Friday, December 31, 2004

End of the Year Meme Thing

Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't think I made any resolutions last year. I'm not bigging on making them in general.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

No, but a good friend will give birth in May.

Did anyone close to you die?

No. Thank god. But I'm fearful for the New Year.

What countries did you visit?

Puerto Rico, Barbados, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Thomas/St. John, & St. Lucia

What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

Materialistically.. a new car and/or house that we own.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting married and not killing anyone in the planning process.

What was your biggest failure?

Probably not working out as much.

What was the best thing you bought?

My iPod. Oh wait, Matt bought that for me, does it still count? I'd say our new bed.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Matt. For not killing any of my family members in the wedding planning process *winks*

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

George W. Bush. He is an evil man.

Where did most of your money go?

Groceries and wedding related like photographer, honeymoon, cake, and that sort of thing.

What did you get really excited about?

Getting married, although you wouldn't know from the video. The fact that I only slept for about 2 hours the night before was a good indication of excitement.

What song will always remind you of 2004?

Modest Mouse "Float On"

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder?

Maybe a little happier since we're spending the holiday with friends.

Thinner or fatter?

The same I believe.

Richer or poorer?


What do you wish you'd done more of?

Saved more.

What do you wish you'd done less of?

Spent less. Hmm.. a trend!

How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with all kinds of family, new and old.

Did you fall in love in 2004?

I could say something really sappy like that I fall in love every day with my husband but that's just sickening-makes-even-me-want-to-throw-up. I did fall in love with our new doggy, Buddy.

How many one-night stands?


What was your favorite TV program?

CSI. The original.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Well, since I've always hated George W. Bush I guess I can't name him.

What was the best book you read?

The Da Vinci Code.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Killers

What did you want and get?

My iPod. I know you're all sick of hearing about it!

What did you want and not get?

A new car.

What were your favorite films of this year?

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Fahrenheit 9-11 & Napoleon Dynamite. Haven't had a chance to see any of the other good ones.

What did you do on your birthday?

We went to the new casino in Salamanca, NY and had the buffet dinner. I won $170!

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?

More preppy, but casual.

What kept you sane?

My husband.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Orlando Bloom.

What political issue stirred you the most?

The total ineptness of George W. Bush. I'll always take issue with his sorry arse.

Who did you miss?

Some of my friends who live far away.

Who was the best new person you met?

Charlene, our payroll specialist at work. She has a crazy sense of humor.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:

Spend as much time as you can with the people who matter in your life. Take lots of pictures.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"Some days you feel ahead
You're making sense of what she said
Some days are better than others

Some days you hear a voice
Taking you to another place
Some days are better than others"
U2 "Some Days Are Better Than Others"

Thursday, December 30, 2004

iPod Snobbery

The practice of buying certain books to show off to your friends has translated to iPods in what has been called "iPod snobbery" (registration required).

I guess I'm not totally picky about what I put on my iPod as long as it's music I like or stuff that was already on my computer when I did the whole conversion/upload to player. That means I do have the likes of Britney Spears (oh come one, you liked "Crazy" too!), N*Sync (old school "Tearing Up My Heart"), and ABBA ("Dancing Queen" is the best!) sidling up to The Smith's "Hand In Glove, Tori Amos' "precious Things", and the Von Bondies' "C'mon, C'mon".

Of course there's a seasonal dilemma of what to do with all the Christmas music I have on there. I don't want to delete it all since I do have a playlist that I'd like to keep around for next year, but the idea of the hockey-techno keyboard songs from Barenaked For the Holidays coming up in shuffle mode in July just doesn't appeal.

A Whiff of Spring

Our temporary warm up into the 40s had my sense of smell triggering distinct memories of Spring this morning. Outdoors it felt and sounded like the milder days of Spring and I could almost believe that it was late March instead of two days before the first of January.

Scent-triggered memories evoke the biggest emotional reaction for me. My friends and family have always said I have a sharp memory for odd things. It's a blessing at times to be able to remember the past, but it's painful as well. Mostly from a nostalgia stand-point. The smell of the air reminded me briefly of my short trip to England almost ten years ago. Hazy images in my mind of an Easter day fry-up, trudging around the streets of Arundel with a nasty head cold, warm breezes off the English Channel in Brighton, and a hint of the smell of the house we home-stayed at in Worthing. Fast and fleeting.

The next major scent memory came when I opened a single serving coffee bag. I immediately thought back to making breakfast before classes in high school. I would treat myself with these single servings of coffee for breakfast instead of my customary cup of tea. I've heard it said that coffee grounds have one of the strongest scents and can even be used to cleanse your scent palate. That scent and the doughnut on my desk brought back memories of Sundays after Mass at our friend's house. My parents and I crowded around a small kitchen table with our friends and their five kids, eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. When the kids, including me, were all younger, we had to share a chair sometimes since there weren't enough seats for all our bums. As we got older, we still shared seats as a joke.

Two scents. Hours worth of memories.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Official Report

It's official. My grandmother has level 3 pancreatic cancer. She's too far along for any kind of surgery to remove the tumor, so she's going to start chemotherapy next week. I guess it's a gentler form of chemo since it's more to decrease the size of the tumor than to completely get rid of it. A quality of life issue. The doctors have also prescribed morphine for my grandma to lessen the pain which, in turn, should make it easier for her to eat.

I feel oddly calm about the whole situation. I guess after going through the whole she-has-it-or-does-she? routine for the past two months you get used to the idea that time is limited and precious. At least we were able to celebrate what might be our last Christmas with her. I'm hoping she can make it to her 77th birthday in March now. Mostly because it would be another "Take that!" to the history in her family of people dying before age 70.

Last week, my mom mentioned that if my grandma was strong enough that my parents wanted to take her on a trip to New England this summer since she really likes that area. I said that Matt and I would definitely come and that we should rent a mini-van, so that we could all be together for the trip. It's truly optimistic, but something to shoot for hopefully.

Thoughts on Disaster

The death toll keeps rising from this weekend's tsunami disaster. As it stands now, more people have died from this natural disaster than live in the city of Jamestown. That puts it into perspective pretty fast. And you'd also have to destroy the entire city too to get a true idea of what it must be like for the people that live in these countries. It's heart breaking.

On an analytical level, a nugget of information from Grade 9 Global Studies reminds me that as tragic as this event is, the population growth models in these Southeast Asian countries will replace the thousands lost in a relatively short time. Of course, what I learned back in 1991 may have totally changed. As I understand, China doesn't even enforce its "One Child Policy" as rigorously as it did in the 1980s.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Julia's Peanut Brittle

Since I've talked about it enough in the past two posts. Here is my quick and easy recipe for peanut brittle. No candy thermometer required!

Julia’s Peanut Brittle

1 cup sugar
2 cups unsalted peanuts
½ cut corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
1 tsp baking soda

Put corn syrup in 1-qt microwave safe bowl, lightly mix in sugar. Microwave for 3 minutes. Mix in peanuts using wooden spoon. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla and butter. Microwave for 1 minute 10 seconds. Quickly mix in baking soda and pour onto greased cookie sheet. Spread out using the back of a wooden spoon. Let cool and then break into pieces. Please note that cooking times will vary by microwave.

Bad Buddy!

I was blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead as I carefully tied curled ribbons around the plates of peanut brittle I had made for my co-workers. After sticking a bow in the middle of each plate, I put them in a bag and placed the bag on a chair near the door so I wouldn't forget to take it with me in the morning. A few hours later, Matt and I went out to have some pre-holiday drinks with friends that were leaving the next day to visit family.

When we returned, all seemed well. Buddy greeted us with his customary happiness. Then Matt said, "Is that a paper plate on the floor?" And thus the horror became clear. Buddy had gotten into the bag I had set on the chair, pulled out all my plates that had been wrapped with press n'seal saran wrap, and eaten ALL the peanut brittle I had packaged for my co-workers. We still haven't found one of the plates, but there were plenty of remnants stuck in between the couch cushions. I was so mad that I was beyond getting upset aside from yelling, "Bad Buddy" and pointing to the mess he left, "No!" I had a little less than half a batch left, so I ended up dividing the candy into plastic bags this morning. Buddy stayed the night in his cage.

I have to make more peanut brittle tonight. You can be sure it will be stored up high where our little guy won't be able to terrorize the peanut-y sweetness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Warming Up To The Holidays

I'm not the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday season. It's a nice time of year, but I suppose that getting older has contributed to the loss of enthusiasm for all the holiday cheer. Regardless, I wrapped presents last night and started making my multiple batches of peanut brittle. The first batch is going to my new co-workers, the next five or six batches will go to my relatives. Tomorrow is the office holiday pot luck, so I whipped up my sister-in-law's taco dip recipe. I even dropped off a present at the post office today. What's missing? The tree. No tree this year. All my poor ornaments, left to sit in their boxes in a dark closet for another year. Unless by some miracle Matt puts up the tree. It's a fake one, so time isn't of the essence here. So Happy Holiday's y'all. Enjoy it with some friends and family.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Nit-picking A Parade

After I read this letter to the editor that appeared in one of our local papers this weekend, I thought I'd copy and paste it. Sometimes you have to laugh. This is one of those laughs that comes around when reading someone's suggestions and you know they have no experience with working with live TV or any media most likely:

Several Problems With Telecast Of Holiday Parade
To the Readers’ Forum:
In regards to the downtown parade recently:
It was amongst the best that I have seen from a
local community, and I thank Jamestown for
I have a few problems with the way it was
broadcast on Time Warner channel 8:
1) the cameras were all in one very biased
section, not showing off the entire beauty of
downtown Jamestown. In particular I saw nothing
of the beginning of the parade when I did
watch it at home.
2) I kept hearing the term ‘‘Pimp daddy’’
throughout the parade by the emcees — is this
professional journalism by the announcers?
3) The end of the program, the angle of the
camera wasn’t focused on the whole tree, just a
section of it. Why not use the overhead cameras
to watch the lighting?
4) The fireworks were spectacular but were
ruined by the advertising of Time Warner. Why
not ‘‘Happy Holidays’’?
5) When I did see the parade at home why
did Time Warner cut to a commercial break just
as Jamestown High School band came marching
down the street?
With as many vehicles as they had in the
parade that should have paid for the parade
many times over. Thank you.
Russell J. Fowler

One should note that one of the announcers hosts the morning show on the local pop music station, so he could be forgiven for not acting like a "professional journalist." Another thing to note is that everyone who helped put on the tv broadcast was doing this for the first time. They had never broadcasted the parade live before and it was bound to run into some issues. Of course, I would have never put the one female anchor out there as a co-host, but that's just my personal preference.

Colder than..

It was bitterly cold this morning. I'm just glad we didn't have any of the wind I encountered mid-county. That wind is what closed one of the school districts in the north. The regular temperature was -4 when I left our house. The Kennedy/Ellington area recorded -16 degrees at some point this morning. But even though my car protested a little against the chill, I'll take cold over snow.

Just how cold was it? Check out this Wind Chill Map.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Getting Around Music File Incompatibility...

Ok.. the reason it took us this long to buy an iPod, other than cost, was the fact that there is no one mp3 player that can play the multiple music files (AAC,Windows Media, mp3, wave, etc.).

I found a way around this by accident. I was ripping a mix cd I had made that included several songs I had downloaded from Napster into iTunes. The songs on the cd ripped and converted into the AAC format perfectly. This is a rather cumbersome effort since it requires you to rip your purchased songs from Napster first and then upload them onto iTunes, but that's exactly what I plan to do tonight when I get home.

All I Want For Christmas...

Media Wish List for 2005 courtesy of Wired News.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Chili Night

Southern Tier Pilsner & Chili Posted by Hello

I made my Aunt Stella's chili recipe today. It's an easy dinner if you have a crock pot:

1 lb hamburger
1 can kidney beans; drained & rinsed
1 can tomatoes (whole or diced depending on your preference)

Optional Items:

chopped onions
chopped green peppers
chili powder
tabasco sauce

Mix everything together and set the crock pot for 10 hours. Go to work. Come home. Mix the chili up, dish into bowl, add some cheddar cheese on top and enjoy. I will add that Matt added some tomato paste just before I got home to thicken the mixture. I would definitely add more beans, onions, green peppers, and perhaps some corn the next time around. But it was a very enjoyable dinner, paired with a Southern Tier Brew Pilsner, on this frigid, winter night.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Winter Arrives in Jamestown

Winter Arrives in Jamestown Posted by Hello

Winter is officially here with the first major snowstorm of the season hitting Western New York today. This is the picture I took of our front yard just before I left for work. Heavy snow made my usual 40-minute commute over an hour long going to and from work today. On the plus side, the trees coated with snow looked absolutely gorgeous. I only wish I had time to pull over to get a couple shots, but I happen to like getting to work on time and avoiding being hit by cars sliding around on slippery roads.

Holiday Parade & Lights

Matt and I attended the annual Holiday Parade this past Friday in downtown Jamestown. Organizers estimate that about 20,000 people lined Third Street to watch over 100 floats go by. This is the first year we've gone where we were comfortable. Past years, thousands of people would have to brave snow, wind, and frigid temperatures to enjoy the parade and fireworks. This year we were lucky. One of the coolest floats in the parade was the Geneva Street Float. It had a huge Winnie-the-Pooh on top of a truck flatbed and tons of lights. The purpose? To let people know that several houses on that street were totally decked out. I took a picture last night that came out blurry but gives you an idea:

Geneva Street Holiday Decorations Posted by Hello

For pictures of decorated houses around Jamestown, go visit Christmas Light Tour.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Belated Wedding/Birthday Gift

Matt has been all giddy for the past couple weeks about a belated wedding gift he had bought me. I had insisted he wait until Christmas to give it to me, but he presisted in saying that it was a wedding gift and that it couldn't wait. I was kept in suspense for awhile until I came home from work today. He presented it to me by having me open the trunk of his car.

And there it was, centered in his trunk:

iPod 20GB Posted by Hello

I don't have to tell you how excited and happy I was to get this! But it gets better. Matt had them engrave on the back "It Was a Beautiful Day... ...July 24, 2004" in honor of our wedding. You can all sigh, "Awwwww!" now.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

You Are a Visionary Soul

You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connected to your soul.
You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable.
Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings.

You have great vision and can be very insightful.
In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself.
Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend.
You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

Monday, December 06, 2004

I Could Set the Building On Fire...

When I was making out an office order for various supplies a couple weeks ago, had I known that red Swingline staplers were still available on the market, I would have ordered one to grace my desk.

"...but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire..." - Milton Waddams in Office Space

Seniors Taking Back The Airwaves

It's heartening to see stories like this whenever I start sighing about the state of radio in this country. It's about an educational radio station that broadcasts to a retirement community. The key here is that programming is dictated by the people that matter, the senior citizens.

To have a listen go to WMKV-FM.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Wine & Carols

Matt and I were able to use our free weekend to get caught up with our friends, Clair & Kevin. They're still here actually, but since we were all up a little late, I decided it was better to just sequester myself with the computer for a little bit while everyone continues to sleep.

The whole evening events started when Clair and Kevin dropped by to give Matt his birthday gift. We were getting ready to go out for dinner and decided to invite them along. About an hour later, we met up at The Watermark in Mayville, NY and had some delicious prime rib, Edizione Pennino Zinfandel, scallops (for Kevin), and strip steak (for Clair). I found out recently that this restaurant used to be the office building for the agency I now work for in Dunkirk. The building I work in now was a former brewery.

Our moving party then stopped by Hadley Bay for dessert, coffee, and beer (for the guys). The restaurant sits on a hill above Chautauqua Lake, opposite Bemus Point. Before I moved here the property was called The Good Morning Farm before the barn part of the farm burned down. People still call it by its old name and were forever confusing to me about what they were talking about. Interesting note about the restaurant: it's in an old house that is, of course, haunted. We know the owner and he says that the stairway that you see as you walk in the main entrance has had a peculiar effect on patrons and staff of the restaurant. He says that there have been several occasions where people walking up or down the stairs have become so nautious that they thought they were going to be sick.

So after those drinks and sweets, we temporarly parted ways so Kevin and Clair could pick up more beer and wine and we could get home to see if Buddy had torn up the house. We left him outside his cage to see if he could be good and not have any accidents. The good news is that he "held it" until we got home, but we have to find a better way to keep him out of the kitchen. We tried to block the swinging door that goes in there, but he stll managed to push aside the chairs we set up and carry bags of pasta, boxes of chicken broth, and a bag of rice into the dining room. Fortunately, nothing was punctured or even drool-y feeling.

The rest of the evening involved more imbibing, watching Elf, singing holiday carols as part of the special features of the movie, and then breaking out the wedding video so Clair could see our ceremony (in fast-forward) since her plane was literally landing at the Buffalo Airport during our wedding. We also zoomed through parts of the reception so we could see how drunk all our friends and family got. They looked like they were all having quite a bit of fun!

Well all that excitement kept us going until 4 a.m. I'm still wondering why I'm up! But the coffee has been grinded and brewed, so I think I'll go have a cuppa and start the slow recovery from a fantastic evening.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Keeping Up Appearances

There's been one web app that's been my savior this past month in keeping up with everyone's blog: Kinja.

I actually bookmark the "manage" section where I have my blogs sorted by when they were last updated. It works quite fantastically and saves me the trouble of going blog by blog to see if they were updated.

Away, Away

We're on a mini-vaca in an area where they're experiencing forest fires (thanks asshole arsonist). It's an area that makes Clift...