31 October, 2006


from the ParkHopper Menagerie

aww...who are you trying to kid, ZoePig? You'r just too sweet to be a mean, nasty witch!

I just don't have the heart to tell my little "Easter Bunny" that the eggs are supposed to go inside the basket.

Does anyone else have a caption for my poor objectified pets?

30 October, 2006

Three Hundred

Well, Blogger tells me this is my 300th entry. And this gave me quite the case of writer's block. Originally, I thought I wanted to do some sort of retrospective, but I figure that would take the wind out of the sails of my year-in-review (coming in about two months). Instead, I thought I'd focus on the number 300.
It is a triangular number and the sum of a twin prime (149 + 151), as well as the sum of ten consecutive primes (13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47).

In bowling, a perfect score, achieved by rolling strikes in all ten frames.

The lowest possible Fair Isaac credit score.

Its Roman numeral is CCC.

In the year 300, the magnetic compass for navigation was invented in China (approximate date), and a Sanskrit collection of fables and fairy tales, the Panchatantra was written in India.

With their 48-3 victory over Bowling Green on Sept. 12, 1998 the Nittany Lions marked their second win of the season and Joe Paterno marked the 300th victory in his career as a head coach. Only three other Division I head coaches have reached that mark, (Bear Bryant, Pop Warner and Amos Alonzo Stagg), and Paterno reached it in fewer games than any of them.

29 October, 2006

College Football

I just went to the AOL Sports site to check on Penn State's day yesterday (it's hard for me to track them when they're not in the top 25) and I noticed something very disturbing. Coming into yesterday's games, Rutgers is ranked #16. Rutgers! They were the fluff team Penn State would play every couple of years. Seriously. Rutgers?

Penn State started out pretty dreary, much like the season (don't quote me on this -- I'm not a religious follower of the NCAA -- it's more anecdotal) two years ago when we lost to the fluff teams at the beginning of the season and then beat all the big boys at the end. The boys in blue are 6-3 and I think they'll be able to pull out wins over the next three weeks. Wisconsin is ranked #16, so they'll be a challenge, but after that there's Temple, who is 1-8 and then Michigan State, who is 4-5.

I'm still baffled by the whole Rutgers thing. Who would've thought there would come a day when PSU, FSU, MSU, and Miami were shut out of the Top 25 in favor of Rutgers, West Vigrinia, and Boise State?!? It's a world gone mad, folks!


Programming Note: My next post will be #300 in this particular incarnation of my blog. Look for something special when I have time to put it together.

27 October, 2006

Beware the Enthusiasm!

Yesterday afternoon, my boss mentioned that the holidays are coming up (duh!) and that maybe I could use some money and I should think about coming in for an extra day of work. My response? "Sure! I'd love to!" He thought I was being sarcastic. Nah... I just enjoy a good paycheck. Besides, I think he's torn about how best to replace the flaky temp, and I'm glad to help out in the interim. And I'd rather be paid for an extra day than squeeze extra work into my existing work days.

Later he mentioned the fleeting thought that I should be there every day. (apparently Wednesday night our computer system went down in striking fashion and our part-timer didn't handle pressure or stress of that magnitude very well.) I laughed. Hard. And told him that my job was too exhausting to do every day.

Then he got worried that I don't like the job anymore. Rest assured, boss - one of the things I love about my job is that it wears me down. It's not the kind of stress I can't handle. It's just the kind of stress I'd rather not handle seven days a week!

25 October, 2006

The Outside World...

Sometimes I think that if I didn't have to leave the house, I wouldn't bother. I wouldn't grocery shop or go to the gas station, that's for sure! The outside world... strange things happen there...

I spent 20 minutes - Literally. 20 minutes - this evening waiting in line to get a car wash that was about to expire. I actually called Scott because we were supposed to be meeting at Publix to get some shopping done. He said he would just start without me (read: buy lots of meat). So I sat there while the 3 - yep, only 3 - cars ahead of me went through the wash. The old man in the Cadillac took at least two tries to enter his code properly. I wanted to honk. Instead I practiced deep breathing and listened to the radio. At the end of the car wash, there were still love bug splatters on my windshield, and my antenna topper was gone. I'm not too sad about the topper- I recently noticed that the gold sparkles were at least half gone. But I'm disappointed that the windshield isn't even clean.

So I finally met up with Scott in the last row of the store. We conferred, decided to get some deli meat, bought more peaches (we're on a cobbler kick), and I grabbed some Special K bars, which were on sale BOGO.

Back at home, I opened up the Special K bars to add them to the box-o-snacks in the pantry and was surprised to find only five bars in the box. Where was the sixth? I had Scott count them again, and he also counted five. I got on a tangent and started to rant (who? me? rant?) about being ripped off while opening the next box. I made sure to count the bars to make sure I hadn't been ripped off AGAIN, and I got to four... five... six... seven?!?!? Yep - seven. So I ended up with the right amount after all, but in the wrong proportions. I only got five chocolate drizzled, and seven of the peach-berry. I submitted a comment on (yes, there truly is a website for everything!) telling them they needed to hire people who could count without using their fingers. Actually, I was very polite. It was too humorous to resort to mud-slinging.

And THEN, as if today hadn't been random enough, I got some "personalized recommendations" from Columbia House.

Dear JAMIE thank you for putting my name in CAPS so that I would recognize myself,
Since you've previously purchased Tom Cruise movies, may we recommend these great flicks to complete your collection! funny...I thought I was boycotting Tom Cruise. I guess that's what I get for buying Top Gun on clearance for my husband who doesn't think the man is crazy!

Mission: Impossible 3 (Pre-Order) - I didn't understand the first M:I movie, didn't see the second, but hey - maybe I'll buy the third? umm... no

Mission: Impossible 2 Special Collector's Edition - "Own this bonus-filled special edition now!" Gee... do the bonus selections explain the movie? If not, I'm not

Mission: Impossible Special Collector's Edition - Didn't like the movie... don't
like the guy. Are we seeing a common thread here?

War of the Worlds - The most over-exposed man in Hollywood joins the most over-exposed child in Hollywood. Besides, I believe it was on this movie tour when Tommy Boy lost my respect by couch jumping, bashing Brooke Shields, and lecturing Matt Lauer.

Interview With the Vampire Special Edition - Horror + Tom Cruise = no thank you

Far and Away - He should take his fake Irish accent far and away.

Jerry Maguire Special Edition - You had me at... Hell No!

Perhaps it's best that I return to work tomorrow. I've obviously had a little too much time to examine my surroundings in the past few days. It's been nice while it lasted.

A Perfect Fall Day

Yesterday between my appointment with Dr. Ponytail and a trip to the movies, Scott and I spent an hour enjoying an absolutely perfect fall day.

The weather was in the 60's.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

We split a caramel apple and some pumpkin fudge.

And we watched the world go by.

It just doesn't get any better than that!

Mail Call

From the ParkHopper Mailbag:

I know it's hard to read, but I had to share this postcard I got from my darling mother. I read the top line and laughed until my stomach hurt. Scott says he doesn't think she was being funny. I know that my mom knows her audience and stopped sending Jesus rhetoric to me long ago. Anyway, the original printing from the postcard says:

Formed millions of years ago by volcanoes, glaciers and other natural forces, the Colorado landscape is an awe-inspiring blend of mountains, lakes, forests, and plains.

And mom changed the first line to read, "Formed thousands of years ago by God..."

...and she sent the Colorado postcard from Texas, which makes it even better!

24 October, 2006

Feline Critics

Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot this week encourages us to show off our creative sides: Take a picture of something you've made. Pottery, cookies, a drawing or painting, a poem or a pipe cleaner stick man -- it's all good, it just has to have been made by you. Show off your creativity.

I figure I had two options for this Photo Shoot: the blueberry muffins I made for breakfast yesterday or art from grade school. In keeping with my tradition of using the Photo Shoot for "Caption the Cat," I decided to expose the cats to two remaining art projects. It's true -- everyone's a critic!

Milo seems to just love this chalk drawing of a daffodil I made in the fifth grade. I actually figured he'd go for the other, since he likes to lick the shine off of pictures!

Kilo, meanwhile, gets up close and personal with this film etching I did in seventh grade. The etching was the only piece ever submitted to an art show - it went to Burlington County Teen Arts, which means it was hung in a mall over a weekend. The tape pieces at the bottom once held the little card proclaiming my name, grade, and school. The card is long-gone, but that tape is there forever!

Your turn - what do you think that the cats think of their exposure to ParkHopper Gallery?

22 October, 2006

Do They Make 12-Step Programs for Cats?

Honestly, I've put fresh turkey odds and ends on the floor and not gotten this kind of reaction. I think perhaps they both have a problem!

So why the bottle of champagne on the floor? Well, I wanted to take a picture, but didn't want cereal boxes or other assorted foodstuffs in the picture. Instead I got cats. Oh well... that's my life!!

And in case you were wondering about the champagne on the living room floor, it's a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Brut 1998. And it was a gift. Or a leftover. Or maybe a perk. At any rate, it's mine now and I can't wait for an excuse to celebrate and open it up - like maybe Halloween. Do you think this is a vintage that goes well with bulk chocolate?

Boil Your Own Eggs

Dear lazy people of the world,

Egg salad is not difficult to make. First you hard-boil the eggs. Then you let them cool. Then you peel them. Then you slice them. Then you add mayo and whatever else you want (I recommend horseradish dijon, diced celery, and a dash of paprika) and stir. Viola!

Not only to you get the pleasure of serving your family something home made, with no preservatives, but you're less likely to be infected by bacteria that can kill kids and old people.

Really, boil your own damn eggs.


The ParkHopper

21 October, 2006

The Duck Theory

Tonight, I was talking with one of my managers about all of the craziness last night. We both had the same philosophy - we knew that a lot of planning had been done ahead of time, but inevitably things change at the last minute and hilarity ensues. And all you can ever do is roll with the punches.

He mentioned the duck theory, which I had never heard of before. Watch a duck swim across the water. From our point of view, the duck seems to just glide wherever it wants to. It seems perfect and effortless. But just below the surface, it's little feet are going **flap flap flap** in a crazy dance. It's a pretty great metaphor for life in the hospitality business.

Chef had me make 10 extra menus today (just front & back of the same paper - not fancy like last night's) for the culinary team. They were so popular I had to make 10 more. And he said I did a great job last night. I'm pretty sure he caught wind of the fact that I nearly melted down between menu printings #1 and 2. And since NG stopped showing up, they seemed a little worried that I might follow suit.

Pah! I love my job. I think being a duck leg suits me just fine.

And now, a picture that has nothing to do with this post. It's called "I Found Nemo."

The Big Night

Last night at work was huge. We were doing this big fancy dinner (yes, bigger and fancier than our normal dinners, and with a nearly three-times fancier price tag) complete with guest Chef, wine educators, and representatives of two vineyards.

This big fancy dinner involved special menus (no sweat there... I'm a menu Goddess!) that were two pages instead of just one (which, by the way, I designed on the fly two days ago and our Chef let me run with it). We had the menu "finalized" a few days in advance. We had the guest list (oh yeah - the menus were personalized, of course!). And it seemed we were going to have this smooth event.

{insert manic laughing here}

Well, things yesterday weren't smooth. Actually, I hear the dinner was fabulous. But behind the scenes, it wasn't pretty. I ended up waiting to print the menus because the kitchen was waiting for a shipment of beef. Then we had to change one of the herbs. I got final wine approval from my boss and started printing.

This story would go on for three more paragraphs if I let it. Let's just say I ended up printing out 3 copies of the menu -- one after the seating so that the guests would go home with menus that reflected wine changes #2 and 3. The copies that were at the tables at 6:30 (when the event started) didn't even leave my office until 6:20. On a good day, I have my menus done 30-45 minutes ahead of the seating. This was not a good day.

It was definitely an interesting experience, and I'm wondering if they'll do it again next year.

Of course, yesterday might have gone a little more smoothly if NG had bothered to show up for work. I asked both bosses and the secretary who hired him if they had heard from him or knew why he might not be there. Nope. And with the boss, that was the whole conversation: "Do you know why NG might not be here today?" "No." End of discussion. So if he does show up today (I give him 3:1 odds he's never coming back. Scott says he's just not coming back) I don't even know if I'm supposed to say anything to him.

...And if he doesn't come back, I fear we'll have to re-key our door. He has a key, and the managers have a ton of wine/silver/stemware/china stored in there. And let's be realistic - it's not like hotel security is likely to stop anyone from walking out with a big box of stuff!

If it turns out he's dead in a ditch, I'll feel a little guilty about being worried about him robbing us blind. Actually, I'm annoyed and barely concerned about his well-being. And I feel guilty about that. oh well. Time will tell, right?

20 October, 2006

Fun on eBay

This time I'm not buying anything. Really. $6000+ is a little out of my price range for... well... for just about anything!

Stephen Colbert is auctioning off the painting of himself that hung on his set during his first year on the air. Apparently he's commissioned another portrait. Hopefully it's along the same thread, and will be him standing in front of the current portrait. That would be great fun.

And 100% of the proceeds go to Save the Children.

I think you should click on over there and check out the "additional views" of the portrait, especially the extreme close up and the view from outside the studio.

19 October, 2006

Suing Cracker Barrel for Poor Service? Sign Me Up!

Chris Rock's mother is suing Cracker Barrel for discrimination because she was seated and then ignored for 30 minutes.

Let's examine that sentence for a moment.

First, the CB restaurant closest to me has the worst service on earth. I don't think I've ever had someone come to take my order in LESS than five minutes. And it has many times taken longer than that.

Second, who would wait 30 minutes before complaining to a manger? My threshold is 10. Well, after 3 minutes, the waitress's tip starts going down (restaurant common guest service is to stop at the table and say hello within 1 minute. if you can't stop and say "I'll be right with you" on your way to drop off someone else's food, you deserve what you get). At ten minutes, I go look for a manager. If you're sitting there for 30 minutes, chances are you were seated in a table that no one knew was theirs, or that your server is COMPLETELY in the weeds. Either way, if you sit there for that long, it's probably because you are looking for something to complain about. And then after Ms. Rock waited 30 minutes to find a manager, she was unhappy with his response:

"He never called over the waitresses and asked, 'Why did these people sit here for a half hour without service?' " she said. "The only thing he said was we could have a free meal and neither of us wanted to eat."

Good for the manager! Only a complete jack@$$ is going to reprimand his employee in the middle of the restaurant. If watching the waitress get yelled at is the only thing that's going to make this boo boo all better for you, then you have some other serious issues. And umm... you sat there for a half hour and didn't want to eat? Then what the eff were you doing there?

Now seems like a good time to point out that I wasn't there. I don't know that the behavior of the employees of the restaurant in question wasn't racially motivated. But this sounds like nonsense to me. This lady said herself on some TV show that she goes to that restaurant for breakfast on a regular basis, and has never had a problem like this. So even if it was a racial incident, why would she sue the entire chain for the isolated behavior of a few employees? Oh wait - I can answer that with another quote from the article...

The Rev. Al Sharpton will join Rock on Wednesday in South Carolina to announce that Sharpton's Action Network will finance the planned lawsuit.

"I'm getting reports from all over the country about Cracker Barrel," Sharpton said
from New York on Tuesday.
Thank you, Reverend Al, for being involved in this important matter.

Why can't people be as outraged at the real news as they are about this?

18 October, 2006

TV Online

I was out on Monday night and missed my two new favorite shows of the season - Heroes and Studio 60 on NBC. And today I caught them both... on

Now I don't believe that watching streaming video on my computer monitor will ever replace lounging on the couch with a box of Triscuits (and canned cheese... can't forget that!), but I found the entire process much more agreeable than I thought I would.

They show one commercial at the beginning, and one commercial where each of the breaks is. And it's only 30 seconds - not even long enough to go to the bathroom and make it back. So you watch the commercials. Frankly, I think it's brilliant! The video quality is decent, maybe even good for streaming online content. And when Scott called, I was able to pause it.

And now I'll know what's going on next Monday night, and I won't have to wonder how the cheerleader girl came back from the dead.

Hooray for TV online!

17 October, 2006

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin Squash

We spent a long and productive afternoon at Epcot with Scott's mom today. I'm pretty exhausted, so here's some lovely pictures in case anyone misses me.

Have you ever seen a Mickey-shaped pumpkin?

A mini pumpkin inside the Mickey training bra

"Pumpkin hammocks" - and I thought banana hammocks were funny!

Squash growing hydroponically dangling from a dry cleaner rack.

Now that they've taken the narrators who don't speak English off of the boats, they can run twice as many, and the wait time today was less than 10 minutes. With a wait that short, The Land boat ride may reclaim its place as one of my favorite no-wait attractions.

Agony and Exhaustion

I've got this thing going on with my back. It's some kind of muscle strain back around my left shoulder blade. It's been there for almost a week. And it's not getting any better. It doesn't hurt all the time - just when I move my left arm, turn my head, or think too hard. Yesterday I took Scott's last two Doans and thought they worked so well I went and bought another box. I've taken them twice since then, and other than making me nauseus this morning (oops... empty stomach... bad call) they have had no noticeable effect.

We bought new pillows last Wednesday, thinking that the marshmallow that wasn't supporting my head was the culprit. I haven't noticed a difference in that either.

Scott tried to get me to stretch my muscles yesterday, contorting my arms like a freaking yoga instructor. It has hurt much more since then. (I'm not blaming Scott - he knows what works for his pain and thought that would work on my pain)

I've also tried the heating pad (with and without moisture), heat patches, menthol patches, asprin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, and this morning in a desperate moment of agony, a hot bath. The bath would have been great if the pain in my back was lower. But in order to get the sore spot into the water, I had to tilt my head so far forward that it just pulled my neck muscles. It was either that or lay with my head under water, which would have caused... umm... death.

As for exhaustion, well I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in the past week. Every time I roll over I have to completely wake up and use the momentum of my butt and legs to get the top half of me to roll. Falling asleep comfortably has been tough, and I haven't gotten to sleep before 1 am this week. Besides that, I woke up at 8:30 yesterday and went to work for a few hours, and then this morning -- my one shining chance to sleep past 9:00 -- the damn lawn crew started up the weed wacker right below our bedroom window.


Holiday Splendor

Well, now that Halloween is approaching, I guess it's about time we all started thinking about Christmas. Scott and I have already gone through the animated Santa aisle at Wal Mart and pressed all of the buttons to make them sing and dance together in the greatest cacophony that ever was. And we checked out some "good" fake trees. We're getting one... as soon as I find one that's the right height that has good sturdy branches to hold those darn heavy Hallmark ornaments.

I also have to get started putting together my Cats in Boxes calendar. This is the year - everyone who thought it was a silly joke is going to be awfully surprised when they unwrap their gift and have to pretend to a) be surprised, and b) love it! I don't know what production time is, but I don't want to have to pay rush charges. I wonder how many I have to order to get a bulk discount?

I've also been thinking a fair amount about Christmas cards. Last year I just e-mailed everyone a picture of Scott and Milo and me in front of our Charlie Brown tree. That simply won't do. This year I have to find something that stands out in the sea of Santas and Wise Men.

I've also been thinking about my place in my extended family pecking order. I've never really counted them all up, but I have about 30 cousins (not counting all of their offspring). And only a handful are younger than I am. On the success-o-meter of life, I'm probably about in the middle. I'm not a lawyer, but I've never been to prison. I don't have a herd of fabulous children... which also means I wasn't a mom before I could vote. I'm not famous, or infamous.

Are any of us better than the others? I'm sure that each of us is better than the others, depending on the scale that we use. I think that we're all great. (except for Steve... I may never forgive him for hanging me upside down by my ankles and making me call him "Uncle Steve") Then why is it that it seems like all of our worth is tied up in our career successes? I mean, I'm not delusional enough to think that my mom brags to her siblings about the fact that I get to eat 5-diamond cuisine or that I have a job where I no longer have to clock in and out. But we all know when someone joins a big-name company or gets into a great grad school. Why shouldn't I be proud that I've got a stress-free job that pays the bills?

So I made a Christmas card tonight. (yes Virginia, there is a tie-in) To me, it says "hey - I live in the middle of the most popular tourist destination on earth, and I had fun this year." I wonder what it would say to the rest of my family.

I love them all, but sometimes I think maybe I'm an otter (play play play... eat fish... play some more) born into a family of beavers (work and build... the one with the biggest dam wins bragging rights).

Does everyone else feel that way about their families? I wonder.

Oh yeah - so how about my card? Would you laugh your @$$ off if you found it in your mailbox, or would you think some unkind snarky thoughts about me?

16 October, 2006

Caption the Cat, Technicolor Edition

I have combined my favorite new feature, Caption the Cat, with Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot this week: Turn something an unexpected color. Most photo editing software will let you fiddle with the hue of your photos: Use that feature to make your photo subject a color it would be impossible (or at least, very unlikely) for it to be in real life.

And so I present Milo in Blue:

I know you want to make a great caption for this picture. Personally, I'm even more smitten with him knowing that he looks just as good blue as his natural orange. It just proves that he's the prettiest cat ever.

14 October, 2006

Never Judge a Donut by its Frosting


Scott and I were doing SO well for SO long with not buying junk food when we went to the store. Then Triscuits were B.O.G.O., and how can you have Triscuits without canned cheese? Then we wanted to try this caramelized pineapple recipe we saw on Take Home Chef. And we needed ice cream for that.

It has snowballed. We could feed a troupe of teenage boys from our pantry.

And did I mention we bought donuts? When I was little, I thought the best ones in the whole world were the Entenmann's chocolate covered donuts. The delicious not-too-dry white cakey goodness surrounded by an almost-hard layer of dark chocolate... Does life get any better than that?

Well I grabbed a box and threw it on top of the junk food heap in the cart. What can I say? I guess I was just overcome by sweet memories. Imagine my surprise when I grabbed one out of the box (roughly 15 minutes after we got home), took a bite, and saw CHOCOLATE cake under the chocolate frosting. What happened to the white cake? Do they sell both now? Oh well, I guess this teaches us all an important lesson about impulse junk food buying:

Read The Label!

Kiss My Muscles

Last night, my manager and I, assisted by my trainee, put together a new wine rack for our cooler. There's four of these racks total, and I watched the other manager put together the first one, so I knew it wasn't hard.

The putting together involved a whole lot of me banging things into place (seriously, the instructions say to twist the connector into the pole and then bang it on the ground to wedge it in!) while the guys either handed me things or just watched.

Of course, the manager has a really bad back. I can't blame him for not jumping in and doing the heavy work. And the New Guy tries to help, but he's pretty special and just can't seem to get things right. For example, the individual racks look like this (I tried to add a picture, but it just didn't want to happen). Actually, that's exactly what they are. Every time NG picked up a rack to attach it to the base, he'd try to put it on upside down. "No, NG, the other way." And then he'd rotate it 180 degrees, but still upside down. "No, NG, you still have it upside down." This happened with multiple shelves. Maybe he's never seen a wine rack before? Really, the concept is much like an egg crate - you put the bottle in the curve. But his way would only be acceptable for use in zero gravity!

We did manage to get one of the racks completely finished last night. There's still two more in the hallway. I'm sure the boss left instructions whether he wants us to finish, or wants us to wait for him. I wonder if this is something I could do completely without help? Well, at any rate, I'm wearing comfy pants today.

13 October, 2006

My Favorite Freedom

Weekend Assignment #133: Share with us a person or person who you think is a model for free speech in the United States. It can be one of the Founding Fathers, another historical personage, or someone who is living right now.

Well, this is certainly more heady than the "cats or dogs?" Weekend Assignment, isn't it? How delicious!

Well, as a communications major at Penn State, my favorite course without questions was my first Comm Law class. Why? It dealt almost exclusively with the first amendment. I really sank my teeth into that class, and felt like I was ready to go and become a lawyer myself. Obviously that didn't happen. But I still love the first amendment, and I love to argue it with people (especially my second amendment husband).

However, for this assignment, I chose to share someone who USED the first amendment to fight for other amendments: Susan B. Anthony. This woman dedicated much of her life to speaking out publicly against the status quo. She fought for equal wages for female teachers, she fought for the rights of former slaves, and of course, for female suffrage. She started a weekly journal, The Revolution, which "was to promote women's and African Americans’ right to suffrage, but it also discussed issues of equal pay for equal work, more liberal divorce laws, and the church’s position on women's issues."

She's the kind of person I wish we had more of today.

She was also arrested for voting in the 1872 Presidential election, and gave her most famous speech during her 1873 trial. Here's an excerpt:

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.

However, her defense was all for naught. The judge, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ward Hunt, explicitly instructed the jury to deliver a guilty verdict, refused to poll the jury, delivered an opinion he had written before trial had even begun, and on June 18, 1873, sentenced her to pay a $100 fine. Anthony responded, "May it please your honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty." She never did pay the fine, and the government never pursued her for nonpayment. (this last paragraph copied directly from Wikipedia)

So that's the story of Susan B. Anthony. I know I learned a lot about her this morning.

Extra Credit: A favorite controversial book (it doesn't have to be from an American). Gee... a controversial book? I have read a lot of banned books, but none that I think were truly controversial. Instead, I would like to offer my favorite first amendment quote, from the movie The American President:

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

I Just...

saved a bunch of money on my car insurance
by switching to Geico!

Seriously... I did. Around $150 less for a six-month policy. It would have been more, but I cut my deductible in half and added uninsured motorist coverage (which, in Florida, is probably the most important kind and somehow I was living without it).

Why didn't anyone tell me that Progressive was screwing me all this time?

Anyway, I'd like to think it wasn't the gekko... or the cavemen... or the "celebrities" like Charro and Vern Troyer that got me to change. Really, how many ad campaigns does one company need to run simultaneously? But I am completely susceptible to TV commercials.

There's some sort of pre-insurance inspection (free) that I have to do between now and the first week of November. Looks like I'm going on a road trip this weekend, since the closest places are down 50 in Winter Garden and up by the Florida Mall.

10 October, 2006

Fall Foliage...Florida Style

Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot for this week seems simple enough: Leaves are changing color all over the US -- show us the foliage in your neck of the woods... Get out there in the crisp autumn air and get a good shot at the trees near you.

Well, I hate to disappoint, so I got out there in the crisp (brr... 81 degree) Florida Autumn air and took a picture from the landing between the second and third floors of my building. Sadly, it seems that the trees are all still green. Don't be fooled by the yellow-ish one in the middle -- that was just sunset hitting it funny!

Luckily, I anticipated that this might be a problem, so I took the camera to Publix with me, figuring I'd find a tacky display of pumpkins with some fake leaves. But I found something even better:

Do you see the pretty Autumn leaves? Of course you do! But here's a close-up anyway:

This time of year is when I miss living up north most. I don't really miss snow. But I loved the changing seasons. Here, the change of seasons between 9 months of Summer and 3 months of Indian Summer is still another month or so away.

I guess we Floridians will just have to make do with beaches and palm trees and pictures of everyone else's orange and red leaves. Oh well!

Look Over There ---->

I finally updated my blogroll. Most of the blogs I've added are humor. Grey Matter is actually the writers' blog for Grey's Anatomy. And Whatever is John Scalzi's personal blog. It's much darker than his for-money AOL blog By The Way... (which has been a staple on my blogroll for over a year).

Anyway, when you get bored with me, check out some of the bloggers who get me through the day.

God Bless Jean Paul Gaultier

Gaultier uses 'size 20' model

JEAN-PAUL Gaultier caused a storm in Paris last night by sending a plus-size model down the catwalk.

As controversy raged on about the use of size 0 models, the French designer made his own statement about beauty.

The woman - a New Yorker named Velvet - shocked the skinny front row fashionistas in a daring black basque, stockings and suspenders.

Yep... she wore a black teddy and black thigh-highs. A picture accompanies the article, if you're curious. Hey man - I've always thought that fashion runway shows were completely off the deep end. Sure, JPG put a chunky chick in a teddy and sent her out for millions of people to see, but they teased her hair up a foot over her head and gave her crazy makeup just like all of the other runway models. Why can't they just make them look normal?

Maybe that will be next year's fashion revolution: send the girls down the runway in ponytails and human make up. Shocking!

08 October, 2006

Three Months

Last night, I switched my blog over to the new Blogger Beta. Why? Well, for one, I was very excited about putting tags on all of my posts. I've gone back 100 posts, and have a little more than 150 to go ( "food" posts have gone up exponentially since I started this job!). In the process of going through my old entries, I found a ticker that once was counting down my days left at the Call Center. Now the ticker is still there, counting UP my days away. And today was the three-month anniversary of my last day there. So I sent an e-mail out to some of my old chums...

My last day at the Call Center was 3 months ago today.

Has the hole in your hearts healed yet? Don't worry… it takes time to get over heartbreak!

Tee hee. I hope you are all having a lovely day, and that the crazies leave you the heck alone.

I know, it's amazing these people still talk to me! Well I got a few responses, and Jim's was so funny I just had to share it:

My heart is still mending but I think I'll get over it soon.. So ahhhhhh anymore free food lately? It's all about the food, you know. See the other day we were all handed a "Kudos" bar with a stupid little tag line "Kudos to you for all you do" and I was looking at it thinking how great it would be to be you with your $40 a lb lobster tail. I think a tear actually came to my eye! And the funny part is I dont eat seafood and I probably would of ate that piece of lobster meat just because of the price! Anyway of course we all miss you! You'll have to come visit again sometime!

Yeah, I definitely made a good career move. But I really miss those guys.

Bite Me

...on second thought, please don't!

I have five giant mosquito bites. On my butt. I was outside for less than 10 minutes, and will probably be scratching for a week. Why was I outside? Well, that was supposed to be the subject of this blog before the bites consumed my conscious thought. Let's start again, shall we?

Don't Say I Never Give You Anything

I got some table scraps tonight. Well, I got a plate of food that for some reason wasn't going out into the restaurant. (God Bless my favorite Sous Chef!!) And I, good wife that I am, remembered that I had promised Mr. ParkHopper half of the next thing they fed me. So I called him and asked if he wanted me to save him half of a tempura crab stuffed squash blossom with violette moustarde. Of course, he said yes.

Not only did he say yes, but he said he'd come over and get it. This was probably a better idea than mine - stick it in the fridge until he got home from work. Since my shift ended 15 minutes later, we decided to just meet up by my parking lot.

...and then he got involved in actual work and was 10 minutes later than I was (this would be the point that my @$$ turned into the All You Can Eat Flesh Buffet). When he arrived, he performed some sort of weird culinary ritual with his three-bite-size morsel:

He smelled it in the little plastic container I had put it in. Then he picked it up and studied it. Then he smelled it in his hand. Then he took a bite and closed his eyes while he chewed. I've never seen him chew more slowly! When I tried to ask him how it was, he shushed me. He actually shushed me! Pah! And when it was all over, he actually lip-smacked. I can't recall the last time I saw him savor food more.

I guess that makes it official - he should have my job. Actually, he couldn't handle my job. It involves being nice to people. He doesn't do nice. But he would certainly enjoy the little perks of my job even more than I do.

As for the squash blossom, it was good. I really think I'm just not a huge fan of shellfish. To me, crab (minced, as in crab cakes) looks and tastes a lot like canned tuna. Don't get me wrong, I like tuna. But it's more of a lunchtime staple than a culinary delight. I guess this once again proves that I'm just not a food snob.

06 October, 2006

A Plague of Cell Phones Upon Your House

Scalzi's weekend assignment points to a recent viral video. A (supposed) professor walks up to a student who answers his cell phone in class and punishes the student for his behavior. Was that professor justified in doing what he did? Have people completely lost all sense of courtesy when it comes to their cell phones? This is a pure opinion piece, folks -- tell me what you think.

I'll have to suspend my disbelief here, because I think this video was a set-up. If someone were really taping a lecture, they would've stayed on the professor instead of zooming in on the back of the head of Mr. Chatty Pants. But let's assume the incident really occurred. I don't think the prof was justified in destroying someone else's property. Seems a little like inappropriate "road rage" behavior to me. He would, however, have been completely within his rights to remove the phone from the kid's hand and pocket it. Then the kid would have had to beg for mercy after class.

As for people and cell phones in general, YES! My poor husband has been in one too many restaurants (ok, Chinese buffets) with me when I absolutely fume at the rudeness of the 10 construction guys using their Nextel walkie-talkie feature loudly enough that I can hear the conversation. And that **beep beep** sound drives me up a freakin' wall. First, I'm not a Nextel hater - I own a Nextel. I also know that you don't have to use the direct connect function on speaker - you can hold the phone up to your ear and pretend you're on a regular phone call.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable here, but I propose
10 Commandments for Wireless Users:

1) Thou shalt keep thy phone on vibrate when you are in public. (yes, the Mexican Hat Dance ringtone was funny in 1998 - now it's just annoying)
2) Thou shalt not answer thy phone in a movie theater
3) Thou shalt not OPEN thy phone in a movie theater (those LCD screens are bright!)
4) Thou shalt excuse thyself from the table and leave the dining area of a restaurant to answer thy phone
5) Thou shalt SHUT UP AND DRIVE
6) Thou shalt not text while driving
7) Thou shalt not use speaker phone in public
8) Thou shalt not use juvenile ringtones. (Cats meowing, dogs barking, police sirens, any sort of alarm, or -gawdhelpme- the sounds of bodily functions.)*
9) Thou shalt always think of others' needs before engaging in a telephone conversation which others might find disturbing or annoying. Always.**
10) Thou shalt not text while walking in a crowd.***
(I asked for some help with my 10 Commandments - and you delivered:
* from Janette
**from Wil
***from Laura

Extra credit: Do you sometimes answer your cell phone at inappropriate times?
Rarely. I answered at work once or twice when I really had to talk to the person calling, but I went to the breakroom to talk. And I talk when I'm driving. Scott, on the other hand, is so attached to his phone that he may some day need to have it surgically removed. Case in point: he answered his phone mid-way through our first date and talked to a female friend of his for at least five minutes. I have since forgiven him, but I haven't let him live it down.

04 October, 2006

Caption the Cat

Anyone in the mood to play a round of "Caption This?" (umm... did I steal that title from you Janette? you're not using it anymore, right? oh well, moving on...) I'm going to put my caption in the comment thread.

NOTE: no cats were harmed in the taking of this photo. In fact, Kilo has not been crushed by a chair. He's alive and fat, just like before this picture was taken. I just have two weird cats who like to sleep in weird places!

Parkhopper's Follies, or When Cat Food is Funny

Last night after we left MGM, we stopped at Target. Lunch with some of "the gang" was on the agenda for this afternoon, and we wanted to give Chris and Cathi their wedding present when we were all together. Of course, gift giving is much easier after you've bought the gift!

So we bought the gift, came home, and I decided to watch TV instead of wrapping. I had to do it this morning when I woke up. I managed to get it all wrapped, but didn't have time to curl the ribbon before we left the house (I may have had time, but the darn cats think that ribbon is a toy). So I grabbed the scissors and we headed out and I curled the ribbon in the car. Looking back, I should have just left the ribbon slightly curled like it is in the picture. The final result was a little more jerri-curlesque than I would have preferred!

After our trip to Sand Lake to get Scott's bloodwork taken, we drove to Downtown Disney and went toy shopping before lunch. So we threw the gift and the scissors in the trunk.

We gave the present to Chris and Cathi (btw, someone should compliment me on how creative and pretty my wrapping is. I'm getting tired of complimenting myself!) and then had a big ol' lunch at Stinky Shoe. mmm... beef and broccoli and crab rangoons... drool...

And after lunch and another trip to Downtown Disney (this time window shopping on the West Side), we went grocery shopping. The trip was going swimmingly right up until Aisle 10. Scott picked up a bag of cat food, and it wasn't sealed, and the w h o l e bag poured out into the floor. OMG, I thought I was going to pee myself right then and there. We, good citizens that we are, told a cashier that we dumped out a bag of food before running off to Aisle 11.

In the parking lot, we were loading the groceries into the trunk and Scott told me to throw the scissors into one of the grocery bags so that we'd remember to take them upstairs. So I threw them in the bag with the cat food.

Oh cat food, why have you forsaken us??

As we were unloading the groceries at home, two of the bags were stuck together. My first thought was that something sticky had opened up and it was going to be all over the trunk.


The scissors had poked through the bag with the cat food and lodged themselves in the bottom of a styrofoam tray of pork chops in another bag. And for the second time in less than an hour, I had a near-pee laughing experience involving cat food.

03 October, 2006

Did Someone Say Hula Girl??

Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot: Someone in your house you probably have one (or more) bobble-head figurines. Immortalize them in photo. For this, any bobbly toy will do -- bobbly hula girls, toy animals with bobbly tails, it's all good. They just have to be bobbly somewhere along the line.

I just KNEW I should've logged on and checked for the Photo Shoot before Scott and I left the house today! We saw a super-cool Captain Jack bobblehead at one of the gift shops at the Disney-MGM Studios today. And I would've taken a picture of it if I had known it would have a purpose later on!

Alas, we do have some manner of spring-loaded dust collector on the bookshelf: a porcelain hula girl and boy (she hulas... he just sits there), ordered from an actual Hawaiian shop online. This was actually a very cool purchase to get in the mail, because the box was stuffed with crumpled newspapers with Hawaiian news. What can I say? It's the little things that amuse me!

Why did I order a hula girl and have it delivered across the Pacific, and then the Continental U.S.? Well you see, it matched the island theme we were going for with our wedding reception. I loved the fact that the boy and girl were on the same base (not standard for hula girls), and that it wasn't the same old boring bride & groom sitting on top of the cake.

Actually, the cake was probably my favorite part of our wedding reception. Four layers, each decorated with a different type of seashell (real... definitely not edible), with a freakin' HULA GIRL on the top. I bet you've never seen one like it!

The World

I must say I've been kicking around blog ideas for a while now, but I don't really feel like I have more than two sentences worth to say about anything outside my life. I know I'm a "life blogger," but it's nice to throw in something else every now and again. But really, it's all just a little depressing to me:

THREE school shootings in a week, including one freaky old guy who sexually assaults a handful of high school girls before shooting one; and one freaky old guy who, still bitter about something that happened in his childhood, went into a one-room Amish schoolhouse and shot up a bunch of little girls. Man, I know the Amish aren't big on modern technology, but I hope that they're open to therapy. Those kids are going to need lots of it.

And then there's the Congressman talking dirty to teenage boys over AIM. You know, the one on the committee dealing with creepy old men chatting up teens online. How special is that?

And there's that football player who got mad and stomped on the other player's helmet-less face. He got a five-game suspension without pay. You know what? He makes almost $200,000 in five days. Perhaps that's not a big enough punishment. Perhaps they should force him to check into some inpatient facility for anger management. And I really hope the other guy decides to press charges.

And, closer to home, this guy shot two cops and a K9 before hunkering down in the woods. I don't believe that the death penalty is good, but I was strangely satisfied to know that there would be no trial for this guy. Although 60+ bullet holes in his body from 9 different SWAT officers seems a bit more like an execution than reasonable force.

Anyway, the world all of a sudden seems much more dark and sinister to me. Perhaps this is why I don't watch the news.

01 October, 2006

Happy October!

Last night was a big night at work. See, our prices go up starting today, and we (I) had a lot of extra stuff to do to prepare for this momentous occasion. I had to...

  • Change the prices at the bottom of the menus after second seating
  • Get the Chef to make up tomorrow's menu a day early so that the seaters could post it in the lobby last night
  • Get FOH manager to approve price changes proposed by Chef for surcharge items
  • Make a new sheet of pricing/tax/tip breakdown for the other reservationists (ask Scott about this - I was so proud I sent him the spreadsheet - I taught myself how to do a two part formula in Excel). This shows the cost of every combination of 1-6 people, partaking in 1-6 wine pairings, what the tax is, what the tip is, and what the total for your dinner will be.
  • E-mail said document to Management and Chefs

    The new chart took me about a day to do (inbetween my other duties), and I just took the initiative to do it. It makes me look good, and since I'm no longer unionized it's in my best interest to look like a go-getter who takes on extra tasks and deserves a raise some day. Right?

    Well, the short term payoff is that I was walking through the kitchen last night and they gave me two bites of food. Not just any food -- lobster. Not just any lobster -- French blue lobster (blue shell, not meat...yes I asked) with a chaser of potato puree. Honestly, I don't *love* lobster the way most other people do. It was good, but not $40/lb good. I do SO love the potatoes though. I've gushed about them before, but WOW!

    Believe it or not, the lobster was not the culinary highlight of my day. That honor goes to the forbidden fruit - the McDonald's cheeseburger I ate on the way home. Half of my dinner had a really gamey taste (umm..."gamey" sounds better than "wet dog" right?) so I didn't eat it. I stopped on the way home for Happy Meals for me and Scott and an extra cheeseburger for me. It was pure food ecstasy. Food nirvana. Foodgasmic.

    What can I say? I'm a simple girl with deep-fried taste.

    Happy October!
  • Recipe for Laughs

    I stumbled on something last night that made me laugh so hard that I made Scott stop watching TV to read it. And even he ended up belly-laughing.

    Now that I've given it such a great set-up, I wanted to put up a disclaimer: if you read it and don't laugh, you have no sense of humor. Oh yeah, and it's about a year old, so there's a chance you may have stumbled upon it long ago. Company Cookbook

    Amalah is one of the four or five blogs I read daily that aren't on the list on the right side of the page. Since Chase N Kids no longer exists, nor do about half of my friends' blogs, my sidebar desperately needs a makeover. Perhaps I'll do that tomorrow. So keep your eyes peeled - most of the ones I'm adding are darn funny, and everyone needs a laugh!