Thursday, December 30, 2010

My year in review:

Can kind of be summed up by this Mike Keefe comic strip.

I'm not saying that it's been a bad year. There has been a lot of self-discovery, love, growth, adventures and whatnot. However, I haven't done anything to really shape my future, blaming a poor economy rather than going out and getting my hands dirty. Well guys, break time is over.

Watch out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Know what's cool?

newsmap is cool. It's a visualization of Google News, organized by category, popularity and time.  Scroll over a story to see a quick blurb, click on it to read the whole article in a new tab. You can customize your map; I usually opt out of Health and Entertainment news, and below I have both US and Brazilian stories on display.

Go enjoy the news again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For Updates on Lance...

.. please visit Live the Lion blog. It's updated almost daily by Lance's sister Chelcee.

Facebook Lights up the World posted a map of the world based on Facebook relationships:

Click for full size
They pointed out that Russia, China and Brazil are still mostly using other social networking sites, which I found to be interesting. With India, those are the countries considered to be the next big economies and political powers. Should we work harder to integrate them into our casual relationships?

(Also, the darkest parts of Brazil represent relatively low-populated areas of the Amazon, so I'm not sure how much weight to give their analysis.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prayers for Lance

This holiday weekend, my friend Lance O'Cull was hit head-on while driving home from seeing his family.  He is currently in serious condition at the University of Kentucky hospital.

This is Lance:
Even Lance has no idea what he was doing in this picture.
He's a bit of a joker. He goes on adventures, but he talks about them as if anyone could go hiking around foreign countries and sleep on the roof of an abandon building. He's one of the most entertaining people you'll talk to, if you can manage to keep up. He can't lie to save his life. He was really inspired by the Italian graffiti "It's better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb."

Lance is one of the people I grew pretty close with after graduating from our Masters program. He was my knight in shining armor one night when a snake got into my apartment, even though his fear of snakes was only marginally less than my own. He went through a period of serious introspection this fall and finally seems to have a plan for what he wants to do next. Or rather, what he can do, because what he wants to do is everything. His biggest struggle seems to always be that he wasn't doing enough, or that which he could do wouldn't make a big enough difference. 

This is one of those situations of horrible things happening to really good people. His whole family is incredibly sweet; they are extremely close too. At this point, I doubt that they have 5 hours of sleep among ten of them. There isn't much that anyone can do, physically do, for him or them other than pray, bring coffee and wait.

So we wait. And drink coffee. And pray.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Silver Linings Everywhere

I'm currently adrift without a paddle (an anchor? hope?) in the Code of Federal Regulations for Telecommunications (47 CFR). Sounds pretty horrible right? That's what I thought too, until I noticed the "Document Language" pull-down menu which will automatically translate any page of federal code into Esperanto (or Spanish or whatever). The best part? It is displayed side by side.

Teach yourself a language! Let the Code of Federal Regulations assist you today!

47 CFR 1.2110 - Designated entities. - Code of Federal Regulations - Title 47: Telecommunication - Subpart Q: Competitive bidding proceedings - vLex

Here is something a little frightening for the job seeker:

The "rating" is out of 100. 

Suddenly, retail never looked so good.

Only in Iowa:

Stalking the Wild Breaded Pork Tenderloin

Again, sharing the beautiful things. Many thanks to whatsnextdave.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Government has been busy today...

I love when one day is the deadline for many applications because my inbox fills with notices:

And when my inbox is full (without the help of spam), I am happy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Simon Haynes's NaNoWriMo advice

This Haynes guy is a writer who has also created some (free!) software. He has a pretty informative website.  Here is his NaNoWriMo advice. I like the idea of giving myself a carrot of some sort to work toward. Maybe something from the Wishlist? (I'm thinking the salt block, but maybe a Kindle.)

He's also posted some easy recipes. I think I want to try Tomatoes on Toast:

Tomatoes - one or two per person, depending on size. (Of the person AND the tomatoes.)
Olive oil
Salt, ground pepper
Dried or fresh basil


Sling some bread in the toaster.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the hard green bit.
Drop them into a coffee mug, add a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and sprinkle with basil.
Microwave for a couple of minutes or so.
Using a fork, mash the cooked tomato in the cup.
Put the toast on a plate, and spoon the tomato mess all over it.

Optional ... sprinkle with grated cheese.

Day. Eight.

Our good-intentioned officer is caught in a bind. Our lady, less so:

Disco Ergo Sum

My friend pointed out that I hadn't updated my Disco Ego Sum blog recently, but the only thing that I am learning on a daily basis these days is that people really suck sometimes and anyone who wants to can make awesome mustard using the following recipe:

1 cup cider vinegar (maybe less)
1/2 cup dry mustard
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced (maybe more)
2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish, drained
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon packed light-brown sugar

I used yellow mustard powder and seeds, but will probably mix it up in the next batch. I also skipped the food processor step, but will likely grind up some seeds with a coffee tamper and a ceramic bowl.

Direcciones: In large jar, combine all ingredients and shake well. Cover and refrigerate 48 hours. In food processor, process mixture until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide among a few sterilized mason jars. Seal jars and store in cool, dark place for 2 weeks before opening. (Mustard can be eaten immediately, but flavors will not have had a chance to meld.)

Tasty with Tuna.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day seven. Roughly 2000 words behind.

This is when spelling beings to go to shit. The plot is still holding though.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 6.

Tonight I had too much coffee, but I got 1707 words written (to finish on time I should be averaging 1667 words a day).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day Five of NaNoWriMo

Hey guys! I'm famous! Well, I'm quoted in an article about NaNoWriMo in Ace Weekly (which was up earlier and is gone).

Today's writing includes a guessing game for our lead, who now has a name (can you see it?):

Updated: Ace Weekly article here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day Three

I left my computer at work, so here is a link to today's Wordle:
Wordle: day 3

This story is making my hungry today.

Also, I need a name for my female lead. Up to this point, she's only known as "she" or "the body."

Scary Swimming Drill

I've been trying to swim more recently, if only to prevent drowning the next time I'm near an ocean. One of the most difficult parts of swimming is running out of air, so I've been doing the sidekick drill to help me get the hang of timing my breathing without sinking at the same time. The next drill will be the Shark Fin Drill Drill, which also helps with balance. What I like about this instruction page is the third step:

Pause when your hand reaches the bottom of your rib cage. Now your elbow is sticking in the air at an acute angle like a shark fin. Take a moment to enjoy how scary you probably look before “zipping” back down, sliding your hand back to your hip.
Awesome. Can't wait to give it a try. Watch out though, I'll be pretty scary.

Day Two of NaNoWriMo

I feel like I'm starting to get to know a bit more about my characters. One of them really likes baked goods.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I'm taking part in my second National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and this year I hope to finish. Everyday I will post a Wordle of that day's effort. Hopefully they will all exceed the 150 word limit. Here is Day One:

Click to see all big n'stuff. 
I think it's a mystery, but I imagine it will end up a satire. Or something. It's hard not to work on this at work, but thinking about it without writing it down helps to organize my thoughts for later.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good News Form Letter (redacted)

In three months, they will tell me that I wasn't chosen for the position, but for now: yay. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

1. Cut the top off the pumpkin. Begin separating the seeds from the goo at this point and it will save you from going back through pounds of pumpkin guts (while your roommate is throwing pumpkin shavings at you for singing Christmas music) looking for the precious seeds.
2. Empty the guts into a big pot or something. I suggest using a metal spoon and your hands.
3. Carve your pumpkin.
4. Light your pumpkin, have a beer and enjoy.

Recipe:  Wash the pumpkin seeds in a colander. Heat oven to 400°F. Boil 3-ish cups of water with about 2 tbsp. salt. Add pumpkin seeds and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain seeds in colander and toss with soy sauce and garlic salt. Spread olive oil onto baking sheet and spread seeds in a single layer on top. Dust seeds with any of the following: wasabi powder, paprika, Himalayan sea salt, cinnamon, or more garlic salt. (I wouldn't recommend using all of these spices on the same seeds, but more power to you.) Bake seeds on the top rack for 10-20 minutes, or after about 12 minutes go turn the oven off and go to bed and hope for the best.

I feel like I should put a disclaimer here: I'm not responsible for untasty pumpkin seeds. Only use the oven under adult supervision. Oh, and knives, too. And wasabi powder, that stuff is nuts. Based on experience, wash your hands before rubbing your eyes after using it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dig the Skinny

My brother in law is a) awesome, b) doing great things, and c) famous.

Check it: The New Music Biz

Source: Time

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mixing Drinks: Not for the Faint of Heart

I'm a bit sleepy at work, and there is only so much coffee I can drink in one sitting. It was time to call in the big guns. One thing, though: I don't like the taste of energy drinks without a healthy amount of vodka included. So to counter the taste, I mixed NOS High Performance Energy Drink with my Berry Rain Gatorade. The result is a puke yellow liquid that mostly just tastes like a Pixie Stick. I'd better be bouncing off the walls soon.

This does not fully capture the icky color. 

Stephen Fry is lovely

I truly enjoy this argument about the beauty of language. It's a living art, loves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Damn" and "Very"

I take the same stance on the word "very" that my favorite English professor did. I was fortunate to have Dr. Thomas A. Werge for my CORE class, which was (rather unfortunately) required of every Arts & Letters student. While he is an expert on Thomas Shepard, Melville, Simone Weil, T. S. Eliot, Sigrid Undset, and Dante, he has a special fondness for Mark Twain.

It should be noted, I suppose, that I don't have an editor.

Dear Internet Cosmos

It was reported this week that there were over 2 billion internet users this year. That's about one third the Earth's population. So, to all 2 billion of you: hi! Thank you for being the abyss into which I can empty my thoughts, the ocean where I throw these messages in blog-shaped-bottles. You make me feel damn small, but that isn't a horrible thing.

Kathleen Kelly said it well in You've Got Mail:
Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void.
Goodnight, dear void.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I arrived home on Sunday night from a long, tiring drive to find these on my bed:

proving once again I have the best roommate on Earth.  This is especially true because this gift came even after I gave her a Shake Weight.

Update: the Shake Weight is surprisingly intense to use, and absolutely impossible to use without giggling madly.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One of the poems from 2003

"Found Apology"
Plaid not draw to scale
I am deeply sorry if my actions
have offended you in any way.
I realize now
passing notes is childish.
I take the blame for Joe and my actions
because I was the one who started.
It was for the love of Joe
that I began our conversation.
Turns our he likes me too.
This would probably be
more forgivable
if we hadn't insulted
your plaid blazer.
It won't happen again.

Friday, October 15, 2010


My sister doesn't know it, but she's my best friend.

What's even crazier? I didn't know it either.

In 2003, I was in a creative writing class. Reading through the onslaught of horrible poetry (oh noetry!) and short stories, I'm noticing how present my sister was, how much I depended on her even while fearing, rejecting, loving and being jealous of her. I will save you from the failed attempts at written art, but even where she isn't mentioned I can tell that I built my strongest characters with her in mind.

I think we've always been BFFs, but neither of us knew what friends were. They aren't just people to gossip with, or someone you take to the mall with you. They are the ones who know within seconds how you are, and what they can do to help. They are the first call when you are in trouble, but at the same time are the last place you can go for help. They get to be honest with you, even when you can't really handle it. They are the first ones to hear your best news and the last ones to judge you for it.

What does this mean for my roommate/best friend? She might be another awesome sister, but just doesn't know it yet...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blueberry Muffin Uprising.

I haven't really craved a blueberry muffin in the last 17 years. I think it's because so many places serve pastries that are baked and frozen elsewhere and then shipped, defrosted and sold to customers. For the last 17 years I've been served nothing but soggy muffins. Now I want a decent muffin.

It's time for a change, America. It's time that the consumers of baked goods come together and put our foot down. No longer will we suffer soggy muffins. No longer will we stand for just eating the top and discarding the bottom. We demand tastiness. We demand a slight crust and a slightly spongy interior. 

We will probably resort to baking our own. 

How Does Your Love Song Go?

Here is a cute ad for

It got me thinking, what would I sing? It's appropriate for a dating site where you only get 100 words, or 500 characters,  or whatever, to define yourself. What would you say?

I challenge you to rewrite this tune about yourself. I'll do one too. Use both verses: the first can focus on one aspect, with details; the next verse should be three separate items. Try to keep it positive.

Here's the line breakdown:

5 syllables  (I like old movies)
5 syllables  (Like Godfather III)
8 syllables  (It's not considered the best one)
But that's just me.

6 syllables  (I'm somewhat impulsive)
5 syllables  (I laugh in my sleep)
8 syllables  (I don't wear make up on weekends)
But that's just me

Source: Metal Potential 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Resisting Snark

While updating my applicant profile at the website, I noticed they've added a field:

Obviously this is to provide potential employers with a better sense of who I am and what I'm looking to do, but it takes everything I am not to fill it in with one of the following:

  • Queen of Everything Alot
  • Secretary of State
  • World Domination
  • actually using my Diplomacy and International Commerce Master's degree to do some good.
  • wearing flip flops everyday.
  • Iron Chef
  • public diplomacy position 
  • international trade officer within an intergovernmental agency 
  • creating the perfect spicy mustard 

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Pony Diet

Pink Dress ftw
On Saturday my roommate and I came to terms with how little we've been working out recently. With the combination of me attending a wedding this coming weekend and Halloween quickly approaching, Roomie suggested we implement the Pony Diet. (She wants to be a My Little Pony for Halloween. A svelte My Little Pony.) I'm pretty excited to wear my pink dress to the wedding.

The Pony Diet: 
Green vegetables

Roomie  +  The Pony Diet  =  Svelte Little Pony! 
You see, we want to be svelte, but not at the sacrifice of our alcohol tolerance (nobody likes a sloppy pony). Plus our fridge is stocked with beer and salad dressing, so this was also a question of logistics.

I wake up on Sunday and promptly suggest we go get donuts. Only due to incredible will power (and withering looks from the Roomie) did I relent and go with her to purchase salad-making stuff and frozen baby brussels sprouts.

Later in the evening, my roommate wandered into the kitchen as I was preparing my brussels sprouts and suggested that maybe I was missing the point of a diet.

Everything is better with butter!

But I don't know what she's talking about. 

Semi-magical creatures

Somedays I sit back and take comfort that narwhals exist.

I'm an aquatic unicorn!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mixing foods

I have never been one to mix foods. You give my roommate any combination of peanut butter and chocolate and she's as happy as Allie Brosh with a piece of chicken skin.
equals happiness... for some
Don't get me wrong, I like peanut butter, and I love chocolate, but I don't see why you would combine them when they are so tasty separately. Sure, put peanut butter on bread, the bread isn't bringing much taste to the game.  Plus they are different textures, but not so different as to present a pleasent contrast, like either food and fruit.

Peanut butter cups aside, what I've never gotten into is sandwiches. Throwing together a bunch of cold foods with only mayonnaise to keep it all together? Call me a picky eater, but I think that's just crazy. I've tried so many times to eat a BLT, but every time I end up with toast, a salad and some (delicious) bacon. If the bread touched the tomato at any point, forget about the toast. Nothing is worse than soggy bread.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I mean, I like Putin, but not that much

Russian calendar girls in Putin birthday battle

Source: BBC News

Lost duckie

I had a friend who sent me some awesome socks. We aren't friends anymore, but I still think fondly of her when I wear these socks. Today, one of my socks lost its duckie.

I can't help but feel it's another thread breaking between us, even though the friendship has been over for nearly a year. People talk about breaking up with boyfriends and girlfriends all the time, but it's just as painful (if not sometimes worse) to cut off a friendship. Why aren't there more songs and poems?

Maybe I just need some new socks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not-as-good days

Today I was having a less-than-good day, mostly due to a lady treating me like I was something small and ignorant. Like an un-potty-trained puppy.
I'm sorry?

I told my Roommate who sent me this message:

"I have alot of like for you." 

Which made me smile because she is referencing the best kind of alot, and I bet it's fuzzy. Thanks roomie. 

© Allie Brosh, who is way cooler than I am.

The Dangerous Snooze Game

It is dangerous to snooze to National Public Radio because you pick up snippets of stories that then incorporate themselves into your dreams.

This morning I'm pretty sure that I heard that the Bering Strait had turned back into a land bridge and all the bears in Alaska were moving into Siberia and the Russians weren't happy with us.
The land bridge is apparently still a little wet. 
I was picturing a grizzly bear when I started, but that ended in failure and too much purple marker. Also I figured I'd draw Putin but kept getting lost in his eyes and pouty lips. Who knew?

So dreamy... and worried about bears.