Saturday, December 30, 2006

one down one to go

Made it through Christmas, actually quite easy on account that the mate's medication schedule is such a great excuse for showing up, dropping off gifts, ripping open gifts, eating turkey and driving home all within four hours. Now the 31st is up, which is at least more fun.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

are you ready?

We bought the last gift last night, tomorrow we wrap, Monday we drive down to see the various parents, Tuesday we drive back up. This is actually far better planned than previous years when we were still shopping on the eve... my god, does this mean we're mature? Heaven (and nature) forbid.

Some Jehovahs came by the house today, and not thinking at all, I said, "Hey, Merry Christmas! Enjoy the holiday!" Oh well.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

don't trust rich brats

There's this kid I've known since he was 14. I helped him get started in falconry when his parents weren't being real helpful. They were wealthy and tried to get me to pick up and drop him off like I was a nanny. I'd drop him at his home but I made his parents bring him over. When the family moved to another state I talked to some falconry contacts and got him set up over there.

Fast forward six or seven years. Kid is now an adult and a licensed falconer. He catches snakes for fun and has promised about five times to send me a rattlesnake head in gratitude for my help. After a very lengthy apprenticeship he's finally turned general. He's gonna trap a tiercel Harris because that's what I flew and he had some great times with that bird, so he asks me to make a tiercel hood for him. I usually charge $60 for this but for him I knock ten bucks off. As luck of the draw goes, he traps a female, so he can't use the hood.

Also, kid is going to get married. He's just barely 21 but apparently he's really in love, they've been living together a couple years. I get an invitation for the wedding and I immediately a) fire off a couple gifts off their registry and b) buy a plane ticket.

Two weeks before the wedding, crisis. She breaks up with him -- wedding cancelled. Kid is in emotional hell but he promises to pay back part of my nonrefundable ticket and return the gifts. Several weeks after this he's promised about 4 times to pay me for the hood as well. His life is upside down from the breakup and he tells me he's going to do this and that, something different each time. He loses the check he'd written to me, he finds it, and yet somehow it never actually has made it into the mail.

At this point, my generosity of friendship is over. It's not the money per se, but the promises that get made over and over and never actually happen, and it had been going on long before the wedding fell apart, so that isn't really an excuse. It bothers me to lose a friend, but it's just gone too far this time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

two weeks no cigs

And doing surprisingly well, too. I've talked with friends who were smoking in front of me, and not been tempted. I've talked with my mom and a cigarette didn't even occur to me. I'm feeling good, incredibly good about myself.

A few days ago, I got extremely close to caving because of some phone calls over my friend who died. Dealing with sad people is tense! The nic fit lasted a couple hours and the mate was instrumental in keeping me away. "Wait until after dinner." "Have some coffee first." :)

The interesting thing about that night was my internal negotiation. I sensed I was somehow pumping up the tension and thinking that only a cigarette would resolve it. The more I pumped the tension the more certain I was that the cigarette was the answer.

At that point I would have had no nicotine in my system, no chemical basis for the urge. It was a habit or dependency urge, something mental.

But getting past that one has blown me the other way and now my confidence that I've really and truly quit for good this time has strengthened. What didn't kill me made me stronger, so to speak. I've dealt with one of the most tension-causing events around, the death of a good friend, and I've done it without a cigarette. Most other things pale in comparison.

A very mysterious side effect is that I'm much more willing to leave food on the plate than before. I do enjoy my food, and my taste buds were usually able to override my stomach, but not anymore, it seems. It's like my stomach's "full" button actually works now. While I have put on some weight due to nonsmoking, if this keeps up I should be able to lose it pretty easily.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

warming hearts for the season

Holiday Snowglobe is not for the faint of heart, or the complex of mind. This is a virtual snowglobe populated by little people going about their winter pleasures. If you shake it up, they go flying around screaming, bouncing against the glass, until you let go of it.

But there's more to it than that. Right-click on the globe and select Zoom in, and watch it undisturbed for a while. The man with the shovel will smack the snowboarder; the bird will shit on the shovel man's head, and the snowman being built by the girl will eventually grab her, swallow her and explode.

It's strangely addictive...

junk mail heuristics

Here's one of these lovely "do anything to get them to open the envelope" adverts. Of course it has to have "Important Material Enclosed" in large bold letters (a near-guarantee of recycle-bin fodder these days.) Geico goes a step further -- they print dirty marks on the envelope to make it appear as though there's a credit card inside that scuffed the envelope on the outside. This is lithographed dirt: look close and you can see the dots. And they enclose a card-like object for recipients who need that real-credit-card feel to be convinced to open. The card, naturally, does not resemble the printed dirt very closely.

I want to know why anyone would go with a company (worse yet, an insurance company) that goes to such great lengths to LIE to you?

The gecko can take his Quick Quote card, tri-fold it and stick it up his ass.

The heuristics for junk mail, I think, runs something like this:
- Sender is not clearly identified on the envelope: 40%
- "Important" or "time sensitive" or similar urgent phrasing: 60%
- "Special delivery" phrasing when it came by USPS regular delivery: 100%
- "Personal," "private," or such phrasing indicating exclusivity: 20%
- Brightly colored envelope - 30%

Friday, December 08, 2006

death of a friend

My falconry sponsor was just found dead. I don't have any details yet. Today his son called me in a panic because they hadn't talked for several days. It wasn't terribly unusual for G to go somewhere without telling anyone, but it was usually going with other falconers. The son had asked the police to do a welfare check but they didn't seem to think it was time to actually break down the door. And he really wanted them to.

I phoned another falconer friend, which apparently kick-started a network of phone calls. One of these friends did get the police to break down the door. Another pair of friends will be going out there tomorrow to pick up the dog and any animals still alive.

I feel kinda bad about it because I hadn't emailed him in weeks. I kept meaning to drop him a note, and never got around to it. To me he was both a father and a brother with none of the attendant conflicts. But he was also boring, with old-man complaints about his health and his bleak outlook on its lack of improvement. It seemed like he could talk about nothing else. About 6 weeks ago I was out in his direction and asked him to join me hawking. I was surprised he refused, but he wasn't feeling well. And what can you say to that?

When does verbal bleakness become depression or a sign of real illness? You can say, Hey G, you should go see a doctor (which I did.) But if he doesn't go, I trust his judgement. I don't have the right to drive to his house, kidnap him and take him in. That's a little too invasive, too personal.

insignificant notes

Despite the above, it's still possible to laugh, especially when playing Pimp My Nutcracker, whose name alone sparks the quirky eyeroll of mock dread. And despite the above, and the fact that the mate and I have spent the entire week going through transplant evaluation tests (well, she's gone through the tests, I've been bored to stultification waiting), I still haven't smoked a single cigarette. More about that later.

Monday, December 04, 2006

vietnamese shrimp cake

After Googling without success for a recipe, I put a plea out on what seemed to be the only Vietnamese discussion board I could find and got a reply a few days later. Then I had to ask for the reply in English :D but I got the basic recipe.

Here's what I did and it turned out great.
1 lb shrimp - processed half into paste and the other half into a coarse chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
half a can water chestnuts, coarse chop
3 green onion sprigs sliced fine
1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Combine all ingredients, spread a half-inch layer on bean curd sheets, wrap the sheet around the top and fry or deep-fry about 6 minutes or so, just long enough to cook the shrimp.

I have no previous experience with beancurd sheets and learned I shouldn't soak them overnight... next time I'll try the flat kind, the scrunchy kind just doesn't work.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

becoming a non smoker

It seems to be happening. Following the ALA method, I quit on December 1st (so it would be really easy to tell how long) and have not failed yet. I've had cravings but they go away if I distract myself. The hardest so far has been the phone call with my mom, which is usually irritating this time of year.

Three days isn't a whole lot, but it's better than not being able to make it a single day without a cigarette.

Last time I tried, the boyfriend of a co-worker said, "Oh, you'll start again, everyone does." I probably should have punched the fucker in the mouth right then, because with that banal-evil statement, he deflated the confidence that had kept me off cigarettes for 3 months. I won't let that kind of thing shake me again.

Here goes. I'm proud of myself so far. I hope in a week I'll still be proud.

Friday, December 01, 2006

chestnuts

I'm a sucker for chestnuts at Christmas. Blame it on Bing Crosby, or perhaps on the northern Chinese guys who sell them on the street this time of year. But almost every year, I buy a bag of chestnuts, slice their skins, stick them in the oven, and here are the results:
Of a 2 pound bag of chestnuts,
  • half will have meat that is 1/3 black :P

  • two will burn your fingers

  • all but six will be hard to shell

  • there will be exactly one that shells perfectly, is just the right color, is sweet and not dry. The memory of this one chestnut will fix itself in your brain for next year's suckerage

silly thing by the numbers

This thing's been going around the blogs on my other home, Nordinho... just nonsense for fun

TEN FIRSTS
1. First Best Friend: Mike, grade 2
2. First Pet: 4 goldfish and 2 red-eared turtles
3. First Piercing: left and last ear
4. First high school crush: English exchange student who EVERYONE had a crush on
5. First CD: Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks
6. First Car: 1968 Cutlass Supreme
7. First Love: never
8. First Stuffed Animal: Pooh
9. First Concert: David Bowie, Let's Dance
10. First Time Drunk: freshman year @ university, can you imagine?!

NINE LASTS
1. Last Beverage: coffee
2. Last Vehicle Ride: grocery store
3. Last Movie Seen: Donnie Darko
4. Last Phone Call: business
5. Last CD Played: Jean Luc Ponty, No Absolute Time
6. Last Bubble Bath: I'm waiting for the first one
7. Last Time You Cried: last year
8. Last Kiss: 2 hours ago
9. Last Concert attended: Ponty, ages ago

EIGHT HAVE YOU EVERS
1. Have you ever dated one of your best friends? Yes my g/f
2. Have you ever been arrested: No
3. Have you ever skinny dipped: Yeah, and it was about this big
4. Have you ever been on TV: no
5. Have you ever kissed someone and regretted it: yup
6. Have you ever had a sex dream about someone you know: like Dazed said.
7. Have you ever been sent to the emergency room: sent, no.
8. Have you ever been in a fist fight: yeah

SEVEN THINGS YOU'RE WEARING
1. Nikes
2. Socks
3. Jeans
4. Whities
5. Shirt
6. Ring
7. A frown

SIX THINGS YOU'VE DONE TODAY
1. business phone calls
2. Drew a picture
3. Drank coffee
4. Realized that NaNoWriMo is over
5. Gave a dollar to a beggar
6. Bought an enormous box of chocolates for my g/f

FIVE FAVORITE THINGS IN NO ORDER
1. Sleeping late
2. Having a perfect hawking day
3. Doing some particularly studly programming
4. Seeing justice triumph
5. Sex

FOUR PEOPLE YOU CAN TELL ANYTHING TO
1. my g/f
2. no
3. one
4. else

THREE CHOICES
1. Eat or Drink: eat
2. Blonde or Brunette: who cares
3. Pink or Black: black

TWO THINGS YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE
1. Publish my novel
2. Find the angel

ONE THING YOU REGRET
1. One??!!!