Monday, October 31, 2011

My Halloween Costume

I normally don't dress up for Halloween, but this year I convinced a group of anti-dress-up co-workers to join me in being Angry Birds.

We each chose a color and wore a shirt that coordinated with the bird of our choice.

And then I printed these out and we pinned them on our shirts.

They were originally made to attach to balloons, but they worked as an easy costume, too.

If I get a photo, I'll post it....

And, that, my friends, is 31 posts in 31 days!

Random facts, October edition

Although I have never read the books or seen the movies, I can't do any of the Twilight saga.  I'm not so into the fantasy genre and the actors really are unattractive to me.  I know.  You can hang me in effigy.

I have good intentions but really poor follow through.  I bought my cute niece a Halloween card and stickers at the beginning of the month.  I kept thinking that I needed to send them so she would get them, but also thought that if I sent them too soon it would be silly.  And so, I will send them to her on Halloween day.  Which means she will get them in November.  Too late for this year and WAY too early for next year.

I tend to either buy nothing while on vacation or raid the souvenir shops and buy one of each of everything.  There is no happy medium. 

It took me about 30 seconds to remember the word "souvenir."  I'm either tired or suffering from early-onset-dementia. 

It took me a little while to remember the word "dementia."  I'm really hoping for the tired option.

Last week, neighborhood vandals struck again.  This time, we weren't singled out.  The vandals (who I think are probably teenaged girls) wrote on all the windows of cars parked outside in the neighborhood Wednesday to Thursday night.  No real damage was done, unlike the time our front door was egged, our rear car window was smashed with a rock, or the house was T.P'd (although I don't remember that incident but Darrell tells me it happened).  I did end up waking up early and washed the windows of our cars.  It was chilly, which I will tell you, I was not used to.  I also wasn't used to the morning and may have been grumpy for the rest of the day.

It's altogether possible that I have gift cards older than my niece.  She's 6.  I somehow think that if I use a gift card that it is wasting the gift card.  Because if I use it now, I won't be able to use it later.  And what if what I want later is better than what I want now?  So, please, don't give me a gift card.  Unless you just want to throw your money away.  And then if that's what you want to do, just take a picture of you throwing your money away and give that to me. 

The really good thing about October...

is that there are only 31 days!

Can you imagine if there were more? 

I am about to die from over-blogging. 

I was asked today (hi, Jenni!) why I chose October to blog every day (or at least one posting per day of the month).  She told me that if I had been smart, I would have chosen February.  When it wasn't a leap year.

She's right.  But I often do silly things like over-commit myself.

I think I function best with a small amount of chaos.

Which is why I had 6 posts to write, rice to cook, 2 cakes to bake and ice, 8 halloween costumes to prepare (for my co-workers and I who weren't going to dress up otherwise), a kitchen to prep for tile demolition and installation, dinner to make, and a nap to take, all before going to bed tonight.

I'll be sort of relieved for November.  When I don't feel the pressure of anything but Thanksgiving.  You know.  The day that you eat the food in about 25 minutes that you've cooked for the previous 3 days.

Shout outs

Hey!  Ho!  Hay!  Hoe!

I feel like Ricki Lake.

Just thought I'd do a few shout outs to people who make my little blog here feel worth it.

Thanks to my mom who reads this thing every day and comments on most days.  I know that you do because you like to, even though you also have to. 

Thanks to Ginger, for being one of the first and frequent commenters of the month.  I was beginning to think no one was reading until you commented.

Thanks to Linda, for also commenting.  And for reminding me that literary license is an important part of blogging.  I plan to keep it up.

Thanks to Emily, my sister, who also comments on this here blog.  Even if she compares me to Mrs. Brady.  But since she is a Brady-Bunch-ologist, I'm really not surprised.

A very special thanks goes out to Darrell.  Who lets me blog about him without too much complaint.  He really is a great guy and my life would be boring without him!

And thanks to all who read this little blog.  I'd really like to hear from more of you.  And just may get a shout out, too!

How to effectively "do" the state fair

Friday night, Darrell and I picked my sister, Julie, up from the airport at around 7:30.  My friend Kira came with us, too.

We went immediately to the State Fair, since Julie wanted something exciting to do and we wanted to go to the fair.

Now, the State Fairgrounds are not in the best of neighborhoods.  And parking is at a premium.  But, if you promise not to let everyone else know, I'll let you in on a little secret.  You can park at the State Capital building and ride a tour bus to the entrance.  For free.  Yep.  Park for free.  Ride for free.

Plus, since you are riding a tour bus, you can pretend you are a Country Music Hall of Fame Star that is arriving at the State Fair to perform.  Or you don't have to.  I'm just telling you how "I" do things fair-related.

Now, if you aren't the actual musical act performing at the fair, you may just want to wander over to the Coliseum to see who IS performing.  Sometimes, it is a former-Disney star.  Sometimes, it's the late-80s hip-hop ensemble (which this year included Young M.C.).  Sometimes, it's Alice Cooper (which, by the way, is the band I've seen in concert more than any other.  I.KNOW!  Unbelievable, isn't it?). 

And sometimes, it's Bret Michaels.  We got there in time to hear the last 3 songs.  Only 2 of which I had heard before to my knowledge.  He put on a pretty good show for the last 3 songs.

We left the Coliseum and stood outside for a few minutes, soaking up the atmosphere.  Including a 70-ish year old woman who thought she was 18.  She had a great figure, but she was 70-something.  She wore tight lowrider jeans with rhinestone accents on the pockets.  She had a shirt that was a few inches too short and showed off her abs.  About 4 inches of abs.  That were tanned.  About the color of a brown crayola.  I couldn't take a picture (I need to practice my stealth-mode photo-taking skills--any teachers?), but suffice it to say that I think she thought she could get a date with Bret Michaels.

We next ventured to the food.  Oh....the food!  I had a corn dog and funnel cake.  Julie had a Navajo taco.  Kira had a corn dog and mini doughnuts.  And Darrell had nothing.  (Party pooper or smart man?  You decide.)

We then went to judge the youth livestock.  Not really.  We just went to look at it.  But, since it was 9 o'clock, "the man" told us to vacate the livestock area.  We saw a few goats, a couple of pigs, and that was pretty much it.  Really kind of sad.  So, if you want to see animals, remember to go earlier in the day.

We then found our way to the textile arts.  We decided that the judges must be super kind or really stupid.  The handiworks that looked the worst were the ones that won blue ribbons.  The ones that looked like real talent was involved received honorable mentions, at best.

Some of our favorites were the John Deere tractors Christmas ornaments:

This one makes the cut since Julie's former roommate, Trena, has a collection since she and her husband are farmers.

The plastic canvas Nativity scene:

 This one is featured since my Mom collects Nativity sets and plastic canvas is tacky.  (Although I don't want to have this particular scene and don't like plastic canvas, this was done really well and looked good for the medium chosen.  Hence, the lack of a ribbon of any kind.)

We got kicked out of the textile display and saw something that was really exciting:

Yeah.  That really is an artificially intelligent electronic computer module installed in a highly advanced, very mobile, robotic automobile: KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) aka a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am.  If you'd like, you can have my autograph since I saw such a technological wonder with my own two eyes.

Since we weren't going to ride the rides (because, really, they are sort of have pop-up-book assembly), we decided it was time to head home.  We boarded the bus, traveled to our car, and headed home.

I can't speak for any of the others, but I will say that a good time was had by all!

And that, my friends, is how to "do" the state fair.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I felt like a Food Network Star

One of the first people I met when I moved to the Phoenix area was my friend Flicka.

Not really.  My friend Kira was, however, one of the first people I met in Phoenix.

Her birthday is fast approaching, which happens to be on November 11th.

Yeah.  She gets to have a birthday on 11/11/11. 

Pretty fabulous, I tell you.  Especially since she is a numbers kinda gal.

So, she has planned a bash which sounds like great fun.

And because her birthday is on such a monumental day, she cannot have just any old cake.

Not even a Costco cake.

I.KNOW!  If the day is too good for a Costco cake, you know this will be a serious cake!

And so, since the bakery she chose to get her birthday cake from is really just down the street from me, she invited me to go with her for a cake tasting.

Darrell, incidentally, asked me why she had to do a cake tasting, since those a reserved for events like a debutante ball.  I didn't even make that up!

We got to the bakery...Lisa's Rum Cake...a little after 5 pm and they close at 5 pm.

Lisa greeted us at the door and she brought a couple of slices out that Kira wanted to try.

They talked about the size, the way to decorate it, pick-up time.  You know.  The kind of stuff you would talk about with the baker of your fancy cake.

We got everything settled and then Lisa asked us if we wanted to tour the factory.

DOI!  Of course we wanted to tour the factory!

She showed us how they bake the cakes and she decorated one in about 3 minutes that looked better than anything I could have decorated in 3 months. 

Lisa introduced us to most of the employees--which are her husband and three daughters (we met all but one of the daughters).  They all have a real passion for their work.  They said they work until quite late at night and then go back to the shop in the middle of the night to finish things up.

Then Lisa asked us if we knew what a blast chiller was.  Kira and I looked at each other with this silly grin on each of our faces and shrieked "YES!"  As if she had asked us if we each wanted $100 Million Dollars.  A Day.

I asked if I could take photos.  And Lisa said yes.

Here is the giant mixer:

Can you see the regular sized Kitchen Aid to the right of the giant mixer?  I know it's hard to see, but it sorta gives you a sense of the scale of the giant mixer. 

Here is the oven:

You can probably fit eighteen 9x13 pans in this oven.  I bet it would come in super handy around the Christmas baking season.

Here is the blast chiller:

Kira is playing The Price is Right model with her hand.  After the cakes are baked, they are cooled in the blast chiller before decorating.  I want you to know that it was super cold when we opened that blast chiller.

While we were touring the factory, we noticed there were lots of cake scraps in the garbage can.  All I can say is that it was a good thing we had samples because I was a little tempted to pull a George Costanza for a minute.

I think Lisa felt sorry for us since she could see that I almost did the unthinkable, so she gave us another sample. 

So, the moral of the story is, if you are ever in the market for a cake fancier than Costco's, check out Lisa's Rum Cake.  They are delicious cakes baked by a fabulous family!

Friday, October 28, 2011


So, I think after posting so many things recently about Darrell, I thought I should come clean and let you know the facts and fictions behind the man.

1-Darrell hates people.  This is a myth.  He doesn't hate people.  He is actually far better with people than I am.  He does, however, hate when people waste his time.

2-Darrell hates social situations.  This is both a myth and a reality.  He hates large social gatherings, but enjoys smaller events.  Ward Christmas Party?  Hater.  Small dinner party with 4 other couples?  Lover.

3-Darrell hates kids.  Myth.  He just isn't sure of what to do or say around them.  So he treats them like adults.  And they LOVE it and him.  But, too many kids at once is overload and he would rather be left alone.

4-Darrell is a curmudgeon.  Total fabrication.  The stories I tell sound far better if he is a grump, so I take what is called "Poetic License" to help the story.  Which makes Darrell come across a little like Oscar the Grouch.  Sorry!

5-Darrell is a trivia master.  True.  He beat me at our game of Trivial Pursuit last Saturday.  And he always beats me at the Sirius Radio Surfing Game.

6-Darrell cooks.  True.  He makes dinner for us most nights that we eat at home.  He is a master griller, killer pasta maker, and makes a mean quesadilla!  I may need to buy him a chef's hat someday.

So, as I relate stories about Darrell in the future, just remember that there may be more fiction than reality in the personality I portray.  Unless I'm saying how great he is, 'cause he really IS pretty terrific!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Halloween

Darrell and I are not such big fans of the Halloween.

It should come as no surprise, though, that our not-so-affinity for the holiday is for vastly different reasons.

Darrell dislikes Halloween because of the following:
People dress up in costumes.
People try to interact with him.
People come to our house uninvited.
The people who come to our house uninvited expect him to give them candy.
Sometimes people give him candy, which he is mostly unfond of.
People invite him to parties.
If he goes to the parties (which most of the time he doesn't), people expect him to be dressed in a costume.
If he isn't dressed in a costume (which is anytime he goes to a Halloween party), people ask him where his other brother, Darrell, is.
He doesn't care for pumpkins one bit.
He really doesn't want to eat anything made to look like a pumpkin.
And he most certainly doesn't want to eat anything made with pumpkin.

I dislike Halloween for the following reasons:
People use Halloween as an excuse to dress like skanky 'ho's.
I always figure out the perfect costume the day after Halloween and don't remember any good ones the days leading to Halloween.
It signals the end to Dairy Queen's Pumpkin Pie Blizzard flavor of the month and I realize I didn't eat one every day in October, so I didn't get my Recommended Annual Allotment.
I eat enough chocolate that I gain the weight equivalent of a large 6 year-old.
The teenagers that trick-or-treat at my house really creep me out.  Seriously.  I only give them candy because I'm afraid of what they will do to me or my house if I don't.  But I usually buy some yucky candy (like those grody candies that are wrapped in either black or orange wax paper) to give to the teenagers.  This is 100% true.  No poetic license used.  For.Reals.

So, because Darrell and I have some ill will towards Halloween, these are some of the activities we have done to stay away from the creepy revelers:
Gone to dinner at a fancy restaurant.  There is no waiting and the wait staff are generally friendly since we are the only tips they will receive that evening.
Gone to a movie.  Especially not a thriller-kind of movie.  There is no one in the theater and we can have what ever seats we want.  And talk, since there isn't any one to shush us.  Except we don't talk because then we would miss the movie.
Gone grocery shopping.  As long as you stay out of the candy aisle, you are free to roam about.
Hid in the back of the house with all the lights out and the TV turned down real low.  This isn't as much fun since you are basically a prisoner in your own house.  Without the ankle bracelet tracker, so it feels even worse since you know you are allowed to leave anytime you want, you just can't.

But then there are the times that we have gotten suckered into doing the Halloween thing.
We don't dress up in a costume.
We give out yucky candy because if we had bought the good stuff we would have eaten it.  (Or maybe we did and we ended up having to buy the yucky stuff to prevent ballooning up the weight equivalent of a large 14 year-old.  On steroids.)
When we run out of candy, we start giving out left over fast food sauce packets.  We tend to have a few.

So, take a guess as to what is on our agenda this coming Monday....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The chicken and the egg

I've told the story here of the time I tried to buy a 9-or-so-foot Christmas tree at the Costco only to find that it didn't fit in my car, so I had to return it (20 minutes after buying it and trying to stuff it in my car).  I ended up getting a gift card with the amount I paid for it so I could go back in the next day or so to pick up the same Christmas tree in a larger vehicle.  Only they sold out and I ended up buying a book case instead.

And, as I told you in the original story (linked in the word "here" above), we assembled the bookcase in our office.  Which is really just one of the bedrooms in our house.

That is much to small for such a large piece of furniture.

But it's too big to make two 90 degree corners to get out of the room and into the living room.

The only other room I can possibly imagine getting it into is the bathroom directly across the hall from the office.  And then that makes the logistics of using that bathroom much too difficult for my brain.

So.  Here's the issue.

We are planning on getting new flooring throughout the house in the next couple of months.

Which isn't a moment too soon.  You see, early in 2006, the pipe leading from the hot water heater to the kitchen sink sprung a leak in the concrete slab our house sits upon.  And we had to replace just about everything in the kitchen.

The cabinets.  Countertops. Tons of drywall.  Paint. 

But not flooring.

For some reason, even though it was damaged, it was not covered by our insurance.

But we intended to replace it, so when we remodeled, we didn't care too much that a few tiles had to be ripped out.  Or that the new cabinets occupied a smaller footprint than the old cabinets.  And we certainly didn't put down any kind of drop cloth to protect the floor from drywall texturizer or primer or paint.  And if we didn't protect it from those things, we certainly didn't clean up the messes left behind.

Because we were getting new flooring.

And yet, here it is.  The end of 2011 and we have that same crappy flooring.  Believe it or not, we've had other, more important things come up in the five and a half-ish years that the ugly, 6-inch, shiny white with blue striation, fake-marble, with thick light blue grout flooring has been put on the back burner.

We purchased some tile and grout a few months ago and are hoping to have it installed in the next couple of weeks.  Maybe even in time for my turn at hosting bookclub.  (Fingers crossed)

And, if we are getting new tile, we really also need new carpeting.  Because, to be honest, I hate my carpet now and haven't been as diligent in keeping it pretty either.  Don't fret.  I haven't completed a remodel using it as my drop cloth.  (I wish, though)

And so here it is.  What the heck am I going to do with the crazy huge bookcase?

Does it go through the window and into the garage?  Or does it hang out in the guest bathroom?

Gentle Reader, please help me out and leave a comment with your suggestion.  My thanks in advance!

Monday, October 24, 2011

In case the jeweler can't fix my ring...

I have a back-up plan.

And it includes delivery, so it's a REAL deal.

After all, the price of gas is going up.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I have a little catch-up to do

Since I committed to posting every day in October and forgot a couple of times, I figure if I post 31 times in October, it's pretty much the same.

So, here is the second posting for today.

Darrell grew up in a Sam's Club family.

I grew up in a Costco family.

They say that mixed marriages are difficult, and I would have to agree.

Because no matter how much I try to understand the Sam's Club lifestyle, it's still Wal-Mart, and I just don't get those types of people.

And Darrell thinks I'm all hoity-toity since I'm a "Costco Snob."

When we started our marriage I had a Costco membership and Darrell had a Sam's Club membership.  We each added the other to our respective memberships.  I got a really crappy photo on my card (somehow the software squished my face and made me look deformed) and Darrell got an American Express Costco card. 

Awhile ago we decided we didn't need two memberships.  We had a snack-bar show-down and Costco won. 
And so, we have been a Costco family.  We go probably 3 out of every 4 weeks.  It many times is our "Date Night."  We window shop (or sometimes even buy stuff) and grab a bite to eat.  We know which nights to go to avoid the largest crowds.  We watch with delight as others take home a TV.  Employees ask US where items can be found.  Yeah.  I'm a Costco-ite and have converted Darrell.

Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago, he started talking about the glories of Sam's Club.  He would just casually mention his friend was at Sam's Club and had bought some thing great that they couldn't find at Costco.  He told me he heard Sam's Club offered trial memberships that were about the cost of a trip to a fast-food restaurant.  It was subtle, but little by little, he was wearing down my resistance.

And so, today he convinced me we should go...just to see what it's like.  He conveniently steered us through all the best parts...the TVs, the samples, the bakery.  You know, the places he knew he could get me.  And he almost had be convinced that we could be a two-warehouse club family.

Until I saw something I never would see in a Costco.

On a woman who was closer to 300 pounds than the model above is.

Needless to say for Darrell, we left and probably won't be back any time soon.

It's finally feeling like Autumn

Not that you'd know by our weather, since it's still about 100 degrees.

But tonight I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I love all things pumpkin. 

Ok.  I take that back.  I like most dessert things pumpkin.

Pie, roll, bagel, dip, cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, bread, ice cream.  Yep.  I love me some pumpkin.

So tonight, since I love you all so much, I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

It's a super guarded family secret, so consider yourselves lucky.

Take one Spice-flavored cake mix.  Any one will do, but I could only find it in Betty Crocker's brand.
Add one 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree.
Stir until well combined.
Add about 1 cup of mini chocolate chips.
Drop onto cookie sheet...the cookies don't spread so you can put lots on the cookie sheet without worries.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350* for about 15 minutes.  I made a couple more than 36 cookies and 15 minutes seemed to be the magic number.
Remove them from the oven and leave on the baking sheet for a few minutes (I did 15).
Eat them won't be difficult.

Hope you enjoy them.  Although they sound super easy, they are good.  In fact, just as good as the ones that require all sorts of ingredients.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I know you're jealous of my Friday night....

Darrell and I played Trivial Pursuit.

And he won.

Although he doesn't believed that there are 70 miles between the highest and lowest points in the 48 contiguous US states.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fair Fare

I go to the Arizona State Fair every few years and the thing I look forward to the most is the food, of course.

I love corn dogs.

I love funnel cakes.

I love indian fry bread.

I love navajo tacos.

I love ice cream.

I love chocolate dipped cheesecake.

I love roasted almonds.

I love churros.

I love roasted corn.

I love caramel apples.

I love a lot of the foods at the fair.  And usually choose a couple of things to eat.

But I'm not the most adventurous of eaters.

And I don't think that just because I'm at the fair, I should eat deep-fried whatever.  (Although, if you notice, most of my favorite fair foods are deep-fried.)

I draw the line at the "latest-and-greatest" foods.

Like the deep-fried butter.

And fried cookie dough.

And buffalo chicken in a flapjack on a stick.

And fried coke.  Or kool-aid.  Or chocolate milk.

And especially the "delicacy" being served up at this year's fair....the Maggot Melt Sandwich. 

And not just because it has a not-so-healthy amount of american cheese which is just plain yucky!

So, what is your favorite fair food?  Leave me a comment. 

Like my pal Ginger has been doing lately.  (Thanks, Ginger!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Isn't it ironic?

Do you want to hear something I think is pretty funny?

I'm in a bookclub.

Now, I realize that in and of itself isn't all that humorous.  But the fact that I'm not much of a reader makes it pretty ironic.

And it's not that I don't like to read.

It's just that I'm more addicted to watching TV than reading a book.

When I was little and lived in Arkansas, we lived a few miles from the public library. I won't take a guess since I will guess something silly like 10 miles and it will really be something like a half mile.

The library allowed each card holder to check out 10 books at a time.

Each time we went, my mom and each of my siblings would check out 10 books.

I would end up reading all of mine by the time we got home.

And so, perhaps the reason I don't read too much now is that I don't want to read all the books in one sitting.

Because that would be like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

I think I'm in hell!

Sunday in church the bishop announced that some other wards are being re-organized so our ward has to move time slots.  We are moving from 1:00 to 9:00.



And why does our ward that isn't affected by the changes have to switch times?

I told the girls in my Mia Maids class that I would not be jolly at church until we change to a later time.

I think they thought I was joking.

I'm not.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

7 years and counting!

Today, Darrell and I celebrated 7 years of (mostly) happy wedded bliss.

Poor guy.  He wasn't feeling particularly well.

Pretty much like our wedding day.

And yet, he smiled.  Back then and today.

I love that man!

Thanks for a great 7 years and too many more to count!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We interrupt this blog for an important public service announcement

A few months ago, I was listening to NPR, which I enjoy doing while driving to and from work.  I was listening to All Things Considered...and the story was a re-broadcast of a 2008 story on those pesky Captcha verifications.

Now, although I have that silly word verification on my own blog comments, I don't really like it when I have to do the verifying.

It seems like in the early days of word verifications, the words were much, MUCH harder to read.  I remember having to request different words at least once per attempt.

And, after just looking on Wikipedia (which although I wouldn't use a Wikipedia citation for a business document or Master's thesis, for my blog, I think most things are credible enough), modern Captcha is much easier for a human to read and much more difficult for a machine to read.  The entire reason Captcha verifications were invented.

So...back to the radio story.

Luis von Ahn is a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon who developed Captcha.  He found it amazing that the human mind could pretty easily perform a task that even super-powerful computers couldn't do.  He even said, "Each time you type one of these, your brain is doing something amazing."

However, he also realized that each time you type of these, your brain is doing something wasteful.  After all, even though it is amazing, you are wasting precious seconds.  Imagine, if you spend a lot of time on the internet, buying tickets, commenting on blogs, setting up a Craigslist posting, you have wasted a couple of minutes a month.  Multiply that by all the people worldwide wasting time and you can only guess the time that is wasted.

He estimated 500,000 hours per day.  And he's a scientist, so it's got to be right!

And so, von Ahn thought of an ingenious way to harness those otherwise wasted hours and hours and hours.

Since he is both a scientist and an academic, he knew libraries have been trying to digitize pretty much every newspaper, book, pamphlet, magazine, and thing-with-writing-on-it out there.  Basically, the libraries scan each page as a pdf and then convert it to text.

But, as we already established above, since computers can't easily recognize text, there are lots and lots of words that the computers just can't figure out.  Von Ahn noted that older documents, especially those written before the turn of the 20th Century, are especially difficult for the computers to read.  The ink has faded or smudged; the pages are yellowed or stained; and the computers make a lot of mistakes.

The libraries employed people whose job it was to do decipher the words and enter them into the database.

Until von Ahn thought to himself, "I wonder if instead of having people waste 500,000 hours per day as they enter those annoying Captcha verifications they do the decipherization of hard-to-read words for the digitization of all things written, we could create a win-win-win situation?"

Ok...that's my fictionalizing his inner dialogue that was explained on the radio.  But, it's pretty accurate.  I'm going to call it my first work of historical fiction.

So, he approached the New York Times and the Internet Archive (click here and check out the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine"'s pretty amazing stuff), and they formed re-Captcha.

Now, when you type those crazy words, one is a "key" the company has programmed as their password and one is a word that you are entering into a database since computers aren't as smart as they would like to think they are.  So really, only one of the words has be typed correctly, since no one really knows what the other word is (although sometimes the first word is the "key" and sometimes it's the second word).

But don't fear...if you accidentally type the wrong word into the database, several other people have the same word they are trying to decipher.  If a certain number of people agree on the same word for that "picture," the database considers that word accurately transcribed and the word is incorporated into the digital version of that document.

And if you are wondering what has been accomplished in the 500,000 hours per day of re-Captcha work, von Ahn estimated in 2008 it was "like 1.3 billion."  Yeah...with a "B."  (And I enjoy that this scientist/academic used the word "like" in the same context as a Valley Girl might.)

It was estimated that internet users transcribed enough words to fill up over 17,600 books at 99% accuracy.  And I'm betting they aren't talking about Dr. Seuss-sized books.  They also estimated that in 2009, they would digitize 70 years' worth of New York Times newspapers.

So the next time you have to type those pesky word verifications, remember that you are doing something for the greater good.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A cautionary tale

When Darrell decided he was going to propose almost 8 years ago, he didn't want to tip me off.

See, we had only been dating six and a half years and he didn't want to freak me out.

So he was sneaking around at the mall, ducking into jewelry stores.  He was absolutely paranoid that someone I knew would see him and tell me what they thought he was up to.

He decided on a ring and needed to figure out my ring size.  I had several rings that I would wear, some on my left ring finger, so one day while he was at my house, he ran into my bedroom while I was otherwise occupied, slipped one of my rings on his pinky finger, and memorized where it went on his finger.  He later went to the jewelry store and tried on the ring sizers to determine which size ring fit his pinky just the same and then bought the correct size.

Except, the ring he tried on was one of those cheap-o rings that fits has the self-adjusting springy thing on the inside of the ring.  So he bought a size 5.

So, when he proposed, and put the ring on my finger it was tight, but doable.

But as the day and night wore on, my finger started to swell and become a little painful.  No worries.  I just made sure to remove the ring each night and called it good.

So, flash forward about 7 years.  I've unfortunately gained some weight.  And although my fingers aren't overly fat, they are not even close to a size 5.  Probably a 7.5.

I stopped wearing the engagement/wedding ring combo earlier this year since it was pretty painful and would cause irritation.

I have felt badly about this, so I decided a few weeks ago to wear the ring out on the town.

I have this trick I use to get the ring on...I usually wash my hands with soap while pushing the ring past that last knuckle and it works like a charm.  I do the same, only in the reverse, to get the ring off.

I had to shove the ring a little harder this time, but figured it was okay.  A couple of minutes later, I decided it probably wasn't ok.  I could feel the pulse in my ring finger and it was a little uncomfortable.

I chose to remove the ring and resolved to lose a few pounds so the ring would fit more comfortably.

Only I couldn't get the ring off.  I tried all my tricks...soapy water, oils of all kinds, lotion, ice, elevated hand.


And I knew there was no way that ring was coming off.  I had a serious muffin-top between the ring and my knuckle, with nowhere for that extra stuff to go.  That ring wasn't going to slide off.

Darrell was out running errands and I was literally supposed to meet friends for dinner in 10 minutes.  I called Darrell and asked if he was done with his errands and if he could come home since my ring was stuck and we needed to run to urgent care to have the ring cut off.

He was quite concerned and I have vowed to always keep any emergency situation from him.  He drove like a mad man, as if my finger was falling off.  Once I re-assured him that I wasn't in pain, had all nerve sensations, and was just uncomfortable, all was ok.

We got to the local urgent care and asked if they could cut the ring off, which they couldn't.  We left and drove to the local hospital that promises a 5 minute wait to see a doctor in the ER.

The nurse at check-in was kind enough to try to have someone remove it without checking me in (and charging me for a visit), but was told she had to follow protocol.

Within 5 minutes, a doctor was examining my finger and asking me what jewelers do to re-size a ring.  Well, don't you think that since the ring was too small that I didn't know that?  He gave me a form that had the next steps outlined and told me to take a seat in the waiting room and another doctor would be able to cut the ring off in a few minutes.

(Do you like that they added a box for "Cut Ring Off?)

Well, about 15 minutes later, a doctor came into the waiting room with a tool like this.  Basically, guard went between the ring and my finger and the doctor turned a screw which cut the ring off.  And yes...he did this in the waiting room with an audience of people checking out the crazy lady who had to get a ring cut off her finger.

I then had to wait about 30 minutes to register with the insurance people.  Up to this point, I had only given my name, address, and weight to anyone.  Too bad I didn't know that earlier, because I would have given a different name, address, and weight and fled the scene after being freed.

I registered, paid my $100 co-pay and got home 2 hours after I put the silly ring on my finger.

That was the last weekend in September.  Today I got an email from the insurance company to show they received and paid the claim.

Any guesses on how much a trip to the ER for ring removal with no treatment for injury will cost?  $732.70.

Any guesses on how much the insurance paid?  $220.70.

It is estimated I have to pay an additional $55.18.

The moral to the story is this...just because you can get it on, doesn't mean you can get it off.  Or as I say when I see someone wearing clothing that is oh-so-unflattering...just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How NOT to compliment yourself

So, I was talking with a friend today and she related the following 100% true story.

I'm looking for clever comebacks, so PLEASE leave a comment on what you wish my friend would have said.

A couple of years ago, this friend, who we'll call Mary, lost weight and was a size 4, which was way too small for her frame.  She is almost 41 years old and about 5'7".  She has since gained some weight but by no means would be considered fat.  She has naturally curly/wavy hair, of which I am always jealous.  She is also one of the most professionally groomed people I know.  Mary is in mid-level management at the company at which she works.  So, that's the important information you need to know about Mary's background to understand her experience.

Mary has a co-worker, who we will call Sally, who is about 55 and could be considered, by all accounts I've heard, a hoochie.  She wears 5-inch stilettos almost every day.  Her skirts are on the tighter side and cover almost everything that should be covered to keep her out of jail.  She is an executive at the company at which Mary and Sally work and frequently meets with current and potential clients.  So, there's Sally's background.

Mary went to the ladies room and as she exited a stall and started washing her hands, Sally, who was standing at the mirror, started "smoothing" her skirt.  She said, to no one in particular, "Oooo!  My butt looks a little big today."  She then primped her hair and remarked, "And my hair!  It's looking frizzy!" Mary said nothing as she continued to wash her hands, preparing to go back to work.

And then it came.

Sally said, "Well, you certainly look comfortable with yourself these days."  And walked out.


So, dear readers.  This is where we need your input.

First, please let us know what you would have said or done in real life.

And then, let us know what you wish Mary had said or done.

I'm still too stunned to even formulate a response.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm gonna be sore!

Tonight I went to the Stake Young Women's sports night.  They had 6 different sports to choose from and each of the Young Women did 2 sports each. 

I was the volleyball game score keeper.  I know.  Rough.Job.

There ended up being only one session of volleyball so some of the adults played 3 on 3. 

Including me.

I haven't played volleyball in years!  I was never really any kind of good, but boy howdy!  I wasn't any kind of good tonight.

And my body is protesting.


I wonder if there's a way to choose a different time zone so this will appear to have been posted on the 10th?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Here today and tomorrow, please

So, since I posted yesterday about things I wish would go out of style, I decided to post today about things I hope never go out of style.

Flare leg pants.  Although, had you talked to the Stephanie in the 1980's, she would have said the exact opposite.  You see, those were the days of pegged legs (known as skinny jeans today).  And flare of any kind, even the kind known as "straight legs," was oh-so-uncool.  But those were also the days of skinny Stephanie.  And even if I were to become the skinniest I can be, I will always have hips.  That will need flared-legs to give me proportion.

Eclectic design.  I'm not the girl who can like one style of design only.  You will never see my house decorated solely in victorian, traditional, mid-century modern, art deco, or even rococo (ESPECIALLY rococo!).  However, you my see my house decorated with a little of victorian, traditional, mid-century modern, art deco, and even rococo (ESPECIALLY rococo!)...maybe even others.  Because I just can't be tied down.  Unless it's tied down to eclectic.

Pinterest.  Because as we all know, I'm addicted.

Hamburgers as the hip-new-food.  I mean, really, there have been scores (ok, several, but not scores) of hamburger shops that have opened over the past year-ish.  Five Guys. Smash Burger. Coal Burger. Habit Burger. Flame Burger.  And then there are the old stand bys.  In n Out. Fat Burger. Chuck Box. Bun Huggers.  I could go on, but I won't.  Since it's making me hungry!

Smoky eyes.  Not because I love doing smoky eyes.  But because I want it to stay popular long after I have mastered it.  I've got to figure it out and I think I'm on the edge of a break-through.  But don't want to be the girl sporting the smoky eye look after it is passe.

Statement jewelry.  Not the kind that says something literally.  But the kind that is unique.  That gets noticed.  And isn't just like everything everyone else is wearing.

Now, I could go on, but here's the deal.  I don't really know what is super trendy.  I don't even know if any of the stuff above is still close to popular.  Truth be told, I was googling trends of 2011 and hope I even came close on one of the above.  But these are things I like, that don't seem to be too old-fashioned, that I hope stick around for awhile.

Or at least until I find something better to replace them with.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Here today...gone tomorrow

You know how things that are uber cool today are has-beens tomorrow?  Sorta like leg warmers were so cool in 1982, but in 1983 (by the time I got some), they were not any kind of good.

Well, here are a few fads that I wish would hurry up and make their way to "outsville."

Chevron-ifying EVERYTHING!  The chevron design doesn't bother me.  But the fact that everything has to have a chevron does.

French macarons.  They are plain ole yucky.  Perhaps because I'm not a fan of meringue and macarons are mostly meringue.

All things Twilight.  I understand people like the series, but grown women acting like a vampire is going to magically transport them to another land and make all their dreams come true is really creepy.  (I've never read the books or seen the movies, so I don't know if that is what happens.  If I spoiled the ending, sorry.  It was just a guess.)

Chalkboard paint.  It wasn't bad at first.  But now it seems like people are making chalkboards out of the craziest things.  One of the things that didn't make any kind of sense to me was glasses for guests to drink out of at a party.  The guests were to write their names on the glasses so that they could tell their glass from all other guests' glasses.  Ok...let's think about this.  Assuming the beverage is cold, in most climates, the glass would accumulate some amount of moisture.  Causing the chalk to run.  DOI!

Martha Stewart.  Not only is she condescending, she takes credit for a staff full of behind-the-scenes worker bees.  And they LET her.  But those are not the reasons I wish she would stop being the "IT" factor.  It's the pictures of her I see online.  She has been airbrushed too much and looks foolish.  Maybe the next time they (whoever they are) airbrush her, she'll vanish.  Just like her wrinkles seem to have vanished.  If you read more than a handful of blogs, you probably have noticed that they all seem to post about the same thing around the same time.  For awhile, it was Florida oranges (that even if they are green, they are ripe), next it was avocados and how to make avocado fries, then it was Tresemme's newest product (dry shampoo), and now it seems to be Boy Scouts of America.  Here's the deal.  If all these bloggers had been given the products and asked to review them, that would be marginally ok.  But these bloggers were given the products with some canned remarks to post.  "How do you know that, Stephanie?"  Because they all said the same thing.  Word.For.Word.  Don't tell me these are your true opinions.  Unless all the bloggers were in a think tank and came up with what to say together.  But that didn't happen.  And it feels more than a little disingenuous.  Or maybe from now on, I'll memorize the commercials on TV, invite my friends over to my house, and then re-enact the commercials to plug the latest toilet paper or room deodorizer.  But then again, probably not.

So, maybe my next post should be things I wish would never go out of style.

Or things I love.  You know, to give things a positive spin.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Questions for the Internets

Darrell has asked for some help and I think the internet is THE place for him to get that help.

He has some questions that I am not equipped to answer. 

So, please, if you have the answers to any of these questions, leave a comment.

1--Should he attempt some at-home mole removal using a dremel?  If yes, should he use the flat polishing sand-paper attachment or the conical grinding attachment?

2--When Texas A&M leaves the Big 12 Conference in 2012 (keep in mind the Big 10 Conference has 12 teams and the Big 12 has 10 Teams--I sense.AT.ALL) and assuming TCU accepts the offer to join the Big 12, which 2 additional universities should be extended an invitation to join?  Please choose 2:
B-Boise State
D-University of Houston
Please provide reasons for your choices.

3--If Bigfoot is such a big creature, why hasn't anyone credible found evidence of its existence?

4--What is your favorite AC/DC song?  Afterall, everyone should have a favorite.

5--Which of the states in the US, would you annex to Canada?  Why?

6--What TV show of this newest season is the next to be cancelled?  What one show should I be watching?

7--Name your favorite cut of beef. 

And finally...

8--Team Edward or Jacob?  And please explain what this means.  I

Thank you!  No, really.  Thank you!  Like I said, I haven't been able to explain any of these to Darrell's satisfaction, so maybe you can help me out.

If not.  There's always the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm a bad, bad wife!

In my zeal to post every day, I started pre-writing my posts and then published one a day.  For you know, the last 5 days, so it is TOTALLY a habit and all.

And because of this crazy-ness, I didn't wish my fabulous husband a happy birthday on this here blog. 

On his birthday. 

Because I had already posted once on his birthday.

And if I posted again, I would end up doing 32 blog posts in October. 

And I just don't know if I have it in me.

See, I'm a bad, bad wife!

So, here's a belated (by only one day!) birthday to my amazing husband, who will remain nameless in this posting because he hates having any attention be paid to him.

I'm beginning to think he's a keeper!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insert clever title here...

Lately, as in the last couple of years or so, I've been really bad at eating lunch.  If I don't take my lunch, most days I don't eat lunch.

But it's also really difficult for me to take my lunch since I'm not great at grocery shopping often enough to have lunch supplies on hand.

Today, I decided I really needed to take my lunch to work, so I was scavenging the kitchen for take with me.

I decided a can of soup would be fabulous.  It's healthy.  It's easy.  It's relatively good.  But it's also pretty much water, so I was sure I'd end up hungry a few minutes after eating it.  Plus, it was something not too exciting, like Mexican Vegetarian Bean and Tomato.  Seriously, how did I buy this?

So I did some hunting and gathering and found some mini saltine crackers.  I figured adding some carbs to the soup would help a little in filling me up.  I don't remember exactly when I bought them, but it had to have been about a year ago since it's been too hot for soup the last 6-ish months.  And I really only eat saltines with soup.

I foraged a little more and found a string cheese (which Darrell tells me I eat incorrectly since I don't peel apart), a cherry-flavored Jell-O, and a vanilla-flavored pudding.  Sounds pretty well-rounded to me.  Plus, there's the girl at work who has a stockpile of chocolate that I can raid as needed (although that is seriously my lunch most days).  (Don't judge...chocolate is a protein since it comes from the cacao plant which is a legume.)

As I was writing this, I found it pretty sad that most people could find better food in their desk at work than I could in my kitchen.  At home.

So, around lunch-time (you know, 2:30-ish), I decided to eat my lunch.

I dumped most of the contents of my soup in the mug I took to work a couple of weeks ago...just in case I needed it.  It was a little smaller than the soup can, so I decided to heat up what I could, eat some, and then pour the rest in the mug, heat it up, and eat it gone.

I then pulled out my baggie of saltines.  For some reason, I really love saltines in my soup.  I add them one at a time since soggy anything really grosses me out. 

I was really excited to eat my soup and crackers since it's been awhile since I had this meal. I tasted the soup and it was sort of boring.  It was, afterall, one of those "healthy" soups that has less sodium, which means I normally dump a tablespoon or so of salt into it so that it tastes like regular soup.  I tried to find one of those little paper packets of salt in my desk and had no luck, but that's okay since the saltines are salty. 

Hence the name saltines.

They tasted a little funky, but I figured the soup would help them taste normal.


They made the soup taste funky.  But, although there are some lunches you can easily throw in your trashcan, soup isn't one of those.  So I was stuck eating it.  I tried it with some more crackers, but it started tasting bad. 

I gave up on the saltines and ate the soup plain.  I searched my desk drawers again for salt and for a moment, I contemplated dumping a couple of ketchup packets into the soup.  But then I remembered the stew + ketchup fiasco of 1976 (which is an absolutely true story--for another day), and decided to go plain.

I finished my soup, ate my string cheese (the way I like to eat it), ate the Jell-O (which I'm always tempted to slurp up through a coffee stirrer), and ate the pudding.

Awhile later I raided the chocolate dish...isn't it amazing how much fresher the candy tastes the closer you get to Halloween?

When I got home from work and put away my lunch stuff, I saw the Saltine box on the counter.  I decided to throw away the rest of the crackers and recycle the box (hey...I do my part to save the world!).

I glanced at the "Best By" date. 

January 12, 2009.

Seriously?  No wonder they were disgusting!  They did taste a little like rancid oil.

But the worst part of all is that had they expired 10 years ago, they would have been made with trans-fats and tasted as fresh as the day I bought them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Piece of Art, or #7 of 30

About 6 months ago, in my quest to post more frequently, I posted a list of 30 blog titles.

So far, I've done six.

And number 7 is "A Piece of Art."

I am not a self-proclaimed artist.  I have several artsy family members, but I am not one.

I am, however, a self-proclaimed sorta crafter.

I'm pretty good at copying other people's ideas.

And not making them perfectly.  Rather imperfectly, in fact.

But most of the time, I like my little imperfect pieces of craftery.

I have a few things that I should be posting, but since it's too dark to photograph them even remotely effectively, I will just re-post a recent craft that I consider a piece of art.

Unfortunately, I just recently posted this, so it's not exactly exciting. 

But I promise I will take some photos of my other endeavors and post them here soon.

'Cause I still have 27 more days to go this month!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Since it's confession time...

I just found out my profile at is up and running.

Check it out.

And if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments.

PS...I thought I scheduled this post and it's a good thing I checked so I could keep the ball rolling since it didn't automatically post.  Scary!  Spooky!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hi. My name is Stephanie. And I'm an addict.

(Go ahead...say it.  "Hi, Stephanie.")

I have become absolutely addicted to Pinterest.
I joined months ago, when it was difficult to get an invite--and yeah, you used to need an invite to join.
I kept reading all these blogs ('cause, if we're being honest, I'm addicted to blogs.  Of people I don't know.  Yeah...I've got a serious problem) and everyone was talking about "pinning" and "boards."
I didn't quite understand and I was a little annoyed.  (Truth be told, I read several blogs written by people who annoy me.  Some of these people are over-the-top narcissists.  And tell everyone about their narcissism.  Only they don't call it that.)
So, although I was annoyed, I figured it was just another thing these self-apprecating (you know, the opposite of self-deprecating) folks were discussing that was a secret society, only accessible to the blogtastics.
But then, one of the bloggers I admire wrote about it.  And even described it.  And was willing to give out invites.  (That's one of the reasons I like her...she doesn't think the world-wide-web is HER oyster).
So, I went to the website and checked it out. 

It looked a little like heaven. 

A place I could put all those things I see on blogs that I love/want to do/dream of/etc. 
Somewhere that I could remember. 
It wasn't one of my secret hiding places.  (I have so many of them, I can never remember where I put what.  My cyber hiding places are various places on my C drive or emails I sent to a friend or emails I sent to myself or bookmarks on my browser or little pieces of paper I scribbled details or printouts I put in real [as opposed to cyber] hiding places like the pile of paper on the desk or the pile of paper on the floor in the home office or the pile of paper on the floor in the guest room....I think you get the idea.)

So I signed up and started using Pinterest.
I pinned a few things, but would forget about it most of the time.
I would get emails saying that someone I didn't know re-pinned a pin.  Or was following me.
And I'd pin a few more things.
I had a conversation with one of the 2 other people I knew who pinned.
We couldn't figure out the re-pinning.  And following.  And found it slightly creepy.
And I pinned a few more things.

And then more of my friends started pinning. 
And I learned about re-pinning.  And following.
And I pinned more and more.
And re-pinned.  And followed.

And now I find myself addicted.

And I'm SURE I can quit any time I want.
I don't pin at work, so it clearly isn't a problem.
I've gone DAYS without even thinking about it.
It's not like I installed the app on my phone.  (Ok...I don't have an i-phone, which is [currently] the only phone that has an app.)
And I've only tried to access it at a friend's house once.  And that was just because SHE wanted to see something I pinned.
And I haven't forced Darrell to sign up so I could have a secret Pinterest account...although that doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Ok....I'm an addict.

But hey...admitting I have a problem is the first step.

I saw that on a pin!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Holy freak-out, Batman!

First, I'd like to apologize that this post isn't even half as exciting as its title would imply.

In case you hadn't noticed, I haven't updated this here blog in quite some time. 

And a whole bunch of bloggers are posting every day in October, so I thought I'd jump on the band wagon since that's what I do.

I'm easily swayed.  And if you didn't know that about me, now you do.

So, to the point.  Since I decided to post every day in October, I started to do that very thing.

And blogger has totally changed itself.

When, exactly, I don't know.

And so, the reason for the blog post title.

Or maybe, even more appropriately, it is a little shocking I posted.

You decide.

(And comment your thoughts below).

Thanks for visiting!