Archive for September, 2011

Monday Randomness

I feel like crap.  I’ve had a sore throat for days and, for some god-awful reason, I have woken up every night for the past 5 days at around 3:30 am and been unable to get back to sleep.  Therefore, I am taking the easy way out and am just posting some links to some cool (I think) sites.  The first is to one of my favorite blogger’s most hysterical posts.  For some reason, I just really identify with this woman and she makes me laugh til I snort milk out my nose.  The others are totally random.  Enjoy!

MAKE | 10,000-Brick Lego Sandcrawler.


Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls

One of my favorite artists is punk cabaret singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer, formerly of  The Dresden Dolls.   She has a strong, unique voice that reaches out and grabs you and an honest, kiss-my-ass-if-you-don’t-like-me attitude onstage.   Her writing reaches out to the misfits, the geeks and those feeling pressured by society to be perfect, to fit in and do what’s expected.  She is a talented pianist and has also produced a very clever album of Radiohead covers on the UKELELE,  of all instruments.   While part of The Dresden Dolls, she was partnered up with drummer Brian Viglione, an incredible musician in his own right and the perfect complement to Amanda.  I have included several of their videos and several of hers solo.   As a side note, she married one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, last year.  Even if this isn’t your usual type of music, give it a try.  You may just become a fan yourself.

Late Summer Garden

Coneflower, daylily, and coreopsis

Locust shedding it's old shell

Ornamental Peppers

Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia)

My Backyard

I’m always a bit sad as Summer comes to end, even though I love the crisp coolness and vibrant colors of Fall.  These are a few pics I’ve taken of my garden over the past several weeks.  I hope you enjoy them!

Star Trek Sugar Cookies

These cookies are the most awesome cookies in the history of the universe.  At least, I think so. 😛

Star Trek Sugar Cookies – Bakingdom.

I Hate Jersey Shore

Normally, I try not to be a negative person, but I guess today is not one of those day.  I absolutely cannot stand the TV show Jersey Shore.  It must surely be one of the shallowest, most disturbingly sociopathic, amoral TV shows that has ever aired.  The “stars” are so incredibly stupid that is a miracle that they remember to breathe.   They are probably all future winners of the Darwin Award.  This man’s review was so satisfyingly scathing that I just had to share it with you. Enjoy!  By the way, if you are a fan of this show,  I am sorry.  For you.

Bowling Gone Bad

I bowl.  Badly.  Up until three years ago, I had been in a bowling alley only about 10 times in my entire life.  My husband, Brian, changed that.  He convinced me,  the ultimate bookworm and introvert,  that I should try bowling and “get out of the house more.”  I expressed my concern about the unfashionable shoes, some of the cretins that I had observed at bowling alleys, and my total lack of mad bowling skills.   He has since introduced me to the agony and the ecstasy that is league bowling, complete with finger-tip ball and new, orthopedic-looking bowling shoes.  I wish that I could tell you that I have improved tremendously over the past several years, but I have not.  The first year was particularly horrendous, as I started out with a 57 average and dropped the ball at least once each night.  It seemed impossible to hang onto it with those tiny, fingertip grips.  I know five year-olds who bowl better than that. It was a fairly competitive league and I was undeniably the weakest link on my team.  Morale was low, but buying drinks kept my teammates from hurting me.

This is how I felt my first season.

Brian and I joined a couples league last year.  This one seems to be more of a drinking league that also happens to bowl;  that is, when we aren’t busy scarfing nachos and talking.   I averaged a whopping 107  and only dropped the ball a few times, due mostly to greasy french fry fingers.  The other couple on our team consists of Brian’s cousin and his very understanding wife.  I no longer fear for my safety.  We started a new season last Saturday and I am harboring a teeny amount of hope that my average will rise above 120 this year.  Of course, there is my secret, snobbish fear that I *will* become good at bowling and will then be known as a real BOWLER.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that, but I do know my poor mother is having a case of the vapors over my “redneck” hobby, as she calls it.  I am having more fun, now that I’m not quite so worried about hurting myself or others.  The drinks help.

These women bowl better than me.

I really was hoping that my intellectual bent might somehow give me superior insight into how to throw the ball at the proper angle, with the proper form, etc. but, sadly, insight does not equal strikes.  My brain knows where the ball needs to go, but my arm just doesn’t get it.  I think my arm has a learning disability.

Maybe if I just concentrated hard enough and had a magic ball...

Our league’s season lasts from September until the beginning of April.  That is a loooooong season.  The way I figure it, even if I don’t improve my average much,  I will have learned valuable drinking skills.  One has to look at the bright side of things.

Bookworm Extraordinaire

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something—a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things—which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”— Alan Bennett

I love books.  All kinds of books, but most especially the magical kind, the kind that create their own worlds and make you a part of them as you read.  The kind that make you feel like crying when you finish them, because now you must go back to the real world.   My mother taught me to read when I was four years old and it has been the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.  I discovered “The Lord of the Rings” when I was in fifth grade and wished with all of my heart that I could live in Middle Earth.  Elves, Dwarfs, mighty heroes, daring princesses and brave, young hobbits took up residence in my imagination and have been there ever since.  I went on to read Madeleine L’Engle, Isaac Asimov, C.S. Lewis, Andre Norton, Terry Brooks, and Patricia McKillip.  Each author had their own voice, their own beautiful way of bringing you into their worlds and making you a part of them. I have read so many books by so many authors, that I really can’t narrow my favorites down to less than ten, but that is a good thing.  I’m always looking for my next favorite new book, so if anyone out there has any recommendations, I would love to hear them!

“I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child.”—Diane Setterfield
“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”—Madeleine Le’Engle

Pondly has a gallery of Photoshop artist Christophe  Huet’s  images.  Incredible- check it out!

Photoshop Master Christophe Huet | Pondly.


Adventures in ADD Cooking

I decided to deviate a bit from my usual geeky-type blogs and share with you one of my LEAST favorite activities, cooking.  Ugh.

Ask any of my family members and they will tell you: I CAN be a fairly competent cook, but I am not always successful at my culinary ventures. Usually this is due to my distractibility; a movie, a book, or anything shiny can mean the ruin of a perfectly good meal. This distraction leads to the charring of whatever is on the stove or in the oven. I have even been known to overcook things in the MICROWAVE. Seriously.  Needless to say, I have the attention span of a gnat on crack.  I have given up on regular oven timers to remind me when things are done, because, inevitably, something would lure me out of earshot of said timer and I would still  burn the food.  I now set the alarm on my cellphone, which I always have on me. This has led to a higher ratio of edible meals to meal attempts, thus boosting my confidence and compelling me to try things other than burgers and mac-n-cheese.

Tonight’s repast shall be lasagna with garlic bread and salad. Not Chef Boyardee, either, oh Ye of Little Faith.  I found a recipe online at, went to the grocery store and procured the necessary items.  Who knew there were so many kinds of cheese in lasagna?

The prep work went fairly well, though I did forget to drain the burger before I started adding it to the sauce.  I remembered after dumping half of it in, then started picking the rest out of the skillet with my spoon to avoid adding any further grease to the sauce in the pan.  I was proud of myself.  After the meat and sauce were thoroughly cooked, I started layering the noodles, sauce and cheese. Starting into the third layer, I realized that my pan was not going to be deep enough to accommodate the monster that the lasagna was becoming. I went ahead and finished the third layer, noting that it rose slightly above the edge of my pan. This was worrisome. I briefly considered trying to transfer the contents to a deeper pan, gave that up, then decided that a little hilljack ingenuity was in order. I set the baking dish on a cookie sheet and rigged an extended edge to the baking dish with tinfoil. Improvise, adapt and overcome – that’s me.  While rigging the tinfoil dam, I remembered that our neighbor had given me a nice, deep lasagna dish just last summer. I was kind of wishing I had remembered this earlier. Anywho, the lasagna monster is in the oven now. I have my cell phone here with me. Heh. We shall see how it turns out.


Ok. I just checked on the lasagna and my tinfoil contrivance seems to be working – no overflow. The top layer of cheese was getting a bit dark, so I covered it with more tinfoil. The recipe did not tell me I needed to do this and there was still 15 minutes left of baking time.  I feel betrayed.  Although not technically burnt, it is a bit darker than other lasagna I have seen. If anyone says anything at dinner about it, they will be wearing it. Success is all about support.

I made an awesome salad with carrots, almond slices, bits of broccoli and cauliflower, and shredded cheese. I topped it with raspberry vinaigrette. The lasagna is done, so I made the garlic toast, which I did NOT burn, thank you very much. I wish the top layer of cheese hadn’t become so dark, but it tastes fine. My daughter even said that it tasted good. After watching me slave over the lasagna all evening, she was probably afraid to say anything else. Smart girl. The hubby has been drinking beer and watching the Packers on TV all evening. He said he wasn’t hungry.  He isn’t so smart.


The Lasagna Monster.

It wasn’t really as dark as it looks in this picture.  Honest.

Beautiful video, beautiful music. A sight most of us who live in or near a city never see. Photographer Terje Sorgjerd captures the Milky Way over El Teide, Spain’s highest mountain. Filmed between April 4 and April 11, 2011, the individual frames were shot using a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 17mm TSE, Canon 16-35mm II, Canon 24/1.4II, and Sigma 12-24mm.

The song is “Nuvole Bianche” by Ludovico Einaudi.

The second video is also by Terje Sorgjerd and filmed in the Lofoten Archipelago of Norway between April 29, 2011 and May 10, 2011. He explains how he did it here:

The Arctic Light from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

This song was “The Arctic Light” by Marika Takeuchi.
Magical, wonderful and beautiful. I love videos like this!