Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Review: What the Dead Know

The worst thing about finishing a really great book is the looming dread of starting another. Do you know what that's like? Or is it just me? It may be a short high, but I just finished What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman, and it was awesome.

I've never been a reader. All of my life my parents and sister were readers - the types who stay up into the night reading and reading and reading. I was a sleeper. Ten minutes of reading and the tell-tale signs of sleep - bobbing arms and eyes - began and slowly gave way to exhaustion. Sure, I read on occasion, most notably The Hardy Boys (which I preferred to Nancy Drew), or later, Christopher Pike's teen mysteries, but I was never a real reader.

So as an adult I decided that my vocabulary could use some improvement, and my mom always credited a good vocabulary to good reading. In addition, our generation is a TV generation, and as much as I love my TV, even I could see that some separation was required. So... I started reading. I'm not sure what I read initially... maybe John Irving. Over the life of this blog, I have commented many times about my love for John Irving's writing. It's so rich. So well written. I've read nearly all of his books with exception to a few of the early ones that I just couldn't get my brain around. After Irving, I read a few 'popular' books, most notably Memoirs of a Geisha. I truly loved this book, and completing it was so satisfying. I've often explained that I've rarely enjoyed a book like I did Geisha. It opened new doors for me in that I discovered memoirs. Not biographies... to me those are far too tedious... but memoirs. Over the last few years I have read quite a few, and I have come to the conclusion that memoirs are my favorite type of reading. Either memoirs... or novels that read like memoirs. It's those short, yet detailed snippets of people's lives - real or imagined - that pulls me in.

I digress. So when I was home in Ohio for the holiday, I started on Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know. I wonder if one reason that I stayed in so much during my visit is because I wanted to read her book. I'm not sure... but I had to stop reading it for a few days when I came back to Baltimore because there was so much to do. Yesterday I decided that my computer issues must be a sign to step back from technology for awhile and read, so I unplugged the dying desktop and picked up the book again. I finished it this evening, and once again, that strong feeling of satisfaction came over me as I read the final page. Now THAT was a good book.

What the Dead Know is a mystery of sorts, or what people nowadays call a 'crime novel,' and these are generally not what I like to read. Mysteries tend to be too surface to me, kind of like old Columbo TV shows. I absolutely loved Columbo, don't get me wrong, but as much as you loved him, the other characters were all really surface. No depth. It's as if they have their own histories, but the viewers are only given access to the details that aid the storyline in an obvious way. But Laura Lippman's novels are so rich. I supposed I am partially biased, because there is a sense of pride in knowing the streets and landmarks she mentions in her books. I love Baltimore, and it's exciting to read about local places in her stories. But it's more than that, too. Whether or not it is essential to the outcome of the story - the why or the how - her characters have an exquisite depth that so many other books lack. For instance, in What the Dead Know, Miriam's self reflection, or her insecurities, if you will, are not necessarily pertinent to the mystery itself, but it allows the reader to feel closer to her. That vulnerability helps us to understand her pain and her struggle, which lends itself later when the drama unfolds. I don't think many writers have the foresight to know how these details early on will affect the overall reader experience. It's genius.

I hate to go on and on any more about the book because it is a mystery and you should just go read it yourself. I haven't read all of Laura Lippman's books yet (although I think Cheryl might have - haha), but I have to believe that this is her best to date. Every Baltimore reader should have this book on their list without question. Congratulations, Laura. This book hit the Charissa jackpot.

Order Complete

Well, I just bought a new computer. DELL Refurbished. My dad and I went through the selection of available units online, and I finally settled on a Dimension E520.

The last 24 hours have been irritating. I upgraded my memory on my laptop, only to discover that the video card was insufficient for the game I wanted to play... then I upgraded the CD-ROM drive on my desktop to a DVD drive, only to have my motherboard begin making ominous beeps and groans. I finally seemed to get everything in line, when it crashed again and resumed the beeping and groaning. I threw my hands in the air and decided to get a new PC. It's refurbished, so more affordable, and it comes with a two year warranty so I can at least stop any worrying in the short term. It's just never fun to have to rush-buy a new computer, and after my spending this holiday, I really need to get some bills paid off.

That said, here are my Dimension E520 Specs:

Dimension E520 Mini-Tower: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6320 (1.86GHz, 1066 FSB)
Certified Refurbished
256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache
Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
2 GB DDR2 Non-ECC SDRAM 677MHz (2 DIMMs)
McAfee Security Center with VirusScan, Firewall, Spyware Removal, 15-months
16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability
Microsoft Works 8.5 with MS Office Trial Version Software
56Kbps Data/Fax Modem
250 GB SATA II Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
13 in 1 Media Card Reader

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Top Five Holiday Memories

In recap, my visit home was fabulous. It was a day or so longer than usual, and so I didn't feel overly rushed immediately upon arriving. It was a really great visit, and although I didn't see everyone that I wanted to see, it was a special trip for me. Here are my top five 2007 holiday memories.

1. I am pretty sure everyone loved the gifts I gave them. There were a few slightly risky gifts, for instance, a butterfly house for my mom's garden, dad's design encyclopedia, or the creeper peeper bug kits for my nephews, but most of the gifts I felt really good about - a fairy book, a transformer, fancy clothes, etc. I am pretty sure I did good this year, and that pleases me to no end. I hate to sound cliche, but it really is the gift giving that I like the most. It just makes me happy to make other people happy.
2. I had some hard core time with my family. I didn't go out much in Ohio, but I kind of needed to not be pulled in 100 directions. I often spend trips home running around and seeing tons of people, but I didn't do that this visit. Instead my parents and I went to dinner, a movie, shopping, and just spent time together. That was really nice. Calm... and really nice.
3. In addition to core family time, I spent some quality time with my grandparents and my niece and nephews. Moments with these people are precious. It is so hard seeing them only once or twice a year, and the older folks and younger folks both change so much in that time. I got a lot of hugs in, so hopefully they'll last me for awhile. I guess they'll just have to, won't they?
4. I was able to regroup with some good Ohio friends and their kids. What fun! We haven't had the three girls together since two summers ago with Jodi (we missed you, Jodi), but it was nice to see BJ and Patrick, who I hadn't seen in a long while. It's unfortunate that Conner wasn't immediately taken with me, but I was glad that both Lily and Jordan seemed to love me. I feel pretty good about that.
5. And lastly, for the first time as adults I hung out with two of my cousins, Jen and Jonathan. They are my first cousins on my dad's side, and although we are close genetically, we didn't spend too much time together as children. In fact, I don't think we'd seen each other in about nine years which is just crazy. So last week we met up at a restaurant/bar and got to know each other all over again. We are the remaining single cousins, so it was a lot of fun to whine and laugh about that, and basically catch up on our entire lives. I'll definitely want to make sure I make an effort to reach out to them more often. They are obviously fabulous people, and how lucky am I to have people like that in my family. Thanks Jen and Jono - I can't wait to hang out again.

And with that, 2008 is right around the corner, isn't it? I'm already excited about what this coming year has to offer. I had some rough times in 2007, but I also spent the last few months reflecting on life, and gaining (or nearing) closure where closure was required. I'm not perfect by any means, but I feel more optimistic lately, and I think 2008 will be a great year for me. I am one blessed gal...

Back in the Groove

Well... sort of. I fell asleep around 12:30 last night and didn't get out of bed until 11-ish. I was awake early, but I read for a few hours before deciding it was time to get up. What's on the list for today?

1. Laundry (shocker)
2. Visit storage unit (to drop off holiday stuff)
3. CompUSA (please, please, please have Dell-compatible memory)
4. Ann Taylor (coupons only good until 1/1)

Other than that, I want to do a whole lot of nothing (with exception to catching up on posts, of course). Apologies to my blogger friends who met last night sans Charissa... I think it was crazy for me to assume that I wouldn't want to be a lump and hole myself up in my apartment. You know I'm almost always good for a night out, just not after a week away and a six hour drive home. :)

Update: SUCCESS! I bought 2 512MB cards (something about 'parallel processing' and needing two cards) and also a DVD Writer ($30!) for the desktop. I'm so proud. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

On the Road Again

I haven't posted since Monday, but Christmas was really great. I'll post a summary of the holiday tomorrow or Saturday. This morning I had another visit to the chiropractor, followed by a 30+ minute nap. After a quick lunch, Antonio and I will load the car and head back to my beloved Bawlmer. I'm looking forward to getting back to my cat and my friends, but leaving is always difficult. I have a lot of family and friends in Ohio, and they will be sorely missed. I really have to make an effort to come home for Easter in 2008. (Note to self.) For now, wish me a speedy (but not too speedy) and safe drive home.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I Have Wanted To Do This Forever

I tried on my mom's prom dress. Yes, I did. My mom and dad went to her prom in 1971, and over the years I have seen pictures of her in this dress and eyed it hanging in the closet. My mom was a size 0 or 3 or something back in high school, and although I am small (read "short"), I've been hesitant to try on these dresses because of the sadness I'd feel if it didn't fit.

Well... it fits. Just. We got it on (sans black sash around the middle), but I couldn't take any deep breaths because it was so tight across my rib cage. I think I had it on for 5-10 minutes, and I was so happy to breathe when it was unzipped.

So my mom and I have discovered (officially) that we don't have even remotely the same body type. This dress (although so fun to try on) does nothing for me. I tried on her wedding dress, too... because it was there, and it's official that I am shorter, fatter, and less (let's say) innocent-looking than she was in that dress back in the day. In her wedding photos she is just gorgeous, but I looked... stupid. So stupid, in fact, that we didn't even bother to take picture of me in it. It was so unflattering.

What fun to be home.

The Highland Theatre & A Movie Review

My parents and I saw National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets yesterday at the Highland Theatre. This theatre has been open since 1938, and my mom and her brothers tell stories of seeing movies there as children for 35 cents. In fact, my uncle explained exactly how we could pay for one ticket and get the rest of us in for free because apparently his friends used to do it when they were kids - something about a fire escape and water closet, I believe. These days, my parents have moved back into the neighborhood (sort of) and can enjoy the Highland more frequently than when they lived in the 'burbs.

The Highland is really neat. Sure, it needs some work, but it's an 80 year old theatre, and I can't imagine that many of the repairs are quick fixes. What's neat about it now (besides the decor and history) is that there's a full bar, table seating and a dance floor inside, as well as the standard theatre seats. We grabbed a few sodas (for the parents), popcorn, and a Coors Light (they have limited choices) for me and settled in to watch the movie.

National Treasure 2 was certainly charming. Nicolas Cage is a quirky modern-day Indiana Jones, and even though he has played a variety of complex roles in his career, he can still play this "regular guy" very well. He's believable. I like believable. There were really great sets and scenery and interesting bits of history throughout, and the only character that really got on my nerves was Abigail, played by Diane Kruger. She was quite irritating at the beginning of the movie (per the script), and so for me, she never gained back any of the likableness that she had in the first movie. It's not a deep movie, certainly, but it was very entertaining. It was minimally as good as the first movie, in my opinion, and they added Helen Mirren to the cast who I love more and more every time I see her (go and see The Queen if you haven't already).

Additionally, the writers set up a storyline for a third movie, for which I am very glad. I don't usually like it when writers leave the script so obviously open, you know, just in case, but these movies have proven themselves to be quite fun, so I was glad that they did.

I'd give National Treasure 2 four stars, because I liked it, but I'd give the Highland Theatre five stars, though, because it is a rich piece of local history that should be preserved for years to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Good 'ole Weathervane

Yesterday my sister got me a comp ticket to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at one of Akron's community playhouses, Weathervane. My sister is the educational director there, and this particular show is an annual youth production. It's a crazy 6 or 7 week run, but only Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays, and each two weeks they use a different children's choir for the echo chorus parts.

So yesterday, the last show, my niece Calista (Kah-LEE-stah) got to perform. She isn't in any of the choirs that were chosen, but they were a few kids short and it was the final performance. Naturally, she had been in the building for a zillion rehearsals, so she knew the show very well, rehearsed a few times and was inserted in. When she got on stage, I waved (of course), and Calista (who hasn't done much theatre) waved back. I started giggling, I couldn't help myself. She watched me during the whole show though, because she asked me afterward if I liked it because she saw my furrowed brow throughout the whole show. She's so observant. I guess I was a bit shocked at some of the scenes and some of the teen actors' behavior on stage. It was very, very good, it's not that it wasn't, but some of the kids OVERact to the extreme, so she probably saw my expressions as I reacted to them. Oh well.

I was very proud of her. She's naturally shy talking to people, but hanging out at the theatre is helping her to break out of that. She held my hand and dragged me around the lobby afterward introducing me to everyone in the cast as her aunt. It was very sweet. She's 8 years old and will be 9 in April. She's growing up so fast...

Anyway, here's a snapshot of us after the show. My little Calista...

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I made it to Ohio. Thank goodness for my Bluetooth headset because I talked for at least 75% of the trip, and it's so nice having my hands free.

Already I can tell that things have changed. On I-76 west on Youngstown, there's a huge LOWE's right next to the highway all lit up like New Year's Eve. Where the heck did that come from? The closest commercial property is Summit Racing, meaning it's in the middle of nowhere. What is a LOWE's doing out there?

After a lazy night of hanging out with the parents last night (plus a glass or two of wine), I woke up this morning for a 10 AM chiropractor visit. I knew it was going to be bad. If I lived here, I'd probably see a chiropractor ever 6 weeks for general maintenance (yes, I screw up my back that easily), but living in Baltimore I see my doctor once, maybe twice, per year. That means he has to do a lot of manipulation in one visit. Lots of cracking = sore Charissa.

As it turns out, my headaches have been caused by the mess in my back and neck. He said that three major vertebra were out of line and causing a "hump" of muscle... a few snaps fixed that, but it will take a day or so for the soreness to go away. Add four neck snaps to a good back manipulation, and I am sore and sleepy. Ho-hum.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Am I Forgetting?

I feel as though I am forgetting something important... something I've promised to bring, or bring back... I don't know. I have the equivalent of a modern day station wagon in my Malibu Maxx, but it's going to be one packed car. Does anyone know of anything that I am supposed to be bringing? Mom? Dad? Marie? I have packed soooo much, but I still feel as though I am forgetting something. What could it be??

The plan is to get up, go to work, give presentation, leave work at 1 PM, go home, pack car and dog, and head for Ohio. Just to complicate things a little, I have a conference call at 3 PM, so I absolutely have to be on the road by 3 so that I can fully participate in the conversation. AH! Nothing like a little pressure to motivate you, right?

Okay... I'm off to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day. So long, Bawlmer... I'll blog from Ohio, but it just won't be the same without ya. I'll be back in a week. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm A Planner... I Can't Help Myself

I have an insane amount of things to do/to pack before Friday. I am still shocked that it's Wednesday because I'm not quite in full panic mode yet. As usual for me, I am working off of a list... and updating it and adding to it as I go. In addition, I am starting a shopping list because there's a crazy inexpensive store at home and if I get a chance I am picking up a few things before I come back.

Things to do:
1. Food/water for Elliott - done
2. Turn on TV for cat
3. Clean cat box - done
4. Clean sheets - done
5. Put away laundry - done
6. Organize crafts - done
7. Email recipe to mom - done
8. Unload/reload dishwasher - done
9. Take out trash - done
10. Vacuum again - done
11. Dust - done

Things to take:
1. Clothes/choose Xmas outfit - collected
2. PJs/warm clothes - collected
3. Something for chiropractor appt. - collected
4. Antonio food/toys/coat/leash/treats - collected
5. Work and personal laptops/chargers - collected
6. Bluetooth headset/charger - collected
7. Movies/Book - collected
8. Xmas presents - collected
9. Xmas wrapping paper - collected
10. Shoes/boots/slippers - collected
11. Skin cleanser/Toiletries - collected
12. Lotion/makeup - collected
13. Hair brush/products/flat iron - collected
14. Jewelry - collected
15. Gaming headset for BJ - in car
16. Router for Dad - in car
17. Coats/scarves/gloves - collected
18. Newspapers/magazine for family - collected
19. Phone/BB chargers - collected
20. Games - collected
21. Bike helmet - in collected
22. Craft supplies for mom - in collected
23. Meds - in collected

Things to bring back:
1. Laundry detergent
2. Dryer sheets
3. Spray Pam
4. Sugar
5. Dog food

Holiday Potluck

We had a holiday potluck at work today, which is pretty impressive considering we have 200 - 250 people in our building. There was so much food! My personal favorites were the Mexican dip (I could live off of this stuff), Chicken Marsala, and crab dip (minus the shells in the mix - yuck). I made Greek Orzo Salad which I'd never made before, but it was convenient for a potluck (no heating) and pleasantly different than your average pasta salad. It was really good! And it was super easy to make (after all, it is a salad), except for the de-seeding of the cucumbers and tomatoes... specifically, the tomatoes. Maybe there's an easier way to do it than how I went about it, but I must say that removing the seeds made the salad more hearty and substantial, and less watery. Absolutely yummy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In Case You Need a Few Last Minute Gifts

Go ahead and check out 5 and Below where one of my coworkers bought a few last minute items for her kids.

She's a great mom and all, but I'm not exactly sure whom that last item is supposed to be for.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm Sure It Will Be Funny Tomorrow...

I'm sure it will be funny tomorrow when the staff at Canton Storage watches their security cameras and sees me trying to follow their rules. They'll see me parking next to the dumpster with my hatchback up and reading the signs that say, "Do Not Leave Trash Outside of Dumpster," and "Smile for the Camera." They might smile when they see my reaction as I look up and notice that the dumpster is close to 6 feet tall (and I am 5 feet tall), and they might start snickering when they watch as I try the sliding side doors (you know... the ones at waist level) and discover that they're both locked. I imagine it might be downright amusing for them to watch as I finally settle on using my telescoping ice scraper wand to hold the lid to the dumpster open, as I stand on my tip-toes and push my trash over the edge of the dumpster... one. box. at. a. time. Yeah. That might be funny... tomorrow, anyway.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Relax... these bags aren't all mine. Just most of them.

Thanks, Katie - my feet hurt quite a bit, but boy, did we have fun.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Congratulations, Evelyn's

Fellow blogger, Carol, recently received a fabulous review of her cafe, Evelyn's, in Washington Village Pigtown. So last night some of us blogger folk, as well as a load of people I didn't know, gathered at Evelyn's for some beverages and mingling. Denis Provencher, a professor at UMBC, also celebrated the completion of his latest book - the majority of which (I believe) he wrote at Evelyn's. Congrats Carol & Dave!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Than Meets the Eye

Quote from Foot’s Forecast today: “If tropical moisture gets incorporated into the developing Low pressure at the same time that cold Canadian air is being pulled in from the north, the combination of these two could spawn some highly unusual "convective winter weather" ... in that I mean thundersnow or even thundersleet.”

Is it me, or are Thundersnow and Thundersleet really cool names for Transformers?

I can see it now – Thundersnow is a snow plow, and Thundersleet is disguised as a zamboni - don't you think?

"At the end of this day, one shall stand, one shall fall!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Won A Special Prize: Reader Participation

So it turns out that my fundraising for the Alzheimer's Walk in October ($750!!) earned me a prize from the Alzheimer's Association. Which prize do I want?

Braun Deluxe Handblender/Chopper
Set includes blender, whisk, chopper, bowl, beaker, and wall mount. Blends soups, sauces, baby food, juice drinks, and milk shakes. Whips cream, egg whites, and puddings. Chops herbs, nuts garlic, and onions.

Coby All Weather Sports CD Player
All weather splash-resistant durable design. Programmable track memory. Blah, blah, blah - it's a water-resistant CD player. I don't want this anyway.

Hamilton Beach Coffeemaker
Illuminated On/Off switch. One hour automatic shutoff. Removable filter basket. Auto Pause N' Serve.

Sutton Tote & Weekender
Sleek, sophisticated, micro-fiber tote and weekender. Great for the boardroom and/or a weekend retreat. Color: Black.

Timex Marathon Stopwatch
Digital display. Brown nylon lanyard. Brushed case. Water resistant to 50 meters. Dual time zones and alarm features.

Outback Fleece Sleeping Bag
Ideal for warm weather conditions. Constructed of medium-weight 8.4 ounce 100% polyester Anti-Pilling Panda Fleece for warmth and comfort. Features built-in nylon straps for easy carrying and convenient storage. Color: Black.

Alzheimer's Hooded Sweatshirt
Garment dyed, pre-shrunk 1005 ring spun cotton 11 oz. Heavyweight hooded sweatshirt. Jersey-lined hood and matching drawstring. Front pouch pocket. Fashionable 2x1 rib cuffs, relaxed bottom band and double-needle stitched seams. Embroidered with the Alzheimer's Memory Walk Logo. Color: Pepper (and available in small!)

Vote away... (but don't vote for the CD player. I don't need it with the iPod.)!

Row Q at Avenue Q

OMG. Jill and I and few friends from work saw Avenue Q at the Hippodrome last night. I have always heard great things about this show, but last night really blew away my expectations. It was hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. For those of you not familiar with the show (or touring Broadway shows in general), Avenue Q is a stage musical that makes fun of Sesame Street. There are 'like' SS characters - including Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster and a token celebrity - and a few extra to assist with the storyline. The "characters" are both humans and muppets, and the puppeteers (or is it muppeteers?) are on stage in view while they carry the muppet characters around stage. It sounds odd and distracting, but you quickly get used to these "floating people" and forget about them entirely. All-in-all, there are only six (SIX!) cast members in the whole show. Six cast members and at least twelve characters, only three of which are human characters (no muppets).

The content of the show in highly inappropriate. Very politically incorrect.... and HILARIOUS. Some of the songs are: "It Sucks To Be Me," "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist," and "The Internet Is For Porn." Let's just say that if Avenue Q was a movie, it would be rated R for sexual content (yes, with muppets), language and violence (a teeny bit). And... I loved it.

On top of the coolness of the show, I saw JWER right afterward. He'd been there the whole time. I'm curious to hear if he liked it, although I am guessing he did. The humor is very JWER. In fact, many of you twisted bloggers (AH, ACW, NPR) would probably love this one. So if you're in and around Baltimore please consider seeing it - it's only at the Hippodrome through December 23rd - oh, and let me know if you go because I'd definietly be interested in seeing it again.

After the show I dropped off Jill and headed to Claddagh to see Wes play. I was surprised by all of the people there. I would like to note that Jess is giganimous (she's due 1/1/08) and after careful observation, I like Wes' beard-thing. He looks kind of grown up with all of that facial hair. Maybe a little lumberjack-y, but grown up.

Last night was a fabulous, fabulous night, and right up my alley as far as perfect nights go. Tonight? Ghost Hunters and Antonio, with maybe a little Christmas prep. Oh, and sleep, of course.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Flashback to Saturday Night

Oh my... so Saturday night was our employee-planned holiday party. For those who are local, a large group of us gathered at Mad River in Federal Hill. We had that $30-all-you-can-drink deal where we had the upper room from 8 to 11 PM. It was nice because we were secluded for a while, but in general I'm iffy on Mad River. Hell, I'm iffy on Federal Hill. It's generally difficult to drive or park in Federal Hill, and none of the bars have ever grown on me. Mad River in particular is like a mega-bar for Baltimore. It's no Bar Baltimore as far as size and brand are concerned, but it's absolutely cavernous compared to most bars, and the two story ceiling and double-wide facade is definitely a nice change from the 13 foot rowhouse bars in most of the city.

That said, I'll usually agree to go Mad River if there's a planned event. I know we went there during the Friendship Triathlon weekend, but I can't recall if I've been there since then. I usually try to stay in Canton or East Baltimore if I have a choice. It's just easier.

So I think I am waiting from some pics from a variety of sources (Katie? Steve?), but here are all of the girl shots, and by "girl shots" I mean "pictures of Katie and me." Seriously I don't know what we were thinking. It's like we went camera-crazy for fifteen minutes, and all of my pics are from that short time frame.
Hmmm... how do you describe the same six photos differently? Haha. This is Katie and Jessica, and Jessica, I am sorry for the red eyes. I didn't have time to edit it. I'll try to fix it this week.
Katie and hot-guy-who-was-missing-his-exgirlfriend. What is his name again? Adorable. *Sigh*
Katie and hot-guy-who-was-WAIT... This is Katie and Dale. Sorry. I was confused there for a minute.
Katie's boobs and me. It's weird how I'm right in there, isn't it?
And this is Katie and I laughing about the fact that I just took a picture with her boobs. What? It was FUNNY.
And last, but not least - Katie, me and Jes... and our combined boobs.

What? It's Christmas for goodness sakes! Or Hanuka. Or any other fun reason to celebrate. We get to wear cute and fun tops at times like this. We're girls, gosh darnit. That's what we do.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'll Hold Off Buying Purple

I've been to two Ravens' games so far this season, and we've lost both of them. I wore lots of grey to the first game that I went to - a relatively neutral color - so today I stepped up my support a little and wore a purple scarf, which is one of the two purple items of clothing in my wardrobe.

I'd love to feel enough like a fan to require a purple t-shirt or sweatshirt, but at the rate they're going, I think I'll hold off for now.

Am I bad luck or something?

Dear Lord...

...I'm hungover. Photos of last night to come later. For now, recovery and a continuation of yesterday's 'to do' list are required.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Weekend 'To Do' List Revisited

I haven't done one of these mass cleaning days in awhile. But my life has been crazy, and Antonio has destroyed about three different toys in the middle of the living room, so I need to buckle down and get this place back to normal.

In addition, my landlord's computer nose-dived on me last night. I installed drivers for his NetGear adapter and that install replaced rtlgina2.dll in the registry to MSGINA.dll. By 1 AM the thing wasn't even booting properly, so I unplugged it and went to bed. I figure a little cleaning and order will get me back in the mood to attack this thing.

1. Shower - done
2. Vacuum - done
3. Dust - done
4. Clean Kitchen floors - started
5. Run/Empty dishwasher - done
6. Run/Put away laundry - started
7. Collect trash - done
8. Take out trash - done
9. Clean cat box - done
10. Work on grandparents Xmas gifts - next weekend
11. Decide on sister/BIL Xmas gifts - next weekend
12. 'Tonio dog bath so he can sport his new collar - done
13. Work on someone's c'mon get happy gift (wink) - done!
14. Run Windows XP repair on landlord's desktop, download virus software, run defrag, and who knows what else - started (f'n computer)
15. Schedule haircut for next Sunday (or tomorrow?) - this week, I guess
16. Watch V: The Final Battle I & II - this week, I guess
17. Eat - done
18. Pick outfit for tonight's holiday party - done

Next weekend:
1. Wrap gifts
2. Start packing for Xmas home
3. Shop for work gift exchange
4. Try to buy brown winter coat from LOFT if still available in my size

Friday, December 07, 2007

Five on Friday

1. OH MY GOD THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY. This week. Was. Too Long.
2. I have taken on the responsibility of fixing my landlord's computer. Not his laptop... no, he was given an old desktop from a friend of his, (Pentium III) and he wants to use it as a "backup." It's current running off a Netgear USB wireless adapter, and I can't do a damn thing to fix the wireless situation because the computer seriously hasn't been updated in almost a year. I need to spend the weekend running diagnostics and getting virus protection on the thing before it's even close to usable. Yeek, GAWD.
3. The employee-organized Holiday party is tomorrow in Federal Hill. I am not a Federal Hill fan. First, parking is irritating. Second, I can't walk home. Third, I've never found a nice, calm bar there that I feel I belong at. They're all bar-hopping bars - but then, of course, that's why people go there. Ick. Not my thing.
5. I want ice cream. I don't have any. (Not a very exciting #5, but it is what it is.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bedtime Thoughts

I've had a few strange weeks - a few strange months. And today was really not so good. It started bad, and ended bad, for separate and distinctively different reasons. But as Antonio and I get ready for bed tonight (with Elliott in tow), I feel the need to stop the thoughts in my head and to replace them with one single lesson:

"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goodnight, world.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

DISGUSTED with Hershey's

A hat tip to Leslie for this one. I read it on her blog, and frankly, am horrified. (Wait, I live in Baltimore... I'm harrified, dammit.)
This is Hershey's "new candy" - PACS. Look like anything? Drugs, perhaps? Read this article from ABC News on law enforcement's feedback of the new product (and feel free to read my comment while you are at it).

Maybe I'm different from most folks in that I'm not overly concerned about a child confusing these mint candies for actual drugs. Could it happen? Absolutely. Should Hershey's be concerned. You betchya. But even so, that's not what pisses me off. My problem is that Hershey's is riding the cool train. Picture the product development team sitting around a conference room pondering what motivates Generations Y-ers or Z-ers (what are they called these days, anyway?) to buy. What makes them want to spend (or influence the spending of) money? Well not surprisingly, it's sex, drugs and [insert video games or Mad TV or any other substitute for rock 'n roll here]. Sure. That's why Guitar Revolution sells, right? Or One Tree Hill? Or The OC? Anyway... Hershey's isn't dumb. They have well-paid marketing execs who were looking for the next greatest thing. And trust me, if my company can afford focus groups... you better believe that Hershey's was well aware of both teen and adult reactions to the product well before they released it.

Maybe I'm overly sensitive because I love the art of good marketing (it's my living after all), but this is shameful. Not criminal, I know... but shameful. Have we seriously exhausted all of the clever ideas that are also socially responsible? Or are we too lazy to think creatively that we'll settle for the cheap ones?

Every parent, grandparent, or concerned citizen who agrees can complain to Hershey's HERE. I did. And it went something like this:

I have to say that these new "PACS" candies are atrocious. Yes... ATROCIOUS. I agree with the articles that this is "glorifying the drug trade." Sure, it's fabulous marketing to kids who are likely to be swayed by this, but I am shocked and horrified by your nerve. I think these should be pulled off the market, and your new product development folks should be ashamed. What a disgusting move for Hershey's.

Charissa Costa
Baltimore, MD

Oh, and want more bad reviews on this product? Take a look here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here (and from Gothamist, as well) and here and here and here and here.

All In A Day's Work...

So the snow today made some of us a bit ornery. I'd like to say that I objected quite a few times (at least I said it out loud a lot so that I could say that I objected), but there was no stopping the people who pulled this off. No need to fret... we they did this all during our their lunch and smoke breaks (ahem).

The coworker's cubical:

The boss' cubicle:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

In honor of tomorrow's pending snow showers (Baltimore's first this season!*), here is a picture of Antonio tonight while we cuddled on the couch. The temperature is dropping lower every night these days, but that means it's blanket season, and my house is the place to be for blanket lovers (even Elliott would agree).

Drive safely tomorrow, all.

* Edited to accomodate Snay's (ahem) correction.

Ten on Tuesday (V: Miniseries Edition)

I'm a nerd. I get that.

1. I watched V: The Original MiniSeries (Parts I and II) on Sunday and continuing last night.
2. Wow. John, you weren't kidding about the Nazi symbolism. This was the first time I noticed it, but keep in mind I saw this when I was six or seven years old, so there was no way I'd pick it all up then.
3. Has anyone else noticed how close the cold human storage scene is to the Matrix pod scenes? It sorta looks like someone stole someone else's idea, huh?
4. I heart Richard Herd. Seriously. Both V and Star Trek? What a resume.
5. Ever notice that the reptile head they show would never-ever fit under their human-like faces/masks? There's just no way.
6. Dude. Freddy Krueger is in this movie. I didn't realize it until later, but no wonder I was creeped out. My God.
7. I totally forgot about the Robin Maxwell character getting pregnant. The birth of her reptile-baby isn't in the miniseries, but now I'm anxious to see the next episode!
8. Did you know that Dominique Dunn was cast to play the Robin character? Of course, she couldn't continue after she was strangled by her boyfriend so the part was recast. Apparently she can be seen in one scene in the movie that was not reshot.
9. Being from Baltimore, there wasn't near enough rodent eating for me. Maybe Baltimore would do well with a bit of an alien invasion. I'd manage, as long as they promise to eat the rats.
10. Next up: V: The Final Battle.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm So Amused

I love browsing through my site "referrals" on sitemeter. I do. Because without it I wouldn't know that I am:

#5 when searching for "difference between jackets coats"
- original post here

#1 when searching for "triscuits good for you"
- original post here

#1 when searching for "please sweet baby jesus with your golden diapers"
- original post here

It will all change tomorrow, sure... but what a loss it would be if I didn't know!

Unsilent Night: Baltimore 2007

I'm a few days late on this post, but my friend, Brian, asked me to help spread the word about UNSILENT NIGHT, one of the coolest Christmas traditions to date. What is it, you ask? Read below. Congratulations, Brian, on another successful year!


Meet at the Washington Monument near the Peabody Conservatory
All ages welcome.

On Friday, December 21 at 8:00 p.m., starting at the Washington Monument near the Peabody Conservatory, saxophonist Brian Sacawa will lead a massive chorus of boomboxes through the streets of Baltimore in the city's 2nd annual performance of New York City composer Phil Kline's UNSILENT NIGHT, an outdoor ambient music piece for an infinite number of boomboxes.

Different parts of the composition will be distributed on cassettes and CDs. At the given signal, participants will press PLAY simultaneously. When the tapes start rolling, "they blossom into a marvelously crafted symphony" (Time Out New York). Then the crowd will walk a predetermined parade route through the streets of Baltimore, becoming single elements in a multi-block stereo system.

The event will end at Joe Squared Pizza and Bar (133 W North Ave) at approximately 9:00 p.m. Participants are invited to attend the UNSILENT AFTER PARTY, featuring the music of the modern classical/hip-hop duo Hybrid Groove Project and DJ Dubble8. The Unsilent After Party is free to attend.

The Village Voice describes UNSILENT NIGHT as "a marvelously fluid, traveling spatial sound sculpture that disintegrates and reforms at nearly every stop light." Time Out calls the event "an electro-happening" and depicts the music as "a winter wonderland of shimmering sleigh bells, chines, and grand chorales."

Participants should meet at the south side of the Washington Monument near the Peabody Conservatory of music at 7:45 p.m. The event will begin at 8:00 p.m. The piece is approximately 45 minutes long. All music is distributed for free. The more boomboxes there are, the more "voices" in the piece.

If you do not have a boombox, you are still an important part of the procession, because the more the merrier! UNSILENT NIGHT is kid-friendly, so the whole family can enjoy some good, down-home holiday noise-making.

Help make a BIG (and joyful) noise and be a part of the 2nd annual performance of UNSILENT NIGHT, Baltimore's newest holiday tradition!

Since its debut in 1992, UNSILENT NIGHT has become a cult holiday tradition in New York City and around the world, drawing crowds of more than 1,000 participants. In addition to New York, UNSILENT NIGHT is also performed in Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Cleveland; Tallahassee; Vancouver; Yukon Territory; Berlin; Middlesbrough, England; Sydney; Melbourne; Santa Barbara; Charleston; Rochester, NY; Banff, Alberta; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. New this year are: Houston; New Haven; Boulder; Bowling Green, OH; and Hamburg, Germany.

This is a free event, and will be held rain or shine (and even in the event of sub-zero temperatures). For more information, contact Brian Sacawa at

UNSILENT NIGHT in Baltimore is presented by saxophonist Brian Sacawa.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Paper Pin-Up Calendar 2008 Is Here!

Woo-hoo! It's done! The Paper Pin-Up Calendar has been completed. The challenge: 12 women design and create a calendar page around a quote of their choice. No sharing, no helping, and all in your own style. My month? MAY.

The calendar is $14.99 (no profit is built in for Marie) and available NOW!

Not Made In America: Audience Participation

While doing some last minute Christmas shopping (online, of course), I found some of the neatest products. This is another reader-participation post, because I'm curios if these are super cool things, or if I'm just a complete weirdo.

Don't you remember these cookies as kids? My mom probably still has the old cookie press somewhere, but now they make them all fancy and cool with storage boxes and cleaning brushes. I'm not a sugar person, but this thing is so cool.

Seriously. I can make my own quesadillas at home and not have goopy cheese dripping out all over the place? What an invention!

You're thinking... what is a lunch jar? It's a round container with 4 food bowls that fit within the larger jar. The whole thing is vacuum-insulated and keeps the food warm. It also comes with a carrying bag. I love this thing.

Have I ever mentioned that I make apple butter? Yeah, I do. It's a major pain in the butt though, peeling and slicing and dicing all of those apples. I've only made it a few times because of the time it takes. How neat is this little gadget?

I couldn't help myself. This is hilarious. There's not much commentary needed here. "Holy Toast!" Haha.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Perfect Post-Xmas Xmas Gift. Just sayin'

OMG. I am excited by the email that I received today stating that Season One of The Riches is coming to DVD. See below.

Title: The Riches
Starring: Eddie Izzard
Released: 8th January 2008
SRP: $49.98

Further Details:
Fox Home Entertainment has announced the first season of The Riches which stars Eddie Izzard, and Minnie Driver. The four-disc set will be available to own from the 8th January, and should retail at around $49.98. All 13 episodes will be included, along with an audio commentary with Eddie Izzard and creator Dmitry Lipkin on "Pilot" and “Waiting For Dogot”, 7 webisodes, a Casting Session, a feature on the World Premiere, and a gag reel.

HT: Snay