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Name: Justine
Location: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Justine, is a little bit more than you'd expect. This is where you are supposed to put your "elevator speech". What you'd say if you were in the elevator with somebody you wanted to connect with. I don't have an "elevator speech". If I ran smack-dab into one of my "heroes" I'd just have to smile and be polite and keep my yipper shut and that's probably for the best anyway!

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Christmas Prezzies Triumph & Tragedy
My secret digital sister separated at birth, OMBH, missed a certain Christmas prezzie in her stocking this year.

All new action figure! Fully poseable! Double Jointed! Stripey Jumper Wardrobe Expander packs available now! New "Home Brewery" playset on sale in January! "Fusker The Demon Cat" pet figure included in specially marked packages!
"Fiat or Ferrari" changeable vehicle set available with 4 proofs of purchase and a cat food label! Get yours now!

On the other hand for my Christmas prezzie, Bob the Camel convinced HWMNBN that if he'd just take a little ride on the space shuttle, there was free beer on the moon.

I'm sure Bob waved goodbye. I know he packed him some peaches for the trip.

Because I am not a truly evil person I have not yet told OMBH that a DVD player that you can set to watch Region 2 DVDs only costs about 40 bucks at the Best Buy. You buy a cheap model regular DVD player and find the remote control button sequence hack that turns off the region on the player.

I have not done this because it would encourage her to fall into the same bad habit that I have. I buy DVDs from Amazon.UK and watch Top Gear or Mighty Boosh items that haven't been released in the U.S.

No I don't feel bad about it at all. I bought the DVD player legally. I bought the DVDs from legal sources. Royalties were paid. Licenses were paid. Everybody got their contractual cut. I get to sit up late at night laughing at things that make no sense to my American thought processes.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Setz Daddy!
"The leopard rocks his spots!"
"Why yes this is a Bigsby tail piece. Thank you for noticing!"

Brian Setzer Orchestra :: Japan Tour 2009 :: Photographer: Naoaki Toyofuku

Brian Setzer has brought the "BSO" back to life. (Brian Setzer Orchestra not Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) Setzer launched another successful Christmas Album but he's also released "Songs from Lonely Avenue".

"His hair is poifect and I'd like to meet his tailor!"


Run, do not walk, to your nearest computer and legally download this album to your MP3 player. Now. You'll get yourself a big ole dose of Retro Surf, Big Band, Swing Guitar, and some of the best electric guitar playing since Les Paul created "The Log".

With a song titled "King of the Whole Damn World" how can you go wrong?

"Dimes In The Jar" is my current favorite in the lot. It gives the body rocking satisfaction of a great rock anthem. The lines "Now I don't know how, I'm sure in the end now, there's some place that they go to burn." and "Never got handed a dollar by no one and here is the lesson I learned" have me doing the desk bound fist pump and head nod.

There are some great instrumentals as well. "Mr. Jazzer Goes Surfing" and "Mr. Surfer Goes Jazzin'" are foot tapping classic surf guitar best.

Fun Setzer Fact: The smoking hot redition of Malaguena issuing from "The Mariachi"s guitar in the beginning of "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" was actually played by Brian Setzer. He revisits the Spanish Guitar style in the current album's track "Elena".

Fun Setzer Fact #2: On the soundtrack for the creepy Jim Carrey movie "You, Me, & Irene" Mr. Setzer does a cover of "Bodhisattva" that is available nowhere else.

Have I made my mad love of Mr. Setzer's music clear enough? Will Love Monkey declare me his HooDoo VooDoo Doll? Has Bob's tummy calmed down from its Alfalfa Fluffies overdose? Will Roger Robot survive a trip into the art studio? If I drink a Rum Cocktail with Clindamycin will my head fall clean off? If it does will I care?

The answer to those and many other questions won't be forthcoming. But, if I can get my act together, a nice Rhapsody Playlist might be.

"There's nothing like a Gretsch"

Brian Setzer Orchestra :: Japan Tour 2009 :: Photographer: Naoaki Toyofuku
Warm & Cuddly Holidays?

A dreamy pic of the Mighty Boosh Boys from NoelFielding.Org

Stripey Jumpers get thee behind me! Baby girl is sipping on a cool, rum beverage and dreaming of New Year's Eve in Trafalgar Square with a special someone. (Of course it doesn't hurt that I'm on mondo-drugs for a dental abscess.)

If I was really in the mood for freezing my can off in a cheek to jowl crowd in a national capitol, I'm only 30 miles from D.C.

It's supposed to rain, sleet, and snow here for New Year's. Love Monkey is working until 6 p.m. and then he wants to make the trip to my house. I'm encouraging him to stay home until New Year's Day. No sense in driving 100 miles in bad weather. I'm going to the dentist on New Year's Eve and will most likely have a broken crown hammered off. My idea of a party is going to be Advil and sleep.

It's been a weird two weeks anyway. I've been putting in comp time to make up for being out sick so I've been here in the evenings. Last week some nut job microwaved aluminum foil and started a fire. The fire alarms went off and those of us that were here scrambled out the fire escapes. It took 45 minutes for the fire department to control the situation and search the building. Certainly a rough week for the building manager. (Long term power outage and a fire.)

Some manager someplace read a magazine that talked about "databases" and got the bright idea that IBM DB2 for ZOS is exactly like Access for Windows. Now they've got this amazing idea that we can reset any database to any second of any day with no problems. They have even volunteered us to demo this next week. Poo is flying around the office at high velocity.

Things are certainly like normal. :)

When I saw this pic I couldn't resist reposting it for OMBH.

Dreamy! From NoelFielding.Org
Monday, December 28, 2009
Trader Vics ?
2009 is the 75th year for Trader Vics!

Ok, I can hear you asking, "What the heck is Trader Vics?"

The best way to answer that is "The original Tiki Bar". With roots circa 1934 and a Polynesian flair, Trader Vics bar and restaurant pioneered the tiki mug and the Mai Tai. Today they are still going strong in multiple locations. (There are 10 of them in the Middle East! Which is odd since they specialize in bucket sized rum drinks.)

Click on this link to see Trader Vics drinks menu.
If you're a rum fan like I am, it will make you long for a nice refreshing beverage.

A fine example of Tiki Bar ware from Tiki Farm.

How does this differ from Jimmy Buffet gear you may ask? Trader Vics is "Tiki". Tiki has the Polynesian Pacific Ocean flair. It celebrates Hawaii joining the union and casts a dreamy eye across the Pacific neighborhood. Volcanoes are a reoccurring theme. Brian Setzer has used tiki themes on some of his most popular album covers. Trader Vics has a "colonial" era refinement and no coconut bras.

Jimmy Buffet is Atlantic ocean, Caribbean flair. There aren't as many volcanoes. Buffet flavor includes many unrefined, non-colonial, and semi-nude drunks in coconut bras.

Why the heck are you even talking about this? It's Christmas week!

It may be Christmas week but I'm back at work with an MP3 player programmed by a camel looking to raise my spirits. On this MP3 player he included his theme song, "Shake, Shake, Shake". He also included Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London".

That song has cycled through over 10 times today and for the life of me the only line I even pay attention to is:

"He was drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vics, and his hair was perfect!"

Which leads me to a pic of the only man I've ever thought about when I heard that line.

His hair was perfect!
The impeccably coiffed Barry Gibb "back in the day".

Of course there is the memorable line:
"I'd like to meet his tailor."

That makes me think of this man.

Jeremy Irons wearing Zegna & Brioni for Men's Vogue, April 2009.
This photo from "The Selvedge Yard" in March 2009 where they named Jeremy Irons to their style hall of fame.
(I have a personal love of Zegna style. Yummy.
Yes I can forgive this man the Citroen.)

Here I would point out that when viewing Trader Vics drink menu I saw they have a drink named the "London Sour" which immediately made me think of this man.

His hair looks imperfect and nobody wants to meet his tailor!
He is the London Sour!

(Yes OMBH that pic is for you.)
Roger Robot Never Knows. . . .

Roger robot never knows!

Roger Robot has had a rough first few days in my household.

Christmas day he popped out of his box, shiny and new, and ambled onto his charging dock. December 26th he came out off the doc and ran wildly around the house until he tuckered himself out and filled up his dust cup! After a brief nap on the charger Roger took a foray into the guest bedroom. I closed the door behind him so he would vacuum the entire door alcove. A short while later I noticed I didn't hear his humming and ambulating. When I opened the door Roger was gone! The closet door was closed, he couldn't be in there. I had storage boxes under the bed he couldn't be under there. The windows were still closed and locked. His "edge clean" brushes weren't curved enough to open the window locks anyway.

It looked as though Roger had been beamed back to the mothership. (Probably crying and yowling about abuse the whole way.) There was nothing for it but to get a flash light and check behind the furniture. I slumped myself onto the floor and began my search. After several moments of true holiday amazement, I shone the flashlight under the bed and saw a faint glimmer of aluminum.

Roger had pushed the storage boxes all the way under the bed and into the wall. He had then made a left turn and shoved a folded bookcase as far forward as it would go. To top it off, Roger had nuzzled under the sheet draped over the bookcase and shut himself off!

He was hiding!

I slithered part way under the bed and grabbed him out. He let out an indignant "BEEP!" and I took him back to his charger.

Roger slept the night on his charger. On Sunday I put him to work in my bedroom. he had plenty of room to roam under the bed. He beeped and booped and ran under the bed with his blue "extra cleaning" light blazing. After 30 minutes he was still circling and whirling and I stopped him to empty his dust cup.

Not only was the dust cup full but he had popcorn, a cup hook, a candy bar wrapper, and a Sams Club receipt stuffed in his yipper. Poor baby. His bumper was dusty and smudged and he was covered with dust from snout to tail!

I let him have a snooze on the power dock for a while then I sent him back in for another round. After twenty minutes of whirring around I heard him yell for help. His snuffling brushes where entwined with long hair and he could no longer snuffle.

I cleaned him up, removed his brushes and cleaned them, and emptied his dust cup again. The poor lad had snorfled under the bed for over an hour.

So much for the cleaning service that is supposed to be vacuuming under the bed!

When I did the new years heavy duty clean in the bedroom I found enough evidence that they cleaning ladies haven't been cleaning. They have been sacked.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Yeah, I do hope this does suck, really hard......

Roomy has come for a visit!

Remember when you were a little kid and your dad did something stupid like buy your mom an iron or a rug scrubber for Christmas? Remember the palpable sense of hostility that blossomed through the air?

Well, this year I bought myself a vacum cleaner for Christmas.

Yep, talk about self-abuse.

Sort of.

I bought a Roomba. It is supposed to be "smart" enough to amble out of its docking station and vacum my house while I'm at work. Then it's supposed to be smart enough to go get back on its charger when it gets tuckered out.

"Where are your cleaning ladies?" I hear you say.

Well, the cleaning ladies have been doing a crappy job and charging more for it so they have been snort-canned. After the "cleaning" last week I discoved the headboard on the bed had not been dusted "again". So that is that. Roomy will pay for himself shortly. (I hope!)

Since Roomy came straight from the factory he comes with a 30 day return option. If he falls over, crashes into the fridge, or doesn't suck then he goes back to the factory. Tonight he is in his charger revving up. Tomorrow he starts a 7 day a week cleaning regimine.

As for my "Christmas Travels", they were cancelled. I got my annual cold.

It has been a very quiet Chirstmas day. I've slept most of it. I've had nibbles on chockie chip cookies. I've spoken with Love Monkey on the phone.

Seriously I think I'll feel a whole lot better tomorrow.

Thanks for your Christmas wishes OMBH! :)

I made Bob a batch of Alfalfa Fluffies and he is stuffed full and sound asleep.

I hope Roomy can successfully navigate around a sleeping camel!
Monday, December 21, 2009
We Fell Off "The Grid"
Every time I think I have an understanding of just how big the company I work for is, they wow me again.

We all came in to work this morning and the parking lots were plowed and the the building was running full tilt. Along about 11 a.m. they came through and somberly asked us to assemble.

In the wake of local and state government furloughs and layoffs, we all took on the pallor of those about to suffer financial hardship. Instead we were quietly told that the entire building complex had "fallen off the grid" Friday evening and had been running completely on generator power for three days. Fuel reserves had hit a break point where normal building operations had to be curtailed so that worldwide field office and customer service could continue to be supported. Fuel had been contracted for but had not arrived. We were going to have to plan for an orderly stepped shut down of the building and finally all computer operations.

As we grimly assembled to figure out what to shut off first and how to stagger outages according to time zones, a fuel truck pulled up and started filling our tanks.

A small ripple of a rumor circulated that, because somewhere in the bowels of this operation we provide a chunk of high profile service to many registered voters, someone phoned someone who was elected and a fuel depot was moved up on the plowing priority list.

For the time being we are back in the utility as well as the computer bizz.

That leaves us with the "Fell off the grid" part of the equation.

It seems that our local utility, "Underworld Power & Darkness", is no longer supplying us with power. We paid the bill. We plowed the road. We trimmed the trees. Our lines are intact and fairly new. But power, is not available.

This is, of course, double speak and their sweet way of saying "We have no flippin' idea why your power is out." As of this hour they are still "researching" the issue.

Since there are local households still without power in the area, I believe our company is being quiet and nice about having to run our generators and burning all that expensive fuel. Once "UPD" says all customers have service again I believe we will begin gnawing on them like a large carnivore on a chicken wing at a happy hour buffet.

Let me say that I have nothing to do with gnawing or the detailed info on the situation. I can say that I have lived in expensive neighborhoods that went without power for weeks at a time because Underworld Power & Darkness had infrastructure so old that it broke in harsh weather and couldn't be readily repaired.

Public outrage over rates and service deficiencies have actually made it to the legislative venue several times lately.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if "UPD" hork us up any longer than tomorrow they are going to come face to face with a customer big enough that they can't be ignored.

Reddy Kilowatt, your friend and mine!
Fluffy Non-Goodness

Too cool for skool from NoelFielding.Org

Sounds like OMBH got the worst end of the storm. Having to hole up at work for days is not my idea of anything good!

Contrary to her flights of fancy, the inimitable Mr. Noir did not come to shovel out my drive. That was done by my "Lawn Dude" who looks like Captain Jack Sparrow.

However to ease OMBH's gloomy day I'll include a dark and mysterious photo from NoelFielding.Org for Mr. Noir.

Looking Contrite for not shoveling all our driveways. From NoelFielding.Org
Sunday, December 20, 2009

Now I can enjoy my afternoon!

Just as I fretted that lawn dude wouldn't appear, I went to the front room to retrieve some crafty supplies and there he was! He didn't phone like he said he would, he just showed up and started shoveling away!

Whew! Now my driveway, walkway, and front porch are shoveled off. Now when it ices up and turns into a nasty old lump of gunk, I can get through.

I didn't realize how stressed I was until I got the driveway clear!

Seriously if I had leave from work, I would have stayed nestled in. I've got a winter pantry full of food to last several weeks. Worrying about having a stroke while out shoveling snow was not good.

Anyway here are some pics of a ruler in the snow.

Front porch with almost 12 inches of snow

Beginning of snow drift going to backyard. 14 inches at closest point.

Whatever the rulers say it feels like about a gazillion feet when I take my short self out there!

Back to making crafty holiday wrapping!

P.S. I am now on Lawn Dude's list of folks to shovel out whenever it storms. Double Whew!
Ok, maybe now I'll seriously think about moving to Savannah

Digging an escape path.

It's Sunday afternoon and I've dug out to the door of my car.

I lucked out and the wind kept the stretch I dug yesterday fairly clear. However the rest of the shizznit is above my knees. I managed to get a little farther after I took these pics.

Then I got smart and came in and called my lawn guy. He will be here later on with his snow blower and shovel.

I wish I could think of something cool and clever to say. Really I'm just fighting down panic at the realization that I'm having a heck of a time digging myself out. It would be soo nice to have a snow blower right about now. But seriously I would need to buy a snow blower, buy an outdoor shed to keep it in, and pay somebody to keep it working between seasons.

Silly as it is, part of me is panicking that my lawn dude won't show up. He has always shown up before but now I doubt him?

Funny how a bunch of snow can freak me out these days. If all else fails I can get the car dug out this afternoon and evening.

If that goes awry I do have enough leave to take off in the morning and finish getting dug out.

Truthfully I can even work from home if need be.

No, this seems to be more about my nerves being shot than anything else.

Here's another snow pic from this morning.

I'm going to go and work on my Christmas wrapping.

Fluffiness attacks!

Note: In the above pic the driveway behind the car looks straight and level. The driveway is a slope and drops almost 3 feet back to the street. That is a waist high snow drift behind the car.
Ok, what makes anybody think I can dig out of here by Monday morning?
Seriously. It snowed for nigh on 24 hours straight. The weather service is saying there are 20 to 30 inches of snow on the ground. The wind has drifted the snow up against the front of the house. Mid-afternoon I went out the side door and started shoveling up the drive towards the car. I made it down the side of the house to the corner in about 20 minutes. However it was snowing so hard that I was covered compeltely with snow and it was melting through my parka. I won't mention that by then I needed a hit on my rescue inhaler.

Oh yeah. Before nightfall my small path outwards was filled back in. Snow has drifted so that it now covers the front of the car over the bumper. The drifts between me and the street are over my knees.

The plow has been through the street 3 times. The end of my driveway is blockaded waist high with snow blocks.

In the morning I will call my contractor/builder dude and see if he knows anybody that is doing snow blower for hire. Otherwise I will be sending my boss and email and asking if I can work from home on Monday.

I hope sincerely that they close the business on Monday. That will bail me out.

If I take slow stabs at bail out I'll be able to get about 1/2 done tomorrow. Then I can take another stab at it on Monday. The big problem is the temp has been coming up over 32. So, in true Maryland fashion, the 20 inches of snow has melded into ice.

I'll just have to see how much the sun takes care of tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

OMBH, I hope COX cable has come back on and stayed on for you. I've spoken with Love Monkey today and that's it. The isolation is nice and unnerving at the same time!

If I wasn't worried about work, this would be a nice few days to hibernate.

I did get the first large batch of cookie do mixed up. Tomorrow it will be put into rolls and frozen so I can slice-and-bake. Then I can bake up cookies the night before I go back into the office or the day before I go visitng for the holidays.

I'm rambling, please pardon me.

Off for some more sleep. It's finally stopped snowing. Yeaaaah!

Geeze. I've been working over each night to earn some comp so I can go to the dentist. Pfffffft! Now that time will go down the drain for clean up time.
Friday, December 18, 2009
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

A little something warm and holiday-ish from NoelFielding.Org

Since I work in the wild and woolly world of computers somebody decided that we needed to have television sets mounted around the digital plantation. These televisions are normally used to broadcast organizational propaganda. They flash the info on the corporate flu shot clinic. They threaten to beat us with clubs if we fudge our time sheets. They offer bizarre suggestions on how to save energy.

But, in times like these, the televisions are turned to the local news channels.

Each TV seems to be set to a different local station and they are all blathering away incoherently. As best I can tell between now and Sunday afternoon we are in for one or more of the following events:

a. Thunderstorms
b. Sleet
c. Dry drifting snow
d. Heavy wet snow
e. A light dusting of snow
f. 3 inches of snow
g. 10 inches of snow
h. A record breaking blizzard
i. Coastal flooding
j. Water shortage due to broken frozen water mains
k. No water shortage.
l. Global warming induced heatwaves
m. A bread, milk, and toilet paper shortage caused by hoarding.
n. Severe shortages of cat litter.
o. Record numbers of video rentals.
p. Panicked holiday shoppers out until midnight tonight wiping out the stocks at Target.
q. Lines at the gas stations like we haven't seen since the 1970's

In times like these I find a quiet spot and listen to the small still voice within. Today it's saying, "It's not another ice age, it's two days of bad roads. Go in the house, shut the door, bake some cookies, and take a nap!"

Of course the grumpy little troll voice says, "You better come out every hour and push the snow off the walk. You try and shovel 12 inches of snow and you'll have a stroke." The troll has a point, but it's still not a major crisis.

All this said, I am going to go to the grocery store after work. I do my shopping on Friday nights. If the place is a mad house, I'll go home and eat what I have.

I will also stop by the gas station, because I do that on Friday nights too. If the lines are out into the streets or I notice the National Guard standing around with dogs and fire arms, than I'll go on home. I've still got 1/2 tank and if it snows up to the door handles I'm not driving anywhere anyway!


When I stop and think about it, the voice I should be listening too says, "God's in charge anyway. Go home and enjoy yourself. It'll all work out by Tuesday."

Here's hoping where ever you are that you are comfy. Happy whatever holiday you celebrate!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Cougar, Puma, Snow Leopard, Which is most likely to run over you in a pub parking lot?

Let me show you where to put that Botox! Sweetie!

According to the media I am either a cougar or a puma. Demi Moore says she prefers the term puma. Both are intended to refer to mature women.

On her web site Demi Moore fans told her today that she looked "old". Her response was "I'm 47 what am I supposed to look like?"

Yes, indeed.

Men look distinguished. Women look inanimate from Botox injections, face lifts, and silicone parts. Graceful aging seems to consistently refer to having your body and face resurfaced as often as the Baltimore Beltway.

I'm going to posit that there is a third type of woman, a Snow Leopard. Snow Leopards feel youthful but yet grown up. They might dye their hair or wear a super supportive foundation garment. However they draw the line at using surgery or botulism toxins to try and look like store mannequins. They are well groomed and age appropriate. (We will forgive demented Aunt Edna who unwittingly wears her zebra print slip on the outside of her dress. At 80 something she truly has earned the right to be rebellious.)

The real difference, the real bite to Snow Leopard Women is that they don't give a fuzzy rat's ass about trying to look 20 years younger than they are. They have stopped receiving the social messages that they must be taller, thinner, muscle bound, emaciated, younger, or anything else impossible. (Instead they opt for healthy.) Snow Leopards are taking all the energy they would have used to whittle themselves down to a size zero and they use that energy to live their lives the way they want to. They live their real dreams, they do what's important to them, and they are dangerous because of it.

Snow Leopard Women have life knowledge, experience, strength, and vision. Without the social pressure to starve and abuse themselves in the name of vanity, they now have the energy and time to exert their presence in the world.

Snow Leopard Women are dangerous beyond measure, especially to many men, because they are no longer controlled and manipulated by the "mating game". They are free.

Hunter Thompson said "At the top of the mountain we are all snow leopards."

Come and climb up here with me. The view is spectacular.

Do I look like I care what you think?
Home for Christmas?

A lovely Tudor revival style complete with conservatory.

I love this house! It looks like my dream home. Lovely brick. Nice conservatory attached to the first floor. Lovely landscaping. But all is not as meets the eye on this little real estate number. Perhaps it's the bat on the weather vane that gives it away.

It's Disney World's Haunted Mansion.

It's not only architecturally appealing but it's one of my fave rides. (It's tied with Pirates of the Caribbean in my affections.)

OMBH took a trip to the land of happiness and took a few spins through the place herself. She has some nice pics on her web site at: One Mockingbird Hill

I've never seen the Haunted Mansion decorated for Christmas but I've heard that they use "Nightmare Before Christmas" characters and jazz the joint up. Perhaps OMBH will treat us with some pics. I'm not sure if Orlando does the spiff up or if it's only the California locale.

When I checked in on Haunted Mansion info at Halloween time I discovered that this is the 40th year for the attraction. To celebrate the California location had a contest and one lucky family got to spend the night in the mansion! Here is a link to their web diary of their spooky night in the house!

It says that they had a web cam of the whole experience but I haven't found any recording of it. If anyone locates one, please let me know. I'd love to see the fun!

Click here to go to the preeminent web site on Disney's Haunted Mansion Rides around the world, DoomBuggies.Com
Water Always Wins
Water always wins? What kind of promo saying is that?

BBC America has gone into promo overload for the upcoming Doctor Who Special "Waters of Mars". That's just fine and dandy. BUT they need a better catch phrase. The "Water always wins." line is just wrongity wrong wrong. It's fine as part of the dialog in the episode but as a promo sound bite, yech.

I leave the boob tube on as a background to my housework and domestic diva activities and that one phrase is belted out louder than everything else in the commercial. I've heard it over and again when I'm head first in the dish washer cleaning out the screen, or when I'm nose down in the washing machine grasping for stray socks, or I'm wrestling folding a fitted sheet. I want to yell back, "Well so what? Rust never sleeps either!"

I don't know why, but that silly phrase just makes me want to smack some promo creator. In lieu of that, I will enlist my trusty camel pal Bob and we'll come up with a list of similarly rediculous phrases ripe for promo opportunities. (Althrough it's tough to get more inane than the "That's thinking with your dipstick!" from Castrol.)

Water Always Wins Sibling Sayings

Rust Never Sleeps
Steadfast, Brave, Loyal, & True
Alfalfa Fluffies Forever!
You can't miss it.
How hard can it be?
I'll give you something to cry about.
Lumps and humps, aging sucks!
Keep away from open flame.

He's nifty keeno peachy plum yummy yum! He's the Doctor!
Alfalfa Fluffies!

I opened the front door last night to the sounds of something rummaging through my bedroom closet. I peeked around the corner to the hall and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a large camel rear! Bob was snout down in my closet rummaging for Christmas prezzies! That scamp!

I backed up and made sure to slam the front door. I shouted "I'm home!" to the greeting noises of a scampering camel.

Bob bopped on to the laundry room where he was pre-warming his saddle blankie in the dryer.

When he joined me in the kitchen he spied the box from the BJ's store and stuck his nose in that.

"OOOOOO Alfalfa fluffies!! I haven't had those since I was a baby!" He screeched with glee and flipped the box over, dumping the contents in the floor. He attacked a package with his snout and before I could say anything he let out a disappointed grunt.

"Oh it's something else."

I don't know what "Alfalfa Fluffies" are, or where you get them ,but what Bob had done was up end a 4 pound bag of chocolate chips in the floor. Luckily for him, the bag didn't break or he'd have received a good whack in the hump!

What am I doing with a 4 lb bag of chocolate chips? Well, I went into the BJ's warehouse club last weekend with Love Monkey. We purchased the requisite 160 pounds of cat litter and the case of kitty nibbles. Then we ambled down the coffee and baking aisle. As LM loaded up the cart with Chock-Ful-O-Nuts coffee I saw a good price on Nestle's Chockie Chips. My original plan had been to make a batch of Choc Chip cookies to bring into to work for snick-snacks. Well, you know when you're in a warehouse club the aisles are big, the carts are over sized, the prices per pound are low, everything looks in proportion. Combine that with the fact all I really wanted to do was go sit down and BAM there's a moment of bad judgement. I suspect I believed I was getting the regular 2 lb "big bag" I get in the regular grocery store. Tucked in the cart next to the 3 lb can of coffee, the 2 lb bag of pecans, and the bucket-o-pistachios the package didn't look that big.

When I got home and looked for cabinet space to store this monstrous sack of chocolaty goodness, I realized I had the uber bag. The baking schedule has been amended to include chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate dipped pretzels.

This morning I emailed Bob's cousin Pajama Llama to find out what "Alfalfa Fluffies" were. He emailed me back that they were a camel cookie treat that used to come packaged in a large yellow bag. I'm scanning the internet now to see if I can find a recipe and bake some for Bob for the holidays. According to cousin PL, Bob gets the holiday blues too. Being a grown up camel at the holidays is not as much fun as it is for the camel youngsters. I know the feeling.

Meanwhile I am endeavoring to become monkey queen of yet another tropical island through the power of digital solitaire.

Bob loaded my MP3 player for me this morning. He's shoved it full of new music and odd coincidences. The auto shuffle just took me from the 80's dance ballad "Send Me An Angel" by Real Life to Brian Setzer's new release "Trouble Train".

Setzer is wailing 'If you hear the devil call your name don't get on that trouble train." That's a nice ditty for the holiday season!

Now we've transitioned to Sarah Brightman singing "Free". There seems to be a huge smattering of good old fashioned "The Who" and an entire Lady GaGa album on the player.

Bob is something else.

Also something else and musically surprsing is the new NBC show "Sing Off". They showcase competing acapella groups. Think of that fantastic singing group that used to harmonize on the old "Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego?" show.

They've gathered 8 groups from around the country and had theme compete on their singing and performing style. The judges are fair, kind, and polite. The music is amazing. Check out the show website and watch the group "The Beelzebubs" sing "Magical Mystery Tour". It is amazing!

The live finale is next Monday night and the 3 current season episodes are available online at NBC. You can watch and vote for your favorite group online or by phone. They've even made the phone vote free!

This is a very nice musical competition show. I'm wild about the style and talent of the Tufts University Beelzebubs! I'm voting early and often! Enjoy!

Click here for the "Sing Off" web site!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Digital Nummies
A big shout out thanks goes to OMBH who sent along some digital Spritz cookie goodies. They are greatly appreciated. I appreciate my digital buds. It's nice to be able to actually come out and say, "Yeah things aren't the best". At work and with the holiday parties I do the "I'm fine" bit. It's a relief to come online and let my hair down a bit.

I'll be going to spend Christmas day with Love Monkey's family. It will be very strange. It's been almost 20 years since I've seen any of them. The ole LM was checking out my ring size last weekend. We had to have a little chitty chat about things that weren't appropriate for prezzies this year. I don't feel like I have the capacity to decide what color lipstick to put on let alone anything else.

Being year end, all the insurances and IRAs have had to be updated. Time to take mom's name off and add another beneficiary. Time to do a new durable power of attorney and will. Cheerful, but necessary. Been getting the mortgage escrow payment info and the loan interest updates. Ooo Christmas and tax season all together. Not so yummy!

On a lighter note, Bob is busy with nativity scenes. He trucks out of the house in full royal camel regalia. I believe he is playing Balthazar's camel. He likes the flashy saddle, blanket, and halter. It gives him a little swagger in his step. He does a little hip-snap and makes all the little metal trim doodads on his livery jingle when he walks.

He's big on laying down so that the little kids who come up to look at the animals can pet his nose. I suspect he's munched more than one candy cane in the process as well!

The beginings of the Christmas Village are up on the breakfast bar. The felt snow is down and the houses are out and plugged in. I'm debating on making polymer clay roads this year. I keep thinking I could use polymer clay and "Rock Candy" stickles to make things look more realistic. I'm still up in the air for that. I do have trees, stop lights, gates, fences, shrubbery, and lakes to put in the scene next. It all depends on how I feel by the end of the day. I even had a old brit styled red phone box! No Dr. Who blue police call box yet though. There is a "Casino Royale" complete with small James Bond figure. (That building didn't make it out this year.) All in all I have more houses than I have room for on the counter. I also have a train set, car dealership, Victorian museum, castle, Graceland, and much more.

This year I kept it to "The Brittish Embassy", "Gatsby's House", Nero Wolfe's "Brownstone", "221B Bakerstreet", "The Chinese Restaurant", and "WSNO Radio Station".

I'll see how much I can trick the scene out without having to use 50000 batteries to power the accessories. I did get out 1 car so there is a 1956 Thunderbird prowling the neighborhood. If I had a full room and trestle table to devote to the layout I'd pull out everything including the Halloween houses and the cemetary. But that may be a bit extreme.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
When the Volcano Blows. . .

"Lava comes out soft and hot, you better love me now or love me not!"
A Jimmy Buffet quote and a photo of the volcano erupting in the Philippines.

I started out writing about the unstoppable force of volcanoes. Then I discovered what was really on my mind was the enduring sorrow of broken-ness.

Islands, villages, and countrysides torn apart by a volcano can never be the same. Lava cools, new land is formed, danger passes, people rebuild but nothing is the same.

Lives, people, are the same way. If you look at the madness in the gossip columns you see that Tiger Woods has broken the home of his two children. Home may not be the exact word, but it stands for what I intend. It stands for the combined parenting and safe haven of two parents living in the same house.

It's easy to rush in and say that Mr. Woods is "striving" to rebuild his family. But that makes no never mind, it's broken and no amount of work will make it the same. Those children will grow up in a world where their father publicly betrayed their mother. He can't take back his comments about the wife and kids being for "publicity". Those are out there forever and those children will hear them one day.

There is enough money and extended family floating around that, whatever happens, the children will have a safe place to live and a loving environment. But that can not replace what has been taken away. No matter how the future plays out, the home those children were born into is gone forever.

I'm not saying that the children won't be just fine. They will grow and survive. But something is broken now and will never be the same.

I believe that is true not only for the Wood's children but for any child who grows up in a non-traditional home. I'm not saying non-traditional homes aren't fabulous, loving places to be. What I'm saying is that when a person grows up without the traditional family of television and advertising legend, they will always have a case to wonder what it would have been like to sample the "conventional" life.

I do.

My parents divorced when I was 9. My father, like Tiger Woods, had an impulse control issue. He wounded my mother so deeply, she never fully recovered. When he took off for new pastures, he considered "child support" a punishment ploy by my mother so he never paid it. He never thought twice that "child support" was meant for my upkeep. Mom and I lost our home and we moved three states away to live with family. I left a neighborhood full of friends and a school where I was active in after school activities. I ended up in a third rate school where you were shook down by the bullies in the bathroom. Mom worked full time doing shift work at a hospital and there was no more time for school activities. My step parents entered the picture and suddenly I went from being a child in the family to being an inconvenient "leftover" from a time gone by. I spent the rest of my childhood and teenage years as the "inconvenience" all the way around. To my mother's family I looked like my father. To my father's family I looked like my mother. Like Cinderella I wound up in an unheated attic room. I watched my cousins get handed cars and college on a silver platter. I watched me get the "we have to be tough on you or you'll turn out like your father" treatment. I worked for every penny. I made my own opportunities without parental help.

I grew up. I'm not an axe murderer. I hold down a tech job. I own my own house. But "my" family was "broken" by my father's actions. He didn't think twice before he did anything. He was a handsome man with a winsome smile and he took whatever was tossed his way. It wasn't "sex addiction", it was his choice. He did what he did because he could.

I can almost hear the pundits saying "he was just a man" or "you have to forgive". Both hackneyed platitudes are mute. He wasn't expected to hold up a collapsing train trestle, he was expected to keep his penis in his pants. Forgiveness can't undo the damage. He and I did the forgiveness dance before he died. But it still didn't bring back "my" family. That family was forever broken, destroyed. That part of my life was snatched out of my hands. That pain never stops.

There are good days and bad days. There are good years and bad years. But there are still times that are much harder than they need to be. There are moments,opportunities, and people that aren't there that should be.

Whether is it Christmas Day or the 17th of August, the damage remains.

In the movie "Damage" the character of Anna Barton warns her lover, "Damaged people are dangerous, they know they can survive." Hunter Thompson said that the only one's who knew where the edge was were the one's who'd been over it. My thoughts are much simpler, "You are never the same."

This year everything has been broken again. I've lost a close friend, an aunt, and my mother. I've been cut loose in the world with complete freedom. I can quit my job and live under a bridge. I can move to Paris. I can run away and live as a boat rat, crewing on boats up and down the East Coast. Nothing is left to constrain me but a mortgage and a car payment. I've unwillingly purchased this wanton freedom with cascades of loss.

All the broken-ness has a permanent sorrow that brushes constantly in the folds of my life. The breaking away of family, friends, and my ties to the past has left me standing outside of convention. Loss purchased me a new perspective.

Unwillingly I've paid for this new place in life. It is a new start, new way of being, and a new direction. This is the place to pick up the clay and sculpt something new. This is the time to take the passport out of the drawer and go somewhere else. This is where the living starts all over again. I will find a new way and continue.

But nowhere that I go and nothing that I do will ever smooth over the seams of what has been broken. It will never completely take away the pain. It will never stop those quiet moments when I stop and wonder "What if?".

In tarot Death represents the falling away of the past and the birth of new beginnings.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Party Up!

Party like your panties are showin'!

Could this be a fuzzy photo of Justine beltin' out a torch song classic from the great American songbook? Is she wailing a Mercer tune about bittersweet experience? Has she gathered together her cronies for a nursing home gig? Is she playing a liquor store opening?


Those fabulous legs belong to our elusive "Vince Noir". He and the rest of the Mighty Boosh are wailing away in drag at the Christmas lights kickoff at a Stella McCartney fashion store! These pics are from NoelFielding.ORG

Vince looking very "broken blossoms" and Howard looking like a "grey panther".

Vince Noir shows why it is always critical to wear panties under your pantyhose!

The weekend looms large. In a few moments I will take flight for freedom. This weekend Love Monkey is coming for a visit. We've already scheduled a run to the club store to pick up 160 lbs of cat litter for the feline herd he takes care of. Don't know what else is in store. It's supposed to sleet and snow Saturday night so it may be a nice lazy weekend in front of the telly!

Thanks to all who wished me a "Happy Birthday". It brightened my day! :)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Big Ole Bowl of Lurid Green Goodness!
Yesterday with my birthday. It wasn't one of those milestone birthdays where your friends put up mock tombstones around your desk. But let's face it.....every birthday is a milestone.

This was my first birthday without my mom. I did a lot of crying. My family has thinned out so much since my last birthday that I'm feeling like the last member of the squadron still flying back to base.

Instead of a birthday cake, I usually have pie. I had all the fixin's to make a pecan pie or a cherry pie but I wasn't in the mood to "pie it up". Instead I rumbled around in the kitchen cabinets and found the fixins for a bowl of "Watergate Salad".

Why the Jello corporation ever named anything after "Watergate" I'll never know. But they still put the recipe on the box of Pistachio pudding and it's still as yummy as it was on the buffet tables of old. Crushed pineapple, Cool Whip, pecans, pistachio pudding, and mini marshmallows, how can you not be fascinated by its sweet, gooey, mystery?

I just didn't realize it made so much! I have a bucket-o-goo in the fridge that will last well into the weekend.

Next time I make it, I'll have to have the camera handy to capture the psychedelic shades of green the pudding mix turns when it hits the pineapple juice.

Nummy. I put extra pecans in mine. Next time I think I'm going to throw in some coconut too.

Slurp, slurp.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Spirit of Christmas Present?

This pic perfectly reflects my feelings about Christmas this year!

Yes I've gone back to posting lovely piccies of "Vince Noir" from NoelFielding.Org

It's a Monday with extra bummer on top and I wanted a little blue eyed magic to pep up the page.

Christmas and I are estranged this year. It's not trying to rip my throat out, like most years. This year it is keeping a respectful distance and letting me make up my mind on my own.

This week will be my first birthday without my mom. She was the only one who shared the experience with me. It's like our partnership was broken up. Odd, but that's the best way I can explain it.

My buddy who was supposed to come and stay with me for Christmas had a nervous breakdown hissey fit. We are now estranged. That's the best I can say about it.

The company I worked for announced today that we will be getting Christmas Eve off. This means I now have time to travel to "Love Monkey Central' for the holiday. Conveniently they've just built a new Hampton Inn across the street from the familial gathering so I will be able to find a space at the "Inn" and party with the gang.

Christmas is doing its dance and letting me find my own way. Now that the family is gone it's time to find new ways and new traditions.

I'm finishing up the last of the estate proceedings. I'm setting up my own will, durable power of attorney, and advanced directive. It's sobering. It is what is.

I've layered on several more layers of color on the "Egyptian" themed shadow box. I went to take some pix and discovered the camera batteries are kaput. I should have new batteries and be able to paste some goodies in shortly. The figures I wanted to use in the shadow box turned out to be too large, so now serendipity kicks in.

Very quiet today. Last week I spent the week with an IBM tech stuck in my armpit. I'm glad for a little respite.

Jesse Cook Rhumba Foundation playing away in the background.

I've heard that OMBH has made the trip to Disney World. Woooo! Hoo! (I want to go next year. I also want to go to Vegas next year. I'll have to do something to get some leave to do it.)

I'm looking forward to seeing pix and hearing about the Christmas Version of the Haunted Mansion and the Johnny Depp-ized version of Pirates of the Caribbean!

Oh the goodies front Tim Holtz has been posting 12 new crafty techniques tags to his blog. Each day is one of his 12 Days of Christmas celebration. Leave a comment and win prizes. Learn new techniques every day. Very cool!

Time to dash and do a bit of shopping. I'll leave you with a very cuddly pic.

Thursday, December 03, 2009
Lack Of Great Expectations

I used to dream of driving a Ferrari. Looking at the ripe contours of a Pininfarina body on the glossy paper of a car magazine would ripple me with excitement.

Today I'm dreaming about owning a car that isn't in the shop every three weeks.

Some people may say that they are both the same thing, a Ferrari and a sad love affair with the mechanic. I will quibble on that point. A Ferrari is tangibly beautiful and palpably erotic. (At least to many.) Even with jumper cables sticking out it is still mouth wateringly sumptuous.

A dead Cadillac in the driveway on a Saturday morning is just bone ugly. It's square, mean jawed, and a bitter disappointment. Ferrari's are built to be playthings and lovers. Cadillac CTS's are built to be transportation. No matter how comfortable the leather seats or pretigous the Cadillac badge, when the Caddy can't provide basic transport it is a violently discouraging piece of shit.

Shit is the nicest thing I've had to say about my Cadillac in quite some time.

Since my Ford decided to "nigh on come aflame" last Christmas Eve, my life has become car hell.

Starring center stage is America's premiere old time luxe badge. Cadillac is wedged in the American lexicon for "top of the line". When I went rambling through cars in the bitter cold last January with tuppence in my pocket and no budget for a huge car payment I had no idea I would end up with a luxe badge car.

The mystique of Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi have kept their used car price between "are you crazy" and "assinine". A used was almost as much as a new.

I didn't want another apple out of the highly flamable Ford barrell.

I'm over 30 and I commute in heavy traffic so a knee cruncher wasn't very appealing.

I had watched Top Gear and saw Jeremy Clarkson cavorting in a CTS-V. His grudging approval of a fun drive was the only reason I even test drove a regular CTS.

The CTS fit in my price range, it was an automatic, I could shuttle my 82 year old mom around in it, and it was comfy enough to sit in for 90 minutes a day. I loved the handling, the quiet, the power.

I did everything right. I checked the Car Fax. The only thing I didn't do was consult a shaman and have the thing exorcised on its first day in my drive.

That was my mistake. The second day out it shanked a wheel bearing. A week later, water started pouring out of the trunk lid. The gas cap flunked the state mandated pollution test. This car has broken down and been in the shop more than almost any car I've owned. (The only one worse was the Mitsubishi that snapped a factory defective timing belt at 4400 miles. This also takes into account the Honda that caught fire and the Ford that started smoking without tobacco products.)

The Caddy was under original warranty when I bought it. When that expired I floated enough pennies to buy the extended warranty. The extended warranty has now paid for itself. Even with the warranty I shelled out more than three hundred bucks for repairs in the last month.

Santa Claus had to finance this year's mission with three tin piggy banks full of pocket change. He's flying lean this year. There are some nice things in the sack for my Love Monkey and my best buds. I won't be getting that new set of noise cancelling headphones for work. I believe insanity claws will be bringing me a cover for my stand mixer and a new cup holder for my craft table. There are a few crafty books that will be arriving for my birthday next week.

The holidays are new and strange this year. This is my first birthday without my mom. I won't be able to call her up and say "Thanks for having me." It seems some bond has been broken. One of my cosmic understandings wrenched loose and now I'm the one standing alone. I'm the next one up to fall into the abyss.

I sit with my low budget Christmas shopping and unreliable car and look at my life as a spiral from Great Expectations to phenominal disappointment.

That begs the question, "Well what did you expect?"

I'll keep the non-award winning answer to myself but suffice it to say that it wasn't what is. Somehow I thought there'd be more. I can't even say "more" what, just more. Truthfully I've got quite a lot.

I work indoors. I live indoors, I have plenty of food. I'm not in pain. I have eyeglasses and good dental work. I have clothes for every day of the week, several pairs of shoes, and a good coat. I live in a sound brick house that does not contain any abusive family members.

For a live human being, I've got the better chunk of Maslov's hierarchy nailed down. When you climb up to the "family" and "self-actualization" portion of the scheme things fall apart a bit.