Thursday, February 28, 2013

Define "Normal."

Well, I was going to blog today, but I ate too much Thai food instead.

In unrelated news, I dropped my hairbrush in the toilet this morning.  But hey, at least it wasn't my toothbrush.  The comb I use for backup probably wouldn't have worked as well on my teeth.

(True:  My coworker, who says she does not find puns funny, just responded to, "Are you quoting an Audi dealership?" with, "No, but I Audi be."  This was promptly followed by another coworker asking if anyone had an Audi.  The response?  "No, my belly button's an innie."  God, I love my office.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You don't get it, and that makes it funnier. Because I am smart and a terrible human being.

Apparently, I have a somewhat, and occasionally, dry sense of humor.  This causes a fair bit of confusion for the people around me.

Some years ago, while prepping for an estate sale at my grandparents' house, one of the auctioneers showed me a large metal hoop and asked me if I knew what it was.

"Of course," I replied.  "It's clearly a thing."

She thought I couldn't think of the word and felt sorry for me.

And while most of the time I'm pretty excitable and freely use hyperbole to add color to my tales, sometimes the dry side of me kicks in and I employ a litotes (the opposite of hyperbole) or two.  This underwhelming technique still manages to go over a lot of heads.

So when a friend surprised me with beer and a movie I really wanted to see, my response was, "Oh, hey.  That's kind of cool, I guess."

Basically, my sense of humor makes people uncomfortable.

This makes my sense of humor better than yours.


(True:  I also really like puns.  Here's my favorite joke:  Two fish are in a tank.  The one on the left goes, "How do I drive this thing?"  People laugh every time.  They can't help it.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mad Motor Skillz, Yo. I've Got Them.

While bowling this weekend with friends, we got to talking about how in the US, we count on our fingers starting with our index finger, while in Europe, they start with their thumb.  It was just a curious, one-off observation until C tried to demonstrate the number four, European-style.

I am twenty-mumblemumble years old, and I should probably not find someone not being able to move their ring and pinkie fingers independently as funny as I do.

I my defence, he looked like a velociraptor, and velociraptors are always funny.  They are even funnier when they try to redeem themselves by doing a Vulcan salute (i.e., a Spock hand).  (I had no redeeming to do.  Not only can I fold my pinkie down solo, I can also snap my fingers on one hand in the shape of a triangle while simultaneously snapping the shape of an L with my other hand.  With a high-demand talent like that, it's a shock I'm not filthy rich.)

Also, I discovered that some people are totally incapable of not checking out a fellow bowler's butt.

I am not one of those people.

After bowling (and barbecue!  Sweet, sweet barbecue...), we hit downtown for drinks and karaoke.  It's been a while since I've been to a bar in a college town.  So it was something of a revelation to get hit on by a guy calling himself "Rhino" who opened with, "How old are you?  Are you way too old for me?" 

(True:  Try moving your right foot in a clockwise circle.  Now draw a six in the air.  Your foot just changed direction and also you look very silly.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The More You Know

I try to learn something new every day.  I find it keeps my mind open and sharp.

Today I learned that a can of Mountain Dew that is mostly slush can still explode if you drop it--it's just a slow-motion explosion that lasts about ten minutes.

My life will be much richer for this information.  And my desk much stickier.

(Want to know how to traumatize me at 8:07 in the morning?  Give me a can of soda--sweet, sweet caffeine--that is puking like a slushie volcano.  And that's probably the most mixed metaphor I've ever conceieved.  You're welcome.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Read This! The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

I didn't read a lot of young adult fiction when I was a kid.  I kind of skipped straight from Goosebumps and Choose Your Own Adventure straight to proper novels meant for adults (a lot of fantasy, also some improper romance novels I sneaked from my Nana, who had one of those book club memberships).

Nevertheless, the school book fair was always one of the most exciting days of the year.  It wasn't like the Scholastic book club pamphlets we got every month--those just had books designed for my age group.  Boring.  The book fair had books for teenagers, and while ninety percent of them were in the Sweet Valley High type of genre (by which I mean, romantic word vomit), once in a while I'd come across a book that piqued my interest.

Calling on Dragons was just such a book.  It was the third in the series, and try as I might, I couldn't find the other books in the series that day.  But the idea of a fairy-tale princess who takes herself out of the fairy tale intrigued me enough that I bought it anyway--and I was one tight-fisted little kid.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles remains one of my favorite YA series to this day--one of the best things about fantasy novels is that the well-written ones never feel dated.

Dealing with Dragons begins the saga--we meet Princess Cimorene (one of my favorite heroines ever, and pretty much who I want to be when I grow up.  That or Betty White.), who doesn't like being told that proper princesses don't fence or learn magic or cook cherries jubilee.  So she runs away to volunteer captive for the dragon Kazul.  There, she cooks, cleans, practices her Latin, and kicks some evil wizard butt--all while sending well-meaning princes off to rescue other princesses.  (Something about a second-hand prince is just too perfect.)

In Searching for Dragons, Cimorene meets King Mendenbar, and that kicks off two books of twisted fairytale fun (wait till you meet Rapunzel...) and the kind of grand romance that doesn't make you want to gag or chuck the book across the room.

Finally, in Talking with Dragons (or maybe first, because the last book in the series was actually the first published), the adventures continue with Daystar, Cimorene and Mendenbar's son.

Oh!  And if you read this series, make sure you get your hands on Book of Enchantments, which includes the short story "Utensile Strength," in which our favorite family encounter the Frying Pan of Doom.  (This was a thing before the new Rapunzel movie.  Seriously.  Check out the publication dates.)

And you don't have to take my word for it that this series is one of the best:  It made NPR's list of 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.  (Just ignore the Twilight series, and the list is a very good one.  Should I be embarrassed that I've read well over half the books on that list?)

(True:  I reread Dealing with Dragons last night.  Guess what I'm doing the rest of the week?)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Love, Love, Love (and Training)

Prada's biggest hurdle in her training and body confidence development at this point is, unfortunately, me.  I worry that she'll hurt herself or that she won't be able to handle something, so I take steps to make it "easier" for her, or she doesn't have to handle it at all.

I've been working for some months on training Prada to use a small set of stairs to get onto the couch.  She's been making slow improvements--she won't climb up them herself, but if I put her on the first step, she'll continue up herself.  Then, when I didn't want her on the couch, I'd just move the steps away.

But I was going about it backwards.  I was trying to coax her up on my terms instead of letting her desire to be up on the couch with me be her motivation.  So, earlier this week, when I had someone over for a movie, and I left Prada on the floor (she's notoriously wiggly when I have company) with the steps moved away, she took matters into her own, well, feet.

The stairs weren't near.  She wanted up.  So, she just hopped up.

It was clearly not physically taxing--something I should have realized, since her body has adjusted to her altered mobility such that her haunches and abdomen are really muscular.  She didn't hurt herself.  By putting the stairs up, I was just taking up the space on the couch she would have used to jump up.  The problem wasn't her body confidence, it was my lack of confidence in her.  The problem was my love for her made me want to protect her from anything that could hurt her. 

So, for Valentine's day, I'm giving Prada a vow to do my best not to let my protective nature and love for her hold her back from making more hops in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's Pretty Much the Greatest Thing Ever.

No, I'm not talking about mac and cheese.  This time.

I'm talking about When Curiosity Met Insanity.  It's a web comic, and it's slowly (but surely!)  telling the love story of grown-up Alice and the Mad-Hatter, Disney-style.  Yep, it sounds absurd.  But it's crazy-awesome-absurd.


Now, imagine that Disneyland is the actual magical place where Disney movie character live.  Got it?  Good.  Now add a bunch of different characters from the animated movies, including a bumbling and sweet (not to mention kooky) Hatter, and a sassy Alice.  Oh, yeah, and excellent storytelling and artistry.

I have a lot of Internet obsessions, but this is one I've stuck with the longest.  Unfortunately, the extremely talented artists/creators don't update nearly as often as I'd like, but just when you think it's over, they really have abandoned the project--boom!  New chapter!  And life is amazing and I snortlaugh and check the blog compulsively every day until I realize I'm going to have to wait some more.

BUT, that being said, even for someone who isn't the biggest Disney fan out there, this is something special, and well worth the waiting.

You can find all the chapters here.

(True:  I would love for you to tell me what other Internet treasures I'm missing.  Because I don't piss away nearly enough of my life in front of my laptop as is.  No, seriously--tell me.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

If You've Ruined My French Fries, I Will Never Forgive You


Someone found my blog for searching for the "consummation of potatoes in 2013."

I don't think I've ever hoped so fervently that a word did not mean what someone thought it meant.  Or is this a thing?  Like furries, but with root vegetables?

And how did that search phrase bring them here?!

Clearly, my blog has a niche readership.

I worry about you people sometimes.


(True:  I am trying really hard to not judge you right now.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Winter Tips

It's February in Chicago, and it's finally winter.  The colder months bring with them new concerns for your pet, so here are some tips to get you through:

  • The rock salt used on sidewalks and roads has a lot of chemicals in it that are really hard on your pet's feet.  Boots or paw wax can provide a barrier between those more-sensitive-than-they-look footpads and the salt, or you can use a warm, damp washcloth to wipe off your pet's footpads after a walk.  You may also consider using pet friendly salt on your own property.

  • Just because your dog has a fur coat, doesn't mean she doesn't get cold.  If you're leaving your dog in the car, make sure your dog is going to stay warm enough--with a coat or a blanket to cuddle up in, whatever.  If it's particularly cold and you can't leave your dog at home, a warm (not too hot) water bottle under a blanket is a good option--as long as she isn't a chewer.

  • If your dog is a hardy outdoor type, make sure you're aware of how cold is too cold for her, and have a backup place they can hang out when the temperature dips dramatically.

  • Even if your dog isn't the hardy outdoor type (especially if she isn't), you might consider taking a couple more short walks instead of one or two longer ones.  (And maybe, if she's on the really short side, bring a shovel to clear a potty spot off.  For some dogs, this can be the difference between a dog asking to go out and having an accident.  Yes, I did have that dog.)

  • Older dogs and those with altered mobility can stiffen up in the cold, too.  Put on a movie and loosen up tight muscles with a bit of massage.  (Feel for the spots on your dog's body that are warmer.)  Massage is relaxing for both of you, and a great bonding experience.

With few exceptions, if you're cold and miserable, your dog is, too.  Hopefully, these tips will help you minimize the misery, so you can maximize the fun stuff (you know, snuffling snow and chasing snowballs).  Just, you know, avoid the yellow bits.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Love You This Much. Take It or Leave It.

I'm not big on Valentine's Day.  I suppose there is nothing inherently wrong with a day when couples are required to be nice to each other, but it really doesn't do anything for me.  Mostly, it just seems like a lot of work.

In grade school, I had to spend, like, minutes filling in the "To" and "From" bits on my valentines, and that was when no one expected anything more than a posterboard 2" by 3" card with some Disney character on it.  Now, judging by Pinterest alone since I don't have kids, it looks like the Martha Stewart industry has started a competition to see how over-the-top kids' valentines can be.  If it doesn't have candies, live animals, or lasers, it just doesn't make the cut and you suck as a parent.  So, you know, no pressure.

As an adult, there's the live-long conundrum of:  spend a lot of money on cliche crap, or feel like a loser because you have no awesome photos to make your Facebook friends jealous.

BUT, I do feel some pressure to do some "holiday" something, and I want to be proactive about it.

So instead of asking my friends to "be mine," I'm just going write "MINE" on their foreheads.  With a Sharpie.


Though if I were to give out valentines, I'd probably choose one of these.

(True:  I never wear colors associated with a holiday, because I'm contrary that way.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

The First Person to Make a Sandwich Joke Is Going to Get a Knuckle Sandwich Instead.

I'm not the best in the kitchen, and sometimes it seems the world intends to keep it that way.  Even if you disregard the multiple kitchen fires I swear I didn't mean to set, there's the fact that when I had someone over for dinner this weekend, the wiring to my kitchen light went out.  Because nothing is as fun as cooking* in the dark.

And then, later, I slapped some sauce and shredded cheese on a store-bought crust and called it a home-made pizza and felt all proud of myself until I started catching up on Geekologie and saw this:

It's an octopizza, and it's just not fair.

(True:  But I do make a mean chicken pot pie.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Prepare to Squee

Okay, guys, I have to apologize.  I was going to do a proper blog post today, but I ate too much macaroni and cheese instead.

So here is a comic to distract you from the sense of loss I'm sure you're feeling right now:

(You'll have to go to the link to embiggen, sorry.)  Thanks go to my friend Marcin for sending this to me!

(True:  The words "I really want to see warm bodies" may have just come out of my mouth, but I meant the movie Warm Bodies, with no implications that the bodies I normally see are cold.  Or that I see any bodies.  Crap.  There's really just no way to turn that around, is there?  On the plus side, at least my co-workers think I am a harmless sort of strange.)