Monday, January 30, 2006

Pigsterina, or "what to name the hamster..."

Ok, so we're still not quite sure whether my hamster is a male or a female. Adam thinks it's a boy, but I'm not totally convinced yet (if you know what I mean.) So therefore the naming process has been somewhat delayed. I have narrowed it down though. In the past couple weeks, it has gotten totally HUGE!

And yesterday when I went to check on it, its food bowl was completely empty. That's why I decided that it will be named Piggy. That's nicely gender unspecific. But then while we were talking about it I thought maybe Pigster sounds better. Sounded decidedly male though. I suggested Pigsterina for a female, which reduced us both to giggles. I'm not sure it's such a good idea to name a hamster something that we can't even say while keeping a straight face... For now Piggy will do until a more official gender decision is made. :)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Time Flies

It’s amazing how fast this week has gone by. Work has been busy rolling the year. We finally got all the files moved this afternoon and I can see the surface of my desk for the first time since we closed the month about two weeks ago. Ok, well, I can see parts of the surface of my desk… the folders from running 30 hostess jobs in a row kind of takes up a lot of room. Other than work, I haven’t really been doing much. I think Proust is slowing me down in the book challenge. I am about 1/3 of the way through the book and I am having lots of trouble getting into it. I don’t know if it’s a “French book from the early 1900’s” or a “too deep for Martha” thing. I might have to throw the towel in on that one. Or at least intersperse reading something else at the same time to keep my mind alert. The book isn’t as good as my International Finance text was at putting me to sleep, but pretty close.

It’s hard to believe that January is almost over. In fact, it’s hard to believe it’s even January. The weather has been freakishly warm – I’m talking 40s and 50s. The snow is all gone and it looks like it’s April. I’m not complaining. I’m just wondering when the calm will end and the sub-zero blizzards will start again. I’m hoping never, but that’s not likely. This is Wisconsin after all.

I finally got my W-2 from Kmart yesterday. It was the last piece of the puzzle for my taxes. I haven’t decided how I’m going to file them yet. My estimated refund (according to TurboTax) is $74. Hardly even worth filing if you ask me… State refund is estimated at around $170. Once again, almost not worth my time, but I suppose I should file anyway. With the state, it’s free if you do it online. I guess I’ll work on that this weekend. Adam has already filed his. He gets a lot more back since he doesn’t claim himself on whatever form that is you give your employer that determines withholding amounts.


I was amused by a post Jodi had on her blog the other day about the Seahawks and the excitement that goes along with a winning football team. Living where I do for my whole life, this kind of thing is part of day-to-day life. I’m not sure there’s any kind of study out there, but I’m pretty sure Packer fans are the most loyal football fans out there. Even with a season like the most recent one (ie. sucky to the nth degree), the stadium sells out and people are psyched on game day. A hush falls over the entire region on Sundays between noon and three on days when there’s a game. I didn’t like working on Sunday mornings because there was always this horrible rush of crazy people around 11, picking up all kinds of junk for their Packer parties. This being so engrained in my life growing up, it seems weird to me when I see games with stands half empty. It seems odd that people wouldn’t care how their team is doing. Now, I’m not a Packer fan. I think it’s pretty well known that I root for the team on the other side of the river – the Vikings. But people in this area (and Packer fans all over the country) are so dedicated to this team. This is how it is when they suck and are losing. Now, back in 1996 and 1997 when they actually had some game, imagine how crazy it got. When they won division it got worse. When they won the Super Bowl… geesh… Rabid fans only get worse when they actually have something to drink to. They say there’s some connection between the Packers losing and incidences of domestic violence. While I can’t attest to this fact, it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve only been to Lambeau field a few times – always during the week – mostly to go to Curly’s (the restaurant there) or the pro-shop with Adam. I can’t even imagine what it would be like on a game day…

Anyway, I guess my point was that I was amused by the apparently short-lived phenomenon that occurs in other places when it seems like an on-going thing here.

Brokeback Mountain

We have been going to too many movies lately. In the last month or so, we’ve seen four: Grandma’s Boy, The Producers, Last Holiday, and Brokeback Mountain. Yep, BBM came to Green Bay so we drove up there on Tuesday to go check what all the buzz was about. It’s a good movie. Not the kind of movie I generally see, but this was my idea and Adam agreed to come along. It’s a beautiful film artistically speaking - lots of shots of mountains and wide open spaces in Wyoming (or wherever they shot the movie.) No particularly gratuitous sex shots or anything like that. I wasn’t too impressed with most of the acting. None of the leads are favorites of mine and Heath Ledger has always just bugged me anyway so I guess that was to be expected. It has a good chance to win the best picture Oscar and if it did, I wouldn’t complain. Everyone knows the story and I suppose I had more back story than most since I read the short story prior to viewing the film. It was interesting to see the translation to the big screen.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Golden Globes

So, this past Monday the Golden Globes awards ceremony kicked off the season of award giving. I watched the show and kind of took notes so I could comment on things after the fact. So here goes:

All in all, this awards ceremony seemed very subdued. There were no outrageous moments, no overly political speeches. Everyone seemed to get their acceptance speeches in within the desired time frame. It was actually kind of boring.

In any case, the first award of the evening went to George Clooney. He seemed very nervous, which surprised me. He also made the only somewhat inappropriate comment of the night (something to do with Jack Abramoff... *sigh*) I've never been much of a fan of George, but he just really needs to grow up. While the nominees for best director were being announced later on in the show, when his name was announced, the camera showed him at his table with a glass stuck up to his eye. You know, him holding the glass around his eye with his cheeks. He's in his mid-40s now and still acts like a 20 year old frat boy.

Sandra Oh won for her work in Grey's Anatomy. When they called her name she looked kind of lost as she tried to find her way to the stage. Admittedly, it was quite a maze to get there. You'd think they'd want to make a path so people could get up there quickly. Instead, they put tables and chairs all over the place so the winners had to wind their way through the crowd, squeezing behind chairs. Seemed like bad planning.

A lot of the winners had amusing acceptance speeches. Geena Davis told a story about a little girl telling her that because of her role as president, she now had the courage to hope to one day be president. We were then informed that that never happened, but wouldn't it have been cool? Hugh Laurie won for his role in House and his speech involved him drawing slips of paper out of his pocket and thanking those people. Steve Carrell had probably the funniest speech. He told the audience he didn't expect to win so he didn't have a speech. Luckily his wife had written one for him. The entire speech kept going back to thanking his wife. It was hilarious. It was also the only speech that got called back in by someone else later on who also thanked Steve's wife.

There was some really bad fashion going around on this night as well. Most of it was really bad hair. Rachel Weisz won for The Constant Gardener. She's a lovely woman, but what was with the hair? Colin Firth did the intro to the Woody Allen film that was nominated, but he looked more like a wild mountain man than his usual dapper self.

Then there were the accents. Some accents are cute - like Russell Crowe. Some are just annoying - like Penelope Cruz. She really needs to lose it. No one can understand a damn word she says. I don't even know who the guy who introduced The History of Violence was, but he had another uninterpretable accent.

There were very few political moments in this broadcast. Those that could qualify as such were very toned down in comparison to previous years. Included in these moments would be when the best foreign film went to the Palestinians and the man who spoke to accept the award said something to the effect that it was great that Palestine was being recognized as an independent country. I didn't think it was a country... what do I know? The only other semi-political, but more of a social commentary, came from Felicity Hoffman when she was giving her speech for winning best actress for TransAmerica. Granted, she was giving thanks for a role in which she played a transvestite, but once again it was a rather muted social comment.

Chris Rock presented the award for best actress in a tv comedy. All I can say about that is thank God he's not hosting the Oscars again. I can't stand him.

Other than that, there's not much to say. Brokeback Mountain had a good night as did Walk the Line, with both Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix winning.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Producers

We went and saw The Producers last night. It just came to a theater in our area this past week. We seem to live in a cultural dead zone. Any film that shows in limited release never gets anywhere close to the Fox Valley. I’m not sure why. For example, I’ve wanted to see Brokeback Mountain for a while now. It opened a while ago but probably won’t be coming anywhere near me. Another movie I’d like to see that I highly doubt will come to this area is The Squid and the Whale with Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels. This same thing happened with The Door in the Floor. Perhaps I should be grateful for that though. I would have been ticked off if I had paid $8.50 to watch that movie.

Anyway, I had seen the stage version of The Producers starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick a few years ago. I liked it but was afraid it would be difficult to translate to the silver screen. So many plays and musicals have been transposed from one media to another and something gets lost in the process. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for this show. Granted, it was originally a movie which got turned into a play which got turned into a movie. Perhaps this explains why it seemed just fine in either form. Will Ferrell was hilarious as Franz, but when he falls down the stairs and says “I broke my leg”, all I could think of was his character, Mustafa, in Austin Powers. It sounded exactly like it did when he gets thrown down into that pit and gets shot and all that. Heh. Uma Thurman surprised me in that she seemed to dance pretty well and (assuming it was her) sing decently. Her accent was sketchy, but it worked. All in all it was a good movie. Adam liked it as well and is already saying he plans to buy the DVD when it comes out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Random Stuff

So far, so good in hamster land. No signs of wet-tail have been seen and he/she/it seems content. Most of the time. It has stopped crying but remains spooked whenever I get anywhere near the cage. My mere presence sends it into a fit. It sits up on its hind legs with its paws up by its face and bares its “fangs.” I guess this is supposed to be menacing and scare me away. I just find it cute. I haven’t seen much of Howie lately. He always seems to be buried somewhere when I come into the room and since I can’t reach up over the top of the cage to dig around and find him (we did some cage rearrangement and his cage ended up on the top of the bookshelf), I settle for saying hello to the general area through the glass.

I had IMA last night and (for the first time, I think) things went relatively smoothly and I didn’t come home with a migraine headache. The PD session speaker was a soldier who was over in Iraq for a year or so. He had all kinds of pictures and stories to share. Aside from his overuse of the phrase “I’ll never forget” and the word “literally”, it was a good presentation. Dinner was ok. I wasn’t impressed by the food at Liberty Hall last time and this time kind of continued that trend. I figured out a new system for my responsibilities though. I decided to wait and count money and tickets after the meal (as the speaker was setting up) rather than as the meal started. This seemed to work out a lot better than the last few meetings. I felt a bit rude sitting in the back of the room riffling through money while the speaker began her presentation. Oh well. I came out perfect on the first try again this month. Woo! I think my new, “organized from the get-go” system is working well. Even the members are commenting on it. :) I accepted the offer to continue in my position(s) next year and I’ll also be taking on another extremely important responsibility: nametags. The person currently responsible for them has missed the last few meetings because of back problems and I think it makes more sense for me to take care of them anyway. I’m the one who has the most contact with the members at the beginning of the evening. I take their money. Heh. I’m having a good time with the people there. They’re all much older than I am, but there were a few students at the meeting last night so I have some hope.

Nothing much else is going on. I’ve been spending more time reading during the past few weeks. Not only because of the 50 book challenge thing, but because I realized I was watching way too much TV. I think I just watch it because its there and then I don’t have to try and think of other ways to occupy my time. I know I should try and branch out and find something to do in the community. I just don’t know what I’d want to do. I’m not going to be joining any church choir or anything like that (sorry, Mom.) There is a chapter/group of the Sweet Adelines in Appleton, but they rehearse on Tuesdays so that kind of conflicts with the only thing I’ve got going on already. *sigh* Once again I feel incredibly boring and unmotivated.

I’m not doing too well on my “spend less money” resolution so far. Last weekend we went out and bought a little 5.0 cu ft freezer for all the big, bulk items we plan to buy at Sam’s Club. We also bought a deep fryer since most of the stuff there is restaurant type foods. Case in point: a box of chicken tenders. Directions on box: deep fry for 3-4 minutes. Martha (pre-deep fryer) method: put in oven, check every 5 or 10 minutes until they look done, cut into one, find it still raw, curse the oven and various other kitchen appliances, repeat. Yeah, their way is much better. We found that when they’re baked the outer breading is much spicier than when they’re deep fried. That was interesting. Because of all the recent kitchen appliance purchases we definitely needed more storage room so we got a few new bookcases for storage. They fit perfectly and freed up a lot of counter space.

I also finally got the CD I ordered from Barnes & Noble about a month ago. It had been out of stock for awhile. I guess this is ok considering it was an import and I couldn’t find it anywhere else. The CD is the newest from Charlotte Church. This is her first attempt at a “pop” album as the other albums she has done were all of the classical genre. It’s an interesting transition. Between being from Wales and the fact that she started out in strictly classical music, she’s not too popular over here in the US. She was the voice in the score of A Beautiful Mind though and she also sang the song played as the credits rolled, so you’ve probably heard her voice. She has a very unique instrument. I haven’t decided if I like her new persona yet. I’ve listened to the CD (on random) lots of times in my car and at work. It’s not your everyday pop music. It bears little resemblance to Britney Spears. I think it’s nearly impossible for Charlotte to completely abandon her classical roots simply because her voice has been trained so well for that type of music it comes through even when she’s singing questionable lyrics to funky drum machine beats. I generally enjoy the songs. I wasn’t sure I’d like them. I went to her website before I ordered the CD and there were clips and the music videos from the three songs that have been released as singles in Europe. She has definitely changed her image. Whatever makes her happy, I guess. I just wonder if she’ll find as much success in this genre as she did in the classical world. If she makes more CDs after this one, I’ll probably buy those ones too.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

10,000 miles

Hit the 10,000 mile mark on my car earlier this week:

Kinda blurry, I know, but it was getting dark out on my way home from work and I pulled over in a parking lot to snap the photo with my cell phone. Not the greatest quality camera.

As you can see, it was 37 degrees outside. It's been oddly warm here lately. Got up to damn near 50 a few days ago. Just crazy...

The Saga Continues

Well, Adam's hamster, Howie, seems to be doing well. He's generally happy and playful. He has a bad habit of pooping and peeing on whoever is holding him. I'm not sure if it's nerves or if he just likes peeing on people. In any case, it can get messy.

We went back to Animal Adventure on Thursday evening to see if the babies that we saw there a few weeks ago were ready to be sold. They were and I found a baby teddy bear hamster that I liked so we bought it. It's still an "it" for the time being because it's too young to tell if it's a he or she. Therefore I'm waiting to name it until I can tell. My gut feeling is that it's a girl, but who knows.

Let's see if we can keep this one going. It was treated for wet tail as a newborn so hopefully it can resist the fate the others fell to.

50 Books

I'm being a joiner (in the best sense of the word.) My sister-in-law Jodi decided to take the "50 book challenge" and I figured it might be fun. There is a whole group of people doing this over at LiveJournal, so why not me too? I've created a separate web page to log the books I'm reading. Each time I update it I'll post a little something here though. I just created a really rough version of it for now. It might change later. I also got around to changing the links over there on the right, so now my website and my photoalbum are linked here along with the new site.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Year 2005 Survey

I found this while wandering around the blogging world and I thought it would be fun to answer the questions myself as well...

What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?
Lots of things. I bought a brand new car, I dated one person for more than 3 months, I moved in with that person, I went out to New York to visit my mother, and probably a ton of other things I’m forgetting about right now.

Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t think I really made any last year so they were pretty easy to keep! I haven’t really made any this year either although Adam keeps bugging me about them. They’re usually the same old thing – lose weight, become enlightened and at peace with the world, that kind of bullshit.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Lisa had her son in March I believe. But 2004 was really the big “everyone I know is having a baby” year.

Did anyone close to you die?
Chewy, the hamster, did. But no HUMAN did.

What countries did you visit?
Does Canada count?

What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?
Hmm. I don’t know. More money in my savings account? I spent a lot of money this past year.

What date from 2005 will remain etched upon you?
Well, April 13th was a good day.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Just one? Heh. I don’t consider anything I did this year to be an “achievement” really. I just kind of lived life.

What was your biggest failure?
I never fail. :) Just kidding. I know I keep letting Adam down on a certain issue so I guess that could be it.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just your usual colds and the bruises that come with being a clutz.

What was the best thing you bought?
My new car probably. Although I really like my new mixer too…

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Uhm. I don’t know. Who made these questions up?

Whose behavior made you appalled?
How about Mr. Scientology, Tom Cruise. What a dumbass. Thank goodness I never thought he was cute.

Where did most of your money go?
Rent, of course. And car payments, food, practical stuff…

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Lots of things. New car, new relationship, new house…

What song will always remind you of 2005?
Don’t Phunk With my Heart by the Black Eyed Peas. We heard that song about 10 million times on our way to and from New York.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?
Definitely happier. Last year sucked.

b) Thinner or fatter?

Unfortunately fatter. A lot fatter. *sigh*

c) richer or poorer?
Richer. Yay to a full-time job with benefits!

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Travel. I didn’t get out much and after our successful camping excursion I would have liked to do it again.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Sitting on my butt watching TV.

How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas has already happened, but I spent it with Adam and his family.

How many one-night stands?

What was your favorite TV program?
I didn’t get cable until October, so up until that point I watched a lot of NBC. The Apprentice (Trump version) was good. I’m also hooked on 7th Heaven on the WB.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word. There are very few people in the world that I truly hate. No one fell to that status this past year.

What was the best book you read?

I didn’t really read too much this past year. Too busy sitting around watching TV I guess. I believe John Irving had a new book out and I read that, so probably that one. It was called Until I Find You.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Er… that Adam can’t sing? I don’t know.

What did you want and get?

Lots of things. I generally get what I want.

What was your favorite film of this year?
I saw a lot of them. More than usual probably. I really liked the movie Prime, with Meryl Streep. I liked it because the ending was not what you would have expected.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked a normal day and then went out for dinner with Adam to Applebee’s. I turned… uhm… 23.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
I don’t think I have one. I got a lot more color in my clothes though. Adam’s mostly to blame for that. He complained that all I wore was black and purple.

What kept you sane?
Are you sure I’m sane?

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Uh, I don’t really have a celebrity crush right now. No one really stood out for me this year.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I tend to avoid politics.

Who did you miss?

No one, really.

Who was the best new person you met?
I didn’t really meet a lot of new people outside the people at work. I’m boring…

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:
Back-up your hard drive. Tee hee.

Quote song lyrics that sum up your year:
I’ll have to think about this one…

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Hamster Game

So, the third time's a charm, eh? This guy lasted only a few days. No, this one didn't die. He just had a nasty temper and a habit of biting anything that got in his toothline. Since Adam was after something a little more cuddly, he had to take this one back. Didn't even have a chance to name him...

This one is hamster #4, otherwise known as Howie. He seems a lot friendlier although he tends to hiss at you if you wake him up. We'll see if this one can last.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Holidays

I’ve got quite a bit to catch up on here so this might be a long entry. First of all, let’s address the whole hamster issue. When Adam got home from work on Friday afternoon he discovered that Chewy had checked out (permanently) at some point during the day. This was especially surprising to both of us since he had been so active and chipper that morning. He had gotten sick a few days after we brought him home and we had been giving him medicine and watching him carefully. Who knows what happened… Adam brought him back to the pet store and found out that pretty much every hamster in the store was sick and they were quarantined. Nice of them to let us know… Needless to say, we won’t be going back to that store. I was pretty blue most of Friday night and Saturday. I don’t know how I got so attached to him so quickly. I just hope he died while he was sleeping or something. It would make me feel a whole lot worse if he had to suffer too much.

I managed to get quite a cold sometime between Tuesday night at IMA and Thursday-ish. It remained with me until Christmas so most of my vacation time was spend sleeping or laying in bed sneezing. It usually happens that way. We spent Christmas Eve afternoon at Adam’s parents’ house. We exchanged gifts from the secret santa deal, had a light lunch/dinner of sandwiches, and hung out for awhile. This time his older sister seemed to be in a much better mood and there were no quizzes about where my family was. Good thing since I had absolutely no idea this time. :) We went home and I think we went to bed pretty early since I was still sick and we had to be up relatively early the next morning. We got up on Christmas and I went to church with Adam’s family. After that we came home and had our own Christmas thing. We went up to Adam’s uncle’s house to have some time with his uncle, aunt, and grandmother who I hadn’t yet met. They all seem nice enough although I was informed that the grandmother is always more pleasant to be around when she has a few beers in her. In the midst of opening presents and talking, Adam’s parents were invited over to our house for dinner. I’m still not quite sure how that happened. Meh. So after we left his uncle’s we came home, did some turbo cleaning, and I cooked dinner. His parents were a little late (I think they got caught up in the football game or something), but it was nice once they got here. After dinner we sat around and talked for a bit and then they went home.

We did some major shopping on this past Saturday all throughout the Fox Valley. We stopped in Oshkosh so I could buy some new bake ware. I also bought a teapot. We stopped at Kmart so I could pick up a few pant hangers. No one else seems to carry the kind I was after. Unfortunately my former manager was there so I had to hear her unpleasant voice for the first time in 6 months. That sucked. Then we headed up to Appleton. We went to Sam’s Club and bought items in bulk for the first time with our membership. Fun stuff. We also went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and had the call the GB store and hold the food processor I wanted since the Appleton store didn’t have it. We stopped at Cub food so Adam could get his crab legs. We also happened to find some cheap champagne for the evening. Strawberry flavored… Then we headed to Green Bay, stopping to pick up some cheese at Simon’s on the way. We got the food processor – I paid $35 for a $100 item! Woo! – and then checked out a pet store nearby to see what kind of hamsters they had. I wasn’t ready to seriously look for a replacement, but Adam was. We didn’t find anything there so we headed back to Appleton. We went to Petsmart where we had seen some cute Russian hamsters a few days earlier. When we got there they were pretty wiped out though. Only a few were left and I think most of them were dwarfs that were mislabeled. The girl who helped us was pretty clueless. I don’t think she really knew what she was doing. She felt comfortable enough with us to overshare that she lived with her boyfriend in her boyfriend’s mom’s house. His mom really likes her. (So, what… geesh…) She also tried to get us to buy a very expensive bird. Who knows why. Anywho, I didn’t see anything I liked, but Adam picked out this feisty little white guy. No name has been picked out yet. This one is all his though. I don’t really like him too much and he doesn’t seem to like anyone. After we got him settled in the cage we brought with us, we headed back home. As I put away all the crap we bought, Adam got the hamster settled in the other cage.

We headed back to Appleton to catch the 7pm showing of “The Family Stone.” It’s ok, I guess. There are some funny moments and some sad moments. It’s no contender for the Oscar or anything, but it’s a cute movie. It was much more crowded than we’d anticipated and we ended up being completely boxed in by an old lady with horrible perfume and a younger woman with even worse perfume. I think both Adam and I had monumental headaches by the time the movie was over. We walked out back into the fresh air and then headed up to Green Bay. We checked out the Casino but when we saw cars parking all along the drive up to the hotel we decided it would be suicide to try and do anything there. We turned around and drove across town to Lambeau Field. We had a beer at Curly’s and hung out for a while. When that got boring we headed back across town to his Grandma’s house. His cousin worked until 11, but we were supposed to hang out there and celebrate the new year with him and a few of his friends. They sat there playing Madden ’06 while I laid on the couch, bored out of my mind. Harold had a few too many and I was reminded of all the bad parties I had gone to during my sophomore year of college. They turned off the video game before midnight and we watched the re-run of the ball dropping and toasted each other with the cheap strawberry champagne. Tasted just like Boone’s Farm… We headed back home pretty soon after midnight since Adam had to work in the morning.

All in all it was a bearable holiday season.