Friday April 30, 2004

Little Duck with Big Feet

DaisyQuack_75 I've fallen in love with Daisy, the Little Duck with Big Feet, and her little brother, Pip. Daisy, Pip, and their friends and relatives appear in a series of books for younger children and adults with a love of whimsy and delicious illustration.

Every page of Daisy's adventures is richly painted. I feel like I should be able to reach into the book and smooth Daisy's feathers or skritch Pip on his small feathered head. "Coo!" says Daisy.

Look for Daisy's books in the children's section of a bookstore near you! My favorites: Come Along, Daisy; Daisy and the Egg; Quack, Daisy, Quack; Daisy and the Beastie.

Little Duck with Big Feet ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Fri, 30 Apr, 17:11 Pacific

Thursday April 29, 2004

Going to the Cats

I was wondering what the latest census numbers were for cats & dogs in the US, so I looked it up. The latest study shows that over half of US homes have at least one cat or dog.

population_chart

February 13, 2002 -- The 20th Anniversary Pet Food Institute Pet Incidence Trend Report finds that in 2001 a majority, 55 percent, of all American households was home to at least one pet dog or cat. Last year, the study found there were over 75 million pet cats and over 60 million pet dogs in the United States. On average, each cat owning household is home to two cats, while dog owners usually have one canine companion. Developed on behalf of the Pet Food Institute by Ipsos-NPD in Chicago, the Pet Incidence Trend Report stands as the "census" of pet dog and cat populations in the US.

[ cf Pet Food Institute press release ]

Dog-only households still "beat" cat-only households in 2002 but by a narrow margin. Total cat-owned households rose 1.3% between 2001 and 2002; total dog owning households only rose by 0.3% in that time.

In total numbers, there have been more cats than dogs in pet-owned homes ever since 1981; a lot of people have more than one cat in their family.

I feel so sorry for the other 45% of the hooman households, though. I wonder what the 2003 numbers will be.

Going to the Cats ( in category In The News ) - posted at Thu, 29 Apr, 12:27 Pacific

Wednesday April 28, 2004

Job Interview

I had a job interview today. I thought it went well. I certainly hope the people on the other side of the table thought so too. I'd like to get this one; I think it could be fun. It actually sounds like a great match for my skills and interests. ...
       Continue reading "Job Interview"

Job Interview ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 28 Apr, 23:46 Pacific

Tuesday April 27, 2004

Home Improvement Shows

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

Home Improvement Shows:

Onesome: --Home
What's the one thing your dream home must have?

Twosome: --Improvement
What's the one thing you would change about your current home? New bed, couch? New carpet or wallpaper? Or something major like an addition?

Threesome: --Shows
Do you ever watch home improvement shows?

...
       Continue reading "Home Improvement Shows"

Home Improvement Shows ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Tue, 27 Apr, 11:34 Pacific

Monday April 26, 2004

Treasures 2004_17

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, things that make me feel happy or thankful or interested, things that are worth remembering. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

I gather my Treasures throughout the week. What are some of your Treasures for last week? I hope you'll consider sharing your own list of Treasures here, or starting a list in your personal weblog or journal. If you enjoy this sort of thing, take a look at the participation positives web ring. ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_17"

Treasures 2004_17 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 26 Apr, 15:51 Pacific

Sunday April 25, 2004

Weekly Wrap-up (Apr 12 - Apr 24)

One of my online writing groups, Journal Writing, posts several regular summarizing prompts, including
"Wednesday's mid-week reflection"
Take some time to write in your journal. What's happened so far this week?
"Summary Saturday"
What's the most important thing that's happened this week?
and a bi-weekly prompt called "Check In".
The list is like journaling. Sometimes life takes over and we don't have time to write like we'd like to, thus the check in.

All members please take a minute to respond to this email. Let us know how you are doing, what's going on with you. How is your writing? How many pages have you completed in your journal since we last had roll call? Read any books you could recommend. Tried any new writing methods?

A summarizing entry seems like a good idea. This is my summary of the past two weeks. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up (Apr 12 - Apr 24)"

Weekly Wrap-up (Apr 12 - Apr 24) ( in category Retrospectoscope ) - posted at Sun, 25 Apr, 11:20 Pacific

Saturday April 24, 2004

Roadside oddities

For many years, I have noted the not infrequent presence of shoes along the roadside (more frequently, in one of the lanes, on the road itself). It's usually a single shoe. I've even read short articles and news paper columnists commenting on the single-shoe-on-the-road phenomenon.

Spouse has recently brought another such roadside oddity to my attention — the orphan traffic cone. There it sits, blaze orange and forlorn, bereft of its companions, alone by the roadside. Why is it there? What brought it to this location? Why was it left?

How could anyone possibly abandon a blaze orange 24"-high rubber traffic cone by accident?

There's generally no sign of present or even former construction. Only the lone cone.

Today I had a thought. Perhaps the cones have not been abandoned after all. Perhaps they have migrated to their current location, having been brought there without their consent. I recalled an incident from years ago in Anaheim, California. As I waited to cross the major boulevard that passes in front of the Disneyland main gate, a van came down the street. Trapped under the front bumper of the van, being pushed along the road, was an orange traffic cone, carried who knows how far from its former location.

Perhaps, like spiders, ladybugs, and the occasional errant snail (all of which have, at one time or another, hitched a ride on my car), traffic cones are not to much left as brought to their lonely place by the side of the road, there to stand, guarding nothing in blaze orange vigilance until a passing CalTrans crew eventually happens by, takes notice, and takes them home.

Roadside oddities ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sat, 24 Apr, 23:45 Pacific

Friday April 23, 2004

Cool Comic for Word (and Quote) Addicts

Do you love words? New words, Olde wordes, long words, esoteric words, foreign words?

Do you love to read (and collect) quotes?

Do you love to play with language?

Shoecabbage is a syndicated comic panel by Teresa Dowlatshahi and David Stanford. It's all about language and languages (especially lesser-known and endangered languages). I just discovered it recently and I'm hooked.

I've added Shoecabbage to my ucomics.com membership (comics by email). Check it out for yourself.

shcab040331
Cool Comic for Word (and Quote) Addicts ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Fri, 23 Apr, 14:44 Pacific

Thursday April 22, 2004

Job Audition

I spent much of the past week auditioning for a programming job. Yes, I said auditioning.

It all started last Wednesday morning when I saw a possible job listed on Dice (an online job site). The job requirements specified Perl, JavaScript, DOM, and VoiceXML experience in a Unix environment. I'd never used VoiceXML specifically but I've used XML. I looked up the VoiceXML spec... that didn't look too hard. So I sent off an enquiry with my resume.

I got a call from the agency within 30 minutes. We talked. There was a pre-interview qualifying "test" associated with the position. That was intriguing. The quoted rate, not posted on Dice, was low (right at my (grudging) bottom limit) but I figured I'd take a look at the test before making any further decisions. ...
       Continue reading "Job Audition"

Job Audition ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Thu, 22 Apr, 13:23 Pacific

Wednesday April 21, 2004

Drizzly Day

Today is another drizzly day. It's been mostly grey and cloudy with on and off drizzle since Saturday afternoon. I can't really complain, though. One netfriend near Buffalo, NY, had snow on Sunday April 4; another (who lives an hour or two from Buffalo) got a few inches on the 14th. A third woman, in Alberta Canada, still has 5 inches in her backyard. Then there are the two woman on yet another list who had tornado warnings last night. I think I'll stick with drizzle. ...
       Continue reading "Drizzly Day"

Drizzly Day ( in category Nature/Cats ) - posted at Wed, 21 Apr, 09:56 Pacific

Wednesday April 21, 2004

Barkeater Lake

Barkeater Lake is a new strip by Corey Pandolph, featured on comics.com.

Barkeater Lake follows the exploits of Delores Tanzini, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who decides to give up her crazy hectic life in the city for a quieter, saner existence. When she moves to a small town in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, she slowly realizes she's stumbled into an entirely different brand of crazy.

[ cf About... ]

barkeaterlake20040224 ...
       Continue reading "Barkeater Lake"

Barkeater Lake ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Wed, 21 Apr, 08:44 Pacific

Tuesday April 20, 2004

Daffodils

[ A writing prompt from Daily Writing Practice ]

Daffodils in the garden...

I love daffodils; they are my favorite flower. I love to bury my nose inside the blossoms and inhale their scent, faint but perceptible and oh so delicious.

I have planted daffodils; sometimes they come back up, sometimes not. Each year I consider planting more. Often I buy a pot of flowers to set on my porch in the spring. ...
       Continue reading "Daffodils"

Daffodils ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Tue, 20 Apr, 00:10 Pacific

Monday April 19, 2004

Treasures 2004_16

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, things that make me feel happy or thankful or interested, things that are worth remembering. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

I gather my treasures throughout the week. I hope you'll consider starting your own list of Treasures -- here, or in your personal weblog or journal. If you enjoy this sort of thing, take a look at the participation positives web ring.

My treasures for the past week include ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_16"

Treasures 2004_16 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 19 Apr, 10:17 Pacific

Sunday April 18, 2004

Home Improvement Shows

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

Home Improvement Shows:

Onesome: --Home
What's the one thing your dream home must have?

Twosome: --Improvement
What's the one thing you would change about your current home? New bed, couch? New carpet or wallpaper? Or something major like an addition?

Threesome: --Shows
Do you ever watch home improvement shows?

...
       Continue reading "Home Improvement Shows"

Home Improvement Shows ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Sun, 18 Apr, 23:43 Pacific

Saturday April 17, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 4 of 4)

I was Summoned to Appear for Jury Duty this past Monday, April 12. The story begins here, continuing with part 2 and part 3. The fourth and final installment is below. ]

I headed out of the elevator, checked a sign board that said 8D was at the far end, and headed down to the courtroom. I arrived as the bailiff was saying "This doesn't look like 30 people". I said "It isn't; they're behind me; the elevators were really slow." The bailiff (a woman with long crinkly blonde hair and a Sheriff's office insignia) agreed that slow elevators were normal.

Then everyone else came in and took a seat and the courtroom clerk took roll. One woman was missing. So, the courtroom clerk called downstairs to the Jury Assembly room clerk who called over the PA system and...

Meanwhile, I sat waiting, looking around the courtroom. It was a nicely appointed courtroom with lots of wood paneling. The jury seats were grey swivel chairs, apparently well padded. The "audience/observation" area had flip-up seats like a lecture hall. It was a large room but only 3 rows of observation seats so everyone would be near any action.

The defendant(?) sat at a table with, presumably, counsel for the defense, occasionally talking in undertones. The other lawyer, a woman, sat at the other end of a long table. Both lawyers wore blue suits. The defendant wore a long-sleeved, buttoned white shirt, no tie, something unidentifiable in his shirt pocket, and a mohawk haircut. ...
       Continue reading "Summoned to Appear (part 4 of 4)"

Summoned to Appear (part 4 of 4) ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sat, 17 Apr, 20:51 Pacific

Friday April 16, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 3 of 4)

[ I was Summoned to Appear for Jury Duty this past Monday, April 12. The story begins here, and continues with part 2. The third installment is below. ]

After the video, we were released to walk around until we might be called back. Our clerk pointed out that we should stay on the lower level. "I have a PA system. It's only on this floor. It's in the cafeteria and the bathrooms. If you leave this floor, I can't call you back. If you don't come back, it's me who's gonna get it. I mean, you too, but they'll yell at me first."

I wasn't convinced that this was an appropriate group to play on their better sense of nobility. I rather thought she'd keep people around better if she said "They will go after you and you will be fined". I mean, so some mythical person yells at the clerk? Why should a prospective juror care, especially if that gives him or her a head start? I suppose I'm getting cynical. ...
       Continue reading "Summoned to Appear (part 3 of 4)"

Summoned to Appear (part 3 of 4) ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Fri, 16 Apr, 08:50 Pacific

Thursday April 15, 2004

Happy Tax Day

offthemark20040415

Are you done?

Have you started? :-)

I'm wondering if the reason that my email lists have been sooo quiet today is because
many people are off somewhere glaring at IRS forms
..

ft040414

Happy Tax Day ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Thu, 15 Apr, 11:24 Pacific

Wednesday April 14, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 2 of 4)

[ I was Summoned to Appear for Jury Duty this past Monday, April 12. The story begins here and continues below. ]

I headed down the stairs and down the hall to the Jury Assembly room, joining the line of prospective jurors filling out the "Juror Affidavit" form.

The woman running the Jury Assembly orientation soon began to sound like a robot. She kept repeating over and over "Please have a seat. I need your paperwork. Please include your name, address, home telephone and work number. Please sign and date the back. Please have a seat. I need you to sign and date this. I need your paperwork or they don't know you're here. Please have a seat. Are you all parked in Jury parking? Did you put your parking pass on the dashboard of your car? I need your paperwork. Please..." Hers must be one of the most boring jobs in the world.

Every now and then something different would happen. "Sir, you forgot to sign the back". Ma'am, I need your telephone number." "Sir, you did not need to come in. Your juror number starts with a 1. Only jurors with numbers starting with 0 need to come in today. You may leave".

At 8:30, the scheduled start time, people were still dribbling in. "Please have a seat. I will start orientation in 7 minutes. I need your paperwork." ...
       Continue reading "Summoned to Appear (part 2 of 4)"

Summoned to Appear (part 2 of 4) ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 14 Apr, 22:30 Pacific

Tuesday April 13, 2004

Computer Meme

[ Today's meme is courtesy of Thursday Threesome ]

Computer Anti-Virus Software:

Onesome: --Computer
What was/is your first computer? A clunky old Commodore or something a touch more modern?

Twosome: --Anti-Virus
Have you ever had a computer virus? How bad was it? Or are you one of the lucky ones who have managed to avoid them?

Threesome: --Software
What piece of software really made you more productive on your computer?

...
       Continue reading "Computer Meme"

Computer Meme ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Tue, 13 Apr, 23:37 Pacific

Monday April 12, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 1 of 4)

I was summoned for Jury Duty back in November of 2003. At the time, I received the summons, I had a contract, so I asked for an extension until April 2004 (the court allows people to ask for an extension of up to 6 months).

By the time the original date came around, my contract had ended, unexpectedly. But hey, I had the extension filed. So I just put the new date on my calendar and went on with my life. I could have moved the date up, but it isn't as if I actually want to serve on a jury.

The new date was today, April 12. I had hoped there wouldn't be many cases on Easter Monday but no such luck. When I called last night, I was told that my presence would be required. (Some prospective jurors were told their presence would not be required; I was not so lucky). ...
       Continue reading "Summoned to Appear (part 1 of 4)"

Summoned to Appear (part 1 of 4) ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Mon, 12 Apr, 21:58 Pacific

Sunday April 11, 2004

Treasures 2004_15

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, things that make me feel happy or thankful or interested, things that are worth remembering. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

I gather my treasures throughout the week. I hope you'll consider starting your own list of Treasures -- here, or in your personal weblog or journal.

My treasures for the past week include ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_15"

Treasures 2004_15 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sun, 11 Apr, 22:17 Pacific

Saturday April 10, 2004

Summer Fun Toy

This week's Saturday Slant
Summer’s coming. If you had to pick just one summer fun toy, what would it be? Would you cruise around the South West in an RV? Does the convenient refreshment of a backyard pool entice you? Looking to steam up the summer nights in your very own hot tub? Up for wave-skimming excitement with a jet ski? Or are you more of a home-body, opting for an ice-cold air conditioner to keep movie nights comfortable? What is your summer fun activity toy?
...
       Continue reading "Summer Fun Toy"

Summer Fun Toy ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Sat, 10 Apr, 10:19 Pacific

Friday April 9, 2004

Fast Women

Fast Women is another "must read" book by contemporary romance author Jennifer Crusie. You'll feel that the characters are people you know well; you won't like all of them, but then, that's to be expected. The dialog is brisk and fun to read. Riley McKenna, in particular, exhibits a dry sense of humor I really liked. I like Riley a lot. I also like his cousin Gabe and the sisters-in-law: Nell, Suze, and Margie. I don't much like the women's (ex)husbands, but then, I'm not really supposed to. As cads, however, they are expertly well-drawn.

Fast Women is about relationships, embezzlement, dog-napping, adultery, blackmail, "finding" yourself, starting over, ugly business cards, a 20-year-old suicide, 63-year-old office furniture, murder, and sex. Try it. I really liked it. ...
       Continue reading "Fast Women"

Fast Women ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Fri, 09 Apr, 14:31 Pacific

Thursday April 8, 2004

With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

A writing prompt from Journal Inspirations

What do you like to grow? Do you have a green or a brown thumb?

I have a brown thumb. I guess it came with my name :-)

In any event, most houseplants do not survive our tender care. Besides that, we have housecats and cats and plants often do not mix (or when they do, it is to the continued detriment of the plants). So, all plants have been banished outdoors, where they mostly fend for themselves. ...
       Continue reading "With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells"

With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Thu, 08 Apr, 13:05 Pacific

Wednesday April 7, 2004

Re-fi

We finished a home mortgage re-finance this evening... finally. This has taken an amazingly long time, considering that we re-financed with the same lender and we were only doing this to reduce our rate, not to take out any more money! In fact, we're gong to pay two days of "lock extension" fees because the rate lock holds for 2 months and we didn't get to closing within that period! We started the process on February 4. Sheesh.

The good news is that I asked the right questions regarding the lock extension. My first question was "How much per day?" ($20). OK, that's not so bad. Then I said, half jokingly, "Of course, if the rate has gone down in the meantime, maybe we don't want to extend the lock." After the loan officer laughed I said "Do you know? What is the current rate?" She said she didn't know; the bank keeps that information confidential and only the loan sales folks know but she suggested I ask our sales rep because if the rate had dropped, I could take advantage of their "one-time rate negotiation plan". ...
       Continue reading "Re-fi"

Re-fi ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 07 Apr, 22:33 Pacific

Tuesday April 6, 2004

Totem Animals

A writing group I belong to recently discussed Spirit Guides and Totem Animals.
An Animal Totem is an important symbolic object used by a person to get in touch with specific qualities found within an animal which the person needs, connects with, or feels a deep affinity toward.

You can have several animal guides through out your life. Sometimes an animal guide will come into your life for a short period of time, and then be replaced by another depending on the journey or direction you are headed toward. Your guide will instruct and protect you as you learn how to navigate through your spiritual and physical life. When you find an animal that speaks strongly to you or feel you must draw more deeply into your life, you might fill your environment with images of the animal to let the animal know it's welcome in your space. Animal guides can help you get back to your Earthly roots, and reconnect with nature by reminding you that we are all interconnected.

[ cf. How To Find Your Animal Totem ]

...
       Continue reading "Totem Animals"

Totem Animals ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Tue, 06 Apr, 17:10 Pacific

Monday April 5, 2004

Treasures 2004_14

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, things that make me feel happy or thankful or interested, things that are worth remembering. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

I gather my treasures throughout the week. I hope you'll consider starting your own list of Treasures -- here, or in your personal weblog or journal.

My treasures for the past week include ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_14"

Treasures 2004_14 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Mon, 05 Apr, 23:12 Pacific

Sunday April 4, 2004

Daylight Shifting Time

Today is the first Sunday in April, the official "Spring Ahead" day. It's also one of my very most favorite days of the year. We lost an hour today — not really lost so much as put in the bank. We earn a lot of interest on that hour; that one hour from an April Sunday pays for a later sunset and a longer-seeming day until the last Sunday in October, and then we get it back. Personally, I'd be happy to lose the hour entirely if we could stay on Daylight "Shifting" Time year-round. Winter is when we need daylight most!

But, given that I have little influence over the Powers That Be (much less, the government), I'll have to make the best of what I've got. I have seven months before "They" start turning the lights off much too early for my taste.

Daylight Shifting Time ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sun, 04 Apr, 19:34 Pacific

Saturday April 3, 2004

In My Room

Inspired by a writing prompt from Journal Inspirations (this entry was written on March 25, 2004).

Describe the room you are in right now. How does this room make you feel?

I am sitting in my favorite room of our house, my office. My office is approximately 10x14 feet in dimension and I share it with no one but the cats. My workstation is a Power Macintosh G3 (with three 1280x1024 resolution monitors), running Mac OS X. Above each monitor is a "bucket" from Office Depot, with a faux "sheepskin" liner in the bottom.; The cats love to sleep above my monitors (and I love to look up and see them). The liner (the sort of thing you buy at the petstore) is comfy for the kitties and has the added benefit of preventing cat hair from sifting into my monitors. ...
       Continue reading "In My Room"

In My Room ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Sat, 03 Apr, 13:08 Pacific

Friday April 2, 2004

Faking It

Faking It, by Jennifer Crusie, combines elements of art forgery, burglary, con artistry, and contemporary romance in a very enjoyable plot. The story line is interesting, the dialog is brisk and funny, and the characters are delightfully loony.

These are the sort of people I like best to meet in books; they're people that I feel like I've gotten to know! When the book ends, I miss them.

The only downside to the book is that it isn't entirely suitable for minors or those with "delicate sensibilites". It does include a small number of sex scenes. If you don't like that sort of thing, you can skip over them; however, I advise you not to. They aren't that explicit (this is not erotica) and they actually do seem to add a bit to the plot (including a few bits of dialog that might not be readily understood if you skip the previous scenes).

Aside from that one, possible, flaw, I loved this book. I was sorry to see it end. If you like smart, interesting, slightly warped characters and fresh, snappy dialog, pick up a copy of Faking It the next time you're in a bookstore. I'm going to pick up a few more of Jennifer Crusie's books. I hope they'll be as much fun to read.

Faking It ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Fri, 02 Apr, 11:36 Pacific

Thursday April 1, 2004

Garbage Project

A writing prompt from Journal Writing, an egroup for journaling.

What would people find in your garbage bin?

Eyew, ick! :-)

Another member wrote:
If someone were gross enough to snoop through my garbage...
Truly! But, what the hey... here goes! ...
       Continue reading "Garbage Project"

Garbage Project ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Thu, 01 Apr, 12:54 Pacific