my job has some odd perks sometimes...

yup. i got certified in firearms safety. this is the first step to being able to get a license to carry. do i want a gun? probably not. owning a gun is one of the best ways to get shot. i am incredibly klutzy, and a wee bit paranoid, which seems like a bad combination when you add a gun into the mix. i am likely to shoot myself. or the cat. so i don't really want a gun. but i would like to have the right to have a gun.

a permit for mace, in the state of massachusetts, costs $100, and involves getting a background check, finger-printed, etc. all to carry a non-lethal weapon. a license to carry a firearm, on the other hand, costs $100, and involves getting a background check, finger-printed, etc. and at the end of it you can have mace in your purse, a shotgun in your car, a revolver in the bedside table, and a pistol shoved down the back of your pants.

to me, the choice seems clear.

but keep watching this space. i am likely to get denied for a license to carry. it is going to be interesting, i think.

again, i don't want a gun. but i am going to be hella pissed if they tell me i can't have one.


greetings from Halifax

sunset w/lighthouse

i (understandably) get a lot of crap for having gone to Australia and never blogged about it. in order to do a preemptive beat-down of the smack-talk, i thought i should do a little halifax update. jessamnyn and i have once again gone on a Great Tour of Libraries, with a bunch of sightseeing and vacation thrown in. this time we headed north to halifax. on the way we have hopped over to Prince Edward Island, wandered through a corner of New Brunswick, and we just might still make it over to Cape Breton tomorrow.

i don't think i vacation like a lot of other people. for example, i didn't go see the Citadel in halifax, or Anne of Green Gables house in PEI, and i may eat no seafood while i am here. what i have done, however, is seen a little how people really live. i have drank coffee at the local coffee house. i have seen the libraries and parks. i got to stay in a weird converted antique train caboose. i have taken the commuter ferry across the bay. i went to some of the smaller and lesser known museums, and skipped the flashy pirate museum, that the locals seem to scorn as a fad museum that is hopping on the Pirates of the Caribbean bandwagon. i have met people from all over canada, and heard what they think about the war, the economy, the Patriot Act, and OJ Simpson.

i'm not being preachy. for many people, this is their idea of a terrible and boring vacation, which i could have probably taken without ever leaving somerville & my laptop. but for me, this kind of noodling about leaves me happy and at peace.

it's been great so far. not quite as epic as cuddling a koala, but then again it's not a 36 hour flight home.


north carolina is trying to kill me

two weeks ago, i concussed myself on a cabinet door at my summer job. one week ago, i threw my back out when i dropped my car at the mechanic to fix the muffler. and today, i went over my handlebars on my bike after my hand slipped off the handle (biking to school in 95 degree weather is sweaty work). more pics on my flickr page.

i hope this degree is worth it.


milestones in living alone...

there are few times i miss having a roommate more than when it's time to get rid of the Really Huge Bug (RHB).

my friends and family know that i have a mild case of entomophobia, and tend to shriek and hyperventilate when i get too close to bugs. i'm working on it, but honestly, the treatment for phobias is often worse than the irrational fear itself. let's see -- i could use gradual desensitization, where i get closer and closer to scarier and scarier bugs, or i could use flooding, where they just toss me into a vat of bugs. no thanks. so i live with it.

but when i woke up this morning, and a totally terrifying RHB was in my tub, i realized i now lived alone. there was no one else to get rid of the bug. fine. i didn't really want to shower anyway. then i realized i would come home, and the RHB would still be in my tub.

and while i could skip showering for a day, more than that was just silly. i had to be a grown up. i had to get rid of the RHB myself.

i did it! i got rid of the bug myself, and rewarded myself with a long, hot, shower. and i kept one mistrustful eye on the drain, lest anything else crawl out of it.

the RHB in question, btw, was a common house centipede. i have to say, now that wikipedia has informed me that it injects poison venom through it's fangs, i don't find it all that common. and at 6:00 am it was downright terrifying.


a weekend at the ridge...

i accidentally wound up spending fathers day with my father this year. like mother's day, it's not a holiday my family is particularly gung-ho about. but weeks ago i got myself on his busy calendar, and the chosen date just happened to be fathers day. my sister came down, and we decided to make a family weekend on it. my family is not normally chummy like this, but it was a pleasant way to pass the time.

tom (my dad) and cindy (his wife) live in a beautiful and sunny house in westport, ma. which is named The Ridge. they have converted the garage into a wonderful guest cottage, where the fridge is always stocked with soda, the bed always has fresh linens, and the wifi and cable come in beautifully. downstairs in the cottage cindy runs a new business called westport shells, where she makes these intricate sailors valentines.

they had just gotten two new kittens, in addition to their older cat, casey, and their dog, decker. for those of you who can do the math, this totally breaks the N + 1 rule of pet ownership. however, i figure when you're older, and retired, and living in a quaint seaside town, you can get away with breaking a few rules.

when we weren't playing with the kittens, we spent out time eating way too much food, walking along the beach, searching for stuff on the internet, and listening to my dad expound on his various crackpot theories of the world. my dad is, without a doubt, one of the smartest and funniest people i know. however, this does not mean that me and my sister give him any slack when he starts to bullshit us. we spent a lot of the weekend calling bullshit.

for fathers day we took him to his favorite breakfast venue of choice, ihop, and called bullshit with a smile.

happy fathers day, dad!


the more things change...

my kid graduated!!it's been a busy month and a half, and there have been big changes here at the casa. shayne graduated with style, and without a lot of fanfare she moved down to NC where she will be attending graduate school. i am staying at the casa and am going to try living alone for a while.

i have owned this house for nine years now, and it has seen a lot of changes. people and pets have come and gone, and the only constant variables are me and boo. i moved in here with jade and andrew, and our tenants were dan and sadie. andrew moved out, and corey moved in. then corey moved out and frank moved in. jade and frank moved out, and shayne and whiskey moved in. in between we had a revolving door of wayward boys and girls and pets and guests who needed a place to crash.

this house has been a home to many people, and i assume it will shelter a few more before i am done. it is my nature to try to take care of others, and feeding them and giving them a roof over their head and a floor under their feet is the best way i know how.

and yet i am going to go it alone for a while, and maybe work on taking care of myself. there will always be more strays to take in and more wayward kids who need a place to crash.

in the meantime, i expect my baking to go very very overboard!


i gots the crazy eyes...

so i was emailing a friend the other day, and happened to list all the places on my body that have scars. the list included: surgical scars on my breast, arm, wrist, and belly, as well as injury scars on my hands, arms, legs, ass, belly, back, and chin.

i can now add something new to the list -- my eyes.

a routine trip to the eye doctor resulted in me learning that my eyeballs are scarred.

those of you who know me, will not be surprised. for example, i have temporarily blinded myself twice (once with laundry detergent and once with paint) and given myself paper cuts on my eyeballs twice. twice! apparently this has all had a little wear and tear on 'em.

what this meant was that when they did my exam, they were extra careful to use the super-duper dilators on my creaky old eyeballs. and i walked around all day with the crazy eyes!

big pupils

good news -- my eyesight is apparently getting better. huzzah! way to go little scarred eyeballs! keep up the good work!!


how late is too late...?

on December 15, 1992 i was home for winter break from Earlham College and listening to the radio, when a news program broke in and i heard that my friend Galen Gibson had been shot and killed at Simon's Rock of Bard College. this was many years BC (Before Columbine) and the first real school shooting of the 90's. it was shocking, and i didn't really know what to make of it. Galen and i had been in the same Unitarian youth group, and while we were not close, and i was a few years older than him, we had many friends in common and knew each other reasonably well. and on the day previous he had been gunned down by a classmate named Wayne Lo.

i never wrote a condolence card to his family, and i didn't go to the funeral. his father wrote a very inspirational book called "Gone Boy -- A Walkabout" that i devoured and cried over, and i still never wrote. i was embattled in my own fight with Bard College and coming to terms with my own life changing events, and i simply couldn't face it. he had other friends who were closer who i know showered the family with love and with memories of Galen, and i wasn't needed.

over the years, i have crafted many letters to Gregory Gibson, Galen's father. and i have never posted a single one. too much time had passed. right now, i believe that Galen, had he lived, would have been 33. and we probably wouldn't still be in touch. but since he was forever frozen at 18, he has stayed with me. along with all the unposted letters to his father.

today i decided that it is never too late, and i sent an email to Gregory, saying that i was thinking of Galen, and that i was sorry for his loss. the events of this week reminded me that it is never too late to send condolences.


guess who's going to grad school for free?


this girl!

that's right, folks - i'll be attending UNC chapel hill in the fall (for library and information science)!! i received a fellowship that includes: FREE tuition (!!!), a job working for the IT department for 20 hours per week during the school year, student health insurance, and a small stipend for each semester.


come visit me in chapel hill!!


this place just keeps trying and trying...

the first year i owned the casa, the porch got condemned and the tenants furnace got a cracked heat exchanger, which filled the place up with carbon monoxide. ever since, i've thought that the casa secretly wants to kill me. every few years it musters the courage to make another run at it. this year it's making a valiant effort. for the second time, we sat in the dark, feeling the place get colder and colder, as we waited for repair dudes. this time it was the electricity, not the furnace. and there was no dead bird. and it lasted hours, not days. but still.... anybody want a slightly used house with a small blood lust problem?



Dear Fox25 News Undercover...

okay, so the Fox 25 News at ten hasn't even been on yet, but i have been watching the upcoming promo's for it. and i wrote them a letter. here's what it said:

Dear Fox25 News,
I have an even greater undercover story for you than the ability walk right into public schools. It's shocking, and very troubling (especially in these dark times), but apparently you can ALSO walk right into the post office, city hall, and **gasp** the public library!!

I can think of more pressing news right now (especially in these dark times) than the fact that you can walk into a public building.
-- bandit

so what i got back (so far) was an autoreply, thanking me for writing, and they seemed to feel awfully sorry that they couldn't personally write back to every person. they gave me some useful phone numbers. here they are:

MA Office of Consumer Affairs: 617-973-8787
Attorney General's Office: 617-727-2200

what do you s'pose would happen if i called up the Attorney General to say that i was very concerned that people were allowed to walk RIGHT INTO A PUBLIC BUILDING?


my year by the numbers

-quit smoking: 2 times
-started smoking: 2 times
-welcomed: 1 new nephew and 1 new niece into the world
-read: more books than i can remember
-made: 5 new friends at school
-earned: $13,060 total for the year
-baked: roughly 50 dozen cookies
-ate: roughly 40 dozen cookies
-tried: 75% of the frozen novelties available in the grocery store
-skied: once in utah for the first time ever
-fell out of love: 1 time
-fell in love: 0 times
-kissed: 8 people
-cried: about 156 times (working average of 3 times a week)
-laughed: about 1424 times (working average of 4 times a day)
-made loved ones cry: more times than i would like to count
-made loved ones laugh: more times than i can count
-applied to: 5 different grad schools
-bought: 30 new pairs of underwear, about 1/2 of which actually fit
-had: 1 root canal
-glued: 30 more rhinestones onto my car
-turned: 15,398 words of my life into essays
-wrote: 46 pages of academic work
-pub crawled: 70 miles on easter sunday
-made: 10 tshirts
-gave away: 1 blankie (i hope you like it, louisa)
-played: 9 days, 18 hours, 47 minutes of world of warcraft
-attended: 1 funeral, 0 weddings

and the stuff that can't be calculated in numbers: i'm less broken than i was at 18 and less grief-stricken than i was at 23. i'm more confident than i was at 22 and have a longer life expectancy than i did at 19. i'm more single than i was at 24 and more content with my current life and hopeful about my future prospects than i think i've ever been before. i have a nasty case of tonsillitis right now and the wind chill outside is -2 degrees fahrenheit, but these cruel realities aside, things are pretty good. i'm better than i used to be. let's hope the trend continues.


red tag of death...!

fire trucksso shayne was sitting at home tonight and she noticed that the furnace was singing. quietly. seeping out through the vents. it was like a slow dirge. a funeral dirge. josh (aka "mustache guy", but now sans-mustache) noticed that it smelled like an elementary school. it smelled like crayola crayons, or a cheaper generic maybe, like a Rose crayon maybe, melting on a heater on a muggy day.

i came home and confirmed the funny smell. checked the cats. checked the oven. listened to the serenade of the dying furnace.

bravely i went down to the basement to check on the condition, where i tripped over a dead starling. impressively, i didn't shriek. most of you prolly know that i am terrified of the basement at night. killers with rusty axes lure down there. they pull the fuses to lure me down there. i refuse! i send Shayne down instead. she's my canary in a coal for mile for axe murders.

but i digress.

the upshot is that Josh took care of the dead bird, while i called the Gas Company. they warned me that it sounded dangerous, although still safe to stay in the house so long as we didn't turn on any appliances or lights. i peed by flashlight since we didn't want to brave flipping on the light. we crouched in fear that somebody would ring the doorbell. we didn't touch the cats for terror of static electricity.

the road filled up with fire trucks soon after i called. alas, it was not for us. i was oddly disappointed.

the gas company finally came out, investigated, and slapped on a Red Tag of Death. they cut the gas and disconnected my furnace.

on the coldest night of the year.

this is how old people die. Joe For Oil warns me on tv all the time. check on the old folks!

and tonight it's my turn. please, friends of the casa call to check in. as i type the temperature is plummeting. my fingers are getting cold, but still i soldier on... growing weaker... i hear it's like falling asleep.... oh so sleepy....

(okay, actually we have a space heater running and the gas company should be out tonight at some time after midnight to give me a new motor).

you can't make up this kind of drama, kids.


thank you bernard derriman

for giving us a loveable animated bunny i'm completely mesmerized by.

your arj and poopy cartoons are pretty damn funny, too.


case: solved!

first of all thanks to loyal reader banky edwards for being the first to come up with definitive evidence proving that the owner/chef of the new city slicker cafe in somerville is in fact the orginal owner/chef of urban gourmet - you can check his work in the comments section of this post.

and in one of those weird and cosmic coincidences that the universe sometimes serves up, i had my very own personal confirmation of the connection this afternoon, when i ran into the owner/chef's wife (who i used to work with years ago at a local university). she confirmed that her husband just opened his new place on thursday and was glad to hear that some of us old customers had found our way to him so quickly :)

so for all of you urban gourmet lovers, get thee down to 588 somerville ave and pick up a menu! or just call them at (617) 625-0700 and order something (i highly recommend what used to be called the urban cowboy pie and is now dubbed the chicken club - white pizza with bacon, red onion and tomato.... ~drool~).


the case of the puzzling pizza!

that's right junior super sleuths -- we need *your* help to solve this crime! you might think you're not ready for field work, but i say that all your training has MADE you ready. get out there, hit the streets, and figure out what the heck is going on!

it's like this. many of you have heard out piteous laments about the burning down of Urban Gourmet, our favorite pizza joint. what we didn't mention is that Urban Gourmet was under new management when it burned. we are not sure where Jen and Rich went when they sold Urban to the owner of Soundbites (another fine Somerville establishment), but they wandered off into the sunset.

recently, a new menu was left in our mailbox (thanks Swissy!) for City Slicker Cafe. the offerings were eerily similar to our beloved Urban Gourmet. who else makes a shrimp and bacon pie, fer christsake? we were told that Jen and Rich were running the joint.

shayne immediately called in an order, and questioned the man who answered the phone there. what ensued was the most confusing ten minutes ever shared. it seems a simple thing, right? to find out who the owners are? nope. this dude wasn't going to tell us. no way. no how. he talked circles around shayne until she gave up in vexation.

"TO THE INTERNET!" we roared. there were numerous references on ChowHound, but they had all been deleted. in fact, there were no references to the new City Slicker that hadn't been deleted. City Slicker's own website isn't live either, even though it's mentioned prominently on their menu. there are no mentions anywhere.

so Junior Super Sleuths, we implore you... do any of you know the answer to this puzzling pizza pie?


tales from the couch...

so i have been informed recently that the blog has become in grave danger of TMP (too much paladin) and that perhaps i might want to tone down both the crazy cat lady antics and the geek gamer stories. apparently both of these things means that i will be doomed to be single for the rest of my life.

hidingwhile that proclamation doesn't exactly make me quake with fear, it did give me pause. one of the girls at work is reading "the girlfriend's bible" and has been tossing out interesting tid-bits about everything i have done wrong in my 35 years. she didn't even scratch the surface. other friends of mine have informed me that i need to get off my couch more.

since i am currently home sick on the couch, now is not the time. but here's what the world looks like from my couch... not too shabby. i have a house that i love, overflowing with friends, with a guest room that is often full (did leave a toothbrush here recently?). i have pets i cherish and a roomie who makes me snort with laughter. i have wireless which allows me to relate to the world even while i am crawling with germs and snifflier than a coke addict. i have a cell phone which allows me to know that one of my staff quit while i was out today (good luck in your new job, courtney!) and a landline that i rarely answer (sorry for letting my membership lapse ACLU!). i have music on in the other room (currently playing "if i were a moose" by Fred Small), and a sweet smelling candle burning on the side table. i have three different email inboxes open which tinkle often with merry dings and bells when i get mail.

i could, if i really wanted to, easily find a boyfriend without even leaving my couch. there appear to be a million men out there who are looking for a "partner in crime", a line which if posted in a personal ad will rule that person out automagically even if they are a doughnut baking, pub quiz playing, book reading, llama raising, smart, sexy, big, bald guy who wants nothing more in this world than to make me happy. partner in crime? forget it. he's out.

so, see? why do i need to leave the couch at all? i have it all right here.


Okay, NOW i have reached the new pinnacle of geekdom!

can you smell the excitement in the air, folks? do you know that that is? it's been all over the news. it's going to be epic. it's the midnight launch of World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade! and because i clearly decided about three months ago that dignity was over-rated, here' what i've done. shayne and i were both in for the night, plunked down on the couch. i had a long day at work. shayne had just taken a shower and hadn't dried her hair yet. but on a moments notice we ran down to the car and burned rubber over to the Ghetto Glen Mall where we put down $5.00 to reserve our copy of the new Warcraft.

but that's not the worst part.

the worst part.... the shameful part... or what *would* be shameful if i had any shame left... is that i will be getting back into the car later tonight. shayne, big daddy, and i will be doing the midnight run to EB Games to get our copy of the new game the minute it's released.

whispers: heh

ghetto glen


2007... year of the casa

so far 2007 is proving to be a banner year for the upper half. we're kicking the lower half's ass in the following categories: shenanigans, wacky hijinks and of course, tomfoolery. not only did we start the year with a squeaky clean casa, but the past two weekends in a row we've partied with various friends until the wee hours of the morning, we've had houseguests from down the street and the suburbs and even australia. you know how sometimes plants and animals get all messed up with unseasonably warm weather in the middle of a new england winter? we're like a pair of crocuses blooming too soon. it's probably gonna bite us in the ass if nature decides to right itself, but it sure has been fun.

for the first week of this still young year, we've been partying like rock stars and damn, are we tired.

to the whole casa family - we hope your 2007 has gotten off to the same kind of start. happy new year, all.