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November 01, 2003

More Age-Obsessive Navel-Gazing

Just in time - apparently there's a series called Book of Ages, and they've just published Book of Ages 30, chockful of thirtysomething trivia. According to the dust jacket:

This year about four million people in the United States will turn 30. If you’re one of them, the bad news is that you’re older than 42 percent of Americans. You’ve already lost 10 percent of your muscle mass. And, on average, you’re almost $20,000 in debt. But don’t despair. At 30, Harrison Ford was working as a carpenter, and neither Oprah nor Jane Austen had found fame. Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream? Created at 30. And, most heartening, you’re still gettin’ it on—2.24 times a week.

Yours, &c., LC at 10:20 AM | Sundries | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 03, 2003

Word Count: Zero

Being unemployed, you'd think I'd have NaNoWriMo easy this year. However, job-seeking is currently my occupation.

Went to a meeting of local participants, and there were the usual jokes about what's allowable for word count, ridiculous plots, that sort of thing. Maybe my heart's not in it this year, or maybe I just don't want to approach this year's novel as a joke. But I've made the donation and bought the t-shirt, so I'm at least honor-bound to give the writing a go, hopefully with less use of cliches.

I saw a copy of Eragon in a shop and looked it over. Huge tome, beautiful cover illustration. The only blurb is on the back cover - and it's from Anne McCaffrey! For any SF/Fantasy writer, let alone a nineteen-year-old who started his novel at fifteen, to get a promotional blurb from the Dragonlady is like finding the Holy Grail. It's the ultimate endorsement. So I guess I'll be checking this out eventually.

Damn - I'm really pleased for this kid, but I'm also envious and depressed all at once. Great mindset for starting my novel!

Yours, &c., LC at 09:49 AM | Writing & Language | TrackBack (0)

November 05, 2003

"Beyond the Beyond"

Bruce Sterling now has a blog, situated at Wired.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:08 PM | Blogos | TrackBack (0)

Need a Laptop

Pink

So I can justify getting one of these cute bags!

Yours, &c., LC at 01:17 PM | Sundries | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Folklore & Mythology E-Texts

D.L. Ashliman provides edited and/or translated e-texts of folk and mythology stories, as well as folk and fairy tale links and links pertaining to Germanic myths, legends and sagas.

SFF Database

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Database: "An online index to over 60,000 historical and critical items about science fiction, fantasy and horror, compiled by Hal W. Hall."

Running a quick search for materials by Anne McCaffrey generated several interesting citations, including one for her 1999 acceptance speech when she received the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award. Definitely a good resource for keeping current with critical SFF literature.

[via Simanoff]

Addendum: One of the citations generated in the database was for a humor piece by Jesse Walker, "Lost Dick-McCaffrey Collaboration Found." The original website is apparently gone, so I've dug up a version of the page through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The article is actually there on the page, but it seems to be viewable only if you highlight the text. If you can't be bothered to do all that, keep reading.

Lost Dick-McCaffrey Collaboration Found
© Jesse Walker
[Revolution Science Fiction [3 p.] http://www.revolutionsf.com/article/1211.html]

Paul Williams' eyes sparkle as he remembers the day he made the discovery. "It was in the last box of Phil's papers," he recalls. "On the outside, he'd written 'Receipts' in magic marker, and sure enough, it was filled with receipts. I don't even remember why we were bothering to look through it."

He smiles a great big grin. "I was halfway through them when we spotted something else."

The "Phil" in question is Philip K. Dick, the late cult writer, and Williams is the executor of his estate. The "something else" Williams discovered was a manuscript: Dragonvalis, Dick's long-rumored, long-denied collaboration with the popular science-fiction writer Anne McCaffrey.

"As soon as I started reading it," continues Williams, "I realized I'd found something amazing. This wasn't just a lost manuscript. It was the weirdest chapter in science-fiction history."

A Strange Partnership

The story had been circulating among Dick's friends and fans for years, but no one had taken it seriously. Now at last, Williams held proof of the collaboration in his hands. He made some calls, and the tale soon fell into place.

"It was summer of 1980," remembers Ron Atwood, at that time an employee of the Scott-Meredith Literary Agency. "McCaffrey had written two wildly popular trilogies about the dragonriders of planet Pern, and her fans were demanding more. But she was sick of the subject, and wanted to try new things. One of her friends made a suggestion: Why not hire someone else to write the book? She would fly him out to her ranch in Ireland, put him up for six months or a year or whatever, and let him churn out the novel. She'd approve the final product, make whatever tweakings she thought were necessary, and put both writers' names on the cover. No mess, no fuss.

"I knew Phil was a little short at the time, cash-wise. I also knew he could turn out a book in just a month or two. And I knew his career needed a kick in the pants—something to take his mind off all that mystical crap he was getting into. So I gave him a call, and he jumped at the opportunity.

"We just didn't expect Anne to hate the book so much."

In retrospect, it was a marriage doomed to failure. Dick was a postmodernist popular with intellectuals and the counterculture. McCaffrey's novels were more traditional, and appealed mostly to kids in their early teens. Yet Dick's attempts to work within the constraints of McCaffrey's universe make for fascinating reading.

Deconstructing Pern

Dick's book opens five centuries after the end of McCaffrey's series. The people of Pern had long before launched an expedition to the Red Star, the neighboring planet that periodically showered the Pernese with deadly spores called threads. The threat had been halted at the source, and Pernese society had, as a result, evolved far beyond the medieval system that had prevailed in the earlier stories. Suburban sprawl covers the planet, producing a society that strongly resembles that of Dick's beloved Southern California.

But with some differences. Dragonriders criss-cross the sky, mostly working as aerial cabbies. And on the streets and in the weyrs, a new recreational drug is taking hold: Substance T, made from threads farmed on the Red Star.

Under the influence of Substance T, the book's protagonists—D'card, a henpecked dragon-riding traveling salesman; Menolly, his compassionless wife; and Pris, the dark-haired girl he secretly loves—begin to notice odd changes in their world. Dragoncabbies seem to battle falling threads. The Masterdealer who sells them their drugs begins to resemble Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. And Pris, en route to a suburb called Damascus, is struck by a beam of pink light.

D'card begins to suspect that the world he lives in is an illusion, a false reality overlaying the true Pern, in which threads still fall and dragonriders still hold a position of prominence and respect. Eventually, we learn that D'card is actually an alienated 14-year-old girl in a mental hospital in modern America. A devoted fan of fantasy fiction, D'card (real name: Melissa) is addicted to an antidepressant called Substance P, which leads her to believe she has entered the world she so passionately wishes she lived in.

In the final chapter, as Melissa undergoes a painful electroshock treatment, her father looks out the hospital window—and sees a dragon flying by.

"And that," reads the book's final line, "was only the beginning."

McCaffrey's Reaction

McCaffrey refused repeated requests that she comment on the manuscript, but Atwood remembers vividly her reaction back in 1980. "She despised the book," he says. "She was livid. I still remember her calling me right after she read what Dick had written. 'What the hell is this?' she yelled. 'There's no way I can make this shit publishable. It's supposed to be a goddamn horsey book!'"

Dick returned to California, dejected at his failure but with a generous kill fee in his hands. The manuscript wound up in the box of receipts. And McCaffrey wrote the next Pern book herself, a tome without any reference to alien psychedelics or beams of pink light. She never spoke with Dick again, and her lawyers are reportedly prepared to sue the Dick estate if it publishes his book.

"I hope this sees the light of day," comments Williams. "It may take decades to sort out the legal hassles, but trust me: The result will be well worth the wait."

The Ballad of Melvil Dewey

Gad, we're a corny lot sometimes.

The Ballad of Melvil Dewey (to the tune of Ballad of Davy Crockett)
>From the twisted brain of Gayle Hodur - use and enjoy!!

The Ballad of Melvil Dewey (to the tune of Ballad of Davy Crockett)
>From the twisted brain of Gayle Hodur - use and enjoy!!

There was a man named Dewey, Melvil was his name
Classification was his favorite game
Working around books was the place he liked to be,
So he got him a job at the li-buh-rar-eeee.

Chorus:
Melvil, Melvil Dewey,
King of the Wild Book Stacks!

Libraries back then were wilder than the West.
Librarians filed books however they liked best!
There wasn't any system - that just wouldn't do,
So Dewey made it easier for me and you.

Chorus

He gave each book a number - that was pretty smart!
He filed them by their topics, such as "sports" or "art."
Just learn the numbers of the topics you would like to see.
The books will be right there in their own category.

Chorus

Three digits do it nicely, as sweet as apple pie,
But there are always times when you might want to classify
Some things in tighter order, and that is when you need
That decimal, that Dewey "dot", to get you up to speed.

Chorus

After the decimal, some other numbers run.
How many? There could be a lot, but I think two is fun.
If you have a lot to classify, there might be more than three,
But a lot depends on how precise you really want to be.

Chorus

So now you know the story, and I swear it's true,
Of how Dewey made things easier for me and you.
If you know all of your numbers, from zero up to nine,
Then you can use his system, and you'll do just fine.

Chorus

Yours, &c., LC at 02:23 PM | Librariana | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

A Plea to Techrats

I'm about to reveal something rather embarrassing: my computer still runs on Windows 98.

Yeah, so anyway - anyone, anyone, have an old Win98 systems disc that they don't need anymore? Or could anyone lend me one? In full disclosure, I will admit that I've borrowed my sister's copy several years ago and now can't find it, but I promise, promise, that I will take much better care of your copy and send it right back once I get my printer connection up and running again.

Name your (reasonable) price. So long as you're not requesting nudie pix or my firstborn, I'm sure I could proffer some token of gratitude.

Yours, &c., LC at 02:33 PM | Sundries | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Spag Bol

Amanda Hesser hangs out with Jamie Oliver while he makes "spag bol," or spaghetti bolognese. The adapted recipe: Pappardelle with Beef Ragu.

Yours, &c., LC at 05:59 PM | Food | TrackBack (0)

November 06, 2003

U.S. to Revive the Draft?

Serve Your Community and the Nation - Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member: "The Selective Service System wants to hear from men and women in the community who might be willing to serve as members of a local draft board."

So where is the U.S. media coverage on this story? I've done a quick, informal scan of the websites of some of the country's papers of record - NY Times, WashPost, LATimes, ChicagoTrib - nothing.

Here's a sampling of the foreign coverage:

US raises spectre of conscription [BBC]

Appeal for draft board volunteers revives memories of Vietnam era [The Guardian]

Will U.S. bring back the draft? [Toronto Star]

[Thanks to Scott for the links.]

Yours, &c., LC at 01:03 PM | Politics | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Who Owns What

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) offers Who Owns What, a searchable online guide to what the major media companies own. The site also provides full-text articles about media ownership.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:53 PM | Librariana | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2003

Got a Present

One of the neighbors' cats brought us a present today - a dead mole on the back porch.

It's bad enough I adore someone else's cat, but she's not helping by bringing a gift, either. Tori's an outdoor cat, incredibly sweet. A Russian blue with gorgeous jade-green eyes and white socks and long white whiskers. She comes up to me when I park the car, then follows me to the porch to have a visit. I'll sit down, she hops up on my lap and meows for my ministrations. I adore her and want to take her in.

The neighbors are away and I'm not sure how often the cats are being looked after; another neighbor is picking up the slack for the people who ought to be checking on them. So I've started setting out some food and water for Tori - bad idea, I know, but I don't want her to go hungry.

I have always been a sucker for a furry little face looking at me through the back door. There was Oscar, whom I named as such, a small, pale brown tabby stray who was missing the corner of one ear - he was a rakish-looking scrapper. He was always a bit skittish, and would sometimes show his gratitude by swatting my hand as I set out some food for him. Sometimes, we'd let him come into the house. He'd venture in cautiously, then dash back out the door. I was hoping to take him in, once I made sure my other cats were up to date on their shots and all.

The day we were to head down south for Christmas, we headed to the post office to drop off some packages, a route we didn't often take. I saw something light by the side of the road. Before we got very far I asked if we could turn around, to make sure. It was poor Oscar, who must have been there for days. We ended up getting him cremated, I couldn't bear to leave him there.

I found yet another bookstore, this time in Decatur. Roaming the aisles was a gorgeous white longhair with lapis eyes. She very kindly let me give her a chin rub before I went on to peruse the offerings.

It's a small thing, but I'm always foolishly, giddily happy when a cat allows me its attentions.

November 10, 2003

First Interview

I have an interview with a county library this week. Panel interview - ugh, but I'll have to bear it as I can. The woman who called to set up the interview was very pleasant, so I'm hopeful that will set the tone for the rest of the process.

Thoughts on how to prepare, questions to ask, especially those of you who have worked or are working in public libraries? I'm checking the website, noted the proper address and spelling of names for thank you notes. Yes, I will have copies of my resume to hand out. I've looked through my closet to pick out my interview outfit. And yes, it's clean.

I submitted an application last month for an academic job, but my sources tell me it was highly competitive. So I'm not holding my breath. Time to look into temporary work, internships or volunteer opportunities to beef up my experience, improve my skills in the meantime.

Current strategy is to continue meeting up with fellow professionals at association meetings and socially, and to send my resume to some of the people that I've met - who did tell me to send them a copy, so no cold calling or anything like that.

November 12, 2003

Word Count: 1491

Yes, awfully pathetic, after two writing sessions. I finally went out to a coffee shop tonight to force myself to write, which got me over a thousand words. My inner critic is still fairly dormant; my inner nag, however, is trying to light a fire under my feet. Must consider notes and more extensive outline next year.

I'm supposed to finish this month's book club read - it's The Da Vinci Code. Much to my chagrin, I've learned that the President just finished reading it:

A Page-Turner for the First Couple

President Bush's taste in reading runs to political biographies and American history, but he and his wife recently finished a book that is neither — and that can't have thrilled Mr. Bush's more devout supporters. The president made his way through "The Da Vinci Code," the thriller with everything in it from eye-popping sexual rites to the Holy Grail. The novel, by Dan Brown, explores art, feminism, conspiracies and murder and is highly critical of the Roman Catholic Church.

"An interesting mystery, a great page-turner — and clearly fiction," the first lady said of the book, through her press secretary, Gordon Johndroe. The book has been at or near the top of The New York Times best-seller list for more than six months. No word from the White House on what the president thought.[NYT, 9/9]

I'll try not to let this prejudice my reading of the novel, which I'm inclined to think is something like The Name of the Rose lite.

McControversy

Dictionary to Keep "McJob" - The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added the word "McJob." This upsets McDonald's both philosophically and also because they have some sort of program which is actually called McJOBS(tm). (An article at The Register goes into the interesting history of the trademarking of the term. ["Merriam-Webster explains disappearing McJob" - 11/11, Andrew Orlowski]):

McDonald's first registered the term on May 16 1984, as a name and image for "training handicapped persons as restaurant employees". But the trademarked lapsed in February 1992, and was declared 'Dead' by the United States Patent Office. Following the publication of Douglas Coupland's smash Generation X in paperback edition in October 1992 (the book first appeared in 1991), which popularized the term, McDonald's restored the trademark.

The term also appears in the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, and dictionary of dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary. It's safe to say that the term has entered everyday language, enough that dictionary editors have taken note. And while McDonald's will pursue its trademark rights, it can't stop how people talk.

Cory Doctorow has also posted on this at BoingBoing, and he asserts that the necessity for trademark owners to "to sue everyone who utters your trademark or risk losing it" is a legal "fairy tale." He also links to his August article about trademarks at OpenP2P. Thoughts?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Cronies.jpg AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

This is President Bush on November 5 signing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, surrounded by the male sponsors of the bill, who numbered 10 in all.

Yours, &c., LC at 01:23 AM | Politics | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Lavender Shortbread

I need to find a decent tearoom around here. This recipe tempts me to have my own. [via da*xiang]

Lavender Shortbread (Makes about 50 cookies)

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons lavender blossoms (available at most natural food stores)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and lavender. Add to the butter mixture and stir to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until about 1/4 inch thick. Use small cookie cutters to cut the dough. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. Use a small fork to make slight prick marks on the tops of the cookies.

Bake 14 to 15 minutes, or until just barely brown. Allow to cool several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Yours, &c., LC at 08:38 AM | Food | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Margaret is *Pissed*

While it's not exactly a revelation that both Margaret Cho's comedy and her blog are in-your-face, aggressive, and hysterically profane, she's written three posts in succession (here, here, and here) about someone close to her who has seriously aroused her bile. The guy is such a shithead, he's even kicked her dogs!

I read somewhere that she'd gotten married. I hope she's ranting about somebody she used to be involved with, rather than her husband. For as vitriolic as Margaret can get during her act, I'd like for her to be happy in her personal life at least.

Yours, &c., LC at 09:14 AM | Blogos | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Church Sign Generator

The Church Sign Generator is another web toy I'm finally getting around to. My sample signs, containg actual messages crammed onto signs in other contexts.

cheeztots.jpg

ninjalaw.jpg

Yours, &c., LC at 09:51 AM | Blogos , Memes | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 14, 2003

TGIF

Especially since I'm done with the interview. I did try to prepare with questions and what I would say. But it's really hard to answer in any meaningful way when you don't have certain experience - like getting a library ready for opening for the day, or anything similar. Of course, I totally forgot to mention possibly related activities from college and whatnot. I guess I did ok, I tried to be enthusiastic, to listen well, to ask good questions, promote the transferable skills I did have, but I don't feel like I was stellar. The librarians were very nice, very friendly and the interview didn't quite feel like an inquisition. I'll find out by next week whether or not I got it, so the torture shouldn't be too over-extended. Even though public librarianship hasn't been my first avenue, I feel like it would be a good chance to work with people on a community level.

So I'm off to a cafe for something with ridiculous amounts of whipped cream to write my thank you notes and up my word count on my flippin' novel. This time I'll remember the industrial earphones to block out the other drama queens who also hang out at the cafe while being unemployed. *sigh*

November 18, 2003

PPPPPPBBBBBBTTTTTTHHH

Or, whom do you visualize as your reader?

The short answer is that my readers are those of you out there in cyberspace. For the most part I don't know who you are, except as you comment from time to time, for which I thank you.

When I started this blog, I thought of this as a repository for whatever happened to be on the brain, with the caveat that the public nature of the medium inherently would check instances of Way Too Much Information. I think I've generally succeeded in that regard, but that could be because no one's told me otherwise. It's hard to tread in obscure waters, but if I wanted popularity I guess I could talk about my really hot ass.

My family and most of my in-person acquaintances don't know about the blog. It wouldn't be the end of the world if they did, but I don't think they'd be comfortable having so much access to my inner life. And truthfully, I'd feel discomfited too, because they'd know so much more about me than I do about them. Better I had thought things through and told even fewer people about it than I did.

That said, I'm more bothered than I ought to be about a friend's offhand remark that she doesn't read my blog. She doesn't read personal sites in general, which I knew, and yet I told her about my site anyway. Yes, I should've known better - but why condescend to remind me of your indifference? 'Cause I really appreciate knowing that you really don't care.

Yes, I'm overreacting. It's how I feel at this particular moment. I have to remember that there's no point to the blog if I'm not getting anything out of it, even if I am the only one who ever does.

Yours, &c., LC at 04:23 PM | Blogos | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2003

The Gettysburg Address, in PowerPoint

The Gettysburg Address was delivered by President Lincoln on this date in 1863.

What if Lincoln had given his speech as a PowerPoint presentation?

Yours, &c., LC at 08:06 AM | Sundries | TrackBack (0)

There are corrections

And then there are corrections. I don't check the NYT corrections page enough, but one of today's items is a doozy, meriting its own "Editor's Note" caption:

An obituary last Wednesday about Marvin Smith, a leading photographer of Harlem who worked with his identical twin, Morgan, described the closeness of the two men — it was said that they never used the pronoun "I" — and recounted an anecdote about Marvin Smith's response to the illness that caused his brother's death, in 1993.

The article said that Morgan Smith died of testicular cancer and that his brother, in response, had his own testicles removed. That account was given to The Times by a friend of both men. It should not have been published unless it could be verified and attributed.

After the obituary appeared, Monica Smith, the daughter of Morgan Smith, told The Times that her father had had prostate cancer and that her uncle did not have his testicles removed.

[via - who else? - Gawker]

Yours, &c., LC at 04:52 PM | New York minutes | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2003

Linkage, Raging Anglophile Edition

Blackletter Ballads - A selection of English ballads, from a site interested in offering 17th Century Reenacting and Living History Resources.

The Canterbury Tales, Caxton ed. - From the British Library, digital facsimiles of the two Caxton editions of the Chaucer work. You can even do side-by-side comparisons between the editions.

Early Manuscripts at Oxford University - Digital facsimiles of over 80 manuscripts from the collections of institutions affiliated with Oxford.

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales - The site is in Welsh and English. Highlights include The Digital Mirror, which offers facsimiles of Welsh texts and other items from the library's archives.

The Newton Project - An ongoing project which "aims to create a printed edition of Newton's theological, alchemical and administrative writings and an electronic edition of all his writings, including his correspondence."

What's in London's Libraries (WiLL) - An electronic resource - search the collections of London's libraries, museums and archives, as well as obtain facilities information.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:42 PM | Librariana | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2003

Only Slightly Different

Paul Krugman - The Great Unraveling - US cover Paul Krugman - The Great Unraveling - UK cover

Wow. Just guess which cover of Paul Krugman's new book, The Great Unraveling, belongs to the US versus the UK edition. Interestingly, sometime between yesterday and today, the image for the UK edition is no longer available on Amazon.co.uk. Too many hits, I guess. [via MeFi]

Also, Russell Baker reviews Krugman's book. ["The Awful Truth" - The New York Review of Books, v. 50, no. 17, 11/6/03]

Yours, &c., LC at 01:11 PM | Sundries | TrackBack (0)

November 26, 2003

It's All How You Say It

My brother-in-law came down for a few days to attend a biblical studies conference. He stayed with us, which was great, as we haven't seen most of the family for some time, having been bogged down with the finishing up of advanced degrees. I even made chili for dinner one night, which turned out really well (I went back for seconds).

BIL is a big fan of chocolate, in whatever form he can get it. After being sufficiently sated by the chili, we took him to Jake's for an ice cream fix. One of the available flavors is the Chocolate Slap Yo Mama - very chocolaty, with chunks of chocolate as well. But BIL couldn't bring himself to say it - to our great amusement, he very hesitantly ordered a scoop in a cup of the "Chocolate Slap, er, Your Mother." "You mean the Chocolate Slap Yo Mama?" said the gal behind the counter, correcting him. "Uh, yes" said the BIL.

Yours, &c., LC at 09:09 AM | Slice o' Life | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2003

Oh, Grow Up Already

I've been more obsessive than I thought I would be about turning 30. It's a nice round number, divisible by 3, which we know from Schoolhouse Rock is the magic number.

It's not like I want to be 20 and go through the angst and flailing around - emotionally, career-wise, relationship-wise - all over again. But then again, the idea is sinking in that I should be moving forward in some fashion, I should be more of an adult, I should get myself more together because that's what people do. I've been moving in the right direction, generally. It's not like I expected to turn wise. I guess I kind of hoped I'd feel less stupid. I mean, I know I'm fairly book-smart, but life-smart? That's something else, but it's not like most people think they've got all the answers, either. Those who do - well, I'm not sure I could wholly trust them.

The problem with a birthday around the holidays is that everybody is off doing holiday stuff with their families. I would be with my family except that they're not really into Thanksgiving this year and both my dad and one of my sisters have to be up extremely early the next day for work. But honestly, did I really want to throw a huge party and have five good minutes of conversation here and there with people? That's never been my thing, being the center of attention. And it's not like I'm being ignored or forgotten, as my in-laws have very kindly showered me with cards and gifts.

I did think I should do something dramatic to mark the milestone. I'm too much of a wuss to go sky diving or bungee jumping; roller coasters and other such rides scare me enough. For a while I considered hot air ballooning, which I still think would be worth doing sometime.

I've been revisiting the idea of a tattoo, which I've thought about on and off for years. I've also wanted to get some real stationery. What would these two random wishes have in common? Monogram design.

Anyway, I'll get over my snit-fit. I'll go out to dinner and get my free scoop at Jake's and then I'll attempt to finish my damned Nanowrimo novel. Anyway I have more important things to worry about - two librarian socials next week as well as Job Interview No. 2. This could be the one, but it's best not to get my hopes up.

Yours, &c., LC at 03:49 AM | Slice o' Life | TrackBack (0)

November 28, 2003

Guacamole with Pear and Pomegranate Seeds

Omg - this recipe is too good to be true. But it is, hurrah!

The first time I had pomegranate, I was moved to write a poem. Yes, corny, but when I was a kid I devoured the Greek myths, and it was amazing to sample this mythical, magical fruit that doomed Persephone to living in the Underworld for half of every year.

Pomegranates are a tricky business. But they are so worth the effort. But be not afraid - the Pomegranate Council very kindly explains - with luscious pictures! - how to open one.

[via - bless her - Mighty Girl]

GUACAMOLE WITH PEAR AND POMEGRANATE SEEDS

1/3 cup white onions, finely chopped
3 to 4 serrano chiles, finely chopped, with seeds
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 pounds ripe California avocadoes (about 4 large)
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup pear, peeled and finely diced
3/4 cup seedless grapes, halved
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Special equipment: molcajete y tojolote (mexican mortar and pestle) or food processor

In a molcajete or food processor, grind onion, chiles, and salt into a rough paste. Gradually add the avocado, coarsely mashing it (you'll want it to be chunky). Stir in the lemon juice. Fold in the pear, grapes, and 1/2 cup of the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds over the guacamole and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Gourmet
December 2001
Adapted from Diana Kennedy

Yours, &c., LC at 11:03 PM | Food | TrackBack (0)

Post-Holiday Recap

Stayed close to home. Scott got up way early to go run a half marathon, which, as everybody knows, is thirteen miles. He woke me up to point out the Thanksgiving contribution from the neighbor's cat - another vole, which I have now learned is the correct term for these poor little guys with no eyes or ears and are covered in dark gray fur.

During the day Marco and I made chocolate cupcakes and pumpkin pies. We should have had deeper pie crusts, but that's the fault of the grocery store for lumping all of the pumpkin pie stuff together in a special display. We poured the extra over broken ginger snaps in paper cupcake cups. Still highly edible, once baked.

During this time we discovered the joy of living in an old house. While washing dishes, a leak emerged from beneath the cabinetry - not directly beneath the sink, where you'd think, but no, where the cabinetry meets the hardwood floor. Yaaaaay. So for the moment I have to wash dishes next door.

Next we repaired to next door to get the dinner going - the ever traditional burritos. We chopped garlic, onions, green peppers, jalapenos, olives, set out salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Heated up both black and pinto beans, as well as some corn, and the do-it-yourself buffet was ready to go. I now have a much better appreciation for why Taco Bell isn't exactly the fastest of the fast food world. A mutual friend's sister came to visit and hang out with us. The dear girl brought some good wine, a syrah, and she made baby pumpkin cheesecakes - hot damn. Marco's new roommate also made some sort of Mexican casserole - also muy bueno.

We did a semi-serious group toast - after lunging in to sample our monster burritos, and all was good. We then went back to our place where all the desserts had cooled, and proceeded with generous slices of pumpkin pie, chocolate cupcakes and the pumpkin cheesecakes. We washed the sweets down with wine or hot cider, and played vicious rounds of Uno and Pass the Pigs. Definitely a fun, laid-back kinda day.

Yours, &c., LC at 11:31 PM | Slice o' Life | TrackBack (0)

November 29, 2003

Ho-Hum

A quiet day, my birthday. Bitterly cold one too; the feeble sunlight couldn't do much to warm up the day. Took a long brisk walk in the morning. Swung a bit on the swings. Lunch at Savage Pizza - pizza with garlic white sauce, salami and red onions. The musical selection during the meal was old country, the highlight being "Rocky Top."

The cat-napping continues; I bought a plastic box and lined it with an old bathrobe, setting it outside our back door in case the cat wants an alternative place to sleep. Rumor has it that the neighbors are merely fostering the cats, with the idea of eventually finding them homes. I should just ask, shouldn't I? She's been coming into the house and exploring; the other cats aren't exactly thrilled, but there's been no sign of vicious ill will, just the usual territorial posturing. I think everybody would get along.

More book browsing at the used shops. Found some nice fat books - a hardcover of The Mists of Avalon, The Mabinogion Tetralogy, and a Penguin paperback of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, which is pretty damn huge. It's possible I could resurface after a few months whilst reading these books - I haven't even gotten to the new Harry Potter yet.

I have some birthday money, which I think I'll put towards a digital camera (the Lady Crumpet Monogram/Tattoo Fund will have to wait until I get a job, and oh, make a dent in existing debts). I've been chatting with my friend Mike who's been giving me good tips about which one to pick. FYI, some good sites for comparison shopping pricegrabber.com and bestwebbuys, which allow you to look for particular products and quickly find the best online deal.

Dinner was at a steakhouse; at least four other people were there for their birthdays, judging by the waitstaff's multiple singing ambushes. Fortunately my date for the evening wisely refrained from asking the same for me. We eventually headed to Jake's in Decatur with Marco in tow. It was a bit embarrassing; I had to ask the guy behind the counter if they did the free birthday scoop. Apparently this isn't universal policy at all locations, but they ultimately didn't charge me. The Pumpkin Piescream is pretty divine, I have to say. Played Uno at the table decoupaged with Nancy Drew pages and won not once, but twice. Hah!

A good day, overall.

November 30, 2003

Done

NaNoWriMo 2003 Winner

Not worth the reading. Rewriting is in order, if I want to think that far ahead.