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June 30, 2004

A Bitter Story

My cheeks hurt from laughing so hard at this:

A Bitter Story

Posted by Highwaygirl on 05:49 PM | Comments (1)

The Digital Divides

By papal decree from Pius Overg I, a webcam was purchased last night. By me. And set up. By me. To run on a Yahoo Messenger account. Which was downloaded. By me.

So I set up this webcam and I can't really find an angle where it doesn't make my head look ENORMOUS. I might have to play around with where it's positioned. Right now it's on top of my monitor, which is what the guide recommended, but I dunno ... I'm not sure I like something that makes me look like I have a giant freak-head.

"I'm a walking candy apple!"

Plus, I look very orange. The lighting where I have my computer is dim, and it's in an area of my apartment where I painted the walls brick red. So I look like I'm fire. Or like I'm channeling my inner Oompa Loompa.

Contrary to what Overg believes, the fact that I don't really dig having my photo taken is not because I'm self-conscious about what I look like. The reason I don't dig it - and the reason why the webcam, at this point, makes me feel very anxious - is because it makes things seem so real.

There's no artifice. I can't pretend. I can't fake it when you're viewing me on a webcam. If you ask me if everything is okay when we're instant messaging, I can lie and tell you, "Yes! Of course! Life is a slice of cherry pie!" But I'm one of those people whose face betrays them - it shows how I feel, even if I don't want people to know how I feel.

So I'm comfortable with the buffer that the Internet creates. I don't have to let you know me. You know only as much as I want you to know. It creates a distance that not only can I control, but that I need. The digital divides.

It's all about self-preservation.

My computer is unhappy with the webcam, though. It got very slow when I was both viewing Overg's webcam and letting him watch mine. I'm pretty sure I have a decent amount of memory, but maybe not. Maybe I need to disable my firewall and other programs that run in the background when I want to go webcammin'.

It was interesting, though, seeing live! Overg! action! You can talk to someone almost every day for over two years and still, watching them in real time, see something totally new and wonderful about them. I enjoyed it. I just wish my computer would play along better.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 08:42 AM | Comments (3)

June 29, 2004

Rock the Vote

If you love me or care about me at all, you will place a vote for Hamster Time as the Best Big Brother website in all the land! Look for the ballot on the right side of the page.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:41 PM | Comments (6)

June 28, 2004

Angels In America

I don't usually like posting full articles, but I really loved this story from the NYTimes.com and want to make sure it's saved here for posterity. These are my kind of people.

For Falcons as for People, Life in the Big City Has Its Risks as Well as Its Rewards

The New York Times
Published: June 28, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY, June 27 - While missionaries explained the Mormon faith and young brides posed for their wedding pictures in Temple Square, a group set apart by their bright orange vests had another mission entirely - witnessing and abetting one of the most basic coming-of-age rituals in nature.

Two peregrine falcons are teaching their two fledglings to fly in the middle of Temple Square, the headquarters of the Mormon Church and the most popular tourist site in Salt Lake City, with a cadre of human volunteers keeping a daylight watch under the nest, prepared to act as a safety net.

Peregrine falcons usually nest on high cliffs, but some make their homes on tall buildings and bridges in urban areas.

It takes a young falcon, known as an eyas, a week or so to learn to fly - a period that Bob Walters of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources refers to as Hell Week.

Flight training for young falcons that are born in urban areas is all the more treacherous because they often crash into buildings or fly into traffic. When that happens, Mr. Walters said, "it wrecks your whole day."

Every city with peregrine falcon nests has a different approach. New York City has 15 nests, said Chris Naderski of the city's Department of Environmental Protection. Some are monitored by 24-hour Web cameras, some by bird-watchers and some by bridge workers.

In California there is one volunteer in Los Angeles, where falcons are nesting on buildings along Wilshire Boulevard, and another in the Bay Area, where falcons are living on the Golden Gate Bridge, said Brian Walton of the Predatory Bird Research Group at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Here in Salt Lake City, volunteers - clad in bright orange vests with reflective yellow strips so they can be easily seen by drivers - have taken shifts over the last two weeks watching over the nest and its fledglings. Utah's Department of Transportation has installed large orange signs: "Falcon bird watch area. Prepare to stop."

"If a bird flies into the street, Bob will try and catch it and I'm supposed to throw myself in front of the cars," said June Ryburn, 75, a retired office manager who has spent 13 hours a day watching the birds.

There were only about 200 American peregrine falcons left in North America in the 1970's, and they were considered an endangered species until 1999. Now there are more than 3,000, according to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. Their recovery is due in part to the banning of the pesticide DDT, which weakened falcon eggshells, and in part to the breeding of falcons in captivity.

But the urban landscape remains a threat to the birds. The survival rate for falcons is about 40 percent in cities and about 50 percent in the wild, said Dr. Bill A. Burnham, president of the Peregrine Fund, an organization that works to save peregrine falcons and other birds of prey.

Of 16 eyases in Salt Lake City between 1986 and 1996, when peregrine falcons were last spotted downtown, five died, three from flying into traffic or buildings and two from disease, Mr. Walters said. Six of the survivors had help from bird-watchers, he said, including one baby falcon he caught as it was flying into traffic.

At Temple Square last week, Mr. Walters said, the young male falcon tried flying before his sister, but navigating Salt Lake City proved difficult. He flew over traffic but slammed into the window of a bank and then hit a nearby mall.

"When he was crashing into the building, I was running across the street, stopping traffic and saying, 'Don't hit me, I have to save this bird,' " said Nate Everts, 26, a volunteer falcon watcher.

Somehow the bird bounced off the second building and flew back to Temple Square uninjured. This time he landed on the Mormon Temple, the most sacred building of the faith.

"They chose the right spot," said LaNita Larsen, 59, a bird-watcher. "There are a lot of people praying while their babies learn to fly."

The bird-watchers stand out amid Temple Square's meticulously groomed gardens. It is hard to miss their binoculars, shorts and orange mesh vests.

They were monitoring the young female until late Wednesday night as she struggled to take her first flight. She stood on the edge of her nest and peered at the 10-story drop below. She flapped her wings and dangled one leg off the edge, but she did not move. She yelped loudly when her parents flew by.

A crowd quickly gathered on the ground. The bird-watchers focused their binoculars on the nest and talked with one another via walkie-talkies. One volunteer sat on the walkway with a towel, waiting to catch the baby bird if she happened to fall. Two more were stationed on the side of the street, waiting to run into traffic if necessary.

The Holloways, a Mormon couple from Sequim, Wash., were visiting with their seven children when they noticed all the commotion.

"We thought everybody was looking at the prophet," said McKenna Holloway, 18, referring to Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the church. "Then we realized they were looking at birds."

At 6:54 a.m. Thursday, Mr. Walters was already back at work and saw the female eyas take her first flight. Hell Week is not over yet, but he and his weary team are hoping the birds will soon have enough experience to navigate the city safely.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2004

A Girl and Her Camera

I was just screwing around with my Canon A20 this afternoon and taking a few shots in order to run down the batteries completely. I never knew the lighting in my bathroom was so warm. Or that my bathroom mirror needed to be cleaned so badly (ewwwwww).

me and my camera.jpg

I'm not wearing any pants! *shocked face*

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:33 PM | Comments (12)

Number One In the Hood, G

So, courtesy of Overg, I am now fully in love with Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a show on the Cartoon Network. Although I feel a bond with Meatwad, I must admit at this point that Master Shake gets most of the funny lines.

But Meatwad also has his moments! In fact, Meatwad is the owner of my all-time favorite ATHF line (so far): "Do what I said, 'cause I said it."

It's all in the delivery, yo.

Anyway, last night Overg and I simul-watched five ATHF episodes that we both had TiVoed. That's really the way to go, I think - watching with someone else who likes the show as much as I do (well, even MORE). It's even funnier when you can share.

I can't remember all of the episode titles we watched last night, but two lines stand out:

Master Shake: It's Obvious Day at Camp Stupid!
Fratboy Alien: It was worse than eight bitches on a bitchboat.

The episode with the fratboy aliens was a scream. I wish I had not deleted it.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 09:07 AM | Comments (5)

June 25, 2004

Bulked Up

I finally broke down and bought the big enormous bags of bird seed. After this morning, I didn't have any choice. There's just too many birds, now – all of the babies from the ducks/pigeons have grown up, and now they are EATING MACHINES.

Last week I spent $25 on 30 pounds of various seeds (which I blend together for my own special mix)(stop laughing). The food was gone by last night. Today I spent $30 on 75 pounds of food (40-lb of wild bird seed, 20-lb of cracked corn, 15-lb of songbird mix). This batch should last until mid-July. If that holds true I will have cut my costs to feed these freaks by 40%.

After PetsMart I went to Wal-Mart and bought a 19-gallon washtub thing in which to put the seed. Then I painstakingly mixed the three bags, using a wooden dowel as a stirrer and my beloved Looney Toons mug to portion out the seeds to get just the right blend (three cups wild/two cups corn/one cup songbird - STIR!). I'm storing it in my utility closet:

boo blend bulk.jpg

For perspective reference, the litter box beside the bird seed container is one of those GIGANTIC models. I'd say the bird seed tub is about up to my knee.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 10:28 AM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2004

Hide the Bana(na)

Good LORD. I know he's married and it's probably Wrong to lust after a married man as much as I am, but ... good LORD. HELLO, Eric Bana!


Click the image for a bigger version.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 09:55 PM | Comments (4)

From the Mind of Teem

I no longer get to share with you my funny IM conversations with Teem (because she works in Meat World now, which doesn't believe in instant messaging), so I will do the next best thing and share a li'l bit of an e-mail she sent me this morning.

In response to my telling her about clients wanting to edit/approve a newsletter article I wrote about their company:

Yeah, I totally hear you on the changing-the-article thing. Maybe you could put:

"Article Title", written by Highwaygirl and screwed up by Picky McChangerson.

Fight the power! *raises fist*

*puts fist away, deeming it too puny*

*raises cutlass instead*


Later in the same e-mail, in response to my offhand suggestion that she might like Clinique's Raspberry Superbalm lip balm:

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH you are EVIL with the damn superbalm pimping. EVIL. EVILEVILEVIL eeeeeeeeeeeeeee-VIL. slfha;fkhdfs JULIE! slfhad;fhf;hdsf!

I recognize that you are evil, yet I am still going to the mall during lunch to the Clinique counter. There is something wrong with that, somehow.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 03:10 PM | Comments (1)

Bruiser Baby

I guess I should be happy that Rasputin's pickled penis is no longer the Most Emailed Photo on Yahoo!News - I was really tired of seeing that thing every time I checked my e-mail - but it's been replaced by the freakish muscle man baby!:

muscle baby.jpg

That's a photo from when the boy was seven months old! Eegads!

The baby is German, of course.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 10:34 AM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2004

Calling It What It Is

From The Washington Post - It's Happening Again.

And another excellent, moving column by Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times about the same subject as the WP story – the genocide that is poised to occur in Sudan. A couple of months ago I wrote about the situation in the Sudan and how it didn't seem as if the U.S. - and other countries - had really learned anything from the massacre that occured in Rwanda in the early 1990s. I continue to be ... well, dumbfounded, really ... at the unwillingness to call this situation what it is.


I can't help but think that the only reason the U.S. government hasn't called it as such is because the Bush Administration is too busy fighting failing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to get involved (militarily or humanitarily) anywhere else.

At this point, I really think our efforts are better used elsewhere. Not that I'm advocating a "cut and run" out of the Middle East, it's just ... it's just a shame that as a country we've overextended ourselves to the point that we are unwilling to get involved where we are desperately needed.

But maybe that's also because Sudan doesn't have anything we want, or need, and therefore we don't much care to concern ourselves with their internal struggles. Survival of the fittest, baby. The meek shall inherit the dearth.

There's an online petition being created that will be sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell that urges him and the U.S. government to acknowledge the actions in Sudan as genocide. The petition contains some very good background information about what is happening there, as does the Human Rights Watch website.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2004

Speed Demon

 typing test (c) typingcheetah.com 

I type a speedy 85 words per minute!

Posted by Highwaygirl on 05:10 PM | Comments (10)

June 21, 2004

It's a Family Affair

Some good family news this weekend! First, I went down to Largo early-early on Saturday morning to watch my nephew's football game. He's playing for the Tigers in the YMCA recreational league for kids 7-9. Alex had an AWESOME game - he ran for one lonnnnnnnnng touchdown, then he had another long run which set up his team's other touchdown, which came when he passed the ball to a teammate.

His team scored two touchdowns, and my nephew was responsible for both. My nephew ROCKS. The running touchdown was the first he's scored in two years of rec football, and it made his mama tear up. All of us - his parents, me, my mom and my dad - were all cheering wildly for him. It was a lot of fun and you could tell that he was pretty pleased with himself (even if he was fairly humble about it).

I spent Saturday afternoon shopping with my mom. We went to PetsMart (where I bought a new litter box for the cats, aspen pine bedding for Scuddy, and a Cat Dancer toy for Caygeon), Marshalls (two pair of underwear for $3/each), the Avenue (three shirts, two bras, and a pair of underwear for $75 - love those discount coupons), and Sonic (two Diet Cherry Limeades, please!).

Saturday late afternoon was spent swimming/yelling/cannonballing into the pool with Alex. Then I had dinner and came back to mi casa.

Sunday I met my dad and my brother and his family for a Father's Day dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Good fun, good company. But I realized halfway through my drive down there that I'd forgotten their Father's Day cards, so now I need to get those in the mail.

And very good news this morning - my stepdad had his first post-radiation checkup with his oncologist, and his PSA level had gone down from 5.0 to 0.5. Almost non-existent! A high reading is indicative of cancer, so the fact that it went down to almost nothing shows that the radiation was very successful. His oncologist was very, very pleased - he didn't expect the PSA to be that low so soon after treatment.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 04:31 PM | Comments (8)

Oooooh, Dreamweaver

I woke up with the beginning of a migraine this morning, so I took some narcotics and emailed the office to say I'd be in late, then I went back to sleep. I woke up at 8:30 and the migraine was gone, but I had had really bad nightmares!

In the first one my company had moved to Durham, NC and it was my first day in the new office building, which was a high-rise with many other companies. Actually the building was shaped like an octogon and in the middle there was a gigantic amusement park and stores and restaurants and stuff. Anyway, I went out for lunch and got lost and couldn't find my way back to the office (hallways were different colors to tell you where you work - like, "I work in the purple block" - but I couldn't remember what color I worked in).

So I was wandering around and no one would help me find out where I needed to go, and I was walking through other offices and a lot of them were filled with athletes for some reason. Like it was an athletic department I was walking through rather than an office building. And then I was walking through this one office in the blue zone and William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were giving a speech, and I thought about stopping and asking Shatner how to get back to my office, because I was sure he had been there before. But I didn't stop and ask because I thought Nimoy would get mad at me for interrupting.

So I kept wandering and then I was wandering through the amusement park and the stores and the restaurants and I kept getting sprayed on by the big fountain in the middle until I was soaking wet. So then I was wandering around while wet, and people still wouldn't help me find my office.

THEN, I was outside the office complex with a bunch of people and it was stormy. We were all looking into the distance and suddenly I saw a tornado start to form. And I said, "OH MY GOD A TORNADO!! THERE!! *points*" So people started running and I asked some guy "Where are we running to?" and he pointed to some shops across the street and I was like, "No WAY, man, I'm hiding in the field." So I grabbed him and ran into the field and laid down flat.

Then, suddenly, I'm in one of those nice tour buses with the plush seats, but it's not as long as regular tour buses. We're now driving through the city and trying to stay on the right side of the tornado. We skirt around it, but then we're driving through the part of the city where the tornado just hit, and everything is all torn up and stuff.

And then I shove Paris Hilton (!) off the arm of my seat and tell her "either find your own seat or go sit on your boyfriend's lap!" Take that!

Driving, driving, driving. Then somehow we're driving through Norfolk, because I see the Scope. And people are leaning out of their building windows and spraying the Scope with water, even though it doesn't look like it's on fire. But then the bus passes the Scope and there are firefighters spraying it, so I guess it's on fire on the inside. I whip out my cell phone and call my friend Carol at the Pilot to tell her "The Scope is on fire!"

Then I try to call the office to tell them that a.) I got lost, and b.) I'm being attacked by tornadoes, so that's why I'm late coming back from lunch. Only I can't remember the area code. I try 757, but that only gets me Carol again. Then I try 813 and that doesn't work. Later I remember that it's 727, but that's the area code for Palm Harbor, not Durham. ANYWAY ...

After the Scope I see a building tip over and crash to the ground. I'm still in the bus telling Carol about it. Then I see another building tip over and fall. Then I'm suddenly IN a high-rise building and it's an apartment and I'm running through it screaming, "Mom! In the closet!" and I'm trying to find the walk-in closet because when I look outside I see tornadoes everywhere and I need to hide. Tornado attack! I dive into the closet and I'm on the phone with Carol again telling her what is happening and then I feel the tornado hit the building and then I'm falling, falling, falling, and I'm screaming OH GOD OH GOD OH NO into the phone.

And then I'm suddenly on the ground, laying on top of a pile of debris. I look to the side and my mom is laying there too. We're both on big yellow evacuation slides, the kind you see in airline disaster movies where the people cross their arms across their chests and jump out onto the slide butt first. There's a woman standing on a stairwell beside us and I ask her how I got there. She points to the slides and tells me I got into the closet and rode down on the slide. I guess the closet is where those things are stored.

But the weird thing is that the building is still standing, so I don't know why I'm on a pile of debris. The woman's little yappy dog is yapping around, so I get up and say that I need to go find my cats. But the woman says I can't go upstairs. And i'm like, LOOK, YO, I need to go find my cats!!! But she says NO, you can't go up there.

And then I woke up.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:19 PM | Comments (2)

June 20, 2004

Self Portrait

I found this interesting little website that lets you create a self-portrait using pre-drawn pieces (nose, hairstyle, face shape, etc.). Here's mine:


Posted by Highwaygirl on 01:51 PM | Comments (3)

Duck ... Duck ...

... DUCK!

These photos were taken Friday night:


This is a photo of the male ducks that are around. Usually there's 5-6 sunning themselves on the banks of the pond, or finding shade underneath a tree. They don't hang out with the ducklings/mama at all, though. You can see in the photo that they're losing their winter breeding plumage (the dark blue-green head and silver grey breast) that is synonymous with male mallards. During the summer male mallards actually lose their feathers and replace them with ones that make them look almost like female mallards (the brown striped feathers). For about a week while this is happening, they can't fly.


And here are the babies! Although as you can see, they're not really babies any more. They're a little bit bigger than pigeons at the moment, and they look just like their mama. The ducklings have lost almost all of their down - you can see individual bits of it still sticking up on some of the ducklings - and replaced it with feathers. It will still be a few more weeks before they can fly, though.


This is about as close as the ducklings/drakes ever get - when they're strapping on the feed bag. And if the ducklings get too close, they get a little peck from one of the drakes. The male ducks are greedy bastards!


The ducklings still love their mama the most. But I think I'm a close second, because I protect them from rock-throwing kids, drunk guys, and hawks. Oh, and I give them food.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 09:28 AM | Comments (3)

June 18, 2004

What's Goin' On?

Paul Johnson was beheaded by his terrorist captors.

You know what scares me? This isn't eliciting a feeling of anger from me. I'm not sure why, because it certainly is something to be angry about. Mostly I feel sick to my stomach, unable to breathe, and incredibly sad. Sad and ... resigned to the fact that this is just the way things are going to be over in the Middle East for a long, long time to come.

I'm not assigning blame. I think the causes are too complicated, and too numerous. It's not one thing; it's everything, taken together.

Father, father
Everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us?
Simply 'cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

I hope Mr. Johnson wasn't too afraid when the time came. Thinking about that is what brings me close to tears.

ETA: Karma in action.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 03:54 PM | Comments (0)


I'm going to be picking up the fourth season DVD box set of The Simpsons this weekend. I was excited because for some reason I thought my favorite episode, "Lisa the Vegetarian," aired that season. But I looked it up and I was wrong - it aired in the seventh season.

ANYWAY, my favorite part of the episode is the meat movie shown to Lisa's class after she complains about having to dissect a worm and the lack of vegetarian alternatives in the lunchroom. Here's a synopsis of the filmstrip:

The film starts. "The Meat Council Presents: `Meat and You: Partners in
Freedom'. Number 3F03 in the `Resistance is Useless' series." Open on
cattle country.

Troy: Nothing beats a stroll in cattle country. Hi, I'm Troy McClure.
You may remember me from such educational films as "Two Minus
Three Equals Negative Fun" and "Firecrackers: The Silent Killer".
Jimmy: Mr. McClure?
Troy: Oh! Hello Bobby.
Jimmy: Jimmy. I'm curious as to how meat gets from the ranch to my
Troy: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down Jimmy. You just asked a mouthful.
It all starts here, in the high density feed lot. Then, when the
cattle are just right [swipes his finger along the top of a cow
and licks it] Yum...it's time for them to graduate from Bovine

A klaxon blares out a siren and the cattle begin moving up a conveyor
belt into the meat packing plant.

Troy: Come on Jimmy, let's take a peek at the killing floor.
Jimmy: Ohhh!
Troy: Don't let the name throw you Jimmy. It's not really a floor,
it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice
through so it can be collected and exported.

They walk throught the door of the plant accompanied by the sounds of
moo-ing and startled cows. Electricity noise sparks in the background
as the camera pans down the length of the factory to a truck marked
"Meat For You" being loaded with raw chunks of meat. Troy and Jimmy
emerge, with Jimmy visibly pale and queasy.

Troy: Gettin hungry Jimmy?
Jimmy: Uhh, Mr. McClure? I have a crazy friend who says its wrong
to eat meat. Is he crazy?
Troy: Nooo, just ignorant. You see your crazy friend never heard
of "The Food Chain". [Flash to a picture of "Food Chain",
with all animals and arrows pointing to a silhouette of a
human.] Just ask this scientician.
Scientician: [Looking up from a microscope.] Uhhh...
Troy: He'll tell you that, in nature, one creature invariably
eats another creature to survive.
[Images of various wild carnivores attacking and eating
others appear.]
Don't kid yourself Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance,
he'd eat you and everyone you care about! [Image of a cow
quietly chewing cud.]
Jimmy: Wow, Mr. McClure. I was a grade A moron to ever question
eating meat.
Troy: [Laughs.] Yes you were Jimmy, yes you were. [Briskly rubs
his hand on Jimmy's head.]
Jimmy: [Timid] Uhh...you're hurting me.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 09:08 AM | Comments (6)

June 17, 2004

See Dick Spin

Spin, Dick, spin!

Today has been a glorious news day for me. I am filled with merriment and mirth, and I will share my happiness with you. Let's get started!

First up we have a news item about how Donald Rumsfeld was bypassed - contrary to the apparent chain of command - by "Tricky" Dick Cheney when it came to giving the order to shoot down hijacked airplanes on 9-11. I love this excerpt from the conversation between the two men:

Rumsfeld: "So we've got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?"

Cheney: "That is correct. And it's my understanding they've already taken a couple of the aircraft (hijacked airliners) out."

Oh, Dick. *shakes head sadly* Is that your understanding? This is just more proof, in addition to Monday's "SADDAM KNEW AL-QAEDA, NYAH!" outburst, that Dick Cheney knows absolutely nothing.

Moving on ... Maureen O'Dowd's column in today's NY Times, which compares Cheney to a malfunctioning robot who can't stop repeating the same old tired phrases. Stepford Wife, indeed. But now Bush himself is malfunctioning - he's come out to state, unequivocally, that the 9-11 Commission doesn't know what it's talking about when it says that there is no verifiable link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," he told reporters.

"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," Bush said. "There were numerous contacts between the two."

If by numerous you mean ZERO. There is no evidence that Hussein ever met with anyone from al-Qaeda. There is only a tangential reference to one of his ministers meeting with an al-Qaeda representative in the Sudan. The al-Qaeda representative - I wonder if they're like Amway reps? - requested assistance from Iraq and was rebuffed.

So there's your big reason why the U.S. needed to invade Iraq. I'm only surprised that Bush hasn't come out to say that God wanted him to lead an invasion of Iraq and that since we have God on our side everything we do is okay. I'm sure that proclamation is coming, though.

Back to the NY Times and the case for war. Piggybacking on the whole "numerous contacts" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the NY Times reveals the following:

Banned biological and chemical weapons: none yet found. Percentage of Iraqis who view American-led forces as liberators: 2, according to a poll commissioned last month by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Number of possible Al Qaeda associates known to have been in Iraq in recent years: one, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose links to the terrorist group and Mr. Hussein's government remain sketchy.

And finally, the NY Times editorial board weighs in on the Iraq/al-Qaeda faux-connection:

On Monday, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda." Mr. Bush later backed up Mr. Cheney, claiming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who may be operating in Baghdad, is "the best evidence" of a Qaeda link. This was particularly astonishing because the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime.

This is not just a matter of the president's diminishing credibility, although that's disturbing enough. The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be Qaeda forces, including Mr. bin Laden.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 04:45 PM | Comments (4)

June 16, 2004

Cause and Effect

BREAKING NEWS! I know this is going to shock all of you, but try to stay calm and maintain your mental and emotional clarity. The esteemed, bipartisan 9-11 Commission has decided, definitively, that...

There is "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein was ever affiliated with al-Qaeda.

No freaking way, man! I thought we had clear, substantial, incontrovertible PROOF that there was a link! At least that's what mah president told me! It's why we invaded Iraq!

Yes. This is very surprising. Shocking, even. I am shocked and awed, oh yes I am.

"On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech that the Iraqi dictator 'had long established ties with al-Qaida.'"

Oh, Dick. How long are you going to toe the party line on this? Don't you realize that you look like a moron, now? Or are you oblivious to how you appear because you've ALWAYS looked like a moron?

I can't think of one person I like in the Bush Administration except Colin Powell, and brother needs to get out of there ASAP. He's been sullied by his association with this administration, but I still like him. I think he's trying to counterbalance Bush/Cheney et. al. as best he can.

Does anyone else read the staff statements that the 9-11 Commission has been putting out on its website for a few months? They're fascinating. Utterly devoid of spin or bias, which is a refreshing change. The two latest staff statements are "Overview of the Enemy (PDF)" and "Outline of the 9/11 Plot (PDF)." That second one will be especially interesting reading since it's being reported that the initial al-Qaeda plan was to attack the U.S. with TEN airplanes rather than four. Eep.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 12:56 PM | Comments (2)

June 15, 2004

*Stabs Spammers*

This morning I had more than TWO HUNDRED comment spams from "gAy sEx pOrn Scandal" on my site. TWO. HUNDRED. One on almost every entry.

Now, it's not that big a deal to have to delete 5-10 comment spams in a week. But two hundred in a DAY? No. I spent two hours this afternoon and only was able to delete half of them.

And then I decided to download/install this program called MT-Blacklist, which is a comment spam filter for Movable Type. It took me about 5 minutes to install it, and then it took about 3 seconds to delete the last 104 comment spams.

So now the Recent Comments section is back! Woo!

Posted by Highwaygirl on 09:28 PM | Comments (1)

My Car Had Bad Gas

I don't know if you've heard about the problem with contaminated gasoline that has happened in Florida and other southern states, but I'm one of the unfortunate 12,000 or so people whose gas gauges have been destroyed because of it. Damn you, Shell!!

The ironic thing (take heed, Alanis) about it is that up until about three months ago, I was buying the cheap gasoline at Hess. I only switched to Shell gasoline because the Saturn dealer recommended its usage (due to some additive called "Techron" or "Tekron" or "L. Ron" or something; it's supposed to be good for the car's engine). And about 4-6 weeks after I make the switch, I get a tank full of bad gas.

I knew something was wrong when my gas gauge read 1/4 tank left and I had only gone 110 miles. At first I thought that my car was suddenly only getting about 10 mpg, which wouldn't shock me, really, because at the best of times the stupid thing only gets 20 mpg (even on the highway). It's the only thing I dislike about my car, but it's enough of an issue that I won't be buying it after my lease is up.

Anyway, the light came on to let me know I only had one gallon of gas left, so I went to the Shell station to fill 'er up. Only ... I only needed 8 gallons. My tank holds 15 gallons. Hmm, that's odd. I started up the car and the needle didn't even go all the way up to F, even though I knew very well it was full.

So I figured the gas gauge had somehow broken. I called the Saturn dealer to make an appointment to bring 'er in, and the service manager asked me where I get gasoline. So I told him, and that's when he told me about the contaminated gas thing. Which had apparently been in the news for at least two weeks. I guess I need to start reading the newspaper more.

The Saturn guy gave me an 800-number to call Shell and start the claim process, because Saturn won't fix the gas gauge under their standard warranty. Which makes sense; I have no problem with that. The estimated cost of repairs is $450-500. I called Shell and started the claim process, and a risk management agent working with the company called me yesterday to verify my information.

Shell has a list of repair shops that will fix my car without needing an estimate (I guess Shell has a deal with them), but since my Saturn dealer isn't on that list - and I don't let anyone else touch my car - I now have to have an appraiser come out and meet me at the Saturn dealer when I take the car in for the official estimate for repairs. My hope is that the appraiser will then just pay the bill themselves, rather than requiring me to pay and then reimbursing me. Because if it goes THAT way, I'm going to require Shell to reimburse me for the interest that will be accruing on my credit card account between the day I pay for the repair and the day I receive their reimbursement check. Because you just know it will take them weeks to get that check out.

The only thing I'm vague on at this point is if Shell will ask me to sign some sort of waiver against future claims. Which I won't do. I have no way of knowing whether or not that bad gasoline might have damaged something else in my car that hasn't yet completely broken or failed. I'll ask my Saturn dealer about the likelihood of that, but still, I'm not going to sign anything.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 08:42 AM | Comments (2)

June 12, 2004

Technicolor Dreamcoat

I stopped by the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale this morning and bought a bunch of stuff. Mostly makeup (*shameface*), but I did find an amazing deal on a very, very nice black jacket:



It has pink lining and a subtle striping. It was 50% off, so I got it for a mere $98. Which is probably a lot, but it's a "classic" piece that I will be able to wear in hundreds of different ways.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2004

Do You Have Nibbles? (III)

Or, Poor Blurry/It's his own damn fault!

So, a little background on the title for these posts. We kept making beaver jokes throughout the weekend, because we're 12. Sometimes we would get out of the car and someone would ask, "Do you have Nibbles?" Which almost always came out sounding like, "Do you have nipples?" Other variations included, "Get Nibbles out!" and "Where's Nibbles?" and "We need Nibbles." And then there were all the times we mentioned Nibbles' log...

By the way, Nibbles' personal life motto is "Either work hard or you might as well quit." Thank you, MC Hammer.

Aight then, Saturday. Teem and I left her house at about 8 a.m. to go pick up Nancy. I shared my Oatmeal Crisp bar with Nibbles, because we both get very hungry in the morning. We went into Nancy's apartment, but her cat, Sonny, was hiding, so I didn't get to meet him.

And then we were off to Washington D.C. It was supposed to only rain until mid-day. Well, it rained ALL-day. And it was cold (I could see my breath) and windy and just generally crappy. We stopped at Burger King on the way, due to hunger and the fact that "hash rounds" are superior to "hash planks." We ordered three things of hash rounds and three Diet Cokes. Heh.

We listened to Billy Joel and ABBA and various mix CDs on the way. Eventually we realized that, due to having to drive slowly in the rain, we were going to be late meeting Blurry (we had agreed to meet between 11 and 11:30 a.m. at the Iowa pillar at the WWII Memorial). We alternated between "Poor Blurry" and "It's his own damn fault for not having a cell phone!" Yeah, we're nice like that.

Nibbles fills up his belly
We had directions as to what exit to get off at, so that we could pahk the cah at Pentagon City Fashion Center and take the Metro over to The Mall. We were looking for Exit 9, and ... there was no Exit 9. Or maybe it was the thing off to the left side. At any rate, we didn't see it. So we got off at Exit 10 and had a nice little detour around/though Reagan International Airport. Which was really freaky considering that he died right around then!! Seriously!! His time of death is pretty close to when we were at the airport.

Spooky, eh?

Oh, by the way, the Pentagon is even more huge than you'd think. I was really struck by how big it was when we were driving past it.

Nibbles plays between-seat driver
So we did the roundabout at the airport and then got back on the interstate (after commenting on how gross the name "Roaches Run" is for a national park or whatever) and made our way to Pentagon City. Ran through the Fashion Center to get to the Metro station. Stood dumbfounded in front of the fare card kiosks for about 5 minutes trying to figure out how much money we needed to put on the cards, how to get change, etc.

(Incidentally, I'm probably missing a ton of stuff that Teem and/or Nancy can fill in, but I took allergy medicine this morning and I am, literally, about to fall asleep sitting upright at my desk at work.)

*Metro, Metro, Metro*

We get off the Metro and it's raining. Nancy and I have li'l umbrellas, and Teem has a rain jacket thinger. But suffice to say, it wasn't nearly enough. We walked past The Stick (the Washington Monument) on our way to the WWII Memorial, and Nancy gave us an impromptu history lesson about the building of The Stick. My contribution was to say, "The Stick!" over and over in a really chipper way.

It's not a long walk from the Metro to the memorial, but it's long enough, and by the time we got there my feet were soaked (we were all wearing flip-flops, thank god I had brought along the pair of Flojos I had bought the night before, otherwise I would have been screwed). Finally we saw the memorial in the distance and I prepared myself for meeting the infamous Blurrificus.

HWG: "You know, it's going to be hard for me to mentally switch to calling him (his real name) rather than Blurry." <-- foreshadowing

The pillars seemed to be in the order in which the states were admitted into the Union, so it took us a second to figure out where Iowa was. Luckily we spotted it from the ground, and marched over.

Blurry!! It's Blurry!! Wearing a white hat!! I said hello and gave him a wet hug. Blurry gave a bear hug in return. Blurry am tall.

As cool as the memorial was, I think all of us were kind of feeling like we wanted to get this done with, in a way. I mean, it is AMAZING, and I really need to go back so I can take everything in. But it was COLD, yo. And rainy and windy and there were quite a few people there, and it was a little difficult to get around because in addition to weaving in between people you were trying not to get in front of people's cameras or poke them in the eye with your umbrella.

Click a thumbnail for a larger image. Hold your cursor over a photo for a description.

The Iowa pillarWWII medallion on floorThe Washington Monument past the WWII MemorialNancy, Teem, Nibbles and Blurry at the WWII Memorial
The memorial wall; each of the 400 stars represents 1,000 deaths in combatQuote etched in memorial wallQuote etched in memorial wallQuote etched in memorial wall
Memorializing the air war in EuropeWestern Europe memorial fountainAn aviator bear left on the Washington pillarPanoramic view of the Atlantic Theater arch and surrounding pillars
Nancy beside the pillar for her daddy's birthplace

We toured the whole memorial and I took a bunch of photos. My grandfather, Kenneth Ray Rowley, Jr., served in the Atlantic Theater as a bomber pilot in England, so I focused my photos on things related to that. He was from Iowa (thus its significance). I also took photos of Teem and Nancy in front of the pillars for the states where their fathers were born.

I took photos of Teem and Nancy and Blurry together. Blurry told me that I could use his real name now. He called me out! So I started trying really hard to do that, but mostly I just ended up calling him "Bl-realname." Sorry about that. You'll always be Blurry to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

Nibbles attacks!
Nibbles enjoyed himself from the safety of Teem's pocket, but he did make sure he got his photo taken with his favorite memorial, the Lincoln Monument.

We wandered over to the information center, and there were short lines to use the kiosks where you could look up the names of people who served. I was really jazzed about this, because I had registered my grandfather on the WWII memorial website 6-8 weeks ago and now believed I could get a photo of his listing.

But no. The stupid thing couldn't find his name. Except HERE IT IS RIGHT HERE, on the website. Yeesh. Whatever. *rolls eyes*

So with the memorial having been seen, we started trekking back to the Metro station. Blurry used his superior height to block the rain. Speculation on whether or not "rain" means that "god is sad." Talk about how long Blurry waited for us in said rain (hours and hours). Nancy gives Blurry her history lesson about the building of The Stick. Jaywalking rather than absconding with a mounted policeman's horse.

Blurry, wary of the beaver
We picked up the Metro and headed back to Pentagon City, making our plans to go to Potomac Mills and have lunch. Nibbles sat beside Blurry, but then Blurry kept eyeing Nibbles suspiciously, so Nibbles moved to sit beside Teem. Who was oblivious to the fact that she was riding the Metro with a beaver.

And then we had the Parking Garage Fiasco of '04. We were parked on the third level (you have to go up a flight of stairs from the mall entrance). Blurry was parked on two (the mall entrance). It is decided that we will drive down to the second level so that Blurry can fall in behind us, because he didn't know how to get to Potomac Mils.

Only ... we couldn't figure out how to get down to the second level without leaving the garage. So I was nominated (FINE!) to exit the car, go back down to 2, and tell Blurry to meet us at the exit. I find Blurry, who is in his car, and he pulls up beside me. I make the international hand gesture for "roll down your window" but he doesn't do it. I knock on the window and he doesn't roll it down. I try to open the door but it's locked and I very nearly rip all my fingernails off. THE HELL? I make the IHGF"RDYW" again, and he doesn't do it. So then I ask him if his windows don't roll down or something and THEN he unlocks the car door.

Maybe he can shed light on this whole thing.

So I tell Blurry that Teem says to meet us at the exit, because we can't get up to this floor of the parking garage. And then:

Blurry - Which exit?

HWG - *blink*

Blurry - *silence*

HWG - Hmm. Well, I don't know. I've never been here before.

Blurry - *silence*

HWG - *looks around, sees Eckerds sign across from parking garage* OKAY, let's meet in the parking lot of that Eckerds. *points*

Blurry - Okay!

Sounds easy enough, right?

I run back up to Teem/Nancy and tell them where we're meeting. So we drive to the garage exit and then ... Teem can't find the parking ticket. And the maximum daily rate is $16. Ack. The ticket taker asks us if we had a receipt from a mall purchase, but no, we do not. BLAST! Teem checks pockets, purse, car, but can't find it. Eventually the ticket taker asks for her license, and a few minutes later (we're not sure what she did with the license) after Teem begged and pleaded and batted her eyelashes, the ticket person charges us $2. Which was pretty damn nice of her.

So we drive over to the Eckerds parking lot and expect Blurry to appear shortly. Five minutes later, no Blurry. Nancy goes into Eckerds to get some food (for her) and ibuprofen (for me). Still no Blurry. By now it's 2:25 and we are way off our schedule. Five more minutes, still no Blurry. THE HELL? We again curse him for not having a cell phone. We decide that next time, we'll just buy him one of those prepaid cell phones. We have a brilliant idea - too late, of course - that we should have given him one of our cell phones to use.

We decide if he doesn't show by 3 p.m., we're leaving. Because we're hungry and have places to go. Blurry drives into the parking lot at 2:40 and we scream and yell and tell him to "follow us!" And then we're off to Potomac Mills, which will have to be another post.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 12:01 PM | Comments (2)

June 09, 2004

Do You Have Nibbles? (II)

Or, God, Paris really sucks. And so does Helen. Mmmmbop!

And then we went off to see Troy. My interest in seeing the movie was in drooling over Eric Bana, and secondarily swooning over Orlando Bloom. Brad Pitt does nothing for me, so Teem got him all to herself. We shared Orly. I'm not sure who Nancy thought was most attractive.

So we buy our tickets and head in. Nibbles snuck in for free under cover of purse. During the pre-show entertainment, Nibbles got a little surly when an ad for a Phish concert popped up on the screen. We threatened to muzzle him, so he shut up.

All-in-all, I liked the movie for its eye candy. The acting, not so much. Eric Bana was fan-freaking-tastic in every way (hot, good acting, BIG MANLY ARMS), and Brad was okay if you could overlook his craptastic "Greek" accent (which sounded for all the world like a bad English accent). Orly, well ... he is and always will be The Pretty. But his character, Paris, sucked. Paris sucks! I said that several times during the movie. Plus, it seemed like Orly only had two facial expressions in the film - pleading (complete with "sexy" eye squinting) and cowering (like when he clinged to Hector's leg ... not that I can blame him, because I would cling to Hector's leg if given the chance, too).

Nibbles begins to RAGE! at Phish
Little did we know that one of the Hanson boys had been cast as Achilles' cousin. And I kept being annoyed by the fact that Helen was often wearing uneven eye makeup (one scene she had eyeshadow on one eye but not the other, and in another scene she had the same mismatch with eye liner). There were two funny parts to the movie that I remember. During the Trojan horse scene, I turned to Teem because I was confused (paraphrasing):

HWG - "They can't possibly fit enough people in that horse to sack Troy with. This is dumb, I don't get it."
Teem - "Maybe they were really wee? Petite."
Soldier waves torch at top of tower
Teem - "Why is he doing that?"
HWG - "Why are they at the gate?"
Spartans on the beach see torch signal, charge down towards the gate, and are let in by the soldiers who snuck into Troy inside the horse
HWG & Teem, in unison - "Ohhhhhhhh."

Then there was an intense scene where the Spartans are burning down Troy, and King Priam is having this Big Meaningful Moment with Paris as he tries to get people to fight/flee (Hector is already dead at this point, so Paris is big man on the scene ... no wonder Troy fell), and all of a sudden Priam whips out this sword and points the tip of the blade at Paris ...

Which is when Teem made this sound that can best be described as the sound Scooby Doo makes when he's confused about something. That weird "huh?" sound, knowwhatImean? Anyway, Teem did that because I guess she was confused, but it was so funny in the context of the scene that both Nancy and I started cracking up.

After the movie we went into Nordstrom for a bit o' shopping. On the way to the movie we only had time to check out the new MAC Tantress collection (didn't wow me right then), but we wanted to look at Reef shoes and the Stila counter when we had more time.

I couldn't find my size in the Reefs, so I wandered around and found these other flip-floppy things called Flojos. And I wondered when Florence Griffith Joyner started lending her name to shoes. So I was looking for a size 10 in the black and couldn't find one and was disappointed. But then Teem found the size on another rack. Only the tag said "10" but the bottom of the shoe said "8". But I tried them on and they were clearly my size. So I took them to the counter to purchase them ($20!) and pointed out the discrepency, and the clerk told me that the 8 is in European sizing.

My shoes are foreigners! I've decided they are Spanish shoes, and they're pronounced "FLO-hoes."

An ironic sign at Plaza Azteca
Then we spent quality time at the Stila counter, trying on all the colors of the new Rouge Pots (which I really wanted), checking out the lip tints and eyeshadows and stuff. But no one bought anything. I'm not sure how we managed that. Oh! Teem said that we should just wait until Saturday when we were at Sephora to buy the jank. That's why we didn't make purchases then, because I really was thisclose to buying the Rouge Pot in Water Lily.

And then it was off to the infamous Plaza Azteca for dinner. I've only heard Teem talk about this place 95 bamillion times, so I had to see what the fuss was all about. We had chips and dips and salsa, and I got the Burrito Something dinner (two li'l burritos, one each of beef and chicken) and it was very good.

The restaurant had a bunch of knick-knacky signs hanging up all over the place (it was a converted Spaghetti Warehouse) and to my surprise, one of them was an homage to me!

Nibbles snacked on the chips all night long, but eventually helped himself to a little bit of Nancy's dinner.

Teem, Nibbles and Nancy after finishing dinner
After Plaza Azteca, Teem and I went back to her 'ome. Then I met her kitties! - Daisy (the big black one with amber eyes), Sophie (the fluffy pirate kitty), and Maya (the shy one). Teem gave me a tour of her house, I met her husband, Mr. Teem, and we hung out and talked. Right before bed we watched some of her Rick Steves Does Ireland (or something) DVD. She was right - Rick Steves is very (stereotypically) gay.

We went to bed not-too-late because we had to get up at 7 a.m. the next morning to prepare for our big trip to Washington D.C. to visit historical landmarks - the new World War II Memorial, and Blurry.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 12:40 PM | Comments (6)

June 08, 2004

Do You Have Nibbles? (I)

Alrighty, I will now attempt to chronicle my weekend trip to Virginia. I had great big huge amounts of fun, walked a LOT, shopped frequently, and learned that Teem really, really, REALLY likes the song "Come On, Eileen" (it's on almost all of her mix CDs).

I got up at 4 a.m. on Friday, June 4 in order to make my 6:45 a.m. flight to Philadelphia. Yes, I flew to Philadelphia in order to get to Virginia. Thank you, U.S. Airways. I left my apartment at 5 a.m., giving myself 45 minutes to get to the airport.

It only took 20 minutes.

Sooo, I was at the airport mo' early. I checked in at the U.S. Airways counter fairly quickly, then headed over to the escalators to go out to the airside. A good-looking guy and I arrived at the escalator at the same time, but he smiled and said, "After you!" He looked a whole lot like Matthew Settle. My brain probably just wanted him to be Matthew Settle, who is in Florida filming a movie (why am I not stalking him? Good question).

So I take the monorail over to the airside and am met with a long, long queue of people waiting to get through security. I waited about 20 minutes before getting up to the front, and then I set off the metal detector on the way through. The guard told me to put my shoes on the x-ray machine conveyor belt, which confused me because my shoes are not made of metal.


I took off the black loafers I was wearing and then went back through the metal detector with no problem. Apparently it's common to use metal to create the heels of shoes. Okaaaaaaay.

My flight left on time and was fairly uneventful, except for the fact that the guy in the aisle seat (I had window, with no one between us) kept using his cell phone during the flight. Which made me nervous. I was close to flipping my bitchcakes lid about it, but decided not to.

I landed in Philadelphia and then made the mad dash to make my connecting flight. We came in at the end of airside C and my connection was at the end of airside A. Which is a long way away, and I only had 40 minutes. I ended up getting to airside A on time and walked right onto the plane.

*fly fly fly*

I ran off the plane once it touched down in Norfolk and ran into the arms of TEEM!! Who was waiting for me by the glass doors with a Diet Coke in her hand (of course) and wearing her fearsome pink big button capris (of course).

I was meeting the illustrious Teem! TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEM!! Much skipping and twirling ensued. Actually we just gabbed and then walked down to baggage claim. Once we got my suitcase we headed out to her lovely silver green Mazda 6. Teem told me a story about hitting a car in a parking lot. This started the "and THEN we got in an accident in _insert parking garage name_" line that I repeated whenever Teem would park the car somewhere.

We got in the car and Teem revealed that she had made a Soundtrack of Heewig mix CD in honor of my visit. Which was SO cool! Every song has meaning, and truth be told, out of all the things I acquired this past weekend, the CD is my most treasured item.

Then we were off to downtown Norfolk! Teem introduced me to our mascot for the weekend, a Beanie Baby named "Lumberjack" - a beaver holding a log in its paws. Well, "Lumberjack" wasn't a name we could use (it has other, non-Heewig meanings), so we renamed it NIBBLES for the weekend. Actually, Teem did, and I defered to her brilliance.

I called my friend at the Virginian-Pilot, Carol, who was the only one of my former coworkers that I told I was coming to visit. She had told me earlier that before lunch was the best time to drop in, but as it turned out there was no one there. So she asked me to come in after 1 p.m.

This left Teem and I with a chunk of time to kill before Nancy could meet us for lunch. So we drove out to Ghent so I could show her where I used to live (511 Graydon St.), which is being torn down, or at least renovated. It was fenced off with a No Trespassing sign on it, and the porches/balconys had all been torn off, as had been the big cement steps outside. But it was still the same faded brick-red-with-yellow-trim color scheme. Lovely!

We drove to the mall, MacArthur Center, and parked there. We grabbed Nibbles (who often asked to be addressed by his formal French name, Nibblés) and started walking over to our lunch spot, Jack Quinn's, an Irish pub/restaurant in downtown Norfolk. On the way there we saw a man sitting on a park bench with a sweatshirt/shirt/jacket pulled up over his head. Completely. It totally covered his head.

I wanted to take a photo. Then I suggested we put Nibbles on the bench with the man and take a photo of the both of them. Huzzah for new friends! But then Teem pointed out that the man might be a robber who would grab Nibbles and run away with him, and we just could not allow that. I agreed, although I did mention that if that happened, it would give us reason to shriek "THAT MAN SNATCHED MY BEAVER!" really loudly.

But we didn't do it.

We got to Jack Quinn's and got a table. Our waiter's name was Christian, and he was personable and not at all objectionable to look at. We were both starving, but there was no appetizer that we really wanted to get, especially since we had decided to have some of the bread pudding for dessert.

Digression - We ate a lot this weekend. Weight Watchers be damned! (and it was damned ... oh was it ever damned.)

Then Nancy showed up and we EEEEEEEEEEE'd a little. Nancy and I both ordered boxtys (vegetarian for her, corned beef and cabbage for me), while Teem ordered the corned beef & cabbage entreé. Teem and I were already working on a pint of hard cider, so Nancy got one as well. Christian was a good boy and carded us all.

Soda bread and honey butter were brought out. We devoured the whole basket. Christian brought another basket. We likes Christian.

*eat eat eat*

Teem and Nibbles, getting drubnk
I really liked my boxty, which was overstuffed to the point where I couldn't finish it. The creamy mustard sauce on top was especially good. Nancy noticed that I am not a fan of snow peas, which got us on a discussion about the proper consistency of cooked vegetables (Teem and I are happy with mushy veggies, Nancy is not).

Teem and I went for a second pint of hard cider. Mmmm, tipsy. Teem was nice enough to share some of her cider with Nibbles, 'cause she's nice like that. The four of us shared the bread pudding (something I had never tried), and it was of the lrod.

By the time we finished lunch, it was raining a bit, and Nancy was the only one smart enough to bring an umbrella. So we had her go get her car and come back and pick me and Teem up. Serves her right for thinking ahead like that!

Nancy drove back in her seafoam green car, Sabrina, and picked us up. From there we headed off to the Pilot office. The security at the building is much stricter now compared to when I worked there, so I had to call Carol to come down and get us, and sign us in for security badges.

It was really good to see her! She was one of my closest friends at the newspaper. She brought us back up to the sports department. Unfortunately, the sports editor, Chic Riebel, had left for the day already. Which I was bummed about because he and I had a great relationship and I really wanted to see him again.

When we walked into the sports department, Paul White, my closest friend at the paper, was on the phone with his back to us. Carol told me to go tap him on the shoulder, which I did. He turned around and very nearly jumped up out of his chair. Hee! He gesticulated wildly and gave me the "one minute" sign (he was on the phone doing an interview).

So instead I said hello to Lee Tolliver (fishing writer), and had a great li'l conversation with him. I said hello to Tom White (assistant sports editor at the Pilot, but I knew him from when I worked in Greensboro), and then stood by the cabinets with Carol, Teem and Nancy and just sort of talked about newsroom gossip/scuttlebutt type stuff. Then Rich Radford walked in and smiled and said, "I know you!" Still so good looking (just a little more grey at the temples) - "I know you too, handsome man!"

Paul still wasn't off the phone. Paul was on the phone for a long damn time, actually. Carol caught me up on everyone else I used to work with. I told her that she needed to find a way to get someone to leave, so I could come back.

Then, FINALLY, Paul was off the phone. He jumped up and ran over to me and gave me a bear hug. I hadn't seen nor talked to him since October, 2000 (when I was in town for a Tragically Hip concert). He grabbed my hand and dragged me downstairs, stopping at each landing to say things like, "Where have you been?" and "How are you?" and "Why haven't you called me?!?" It was funny. We sat down in the lunch room for about 10 minutes just talking about stuff, but I kept telling him that I had left two friends upstairs all alone, which was kind of rude.

Carol came in and said she would take care of Teem and Nancy (not in a mafia way, sheesh), but still, I just didn't want to stay downstairs talking to Paul while they stood up in the sports department having to kill time. So I got Paul's phone number and promised to call him later, and by that time Carol had brought Nancy and Teem downstairs. I said my goodbyes to Paul, and Carol followed us out to the parking lot. I wrote down all of my contact info for her and told her to stay in touch, especially if there's any "news" that I'd be interested in.

Then we left, because it was time to go to the mall and see hot men in skirts (i.e. the movie Troy).

Part II coming soon...

Posted by Highwaygirl on 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2004

I'm Baaaaaaaaack!

And I'm exhausted! But I had an incredibly fun time in Virginia with Teem and Nancy, who are both just as fun and friendly in person as they are online, and it was great to finally meet Blurry as well (but he needs a cell phone!).

I will be doing a series of posts over the next few days documenting my trip (with photos!), but for now I will bring you ...


Homer is gone. It is sad, but it is probably for the best. The other seven ducklings are looking very good. They all came right over after I threw down some seed when I got back this afternoon:





Posted by Highwaygirl on 04:50 PM | Comments (3)

June 03, 2004

Big Ol' Jet Airliner

I'm going on a vacation! Well, a long weekend to Virginia to visit Teem and Nancy and I will also be seeing Blurry on Saturday when we all meet up at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Much shopping is also on the schedule for the weekend, including my inaugural trip to IKEA and my second-only visit to Sephora. EEEEEEEEE!

We also plan on seeing Troy on Friday and Busch Gardens on Sunday. Oh, and I'm also dropping in on my former coworkers at the Virginian-Pilot on Friday.

Duck Count: Eight, with Homer not looking too bad today.

I probably will not update while I'm away, so I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'll be back on Monday, with photos!

Posted by Highwaygirl on 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2004

Laughter In the Rain

We had so much fun with this the other day, let's do it again - give me your captions for this photo:


Posted by Highwaygirl on 04:50 PM | Comments (20)

Poor Homer

When I came home for lunch the ducklings were under the tree having a snack. All eight present and accounted for, although Homer does not look well at all. He seems to be very weak now, although when I see him at night (around 7-8 p.m.) he looks a little stronger.

His behavior is off, though. He will occasionally swim away from the mother duck and the other ducklings, like he doesn't realize where he's going and that they aren't following. I was worried last night because he swam about 10 feet away from them and seemed to get lost in some reeds. But the family eventually caught up to him.

Unfortunately I think it's only a matter of time before we lose him. He's just too small (about half the size of the others) and too weak. There's obviously some underlying problem with the little guy, but if he doesn't succumb to that I think a predator of some sort will get him.

It makes me sad to watch him, the poor little thing.

ETA: I just spoke with a wildlife rehabilitator up in Tarpon Springs (just north of me) and he basically said that it's typical for there to be one runt in a clutch of ducklings, and that there is probably nothing that can be done for Homer even if I were able to catch him and bring him in. But if I wanted to try and bring Homer in, I'd have to bring ALL the babies in, not just the runt. I'm not sure why that is, but there you go. But I don't think that's a good idea - the other ducklings are healthy and strong and doing fine right where they are.

The man said that what will probably happen is the mother will try to run off and leave Homer behind at a point when he is too weak to follow. Which, honestly, makes me want to burst into tears even though I know that that is just how animals are.

It makes me think about my mom's cat, Punkin. I rescued her from underneath Dunedin Stadium when she was about 3 weeks old. The grounds crew had found her, abandoned by her mother. When we took Punkin to the doctor we found out why - her heart is on the wrong side of her body, and she has a bad heart murmur. The vet told us not to expect her to live more than six months.

This summer, Punkin will be 10 years old.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 12:25 PM | Comments (3)

June 01, 2004

That Book Meme

I stole this list from Teem's website, because I'm a stealer like that. Be forewarned, the list inside is long (but interesting).

That Book Meme

*bold those you've read
*italicise started-but-never-finished
*underline those you own but haven't gotten to yet

*add three of your own
*post to your journal

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. 1984, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King

54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles

231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen

234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
269. Witch of Black Bird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookman's Wake, John Dunning
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magic's Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magic's Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving
302. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lion's Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Lilith's Brood), Octavia Butler (Dawn, Adulthood Rites,
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton
341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime O'Neill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Inferno, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline L'Engle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
367. Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner
368. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

369. Dreamhouse, Alison Habens
370. Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
371. Prospero's Children, Jan Siegel
372. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
373. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
374. Enchantment, Orson Scott Card
375. Cetaganda, Lois McMaster Bujold
376. Beauty, Sheri S. Tepper
377. The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector
378. The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett
379. Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson.
380. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le'Guin
381. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb
382. The Axis Trilogy, Sara Douglass
383. Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie
384. Sabriel, Garth Nix
385. Maurice, E.M. Forster
386. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
387. The Wild Swans, by Peg Kerr
388. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
389. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
390. Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut
391. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
392. Angry Candy, by Harlan Ellison
393. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
394. Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem
395. The Brains of Rats - Michael Blumlein
396. Agent of Change – Steve Miller and Sharon Lee
397. The Diary of Anais Nin, Volume One
398. The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann Wyss
399. Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
400. North and South, John Jakes
401. Watchers, Dean Koontz
402. Death du Jour, Kathy Reichs
403. A Is for Alibi, Sue Grafton
404. Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell

Posted by Highwaygirl on 08:19 PM | Comments (1)


I have 665 comments on me site.

Sometimes I dislike the Bush Administration SO MUCH that I want to scream.

Duckling Count – Holding steady at eight.

If you're looking for some new music to listen to, I highly recommend the debut release of the English band Keane, Hopes and Fears. There is no guitarist in the band - it's just a singer, piano/keyboards and drums, but you wouldn't know it. You can listen to sound clips of some of the tracks on the Keane website. I especially like the tracks "Somewhere Only We Know" (Real | Media Player) and "This Is the Last Time" (Real | Media Player).

Damn, I had a PAOTD (Petty Annoyance of the Day) to talk about, and now I can't remember what it was. I guess it really was petty.

In preparation for my flight to Virginia on Friday leaving at the ass-crack of dawn (i.e. 6:45 a.m.), I have started going to bed at 9 p.m. and getting up at 5 a.m. I hope this will prepare me somewhat for getting up at 4 a.m. on Friday. I have to leave my apartment at 5 a.m. to get to the airport the recommended hour early. Bluh. And it's going to cost me about $30 for long-term parking fees. I hope Teem and Nancy appreciate all of my effort in coming to visit them!

We will be heading to D.C. on Saturday for sightseeing, shopping, and meeting up with ... wait for it ... you'll never believe it ...



... BLURRY!!

Oh, I need suggestions - what kinds of things are important to take in my carry-on bag when I fly to Virginia? I don't want to forget something that I'll need.

Posted by Highwaygirl on 02:50 PM | Comments (3)

Duck Patrol

Why must people be so stupid? And why do I find myself on the edge of embracing vigilante justice in an effort to protect my li'l flock o' ducks?

I was minding my own business last night, watching TV and folding clothes around 7 p.m. I heard some yelling outside so I looked out the living room windows. Directly across the pond from my apartment is the leasing office and community pool.

I see that there are two men on the grass near the pond. One is actually standing in the pond. The other is drinking a beer and apparently goading him from the bank. Then the drinking one throws the other guy's shoes into the pond. Then they both appear to want to wrestle each other.

So yeah, they're both drunk. And their friends are all cheering them on from the side of the pool (which is enclosed by an iron fence).

My first thought, of course, is "Where are the ducks?" The ducks are on the side of the pond near me, away from the drunken shenanigans. Ducks am smrt. So then the drunk guys wrestle in the water, and I see the mama start leading her ducklings down to the other end of the pond. I go out on my patio to watch.

Which is when I hear someone at the pool shout, "You should go get one of the ducks!"

One of the drunk guys starts swimming off after them. And you know what happens next.

I grab my camera and haul ass outside. I briskly walk down towards where the ducks are heading, and set up as if I'm going to take a photo. The idea being that this moron might be less likely to do something stupid if there's someone standing there with a camera.

So the yokel is about 10 feet away from the ducks (who are trying to get up on the bank), when we have this conversation:

Me: And what do you think YOU'RE doing?
Yokel: Just having fun!
Me: You know that the pond is full of chemicals, right?
Yokel: *blank look*
Me: Yeah, the maintenance guys put a bunch of chemicals in the water to inhibit algae growth and keep the pond clean.
Yokel: *blink*
Me: That's why the leasing agreement here specifically warns against swimming in the pond.
Yokel: What do they put in it?
Me: Ferrous nitrogen. Lots and lots of ferrous nitrogen. It's not really good for you.
Yokel: *standing very still* What does it do?
Me: Well, the longer you stay in the water, the more your testicles are going to shrink.
Yokel: No ... no WAY.
Me: *shrugs* Well, you'll see.

Now, I don't know what possesses me to do such things. Part of it was anger, part of it was the desire to scare the living daylights out of this dumbass. And no better way to scare a guy in his early 20s than by telling him what he's doing is going to make his testicles shrivel up like prunes.

He stood there looking at me for about five seconds and apparently decided that I wasn't totally making this shit up, because he practically launched himself back to the side of the pond from which he came.

The rest of the night I chuckled every time I thought about this guy obsessively checking his testicles to see if they'd shrunk. "Hey Joe, do my balls look smaller to you?" "No Dave, they're just as small as they always were."

Posted by Highwaygirl on 06:33 AM | Comments (4)