Archive for January, 2006

Welcome to Massachusetts

Mike and I were on our way home from the Burlington Mall yesterday, when I saw the epitome of Massachusetts driving. I was just bopping along in the second lane of 128 south (a.k.a. I-95 south, a.k.a. 3 north, no I’m not kidding, and this is the easy northern part of 128, the southern part is weirder). Anyway, I was bopping along in the second lane, and I watched the three cars in front of me, one in the second lane and two in the third.

First, the front car in the third lane threw on his right blinker. Nanoseconds later, the car in the second lane threw on his left blinker. Shortly after that, the back car in the third lane merged left. Then the front car in the third lane merged right. Then, finally, the car in the second lane turned his blinker back off.

I blinked several times, while of course carefully steering and accelerating (you can never be going too fast on 128). “There you go. That’s Massachusetts driving at its finest.”

We had just witnessed all three oddities of driving in Massachusetts. The common, “I’m merging, but I’m not going to tell you about it, because that would be giving it away;” the less common, “I’m going to trick you into believing I’m merging, but then not do it, just to confuse you;” and the extremely rare, “Pardon me ladies and gentlemen, but I thought you would like to know that I’m going this way.”

I hate to think what outsiders must feel like. At least I only came from Connecticut. We tend to use blinkers, but are defensive about the other morons on the road. I cannot imagine someone from Ohio or someplace being able to drive 128. It’s a special kind of torture.

They call us “Mass-holes” for a reason…

January 30th, 2006 • 11:53 am • dinane • Posted in Life11 Comments »

Lazy Friday?

I don’t sort my socks. Okay? I’ve said it. I don’t do it. My sister doesn’t either, so I’m not that bizarre. In fact, not only does she not sort them, she never wears a matching pair. If she accidentally picked out two that matched, she’d have to throw one back and pick out a new one.

I, however, prefer to wear ones that match. I don’t like the way it feels to have two different thicknesses of sock on your feet. I also think it’s weird to wear two different colored socks. Hear that, Sa? I said you were weird! HA!

Anyway, what happens in the morning is I make a general decision as to what kind of socks I’d like to wear, and then I go fishing until I find a matching pair fitting the description. This works, most of the time, although it can occasionally be frustrating. When I have ten or more different individual socks draped over my left arm, and I’m still fishing for more, it gets a bit out of hand.

Anyway, this morning, I got lazy. I’m wearing black pants (they’re pinstriped, actually), but I didn’t enforce the black sock description on my sock search. I wanted to get out of the house more quickly. So, the first pair of socks I found just happened to be mostly white. They do have a neat green and pink argyle pattern near the top, just above the ankle. I really like argyle.

I didn’t really think. I didn’t think that I’d care. I didn’t think that anyone would notice. I didn’t think about the cardinal rule of ΑΨΩ (okay, not the cardinal rule per se, but a biggie anyway). I didn’t think about the consequences.

I walked up the stairs and into our cube-farm. As I came in, one of my coworkers saw me, and I was still wearing my black fleece jacket. “Lady in black!” he chuckled (this particular man always seems to chuckle, it is his way). I smiled and said something about my pinstriped pants. “White socks, though.”

Oops. “I know, it’s so ghetto.” This led to a conversation with another coworker (one of the new guys) about the use of the word “ghetto.” He did not understand the context. I explained as best I could what I meant. Honestly, I probably overuse the word “ghetto.”

After that, I hung my head and sat down at my desk. I hid my feet under my desk, and even now, I’m covering up one of my ankles in shame. Shame, I say!

I was the induction chair of my cast of ΑΨΩ for two inductions. I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself, and I do. I organized events and history searches and did my best to haze without hazing. It was fabulous.

Inductees and members are all expected to wear blacks on induction day. The inductees and any members who will be on stage (officers and the like) are required to, in fact, wear black all day, and wear formal blacks on stage. If you are not a theatre person, you might find it difficult to acquire an entirely black outfit for such occasions. But you should know that for theatre people, it is as simple as looking at one half of our closets.

I personally only have about six tiers of blacks. I have the long formal gown, which I wore at my induction and the inductions when I was an officer. I have the short cocktail dress, which is good for openings of shows I direct and also for inductions where I was induction chair. I have the long skirt and blouse combination, which is good for visible positions, such as house manager or director on non-opening days. I have the dress pants and blouse combination, which is good for working in the cafe, as house manager, or as an usher. I have the pants and long-sleeved tee-shirt combination, which is good for stage managing. Finally, I have the grungy jeans and tee-shirt combination, which is good for running crew, props, or any other backstage activity that requires lots of running around. Admittedly, some of these things don’t fit me any more (in the good way!), but I still have them all.

I’m not even that extreme. I actually know someone who has more on the order of eight or nine tiers. And he’s male. And not gay.

Anyway, one of the key things that shouldn’t have to be explained to inductees, but which always tends to come up, is the sock situation. It is just unacceptable to wear black pants, black shoes, and white socks. We tell all the inductees this. We remind the officers. We remind the members. I’ve reminded running crew when I was a stage manager. I’ve reminded actors who happen to be in blacks for a show. I’ve reminded my stage managers when I’m directing. I’m actually kind of obsessed about it.

I didn’t mention how much I love socks. I have so many socks they don’t all fit in my sock drawer. I have socks decorated with argyle, flowers, art deco designs, food, stripes, speckles, sparkles, and cute animals. I have pink socks, green socks, red socks, yellow socks, white socks, black socks, purple socks, grey socks, brown socks, and rainbow socks. I get socks for Christmas, and I don’t think it’s lame. And back to the black thing, I probably have at least six pairs of plain black socks, as well as six or more pairs of nearly black socks (black with flowers, black with sparkles, black with speckles, black with argyle, etc.).

So, today, I am a hypocrite, and I am ashamed. For I am wearing black shoes, black pants, and white socks. I should be banned from theatre.

January 27th, 2006 • 9:22 am • dinane • Posted in Life, Theatre3 Comments »

Happy Winter-Een-Mas

I have begun celebrating Winter-Een-Mas in the best way I can while still at work. I have decorated my next-cube-neighbor’s whiteboard with a life-sized PS2 controller. This is the week for playing video games. I will be doing so when I am at home. You should too. Don’t let down your king.

What? You don’t know what Winter-Een-Mas is? Oh, I feel so sorry for you.

Winter-Een-Mas Central!
Ctrl-Alt-Del, the webcomic that started it all!
The “origin” strip!

Now go play some video games!

January 25th, 2006 • 4:26 pm • dinane • Posted in Video Games109 Comments »

I’ve Been Lied To!

Frickin’ LaunchCast.

Every once in a while, while I’m listening to LaunchCast, the UI freezes up. It shows the stuff for one song that it played before while playing a different song. This is annoying. It is even more annoying when you get excited that you found a song that you’ve heard before but didn’t know the title of.

A week ago, I got excited about a song that reminded me of SSX. I thought it was this song by Cursive. I wrote about it. I rated the song at 100% awesome.

Just a few minutes ago, I came back to my desk from a quick meeting to spot the song playing on LaunchCast. I was excited, and threw my headphones on immediately. Unfortunately, this song was not so awesome. I just wasn’t so excited by it.

At first, I thought the screw up was happening now, but then I heard the actual words “Red Handed Slight of Hand.” No, it was right now. I just misidentified it in the first place. I double checked with Wikipedia for both SSX3 and SSX On Tour. Cursive was no where to be found.

LaunchCast lied to me, and now I have a song I don’t particularly care for marked as 100% awesome and there is a song out there that I love but don’t know the title of. Great. Just great.

Frickin’ LaunchCast.

January 24th, 2006 • 5:42 pm • dinane • Posted in Music, Video GamesComments Off on I’ve Been Lied To!

Remember When Smileys Were Cool?

When I was in high school, I was Queen of the Internet. You didn’t know? What rock were you hiding under? I was totally Queen! I was! I swear!

Okay, fine. I wasn’t Queen. I was a pauper wearing a pretty dress. Fine.

I was, however, exceptionally good at instant messenger. I was capable of having multiple IM conversations at once. Even as many as ten or more. This drove my mother absolutely batty.

My mom has always liked to know what’s going on in my life. She would poke her head into the office where the computer was, and watch me alt-tab my way around, typing at my ridiculous speed. She would sometimes get angry, thinking that I was hiding things from her, because she couldn’t read the IM windows as fast as I cycled through them. But I wasn’t doing any such thing – that’s just how I existed. My social life was anti-social.

I told some friends at work about this IM über-skill and they told me it wasn’t anything to be proud of. Yet, I share it on the internet anyway. What’s wrong with me?

Anyway, back in the day of AOL and IM and AIM-bombs and personal webpages with no content and frame wars and webrings, I was Queen. (I say so, so it is true!) I had all of those things in my control. I even had a proto-blog where I whined about my crappy minimum wage job. And while all of this happened, smileys were evolving.

First, it was :-) and :-(. But I found those to be too tedious to type, so I went with the :) model. My left-handed friend wanted to be special, so he went this way (=. There was ;) and :/ and :P. And the smileys weren’t always enough. Sometimes you had to resort to text *g* for grin and *rae* for “raising an eyebrow” (a skill which I actually possess… but only for my left eyebrow… someday I will conquer the ability to raise either eyebrow independently, and then I will conquer the world!). There was brb, afk, and bak (because “back” was too hard to spell out); and there was lol, rotfl, and rotflmao (I once saw someone try to pronounce that as if it were a word…). There were abbreviations you needed codes to look up before you could begin to understand.

But the greatest of all of these was by far the smileys.

On Monday, my next-cube-neighbor at work and I came to the same conclusion involving a department-wide email. We simultaneously IMed each other the same sentiment, and things got out of hand from there. I’ll let you take a look for yourself. The first two smileys were ones from AIM’s drop down list that you may recognize.

me: :-P
him: >:o
me: Why isn’t there a “snarky-smiley”
me: I would draw such a thing like this
him: Oh, were you snarky? I was actually pissed.
me: >:~/
him: Kidding of course
him: Wow…
me: No… it gets better
him: Your nose gets crooked when you’re snarky.
me: Never mind
me: I cannot improve on the original
me: Of course it does

[At this point, I stood up to demonstrate my snarky face, in which my nose is definitely crooked.]

him: |=&(:^>)~
him: Okay, that’s the silliest one I have ever come up with
me: Interesting hat…
me: And also beard?
him: Yes. Chef’s hat, with crazy & hair
me: But only one whisker?
him: Well, he’s a villainous chef. He spends all day twirling the beard, so it appears to be only one strand.
me: Ah, how very stealthy.
me: Stealthy?
me: What?
me: Uh… how very … uh… evil!
him: Yup.

— IM conversation from approximately noon on Monday, January 23
— Spelling was changed to protect the innocent.
— Content was not.

January 24th, 2006 • 9:17 am • dinane • Posted in Blogosphere, Life3 Comments »

Honk if You’re a Yuppie!

Saturday afternoon, after lounging around ever so slightly hung-over, Mike and I began a mission. Well, first we went to the grocery store. But then we began a mission. A mission to replace our dead, defunct, and defenestrated (okay, I didn’t actually throw it out of a window, but I did throw it away!) vacuum cleaner.

We began our mission with some research. Mike googled the internet for “the knowledge.” I peered over his shoulder and read as fast as I could (not fast enough), while he looked at consumer magazine reports, websites that compare consumer magazine reports, and magazine websites. We followed links to Hoover’s website, to Bissell’s website, and to Dyson’s website.

As a note of interest, I hate spending money. My dad raised me to be miserly. So the idea of spending several hundred dollars on a vacuum cleaner makes me feel icky. I was consciously and subconsciously trying not to like the expensive looking models.

A couple sites recommended a Bissell model. Our old vacuum was Bissell, but it was admittedly not the best model they had. The recommended one had a detachable portable thing that you could use like a canister vac. It seemed cool, but Mike’s scrutinizing eye had him worried that the same design was used for the filters.

I suppose it is of interest how our old vacuum broke. The filter-ma-jig had a tendency to fall out when you opened the dirt compartment. This could be not so bad, but it actually made it difficult to put the dirt compartment back in. Finally, Mike had a big fight with it, and we gave up hope. Plus, and I hated to admit that I was saying this, it lost suction.

We watched little movies about the Bissell and Dyson vacuums, and tried to decipher the differences between models. We then ventured outside to the windy night. It was pretty late by this point, and we hadn’t had dinner, but we had eaten a snack around 4:00, so the plan was to hit up Best Buy first, then get dinner.

Best Buy is Mike’s personal Mecca. He walked in the store, eyes wide, and started wandering off towards the TVs, DVDs, computers, video games, and other toys. I reined him in, pointing to the giant “Appliances” sign over to the left – over to the side of the store Mike might not even know exists.

We got temporarily distracted by the giant refrigerators. There was a ridiculous one with four doors that caught our attention. The freezer was set to -2 degrees… Fahrenheit. Intense, but useless to us, as we are lowly renters.

Back to the mission! Right on the end cap of an aisle, the bright yellow and bright purple Dyson models glowed, beckoning us. You couldn’t miss their bright colors and peculiar angles. But we turned the corner to go down the aisle. I was still convinced that I could get past the hype.

We found the highly rated Bissell model, with detachable canister vac, but our hopes were instantly dashed. The filter system looked identical to our defunct model. Literally. It was broken in the same way.

With Bissell out of the picture, we took a look at some Hoover models. They looked okay, but had no spiffy features, like the Bissell and Dyson models did. It was too late. Our minds were made up before we even began.

We were at Best Buy to purchase a Dyson.

We poked around the models they had, trying to figure out the differences between the brightly colored devices. The DC-07 models were supposedly stronger, but their extending wand tool was bizarre and impossible to operate. The DC-14 had simpler features. We had no interest in the Ball models; we had heard that they don’t suck.

We stood there for quite a while debating the differences between the standard yellow model, the “pets” purple model, and the “all-access” blue and orange model. We finally decided that we were all about all-access.

Decision made, I told Mike we could explore the rest of his playground. We looked at TVs, stereos, speakers, and video games. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested. I like gadgets too, even if I don’t love them the way Mike does.

After the store tour, we went back to bring our Dyson up to the register. In another fit of ingenuity, the box hand a handle placed on the side. Not in the middle of the side, but actually placed at the point that was balanced. We brought our new toy out to the car, and traipsed on over to the Olive Garden for a tasty dinner.

As soon as we got home from dinner (at this point, it was pretty darn late – we had to wait quite a while for our table), Mike put the shiny blue and orange parts together into a vacuum cleaner. We couldn’t use it yet, but the next day, I excitedly vacuumed the stairs (who have been developing dust-bunnies at an alarming rate), the crevasses in the front hallway, and all of the damn cobwebs in the living room. I killed them spider webs! BUA-HA-HA-HA! I like that extending wand. Mike experienced the magical suction of the upright vacuum features.

I can now say from experience, the Dyson is a good vacuum. And I’m not afraid to say it. Because it is true. And because I have come to terms with my yuppiness. I drive a Jetta with a sunroof, we watch HDTV, we have multiple TiVos, we have a ridiculous all-in-one remote, we go out to eat every weekend, we are not old, we are “professionals,” and we now own a Dyson. It is our way. It is the way of the yuppie. Please forgive us.

January 23rd, 2006 • 12:37 pm • dinane • Posted in Life, Shopping6 Comments »

I Can Spell, I Swear I Can!

It turns out that the Italian holiday bread with raisins in it is actually spelled panettone, not panatone, as I have been spelling it recently.

So, if you came here looking for a “recipe for panatone bread,” please try respelling it as “panettone” and you are likely to find actual recipes.

Come for the panatone, stay for the stories about my mudane life!

I totally should be picked last…

January 20th, 2006 • 3:17 pm • dinane • Posted in Food, SiteComments Off on I Can Spell, I Swear I Can!

Rarrrrrr… I Am Muscle Girl!

I had to add a weekly out-of-office Outlook meeting for Thursdays a bit of a while ago. See, the company I work for has pretty flexible hours. There’s core hours from 10:00 ’til 3:00, and you have to work 8 hours (plus unpaid lunch) so long as it spans across that time. I generally go for 7:15 – 4:00, with 45 minute lunch. Give or take the time it takes me to get the hell out of bed.

Everyone in the department knows that. So they feel bad when they schedule meetings for 4:00 PM. But it wasn’t stopping them from doing it. My calendar looks clear. Why not, right?

So, I rebelled. But only on Thursdays. Every Thursday, my calendar has me out of the office starting at 4:00 PM. No one will stop me. No one will be scheduling a meeting. I’m gone.

Where am I at 4:00? In my car, on my way back to the burbs. I drive down the road, past my apartment complex, and into the Gold’s Gym parking lot. Thursdays are my days for meeting with Donna, my trainer.

It’s been a little over a year since I decided to bite the bullet and kick myself into shape. It was not a New Years’ Resolution. It was not a spur of the moment idea. It was something that had to happen, and I finally stopped lying to myself.

I’d been a member of the gym for over a year before my first meeting with Donna. I would go through spurts of gym attendance followed by spurts of severe laziness. I lied to myself and tried to convince myself I was actually getting thinner. I guess it was better that I stopped gaining weight for a while.

That while didn’t last. Neither did my spurts of gym attendance. I ballooned up to my highest and most disgusting (to me anyway) weight. I thought I could kick myself back into shape, so I made the week between Christmas and New Years “work out like it’s your job week,” since I didn’t have to work, but Mike did. Some days went well, others I just wimped out and rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes. Better than nothing, but definitely not good enough.

So, around the 9th (if I remember correctly) of January, I was at the gym pretending to be a good girl, and I spotted a sign in the locker room. It was printed on Gold’s Gym Gold paper, and it started off with some kind of eye catching font telling me that fad diets aren’t the answer. Amen to that! I’ve never believed that any kind of fad diet would have a long term effect. I’ve watched my mother lose and gain and lose and gain with fad diets ranging from Weight Watchers to the “eat grapefruit before every meal” diet.

I read that whole sign; and it told me about a 5-part program. It told me that exercise alone wouldn’t help. It told me that nutrition is not dieting. It told me that supplements can help. It told me that weight training and cardio are both necessary to drop the fat. And it told me that I didn’t have to do it alone.

I nervously marched myself up to the front desk and asked about the program. The front desk guys had obviously not been trained in answering these questions, but they worked together to explain that 10 pounds of fat (not weight) loss (or muscle gain, for muscley-types) were guaranteed. He then asked me if I knew which trainer I wanted, I told him I didn’t, and he picked Donna at seemingly random. (I later found out that the front desk guy was her son, but who cares, I love her.)

I called her, and we set up our first appointment. She measured me, she weighed me, she talked to me about food, I got emotional about how important this was, and we made plans for the next appointment. She helped me schedule out a week of exercising. She made me commit to it. She helped me plan out nutritious food in small amounts scattered throughout the day (5 small meals, not 3 huge ones). She made me promise. She explained that there could be some give, that I didn’t have to be perfect, that eating dinner out once a week wouldn’t kill me if I didn’t stuff my face. She explained everything to me, and made me feel like this was truly possible.

I didn’t just lose 10 pounds of fat in the first 10 weeks. I lost 12 pounds of weight. I probably lost more fat; due to my starting to gain muscle mass.

This was something I had to do. I was going to do. Nothing was going to stop me.

One year later, I still refuse to miss a meeting with Donna. I do what she tells me to (give or take the occasional cheating… but she forgives me). She’s really nice and fun to talk to. She makes me want to do it. She makes me believe in myself, even when I went through seemingly endless plateaus.

One year later, I am partially addicted to the program’s sponsor’s protein shakes. I can’t imagine eating huge meals any more. Eating large amounts of fat or skipping a day at the gym makes me feel sick. I have almost become a health nut. A health nut who occasionally eats ice cream, but at least it’s low-fat or a small serving (or both, if I’m being especially good).

One yar later, I can run up a flight of stairs without having to stop half-way to catch my breath. I can snowboard, if poorly (I can not imagine fat-Diane trying to do that). I learned that I like to run and jog outside. I can lift weights that I collapsed under a year ago.

One year later, I’ve lost 34 solid pounds, at a sustainable rate. Thirty-four. I’m down 2 pants sizes, 3 dress sizes, and some nebulous amount of shirt sizes (I’ve never really found consistency in the sizing of shirts…). Shopping for clothes, which I still do occasionally hate, doesn’t make me nauseous. I’m healthier. I’m happier.

I’m not done. I’m not fully cooked. I’m staying in this oven until the last 24 pounds are gone. But I’m going to kill them, with Donna’s help, and we’re going to make sure they never ever come back.

January 20th, 2006 • 1:18 pm • dinane • Posted in Health2 Comments »
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