and black jacket. Imagine my dismay as I trudged up the hill towards Big Al’s lair and noticed my BROWN shoes. Ugh. I am not a “purse must match shoes, belt, etc” kind of gal, but I do like my footwear to sort of go with the outfit (hence the reason why I generally only wear black or brown shoes). Sigh.

This may be the last blog for the week – unless I can muster up something incredibly inventive in the meantime. However, most topics seem fairly trite right now in the grand scheme of all that is happening in Asia. I just don’t have any original thoughts to add to the mix – now is a time to offer what little $$ we can, give our loved ones an extra hug, and just be grateful.

Let’s see what the New Year holds.

December 29, 2004

Have you donated?

I know my posts can be snarky, sarcastic and cynical. Obviously, blogging and reality are sometimes not in sync. This week has been a time when I am sure most of us have reflected on how truly lucky we are to have running water and a roof. Mr. X and I have been very fortunate - his family was not affected by the tsunamis and our friends' families have been minimally affected (or not at all).

We have donated through the Australian Red Cross - they were the first country to respond and they have a secure online donation site (they will convert your American $$ into AU$$ for you). I just thought I would share this easy way to contribute.

Update: Mr. X threw some Rancid Raves $$$ towards the Australian Red Cross, but today I decided to throw some $$$ towards Doctors Without Borders. One of my own doctors has donated time to them over the years, so I know they are more than just a convenient ER episode plotline.

Ever just make $hit up??

For all the comments about foreigners and minorities using incorrect English, I am witnessing an alarming amount of Vocabulary Fabrication in the workplace, by people who, shall we say, are in the Majority. It’s to the extent that sometimes I can’t even understand what these people are saying and they behave as if they are SO clever and intelligent when they use these ridiculous creations. Seriously.

Caveat: I can’t stand most of the people who invented/used the following examples. Maybe that colored my perception, but hey, this post wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining otherwise. Also, I can make all these rude comments since I am in the said Majority and Mr. X. is an immigrant of Indian extraction (known as a “fer’ner” in these here parts). Therefore, Rancid Raves has both camps covered. So there.

Irregardless: This is a common one, I know, but it still irks me.

Cull: "When we get those high-dollar culls......" I am being super-duper picky here, but the issue I have with this one is that for MONTHS, I thought these high-dollar culls were REJECTS - that is usually how this word is utilitzed (hence the definition of "to weed out"). When I brought this up at a meeting where the Major Offenders were in attendance, everyone looked at me blankly and blinkingly (cue in the high octave piano keys). I soon gave up on this one.

Sure Up: “Let’s sure up that software before we release it.” Um, Mensa Reject, how about SHORE up?

Disincent: “We need to disincent our users from sharing passwords.” I like that spellchecker suggested “disinfect” for this one. The dummy that used this word could use some of that.

Over-the-walls: “We will review the over-the-walls and get back with you.” I hear this and still can't rid of the image of Buster from Arrested Development trying to finish his last task so he could sneak into the Army.

One-Offs: “Well, when we get the one-off we can test it.”. Would it kill you to just say NEW VERSION or PATCH? No, it's not creative, but it is UNDERSTOOD.

Dialogue: “We can dialogue about that later”. Last time I checked, dialogue is a NOUN. Same goes for “parking lot”. Get with the program, people.

Have you heard any Vocabulary Fabrications recently that grate your nerves?

December 27, 2004

Um, what time was that again?

Well, Christmas morning, we arrive at Church 9:00 a.m. sharp. The first thing we notice is the trickle of cars leaving the parking lot. Our first reaction was "Damn, is the parking lot already full?" (this is not an uncommon occurrence at our church when Holy Day Catholics such as Mr. X and I rush to Church in droves) However, it seems the parking lot was not full - perhaps the lot had been full at 8:00 a.m., the actual start of the service. However, this will be forever a mystery unsolved since I am a dumbass and can't read church bulletins correctly.

Anyway, other than that hiccup, the weekend went great as I hosted #4 and #5 of my total Christmas gatherings. It was a nice mix with very few overlaps of social and familial groups (other than my sister, who attended nearly every gathering this season). The one shocking thing was that PEOPLE WOULD NOT LEAVE. Apparently, this new house is SO comfortable, people were settling down for the long haul. Group #4 didn’t leave until 11:30 Friday evening, so I was a little bleary-eyed when I woke up Saturday at 7:00 a.m. to pop the turkey in the oven. However, a few cups of coffee and I was ready to go. The day went great, I artfully side-stepped all Baby and Fertility-Related questions. I even appreciated (as always) how easy that particular side of the family is to host (eek – the OTHER side of the family includes Crazy Grandma and Health Nut Diet Cola Swigging Aunt who has a Busch Beer Quaffing Expert for a son. Enough said, right?)

One thing I don’t understand is why people think that leaving all their leftovers for TWO people is a good thing. Can Mr. X and I really eat an entire gooseberry pie, half a banana cream pie and part of a pumpkin pie before they go bad?? No, we can’t. It’s criminal how much food I had to throw out this holiday season. Criminal.

I’m sorry; my reserves of witty repartee are all tapped out. Let’s hope one more evening of rest will have me recovered tomorrow morning.

December 24, 2004

Have you ever faked it?

First off, everyone have a lovely weekend, holiday or Christmas – your choice! It’s a shame that “Peace on earth, goodwill towards man” sounds so trite, because it really sums things up quite perfectly, don’t you think?

On a lighter note, Mr X. and I exchanged our Christmas presents last night. He is the cutest when it comes to gift exchanges – he usually buys mine at the last minute, but is like a little kid when he brings it home. He can never wait to give it to me. I should also mention that he usually hands over kicka$$ gifts, so I can’t say I protest too much on this policy of his. This year he gave me Sims, which I have wanted ever since we bought the new computer. Furthermore, he got the one with the Livin’ Large Expansion pack (Paris, move over! There's a new gal in town). Score! He actually paid attention a while back when we were talking about potential software purchases and I mentioned that getting Sims would be cool. He listened! Ladies, let’s face it, that’s the greatest gift of all.

The only downside of this gift is that it has become quite clear that Mr. X has discovered my dirty little secret – my increasingly worsening Yarn Habit (I can quit anytime, I SWEAR it. Really.). As I pondered out loud which TV show should bite the dust first so I’d have more time for Sims (Joey, I hardly knew ye.) - Mr. X brightly piped up, “Well, you could knit less. It would be cheaper, too”. Ack! I knew I shouldn’t have stuffed all that yarn in the hall closet. Now that it is colder, he must have noticed my Stash when he was digging for his coat. Damn! It was easier hiding cigarettes from my mother.

Hmmm, I see here that you can assign hobbies to your Sims……. I wonder…....perhaps………Nah, sorry Babycakes, many things are simulated nowadays, but that lovely feeling of bamboo and luxurious yarn in your hands can never be faked.

December 23, 2004

Is this too much snark for one week?

Thank you, Old n’ Bald Speedo Man. When you appeared before me, a vision of Christmas spirit with your tree and ornaments for all to see, I forgot that it was a bitter 7 Fahrenheit morning, that it was 6:00AM, and that I still had to work out while resisting the rising vomit in my throat.

December 22, 2004

Is my nose in the air?

Please note: Rancid Raves could stand to lose a little weight herself. But still.

I present for you, your daily recommended dose of Snark:
What the f&ck is up with the reindeer antlers? Should my co-workers wear them? Seriously, now. For the love of all things Christmas - people! Enough with the reindeer antlers. If your age has surpassed single digits, you have exceeded the appropriate limits for wearing such ridiculous attire. Furthermore, if your BMI is over 30, shame on you! You most likely already know the cruelty of people yet you still give ammunition for those disparaging remarks made by typical Buff n’ Stuff dudes that think they are God’s gifts to women.

Think again, please.

December 21, 2004

What’s her gripe?

One of the things I love most about exercising at the gym with my iPod is that I am able to really LISTEN to music – you know, actually pay attention to the lyrics that someone took the precious time to write. This morning, as I was listening to “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton (Yes –I LOVE Dolly Parton. I also worship Pink Floyd. Same goes for Iron Maiden and Chopin. What’s it to you? ) Anyway, I am listening to the lyrics realizing this chick is a big whiner - 9 to 5?? Who’s she kidding? Where in the hell did she find this dream job? The only time I get to leave the office at 5 is if I sneak out – stealthily – by walking very slowly so my laptop bag zippers don’t jingle too loudly. Also, 9 to 5 is an 8 hour day – when does she eat lunch? Sure, her boss may have chased her around the office and she had the goofiest, most irritating co-workers, but let’s face it folks, she was barely pulling a 40 hour week. Sheesh.

Sidebar: Speaking of lyrics – the Afternoon Delight skit on Arrested Development this last Sunday was hilarious. For you AD fans, here is a great link to them: What? You're not watching AD? People, people! Get with the program and tune into the funniest comedy on TV right now. It didn't win an Emmy for nothing, after all. Those Hollywood Flakes and Fakes knew what they were doing, for once.

December 15, 2004

Now, how does this work?

This month, Mr. X and I will commence the great DNA Project in the hopes we produce a lower case x for ourselves. (Read: We’re trying to have a baby). I am a little nervous about this for several reasons:

Free-Time: I will miss you my good friend. How many years did I take you for granted? Can you ever forgive me for maligning your good name? Which hobby will be the first to bite the dust if said DNA Project is successful? I guess I could give up the TV and raku, but don’t you dare think about my books, yarn and beads!

Nosy Relatives: Nothing grosses me out more than discussing my potential fertility with the Family. Apparently, when a girl gets married, permission is granted for all to discuss the current status of her uterus. "Anyone in there? No? Why not? Well, when? You’re not getting any younger, you know.” Thanks for the newsflash, folks. I guess I should have married Asshole #2 instead of waiting for Mr. Absolutely Perfect for Me (aka Mr. X) in order to satisfy your tight timelines.

Career Status: In January, Big Al is clearing house and he may join the legions of My Careers Past. Therefore, I am going through yet another career crisis which is beginning to seem like a yearly exercise. Unfortunately, DNA Projects don’t believe in project plans and I‘m not sure what to do. Stay at a job that’s eating my creative soul in the hopes it looks better for my resume when I go off-roading on the Mommy Track? Or hunt for a new gig knowing full well I will head for the door within the next few years?

The Worrying: I admit it. I am a worrywart. I have spent a lifetime devoting myself slavishly to this task and I see no reason to convert to another religion now. After all, I spent my 20s worrying I would get pregnant, it’s only appropriate I am doomed to spend my 30s worrying that I will not get pregnant. But then again, what if I do get pregnant? Oof.

P.S. My solemn vow to you, Dear Reader, is that this won’t turn into an All About Babies Blog. Refer to Free Time – you can rest assured he will continue to keep me occupied and amply supplied with appropriate Posting Material.

Do you believe in Santa?

The current debate raging in my sister’s circle is whether their children should be included in the myth of Santa. Apparently, there is concern that by lying to children about Santa you are setting them up for a lifetime of mistrust, betrayal, disappointment and ultimately, jail-time. I tried to keep my voice calm as I gently (at least, I hope it sounded that way) told my sister, that the myth of Santa is relatively mild. I mean, when I play a rousing game of Let Me Count the Ways My Parents Messed Me Up, Santa simply doesn’t make the hit list.

Do you remember when you discovered Santa wasn’t real? I don’t. I remember hearing rumors furtively whispered during lunch time, but I don’t recall being shocked or heartbroken. I didn’t believe the cruel gossip most probably because I didn’t WANT to. Let’s face it – Santa was FUN. He added mystery ad magic to the holiday season. In my house, Santa didn’t bring loads of toys, but he did fill our stockings and always left a special gift or two under the tree. Unlike my parent’s carefully wrapped presents that I could gain an inkling as to the contents, Santa’s gifts were always a complete surprise and not necessarily anything I had even asked for specifically on my List. In short, Santa was a righteous dude and always brought kick-ass gear. Would I deny my own progeny the joys of Santa?

Hell, no.

December 14, 2004

So, what's your game?

Last week, I went to Vegas, that veritable neonopolis of questionable fashion choices and free drinks. What was I doing there? Average Jane got married! Well, actually she and her husband renewed their 10 year wedding vows with an Elvis impersonator, but hey, why quibble? Since it was her big day, I'll let her post our mutual experiences

Since Mr. X had a business trip interfering with our plans, I spent the first day in Vegas all by myself. I flew in Thursday morning and looked forward to an entire glorious day all to myself. What was so special about this? Well, since I have family that lives in nearby Henderson, I have been going to Vegas since I was a kid - every trip there requires obligations (I also have a good friend that lives there). Therefore, this day was pretty cool for me - a whole day to do what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted. A day all about ME:

Liberace Museum: I have always wanted to see this place and decided today was the day. I picked up the rental car and happily headed the opposite direction of the Strip. I was not disappointed. Liberace was the poster boy for gaudy excess and he delighted in sharing his treasures. Thank you Liberace! His collection of vintage cars, rare antique pianos, ridiculous jewelry, and clothing confections were astounding. Odd as it seems, a highlight was seeing his Emmys - I've never seen an Emmy up close before so that was pretty cool. I highly recommend the Liberace Museum - it is definitely an under-rated Vegas gem.

Local Yarn Store (LYS): After the sensory overload at the Liberace museum, I headed over to Gail Knits an LYS on the west side of Vegas. The store had a beautiful selection! However, although the store personnel was helpful, the owner was not particularly nice. They did have a nice assortment of Noro yarn so that made up for the lack of friendliness and I would still go back there. I picked up some lovely yarn for my sister's birthday scarf and of course, some Noro.

Tower Records: I quickly realized I wasn't going to have the patience to skip through the radio stations in the rental car, so I treated myself to a rare CD puchase. I snagged a nice boxed set of Pink Floyd's Umma Gumma that I have been ogling for a long, long time. I will burn it to MP3, of course, but as I would never part with my Pink Floyd CD collection, the purchase wasn't in vain.

Bellagio:This is my favorite casino. Period. It was so relaxing to wander around, check out the latest display in the conservatory, drink a $8 coffee and hang out at the craps table. I always double my $$ there and that day was no exception. A highlight of the trip was that I managed to score a quality art viewing as the Art Gallery was having a Monet exhibition (on loan from the Boston Museum of Fine Art). It was nicely arranged in the space and the audio tour was informative and very illuminating. I walked away with an even greater impression of Monet. (um, yeah. couldn't resist that incredibly bad pun).

Gambling:Someone once said "If you plan to leave Vegas with a small fortune, go there with a large one." While that may be true, I actually had great luck this time. I tried out a new concept called Restraint and it served me well. Apparently, when you don't drink too much and manage to keep your greed in check, you can actually WIN in Vegas. Imagine that! I played craps and blackjack - both were equally kind to me. I made lots of Temporary Friends (you know, those people that you talk to for a few hours while gambling. But during those few hours you are the Bestest Friends Ever!)

For the rest of my exciting adventures, refer to Average Jane . She's got the skinny on our hunt for an elusive evening bag (I did find mine eventually at the Desert Passage), hobbling around in our super-cute shoes thus cementing our status as Fashion Victims, hanging out with Elvis, adoring the offspring of a famous swing band dude I'd never heard of before, and spinning around during our lovely dinner at the Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere.

Here's for passing the buck.

December 7, 2004

Are you having trouble finding your Christmas spirit?

Whew. I sure am. Don't get me wrong - I hosted 2 Christmas parties over the weekend. I loved both of them and had so much fun - in the way that I LOVE hosting parties, that is (truly, I do - what more fun can there be in people coming to see YOU). Now, the Christmas part? Well, I just wasn't really sold. I enjoyed decorating the house and have watched a few of my Christmas movies from my hefty collection, but frankly - I am just not that into you, Christmas Spirit. Was it the way you tried to ingratiate yourself into my life before Halloween? Is it how you appear on my TV incessantly trying to encourage me to dig my hole of debt deeper? Is it the way you leap at me in your vivid reds and greens the moment I enter any destination of commerce? No, not so much - you try those tricks every year. I guess, for once, I just want to do the bare minimum and simply relax during these holidays. The theme coming from the Rancid Raves le Manse will be Gift Certificate O' Rama. I will still send out Christmas cards, but will simply sign them instead of trying to think of something original to write on every single one of them. And finally, this Christmas Day, I will throw out some simple food (turkey BREAST is good enough - not the whole damn thing, right?). Basically, I will concentrate on just relaxing that day and enjoying being with my family.

Come to think of it, maybe I haven't lost the Spirit after all.

December 3, 2004

Like to hear some rambling?

Well, I realize my blogging attempts in November were sparse. Yikes. So that I can begin anew in December, I offer this November recap as a Rancid Peace Offering.

Jacksonville – Horrible trip, terrible hotel, and we only got to eat dinner out ONCE. The rest of our dinners were spent scarfing down pretzels from the pitiful cafeteria. I was surprised at the dumpiness of the place – I had imagined Florida to be more tropical and really it was more like Lower Georgia – complete with Older White Man Bigot. You know the type. This guy had no qualms telling me over lunch that he voted for Bush “because a woman doesn’t have the right to choose”. I nearly choked, but managed to compose myself and resisted the urge to jump over the table and choke him. Grrrrrrr.

Philadelphia – Well Philadelphia was better than expected. The people in that office are pretty crabby and let’s just admit that they were not excited about us visiting (this was the 4th scheduled visit – the previous 3, they managed to weasel out of). Most of the trip was spent working (we logged 60+ hours for that week which included the weekend). However, on the Saturday we were there, we only worked a part day. I declared it to be a Taxi-Free Day and I conducted my own personal walking tour. I was staying in Society Hill and walked to Antique Row to check out a LYS (local yarn store to you non-knitters). Sophie’s Yarn was a lovely little shop with great selections and a courteous staff. Even the requisite Store Cats were in residence. Since I was missing my own little fur balls, this was an added bonus for me. I picked up some cool yarn, and then ambled my way downtown to get closer the Big Al’s Lair. I stopped in Washington Square Park and started my new knitting project there. The weather was mild, slightly chilly, but not nippy. The park is surrounded by brownstones and there were people milling through the park with their children and pets. It was one of those Perfectly Peaceful Moments that you live for – those moments that get you through the bad ones coming. Which for me, were just around the corner as I had to pack up my knitting and continue on to work. After a stressful time at work, I walked back to my hotel, dropped off my laptop bag and decided to check out the Garment district. I had a lovely dinner at a local coffeehouse and then strolled for over an hour through the surrounding neighborhoods. I played one of my favorite games that I like to call Peeping Tom. If someone was lax enough to leave their shades open, I would slow down my pace to get a glimpse of the inside. I love brownstones anyway, so this was a particularly fun version for me. Then, it started to lightly rain as I walked back to the hotel. It was a beautiful rain – the sort that doesn’t soak and you can get away with not using an umbrella. Two Perfectly Peaceful Moments in ONE day? Wow.

Piano – I have wanted a piano for years. I played through junior high and high school, but when I went away to college, I lapsed – I simply didn’t have access to a piano anymore and never felt comfortable playing in my mom’s house (to be explained further down). I always regretted letting piano fall by the wayside. In fact, I always feel pangs of sadness whenever I listen to Chopin because the Funeral Marche was the last piece I worked on and I didn’t get it finished. So, imagine my shock when a few weeks ago, when Leavenworth Grandma called and offered me a piano. Specifically, a baby grand. Let’s make that a Steinway. In fact – let’s kick it up a notch -- a 1916 Steinway baby grand. That belonged to my great-grandmother. Who was a concert pianist. After I recovered from the shock and verified she really meant it, I eagerly accepted her generous offer. Since she owns 2 baby grands, it wasn’t like I was taking her only piano. For the week between offer acceptance and actual delivery, I excitedly sorted and re-sorted my music into the order I wanted to play the pieces. When it was delivered, I was on cloud nine, but a little nervous. This piano comes with a lot of history – it’s the very same piano that Leavenworth Grandma and my mother both learned on. I am just now getting comfortable with it all. I can still hardly believe that after all these years I have a piano that is MINE, in MY house. I can now practice all my minor scales to my heart’s content without my mother complaining about how boring they sound or how macabre the Funeral Marche was (well, duh. That’s the point.). And yes, speaking of the Funeral Marche, I have started it up. And Mr. X didn’t even complain thus confirming once again I did indeed marry the right man.

New Computer – Our poor Gateway computer was limping along quite sadly. It tried so hard to keep up with us, but frankly its hard drive is smaller than my iPod. The relationship just wasn’t working out. So, we decided to mix things up in the Rancid Raves le Manse and we purchased the G5 iMAC – yes, an Apple. I haven’t used an Apple since BankStreet Writer bit the dust, so this was truly going to be an adventure for me. So far, it has been great except for one thing – Mr. X, in his online shopping excitement did some pre-mature selection and clicked the choice for the SPANISH wireless keyboard. As I tore open the packaging and saw the key marked “ayuda”, I knew I would be needing a little ayuda myself. Unfortunately, customer service at Apple is much like customer service everywhere – slow and most probably based in India. Anyway, we do have the new keyboard and everything is fine. The computer is a magnificent specimen of beautiful design and engineering. We are very happy with our purchase – it even has the added bonus of acting like a 2nd DVD player since we got the 20 inch screen. Christmas certainly came early this year.

Thanksgiving – I love Thanksgiving. Other than the hearty servings of fattening, bland food topped with heaps of familial guilt, it’s really a nice holiday. Consumerism hasn’t really found a way to tighten its grip on it, so there are no excessive gifts to buy or onerous amounts to decorations to content with. The day is really about being thankful, spending time with the family, watching some football, and relaxing. It can’t get much better than that. When I was young, Olathe Grandma would host the festivities. She has 6 siblings and is the oldest daughter so this role of hostess came naturally to her. However, our family is big now and her house can’t contain everyone anymore. For the past years, we have scattered. This year, we rented a hall and hosted everyone. All 50+ of us. It was great to see everyone in the same room, at the SAME time. I do see these people all year long, but not all together unless there is a wedding. It was so pleasant to look around and re-live childhood memories. As I looked around, I truly felt a moment of Thanksgiving Thankfulness. That is what it’s all about, after all.

December 1, 2004

Isn't it ironic?

When I have nothing to post, I have plenty o' time to post it. When I have things to post, I have no time to post it. I promise something halfway entertaining tomorrow.