Friday, December 30, 2005

Sister blog

Just another MN girl 2.0 http://justanothermngirl2.blogspot.com/

This will be my other blog -- stuff I plagiarize from elsewhere.

Jeff Foxworthy on Minnesota



If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 24 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Minnesota.

If you're proud that your state makes the national news 96 nights each year, because International Falls is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Minnesota.

If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too Spendy", you might live in Minnesota.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March (but the one in the mall is open year round!), you might live in Minnesota.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Minnesota.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Minnesota.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time (like going to the boys baseball games!), you might live in Minnesota.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Minnesota.

If you know how to say Wayzata, Mahtomedi, Edina, Bemidji, Shakopee, Winton and Ely, you might live in Minnesota.

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy, you might live in Minnesota.

”Vacation" means going up north past Brainerd for the weekend. You measure distance in hours. You know several people who have hit deer more than once. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.
You see people wearing hunting clothes at social events. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows howto use them.

Where men are men and so are the women.

There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at the Grocery Store at any given time.

You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

You consider Minneapolis exotic.

Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your Blue spruce.

Down South to you means Iowa.

A brat is something you eat.You go out to a fish fry every Friday.

You find 0 degrees a little chilly.

You actually understand these jokes, and you e-mail them to all your Minnesota friends...

My daughter is a budding con woman :)


When she was in kindergarten, my amazing daughter Dayna (now 8 1/2) learned to read and write. Now only did she write "Sam had a bat" and such, but she immediately took interest in the creative aspect of writing.

She attended the same K-12 school where I taught, and the 55-mile commute seemed endless. She occupied herself with toys and coloring books while I listened to talk radio. Once she kept asking me how spell various words and I obliged, rejoicing at my child's innate desire to learn.

At lunch time, her kindergarten teacher Mrs. E. approached me with a scrap of paper, barely able to hide her grin. Apparently, Dayna wrote her own excuse note on that. With a crayon. In her best printed handwriting. It read: "Dear Mrs. E, Dayna cant go outside today cuz she is sick." As a tender and loving motherly teacher, Mrs. E tried to explain as kindly as possible that a note needs to come from the parents. Not the least bit discouraged, Dayna went back to her little table, and signed (in crayon) "Mom" and handed it back.

A few short months later she passed out birthday invitations to the entire class with the date, time and location of her party. She even put RSVP with the phone number. The parents RSVPed alright, but that's a different story...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New Year's Memories


New Year's Eve has always been very special to me. Since any religious celebrations were prohibited in the former USSR, New Year's became the unofficial Christmas. The tree became known as the New Year's tree, and Santa Claus has been replaced with grandfather Frost.

I have always been allowed to stay as late as I wanted on December 31. The table would be set with delicious dishes; TV had a special program, and neighbors came to celebrate and wish each other Happy New Year.

We had presents under the tree, too, usually only a couple. Schools had special celebrations and kids got presents. They were always baskets with chocolate and mandarine oranges and tinsel. We also wore costumes for the New Year's celebration at school. One year I was "the Night" - I had a dark navy cape with silver stars on it. It was magical!

This year I get to celebrate it with my best friend. We are getting all dressed up and going out. I couldn't wish for a better present from grandfather Frost :)

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Story of Joe

http://whatsinsidejoe.blogspot.com/

It's been over a year and a half since their relationship ended and still can't bring himself to move on. Despite the time that's passed, the idea of being with another woman still feels like cheating.

He wonders if it's worth it to even try. Maybe we only get one shot at true happiness, he thinks. If she was really his "other half" it would certainly explain the emptiness he feels inside since she left.

He only thinks of her a few times a day now but he senses that if he told anyone, they'd tell him that it's still far often and that he should forget her completely. He wishes he could, but he can't seem to find a way.

Mostly, he misses the way she made every moment feel special. When they were together, he imagined that everyone around them was just an extra in the story of their love but somewhere along the way the roles have reversed and he's become the extra in everyone else's life.

From time to time he goes out with his friends - mostly so he can claim to have some sort of life - but those nights have all begun to feel the same. Hearty greetings are followed by superficial conversations designed to hide the fact they have little in common. At the end of the night goodbyes and promises to keep in touch are exchanged and quickly forgotten until someone in the group becomes so desperate for company that they arrange another night out.

Every once in a while, he goes out on a date. He uses the dates to measure just how close he is to forgetting her. The answer is always "not very."

In between these sporadic signs of life, his days are as predictable as a metronome. He works 12 hours a day and then goes home and listens to music. He always plays the same songs in the hopes that if he listens to them often enough the words will lose their meaning. That's yet to happen and so every night becomes an orgy of self-flagellation. He believes that he has to do this in order to properly mourn the past so that he can one day build a future, but at this point the memories seem to have taken up permanent residence in his mind making it impossible for him to focus on anything else.

As he sits in the darkness of his dreary apartment, he dreams of making a clean break from his life - of quitting his job, giving away all of his possessions, and making a fresh start but he knows that he's become a creature of habit and fears that if he did so, he'd rebuild the same life in a different place.

What he fails to realize that the life he's always been the most afraid of is the life he's living right now.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Cake Recipe

You'll need the following:

1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
4 large brown eggs
2 cups of dried fruit
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice
Nuts
1 bottle of whisky

Sample the whisky to check for quality. Take a large bowl. Check the whisky again. To be sure it's the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again. Make sure the whisky is still okay.

Cry another Tup. Tune up the mixer. Beat two lggs and add to the bowl. Chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fired druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it goose with a drewscriver. Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky.

Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon the sugar or something. Whatever you can find. Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window. Check the whisky again and go to bed.

I've been playing with my...


...template again! I finally figured out how to make those snowflakes fall across the webpage! However, I lost the Minneapolis skyline in the process... Hopefully, my brother can fix it.

What do you think of the new layout?

Cool! I found Michael's body double!



NEW YORK — Usama bin Laden's niece, in an interview with GQ magazine in which she appears scantily clad, says she has nothing in common with the Al Qaeda leader and simply wants acceptance by Americans. (link)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lost



I have officially given up any hope of becoming a navigator. Tonight, in an attempt to outsmart rush hour, I decided to take some back roads. I got so hopelessly lost, that at some point I was actually on the way to Rochester, MN and then suddenly going north again. If it hadn't been for the $3 suction-cup compass, things would have been much worse.
As I meandered through endless streets and county roads, I started to laugh. If someone were following me (a spy, a background investigator, a stalker), they were probably thinking: a) I was on crack; or b)I was extremely clever and trying to lose the tail.
So, no navigator career for me. Note to self: next car I buy better have OnStar.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

14 Facts about me


1. I used to be religious, but now I am just spiritual.
2. I drink too much coffee and eat too much candy.
3. I am afraid of the dark.
4. Every plant but one that I ever owned has died.
5. I once had a crush on a fictitious book character.
6. I still don't get baseball.
7. When I was very young, I wanted to be a firefighter just so I could ride in a truck that made lots of noise.
8. I hate winter and can't enjoy any outdoor activities when it's cold.
9. I envy those who can sing well.
10. I turn my radio really loud when I am driving and sing along.
11. I don't hate anyone.
12. I cry at sad movies.
13. I can't stay mad for a long time.
14. I laugh for no apparent reason.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mistletoe



I told my co-worker yesterday to get some mistletoe. We'd put it above the office door, but then what? I doubt I will be kissing anyone, since we are all in the military, and the janitor is not that cute. In fact, he is the opposite of cute -- rather uncute (don't tell him I said that). But, I still think it would be funny to see the horror on people's faces once they realized where they were standing.

I did some googling (I wouldn't call it "research") on the origins of the mistletoe tradition. Here's what I found out:

Mistletoe was often hung over the entrances to homes of the pagans in Scandinavian countries to ward off evil spirits. An old Scandinavian myth tells of the seemingly invulnerable god, Balder, who was struck down by a dart made from mistletoe. The tears of his mother, Frigga, became the white berries of the mistletoe and it was decreed that the plant must never again be used as a weapon. Frigga, who was the goddess of love, henceforth gave a kiss to anyone who passed under the mistletoe which may be where our present custom of kissing under the mistletoe originated.

Another legend tells that the Druids, who were members of a pagan religious order in ancient Gaul, Britain, and Ireland, held the mistletoe in such reverence that if enemies met under it in the forest, a truce was declared for the day. It was also their belief that only happiness would enter a home when mistletoe hung over the doorway.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The ladder

Intellectual Whores has an interesting theory. It's too long to cut and paste, so take a look if you are interested and post comments here if you wish.

http://www.intellectualwhores.com/masterladder.html

Christmas shopping

I hate Christmas shopping. I got off work early today, hoping that most gainfully employed Americans will be busy slaving away at their respective cubicles and factories. The Mall of America was moderately full. In order to park, I waited patiently as a hunter seeking his prey. I saw a car pulling out and made a mad dash for the much coveted spot cutting off another female. She was frustrated, but I got the spoils, for all is fair in love and war. To seal the victory, I threw back my head and laughed madly awaking my most primal emotions.

Choosing gifts for friends is hard. Males are impossible to shop for. Females are even more difficult. As an unspoken rule amongst women, there are certain things that are out of the question: clothes, make-up, perfume, accessories, things that hint at weight loss or skin problems, anything that plugs into the wall, tools, sporting equipment, and anything that's oh-so-last-season. Well, at least that's my unspoken rule. Other things I wouldn't buy are the things I personally loathe, such as candles, potpourri, knick-knacks, Precious Moments (blech), and anything else remotely cutesy or smelly.

That limits the choices severely to CDs, gadgets, picture frames, gift certificates and hand-made things. I am not including things I cannot afford, like exotic trips, exotic dancers and extravagant luxury things, like gold-plated telephones.

So, I didn't get anything for anyone...um....except myself. I did get a toy for my son, but only because I want to play with it too. I also believe I discovered the world's first contraceptive fragrance -- Liz Claiborne Curve- scented candle. The smell of that thing is so pungent, it would stop a skunk dead at the height of mating season!

Ok, so if I don't find any gifts in the next few days, I am getting everyone chocolate.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What if?

I was thinking today about various "what ifs" and how seemingly random circumstances can change one's life. There was a movie a few years ago, "Sliding Doors." The plot is basically two parallel stories of the same woman. In one story she misses the train (hence, the title), and in the other she barely makes it, only to come home earlier and find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. The two stories then unfold to show us what happens as a result of these sliding doors...

So, my thoughts were along the same lines. What if I missed that meeting? What if I never went to that dance club? What if I never read that book, missed that plane, sped through that traffic stop? I get melancholy and thoughtful like that sometime and my imagination runs wild...
I don't dwell on things I have done, only the things I never attempted....

Art



I went to two Russian art exhibits yesterday. One was at the Museum of the Russian Art located just minutes from work; the other -- a travelling exhibit at the U of M from the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. What makes the latter special is that it has never been outside of Russia, and it is only travelling to three US locations. The paintings were awesome and made me a little nostalgic. The Wiesman Art Museum at the U even had a tour guide. I feel much enlightened :)

Oh, and The Sinner blogrolled me, which means he provided a link to my blog on his. Thank you, sir for returning the favor!

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Top 10 Quotes for Living Well


Over the years many people have offered their models of the "Good Life," and some have left quotes that nicely summarize important truths. The following are ten personal favorites.

1. Know Thyself - Socrates. From ancient Greece comes this reminder that introspection, keeping a journal, paying attention to the heart ofthings, comes first. Before we can know the world around us, and make wise choices, we must first come to grips with who we are and what we value.

2. To Thine Own Self Be True. - Shakespeare. In life there is no substitute for integrity. My grandmother was fond of saying, "We either stand for something, or we'll fall for anything." Integrity is about going beyond the truth to full and complete honesty, openness and fairness.

3. And the Greatest of These is Love. - St Paul. He also observed that "without love I am just a clanging symbol or a noisy gong." Without love, caring relationships, andcompassion, life is indeed a dry and shallow thing.

4. Imagination Rules the World. - Albert Einstein. The good life is at least partly based on dreams that are worthy of us, dreams that elevate and challenge and inspire our best. Bobby Kennedy noted, "Others look at the world and ask, 'Why?' I dream of a world that never was and ask, 'Why not?'" Martin Luther King's defiant cry, "I have a dream!" will live long after most of us are gone and forgotten.

5. Too much of a good thing is just right. - Mae West. The good life is about living large, about expressing the joy and love of life. It's about song, exuberance, and about takingchances, and "going for it."

6. Opportunities multiply as they are seized. - SunTzu. Success depends on the courage to act, and courage in turnrequires a level of faith that every opportunity acted upon will lead to more and better ways to serve, learn, grow and prosper.

7. Do, or do not. There is no "try." - Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back). Life requires action, boldness and decisiveness. Mae West also observed, "He who hesitates is a damned fool."

8. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. - Antoine de St. Exupery. Henry Thoreau recommended, "Simplify, simplify, simplify. Let your concerns be as 2 or 3, not more." Friends, work, the media and this thing called the Internet, along with our own "wishlists" try to seduce us to complexity, busy-ness and anxiety. Keep it simple!

9. The artist is nothing without gift, but gift is nothing without work. - Emile Zola. Only focused, intelligent, diligent effort turns potential into reality. Without creative effort, talent and "gift" seem to atrophy and die. Truly a case of "use it or lose it."

10. There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothingis a miracle. The other is as thought everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein

I highly recommend practicing the attitude of gratitude.What else is there?

A Little Perspective

Pythagorean theorem: 24 words
The Lord's Prayer: 66 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
The 10 Commandments: 179 words
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
The Constitution of the United States: 4,428 words
U.S. Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sarcasmis Interjectivus aka Invertebrate Clownitis

Turns out I am not the only one afflicted with this condition. The credit for the following goes to The Sinner:

"This condition makes it very hard to lead a life in various occupations like Library Science, Education, Political Science, and Criminal Science (oddly enough not Mortuary Science). Most sufferers tend to go into professions like Game Programming/Design, Information Technology (mostly sufferers of the related “insultus insatiablitus”), or the French Restaurant and Coffee Industries (Seattle is crawling with sufferers).

We are usually very fun to be around, but non-sufferers tend to ignore most anything we say in serious situations because they have learned that we mostly are unserious. This is why most Video Games suck, because most of the team members are sufferers and the decision makers tend to ignore us.We sufferers understand that it is hard to tell when we are not joking, but we ask that you try harder to distinguish between the joking and the serious.

It’s funnier to us when you try."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blog design


I have been spying on the best of the best among bloggers (www.weblogawards.org). Since imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, I decided to use some template ideas, such as the Christmas ornament header you see above, and Ohhhh- the "tip jar" to your right! Here you can offer your donations/tips.
I still have a very vague idea about html and web design, so I have to borrow from others. To someone as computer-illiterate as I am, this is pretty advanced!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Weekend fun

I finally saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire today. It has been in theaters for 3 weeks now, so for a devoted fan like me it's simply unforgivable to have waited this long. I love the Harry Potter series and watching the movie was truly magical. For a moment there, I would forget that everything on the screen was cinematic wizardry, and be in sheer awe of MAGIC.
My son turned to me half-way through and commented: "This is fake-belief, right?" I laughed at his creative English and reluctantly said yes. It was also unusual seeing the Hogwarts students wearing civilian....er....non-wizard clothing. I was so used to seeing those kids in their school robes, that a track suit and jeans threw me off a little.
I had my other two daughters there, too, along with one of their friends. So, at 3 pm with 4 kids in tow we headed to the roller skating rink. The place is one of the few in town where kids and adults can find a short-term cure from cabin fever. The rink was already packed, largely due to five different birthday parties. Since I decided not to skate, I was people-watching. The most amusing part is watching someone who is watching someone else, unaware of being watched. There was a middle-aged guy who looked like a child molester or a porn actor (not that I would know ;) -- he was watching a couple of 13-14 year-old girls playing arcade games. I was disgusted, so I went and bought a hotdog.
After dropping the kids off at the house, I decided to find some accessories for the new evening gown I bought for a Christmas/New Year's party.

I was looking for some earings (apparently, my other 30 pairs are not enough), and a necklace. I didn't see anything that screamed out "Buy me!!" No luck on the purse or the shawl either. Well, I still have a few days to complete my attire. After all, I want to look beautiful :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

More AMS-isms




I have been meaning to share some of the AMS experience here, but haven't really had the chance. I didn't keep a journal during those six weeks, but the experience is still very much fresh and vivid. Looking back, some things were really challenging, some were meaningless and some just plain absurd.

For example, first stand-by room inspection. My roommate and I are standing at attention, just terrified. We know they WILL find anything and everything wrong with the beds, the shower, the clothes in your wall locker, etc. We just don't know the extent of their wrath, and the uncertainty is what makes it stressful.

Major B. flies in and starts screaming: Oh My GOD!!! Where's the trash can supposed to be??!!!
Me (shaking): Sir! Right there, sir!
Maj B: OC* (officer candidate)!! Where does your "sir" go?
Me (stuttering): S-s... At the end, sir!
Maj B: The trash can goes on the other side of the door! You just bombed the wrong country, OC! DROP!!!!!!
Me: One- sir, two- sir, three,-sir, four-sir, five- sir. Permission to recover, sir!!
Maj B: RECOVER!!!

Some other things the faculty advisors (FAs) said:

You are like a bunch of clown on fire -- kind of funny, kind of sad.
There's a hair in the shower! Oh, my God!!! I feel dirty!
Don't be sorry, be right, OC!
I am not a "sir" sandwich.
We don't just hand out gold bars here.
If you were any more "under the radar", AMS would be a correspondence school.
and my favorite: Trust the process....



This picture was taken at the confidence course. It didn't look nearly as bad as you are standing on the ground. Once you got up there, the body simply refused to obey. I hate heights!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Have a nice day!

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think "Wow! I am so happy"? I do.
I have mused on this topic in the past, wondering about the chemical factors that influence our well-being. But today I feel like a million rupees! (Wait, that's only about 21,650 USD, so never mind...)

So, whatever it is -- endorphins, anticipation of having dinner with friends tonight, a phone call from a friend yesterday, or just caffeine after a good night's sleep -- I am not complaining.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

YES!!!



Life is great once again! My car is fixed now and well below the originally quoted estimate. But the really exciting news is that I finally did it -- yes, I signed up for private dancing lessons. I am going to try several Latin styles along with the tango. Ever since I saw "Scent of a Woman", I have been fascinated with the dance's electrifying passion.

The best part is that I don't really have to have a partner. Very cool!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

My damn car!!!




The bloody thing wouldn't start this morning. I just replaced the battery, so my best guess it is the starter. I called three different cab companies and all of them had an insane amount of waiting time, like 45-60 minutes. What ever happened to fast service?!

Anyway, I am having a case of the Mondays today. Luckily, a co-worker agreed to pick me up and take me to work, AND I have AAA Plus.

Cars and I just don't seem to be getting along. Well, it could be worse.....

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Song Lyrics

I have heard this song so many times, and still don't know what it's about. Can someone please enlighten me??

Tiny Dancer
Elton John

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

Piano man he makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on she sings the songs
The words she knows, the tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can't hear me
When I say softly, slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Face


A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction.
-Oscar Wilde
Surgeons have performed the world's first ever face transplant in a medical breakthough mired in controversy.
It was carried out in France on a 36-year-old woman who lost her nose, lips and chin when she was savaged by a dog.
Doctors replaced the central triangle of her face with tissue taken from a donor's face.

(Full article)

I can't help but wonder what decision I would make had I been faced (no pun intended) with these two choices: remain disfigured for the rest of my life or live with someone else's face. Is the psychological impact of looking in the mirror each day and seeing a stranger greater than the pain of seeing your own deformed face? I would want the surgery, and in time, get accustomed to the new face, but how would that affect those I am close to?

Would I be viewed as someone else by my family? If someone loved me, would they still love me even though it's no longer the face they once fell in love with? Would they love me if I were deformed? What would happen if the person who lost the original owner of the transplanted face saw me in the street? Would they feel shock, horror, sadness, nostalgia or would they be happy that their deceased daughter/girlfriend/mother is alive in someone?

I can't see things as a purely scientific matter, or an ethical one. I always picture myself in the situation and things seems so much different then....