Sunday, December 31, 2006

Amateur Photography /Thanks Santa!

Santa brought me this

I've been a bit picture happy over the last week and since I haven't been feeling very writing happy I thought I'd share a few pictures from my trip out to the Eureka Sand Dunes with cousin Adam and his girlfriend Nicky. These big mountains of sand sit in Eastern California surrounded by a number of mountain ranges and look ridiculously out of place. Coming up highway 168 from Bishop we passed through snow dusted hills and joshua tree forests and then suddenly the sand dunes appeared -- they practically glowed against the mountains.

We spent a few hours trudging up sand (ridiculously difficult!) and then jumping/sliding down (scary at first and then AWESOME) -- next time we'll bring sleds.

Looking toward the the White Mountains from the Eureka Sand Dunes

Bird tracks and waves in the sand! I think the mountain in the background is part of the Chance Mountains which means that Scotty's Castle and Death Vally is just over yonder.

Another view back at the whites -- home is on the other side of those mountains.

Adam, mid flight.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Getting Back to my Roots: Klesla

Klesla is a religion in my Dad’s family (no, we’re not huge hockey fans as google would have you believe). The must have replacement for mashed potatoes in every holiday meal these dumplings are essentially German gnocchi and only have three ingredients: potatoes, flour and egg. The egg is mostly optional and the source of much discussion at family gatherings – it helps bring the dough together but if you add just the right amount of flour you shouldn’t really need it – as a klesla newbie I’m a fan of the egg. You’ll need to rice the potatoes which requires a potato ricer – I’m not positive if this is a unitasker but I know of no other use for the contraption, luckily the’re pretty cheap.

I think yesterday was my first foray into solo klesla making and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I didn’t work enough flour into the dough and the dumplings came out a bit mushy. I’m overly sensitive when it comes to cooking and this minor setback (I won’t say failure since the klesla still got eaten) left me in a bit of a pout. Klesla should be solid and sliceable even when hot and when piled in a serving dish the dumplings should not stick together.


3lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (Russets are also fine)

2-2.5cups flour

1 egg

Boil the potatoes until just fork tender (if they get to mashable you’ve gone too far). Let the boiled potatoes cool then peel and rice. Add one egg and ½ cup of flour to the riced potatoes and knead to bring together. Continue adding flour ½ cup at a time until the dough is shiny and elastic (mom’s words). Bring a large pot of water to boil. Divide the dough in half and roll into two 3 inch think ropes. Cut the ropes on an angle into 3 inch potions (just like how you'd cut a baguette -- the idea is maximum surface area). Drop the dumplings into the boiling water and cook until they rise to the top. Slice into bite sized pieces and serve with gravy (I have at least one cousin that forgoes gravy for butter).

Left over klesla is a prized breakfast treat – cut into bite sized pieces and fry in a little butter or oil – I like mine with a fried egg.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Craft 2006

Now that Christmas is here I'm free to reveal the craft project of the year.

(Excuse this lame picture-- turns out Picassa's collage feature is a bit pathetic and Mom and Dad's computer doesn't have any other image editor save MSpaint, add to that the horribly bad photo management capabilities of blogger and this was the best I could do.)

I had a ridiculously good time experimenting with freezer paper stencils (directions here). As you can see I got into a heart theme (though if you saunter over to Flickr you'll see that there were a few other designs). I don't usually think of myself as very artistically gifted but this project was easy enough that my creative vision was not too limited by lack of skill. I actually have a few extra shirts and ideas kicking around and may continue this experiment in the new year -- let me know if you want a shirt sent to you, I can only wear so many myself (though maybe this is my chance to make a fortune on Etsy).

Merry Christmas too all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


One of my biggest pet peeves is people who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. Lately, this seems to be almost everyone. KFed got all of the underwear as part of the divorce settlement. Hot coffee is always sneaking up on laps. The attitude of “not my fault” seems to have infected our society; no one is personally responsibly for anything anymore. Since mistakes always belong to someone else, none of us are ever wrong. This is most obvious (and most maddening) in politicians, all of whom seem to refuse to admit any mistakes. Of course we made them this way, our society demands a “decider” who won’t back down. While I often find myself wishing for a leader who can admit that mistakes were made (we know everyone makes mistakes, never admitting any just proves that you’re a liar) we are not a forgiving culture. Today, apologizing almost always results in being fired.

I am no hypocrite (at least not in this instance I did almost buy leggings last week…next I’ll be claiming formal shorts are cute. Baa.). I try not to expect others to do things that I am not at least trying to accomplish myself. I own my mistakes. When something has gone wrong in my life I am quick to ask what I did to cause it, what I could have done to avoid it and what can now be done to fix it. This is usually a good thing. Owning my problems gives me a feeling of control and pro-actively searching for a solution usually expedites finding one. But, realistically, I cannot be fully responsible for all of the pain in my life and I cannot fix everything. Other people and bad luck should occasionally be blamed for their own mistakes and the cruelty of happenstance.

I suspect it might be easier to acknowledge that I cannot control everything if I believed in some higher power. If a malicious God were out to get me I could be mad at him. If a benevolent deity were in charge I could assume that the pain I feel today is part of some grand plan that will bring unknowable happiness someday in the future. Additionally this would allow me to be less annoyed with the rest of humanity. An evil force would certainly be the best explanation for Applebees (no steak is improved by a thick coating of cheese whiz. there is no such thing as riblettes.).

Perhaps I would have accepted my lack of control years ago if I hadn’t lead such a charmed life. Thus far I have been able to control most things so that I’ve only had to beat myself up over a few minor details. My life is still pretty cushy but the minor details are bothering me more. It’s the same issues coming up over and over again and eventually they wear a girl down. I think if I could stop feeling responsible for every aspect of my life I could learn to be happier with myself.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Seeing Clearly

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon this post about buying glasses online (something I will be trying out in 07 because even if the glasses suck I’ll happily pay $30 just to have something to blog about -- I'm considering these).

Today I went to the eye doctor for the second time in two weeks. My last visit was mainly the routine eye check up with a little complaining about my eyes stinging thrown in for spice. It turns out my eyes were stinging because they were dry because… I SLEEP WITH MY EYES OPEN! I'm a freak! Or so I thought… turns out that about 20% of people sleep with their eyes open and more than likely (since I have yet to wake up to a boyfriend screaming “zombie beast I renounce you!”) I sleep with my eyes open just a small crack – much like The Blair Witch Project sleeping with your eyes open doesn’t live up to the hype.

At this first eye appointment I was able to procure a new glasses prescription but when I asked for a contact lens prescription I was told I’d have to come back for a fitting. This seemed slightly weird since all of my previous contact lens prescription getting has only required holding out my hand post eye exam. The doctor wanted me to consider switching to daily disposables so I figured that this required some sort of fitting that my 2 week disposables (actual average disposal schedule: 4-6 weeks) could do without. So I made a second appointment to trek up to the Upper East Side in the middle of the day to visit the eye doctor.

When I arrived the doctor told me to throw away the lenses I had in my eyes (you will soon see that this was a ploy used to lower my defenses by making me blind), then she told me that I had the choice between the standard daily disposables and a new kind that should help keep moisture in my eyes. Moisture lenses seemed like a good idea for someone with a night time paranoia problem.

Eye Doctor Lady: Ok, they’re slightly more expensive

Brianna: How much more?

EDL: Well the standard package is $300 and these are $400, that includes the fitting and 3 months of lenses.

I was somehow able to contain my thoughts in my head so that they didn’t spew out all over the examination room but I’ll now share them with you.


My current lenses come in packages of 6 for $20 so a yearly supply should run me just over $173 (actual yearly cost due to me ignoring the suggested disposal time: ~$58). Unless someone was going to offer a very compelling reason why these new lenses were going to change my life I wasn’t ready to pay more than twice the cost for ¼ of the product (who knew contacts were so much like bras?).

This is the part of the story where Brianna overcomes her self esteem issues for a short moment and instead of just accepting the reality of paying $400 for dubious amounts of improvement she actually stands up for herself. If you see me later in the week remember to pat me on the back. Keep in mind that I’m having this entire conversation while pretty much blind – perhaps not being able to see the other person’s face made standing up for myself easier – perhaps I should forgo lenses all together in favor of self esteem (I love saving money!).

B: I don’t understand why this is so expensive, in the past I have never paid extra for a contact lens prescription

EDL: Well this is a fitting

B: Ok, I’ve never paid extra for a fitting

EDL: Well you get 3 months of lenses too

B: But I don’t want that, I just want a prescription then I’ll buy the contacts somewhere else

EDL: Well I think our price is competitive

(this must be a lie – I just looked up the regular Acuvue daily lenses on and a 3 month supply is ~$68)

B: Well I’d like to have the opportunity to shop around.

At this point EDL left the room. She gave no indication of where she was going or when she’d be back. Wow, I thought, I am SCARY. She came back about 5 minutes later with a EDG (eye doctor gentleman) who I guess acts as the clean up crew after a battle is lost because he just asked me two questions, told EDL to get me some free lenses, and wrote me a prescription. End of appointment.

Lens fittings? Code for “rip off.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On the 10th Anniversary of Carl Sagan's Death

I was probably born a skeptic (oh sure mom, you *say* squash is good for me but you also seem to think that a baby brother was an awesome idea.) but my natural inquisitive nature (But why? But why? But why?) didn’t blossom into the cynical eye rolling fun that you see today until I read Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunted World.”

In junior high and high school my steady diet of Christopher Pike novels led to the somewhat common geeky desire to flirt with the occult – I went through a very amusing “I want to be a witch!” phase (and people wonder why I was still a virgin at graduation time…) and fantasized about a career as a “parapsychologist” (That is the most embarrassing thing that I have ever written.) until my Dad announced that he would not be funding a degree is such nonsense. I think most teens (even most people) want to believe in magic – teenage life tends to suck a lot(unless you’re having one of those enchanted adolescent experiences) and a little spell casting or alien abduction could certainly have helped out with bullies or boys. To make matters worse the media seems insistent on presenting fantastical stories in the light of real science (I think things are actually better than they were when Sagan was alive – shows like Myth Busters and Penn and Teller: Bullshit! seem to be helping to clarify what is science).

The biggest revelation that “The Demon Haunted World” inspired was the idea that the real world is already so fantastic that we shouldn’t need to make up stories. Reality is amazing. The fact that all the pieces of the universe fit together to create stars and planets and earth and forests and life is infinitely more exciting then any story about magic (The Lord of the Rings excepted – that’s some awesome fantasy with one hot elf piece of ass). I also find the reliability of science appealing, things happen in a consistent manner even if we don’t always understand the why or how (I realize this might make things seem less special but I’d argue that consistency is pretty damn special to begin with). I am constantly trying to force this book on others (somewhat unsuccessfully I might add – no one seems interested in reading a science book *sigh*), I feel like if everyone were able to see our universe as wonderful they would have no need for astrology and crystals and Nostradamus and society could get on with advancing instead of dreamily devoting energies to pseudoscience.

While criticizing pseudoscience Sagan is very careful not to trample on any of the world’s dominant religions (if I remember correctly he has very few qualms about offending Wiccans and followers of fairies) but it seems that religion is currently the biggest threat to science. I hate to fall into the trap of speaking for the dead but I think we all know that Carl (not to mention the founding fathers and Elvis) would not be happy with the way we currently side step science when it comes to politically controversial (though not factually controversial...) issues such as euthanasia, evolution and contraception. Religion should be used as a crutch not as an excuse to lie (Why am I so tempted to end this sentence with “to children”? Please try not to lie to anyone.).

Woo – got a bit preachy and off track there.

Everyone – please read “The Demon Haunted World,” it is awesome. I’d offer to read some mumbo jumbo about numerology in trade but I’d be lying and I just got done advocating against that.

you can read more musings on Sagan here

Monday, December 18, 2006

Game Anticipation

The holiday season hasn’t brought many new DS releases worth coveting. I’m probably going to buy Yoshi’s Island or Gunpey for the plane trip home but I can't say I’m very excited about either option. Poking around the rumor mill I did find a couple of in production games that I cannot wait for

Black and White Creatures

I'm so happy to see this game headed for my little white bundle of joy. I was impressed with the first PC installment to the point of obsession and it seems like a great fit for the DS (game can be played in short installments; game doesn’t really require huge displays of graphical power…).

Unsolicited advice: Black and White had two key game design problems that caused me to quit the game at level 3 (of 4):

1. Casting spells was a pain in the ass because you had to learn to move the mouse in a designated pattern to “draw” cryptic symbols – performing magic should be challenging but it should not result in carpel tunnel.

2. Training the creature was boring and time consuming and seemed relatively unimportant in levels 1 and 2 – then I hit level 3 and suddenly couldn’t function. Frankly, I couldn’t have done without the creature entirely.

The stylus should be a huge improvement on the mouse when it comes to casting spells so I’m convinced that hurdle has probably been jumped but someone over at Lion better be improving the creature training model. Either make it fun (yes, fun – it is a GAME after all, not my job) or make it optional (The fact that the game is called "Black & White Creatures doesn't seem very promising).

Robo Park

Cutesy and very Japanese Chibi Robo was my second favorite Game Cube game of 06 (no one could beat out Mario Tennis) and I’m super excited to see it coming to the DS. I think the outdoor element has the potential to introduce some interesting new environment challenges and playing gardener beats maid most days. The screen shots also imply that the game designers have played around with different input options for the touch screen which I'm intregued by.

Unsolicited Advice: Chibi Robo gets a bit repetitive – in order to get happy points I had to scrub the floor obsessively and after a while it felt like a job, in the DS version I’d like a little more fun (there’s that word again) and a little less drudgery.

Wishing and Hoping

Could someone please start working on DS versions of the following?


Please?!? It’s already a Nintendo franchise and I fantasize about flicking pikmin at enemies using the stylus.


This could be a challenge since Katamari’s soul may be owned by Sony but the stylus could offer lots of new rolling potential and bouncing from screen to screen sounds like so much fun (hey, it worked for Sonic Rush).

Taiko Drum Master

I think Ouendan (aka Elite Beat Agents only better) proved that the DS is a great medium for rhythm based games and in my opinion drum master beats guitar hero.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cappuccino Christmas Cookies

My mother started making these around ten years ago to include in her elaborate Christmas gift baskets (dried fruit, homemade jam, spaghetti sauce ... honestly everyone should start kissing up to my mom in hopes of being blessed next year with some of the '07 bounty). While the cookies are not traditionally christmas-y (no peppermint or nutmeg or rolling pins are used) for me they've become one of the harbingers of the holidays. Even though I'm too late to officially enter the What Was I Thinking? Cookie Exchange I figured I'd share the recipe anyway (perhaps there are other late season baker's out there).

The following recipe was written for a hand mixer but this year I let my kitchen aide do the dirty work and everything turned out just fine.

Cappuccino Cookies
(makes about 4 and 1/2 dozen)

2C firmly packed light brown sugar
1C butter-flavored vegetable shortening
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rum extract
3C flour
2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Beat sugar and shortening till blended; Beat in eggs, milk,and both extracts. In another bowl combine flour, coffee, cream of tartar, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. With mixer at low speed add flour mixture to shortening mixture and blend. Divide the dough in half and roll into two logs app. 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 3 hours (or overnight). oven temp 350. Slice cookies 1/4 inch thick and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

User Focused Design

My recent promotion had me slightly unsatisfied with the 400 or so business cards sitting on my desk bearing my old (lesser) job title. I was feeling worried that people would judge me based on this false information until I gave some serious thought to what I use my business cards for – then I realized that none of the information on the card (save my phone number) is at all useful. I’ve decided to ask for two new cards that more accurately address their intended uses.

For Entering drawings for free sandwiches

Brianna – 555-3663
Likes PB&J with strawberry J
allergic to melons

For very awkwardly delivering my digits to boys

Brianna – 555-2883
Much cooler than I seem
Don’t bother if you have low tolerance for awful television

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bringing you the important news of the day

I have a new favorite website: WorldNetDaily. Today they bring us two very important stories about how to raise heterosexual boys with big penises and girls who run from all penises.

A Devil Food is Turning Our Kids Into Homosexuals

(aka “Jimmy-Bobby put down that tofutti right this instant!”)

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them. – Crazy Mofo ( aka Jim Rutz)

This news leaves me shocked that Japan has been able to sustain its population.

Shouldn’t this lead to a disproportionate amount of bottle fed babies turning into big flaming tofu lovin’ queers? (Think about *that* next time you see a breast feeding mother – I mean sure you have to suffer through the agony of her feeding her baby in public but at least you know she’s only doing it to save the world from the evil gays).

Book Review: Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters

How long has America been waiting for this sort of advice? Would that my parents had been given a copy before my own virtue was ripped from my loins!

Through stories, allegories, illustrations, and memory-making projects, "Raising Maidens of Virtue" covers topics such as guarding the tongue, idleness, sibling relationships, honoring parents, contentment, modesty, purity, cleanliness, and feminine biblical beauty.

I don’t know what half of those things are (memory making projects? feminine biblical beauty?!?!) but damned if they don’t sound mighty nice!

Mothers and daughters alike will experience the wonder and charm of the enchanting maiden years through the winsome watercolor vignettes of Johannah Bluedorn!

I’m not sure whose maiden years these people are talking about but “enchanting” is not a word that I would use to describe my adolescence. Also I’m pretty sure no artist has yet to create the water color vignette that captures the beauty of the following events (but if they have I think you know what to get me for Christmas!):

  • The day a 7th grade boy grabbed bosom on the playground just to check if I stuff my bra
  • The time my pediatrician demanded I take a pregnancy test before he’d give me medicine for my horribly ugly acne (Dear Doctor: being 15, on the math team, and having acne that requires prescription medicine is all the birth control I need, thanks!)
  • The time my “friends” refused to let me come with them to homecoming unless I got myself a boyfriend (2 days should be plenty of time if you really apply yourself!)

Monday, December 11, 2006

This is an Abomination

Snowman Kit

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Random Recommends 3

The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family by Dan Savage

An excerpt from this book appears in the This American Life episode I recommended a couple of weeks ago -- I was worried that the rest of the book could not measure up in comparison to the emotional brilliance of the radio program but luckily I was wrong. I wish I could force the entire country to read this book -- I do not think it would be possible to be against gay marriage after getting such a touching inside glimpse into Dan and Terry's relationship. In addition to being poignant and touching the book is also incredibly funny -- You should be reading it instead of my boring blog.

KrisTees -24-01 23rd Ave Astoria New York

KrisTees opened up a couple of months ago just a few blocks from my home and while the miserly old woman who lives in my pocketbook normally avoids any store without a sale rack my quickly failing search for a Christmas dress tempted me into visiting last weekend. At Kristees I was able to use the following excuses to justify purchasing the adorable (if slightly pricey) red dress you see pictured at left:

1. Two Christmas parties to attend and no red dresses in my closet
2. I'll be supporting a local merchant!
3. I just got a raise... I deserve a slightly pricey dress.
4. Once Christmas is over I could totally wear this to work over jeans.
5. I look hot. (in general even if not in this picture...)

Method Aroma Capsule

Let's hear it for the first random want to migrate into a recommendation! Gillian picked up a pear scented capsule for me at Target a couple of weeks ago and the offensive moldy smell is all but gone! The pear smell is a huge improvement, however it is a little too bed and breakfast-y for my taste. The capsule claims to be good for 6 weeks and I think come January I'll replace pears with something a little less fruity -- the lavender and lemon grass sound tempting.

Soma FM Christmas in Frisco

I am a sucker for the holidays -- I love baking cookies and decorating and buying presents and these activities are made all the more enjoyable when backed up with soundtrack of Christmas tunes. The problem is that you can only hear "Silent Night" so many times before it starts to grate. Enter Soma FM (who's indie pop rocks station I've long been a fan of) -- this year they have a streaming Christmas station. Christmas in Frisco plays a great mix of new rock-y Christmas tunes (right now on the song history: "All I want for Christmas (is to get Krunk)" and "jingle bell surf") along with the old tunes that bring back Christmas at my grandma and grandpa's (where they used to make the grandkids sing for their presents). If this station is not big enough to fill all of your holiday music needs you should also check out Maybe This Christmas

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If You See This Boy Be Gentle

From the Times article on the Grammys:

“…adult-friendly pop singer John Mayer..”

Ouch. I can only assume this is Johnny’s saddest day ever. Unless he’s Mr. Bright Side and read that as “pop singer and kinky sex aficionado John Mayer” instead of “stale, easy listening, mom-friendly pop singer John Mayer.”

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I have an affinity for really bad TV.

I know what you’re thinking. How bad could it be? Bad. Ridiculously bad. Amy’s secret tv pleasure is 7th Heaven (don’t lie Amy, you love that show) and even she is disgusted at some of the things I choose to watch. Lately the junkfood of my TV world is The Girls Next Door.

Yeah. I’ll pause while you reassess your image of me (I assume that in addition to “cool” and “has good taste” things like “feminist” are also coming off of the list).

For those of you who have not watched this show (hello, EVERYONE) allow me to summarize:

It’s a “reality” program that follows the lives of 3 of Hugh Heffner’s “girlfriends.” These are random blonde girls with fake boobies who live in the mansion and go to events with Hugh. No one (except for Holly…) believe that Hugh is actually in a relationship with any of these women. Up until this show got “famous” (discussing this show involves lots of quote marks) none of the “girlfriends” had actually appeared in Playboy – they were all playboy try out rejects. I think he has like 7 “girlfriends” – apparently the other 4 still want their mothers to love them because they don’t appear on the show. Allow me to summarize the characters’ personalities with a 100% made up sentence that each might say.

Holly: Baby Puffin (aka Hef – I am not making this nickname up) is my best friend, he totally likes me more than the other girls. Everyone knows I’m his real girlfriend.

Bridget: you have the cutie-wotie-est vagina ever in the world wide world! And your boobs look like little kitten eyes, I just wanna hug ‘em!

Kendra: Let’s play naked gangsta football! I just got new blingtastic pasties!

Hugh: Get off my lawn!

I cannot explain my fascination with this show. I think it’s related to my fascination with all things vaguely freakish (Mormons, renaissance fair, zebroids, Sandra Lee, my hair..) and there’s certainly an element of “Car wreck! Must not stop staring!” but every Sunday night at 11pm I think “oh, Girls Next Door!!!” I have too much pride to Tivo this show – electronics are very judge-y and I’d hate to ruin their spotless image of how cool I am.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Equine Math

As someone who grew up in the "Mule Capital of the World" I found this story about a mule who gave birth fascinating.

Fertile Mules? God does not allow such blasphemy!

But he does! He did! SIXTY times since 1927! Forgive my exuberance but I think this may be a sign that he’s now totally ok with gay marriage.

Yes, I know this is interesting to me alone…. what can I say? I love anything verging on freakish and hybrids seem almost sci fi.

Wikipedia offers the following shocking equine math:

Female Horse + Male Donkey = Mule (common)

Male Horse + Female Donkey = Hinny (less common)

Female Mule + Male Horse = Horse (usually – and also: CRAZY)!

Apparently there is no record of fertile male mules (suckers!).

At Mules Days in the past I have also seen:

Male Horse + Female Zebra = Zorse

Female Horse + Male Zebra = Zebroid (there is some controversy between the math on the hybrid page and the math on the zebroid page, it's possible a zebroid is just Boy Zebra + anything)

Wikipedia hybrid page here -- let's hear it for the freaks!

Monday, December 04, 2006

False Pressure

I don't feel much like writing today -- I've started my Christmas craft project which is currently satisfying/overwhelming the part of my brain that feeds off of projects thus relegating blogging to the back burner. "Oh Brianna, blogging is sooooo November," my little brain cells moan. Well, all of the little brain cells except for the judge-y ones. They're saying, "Oh sure, 4 days into December and you're already quitting your new hobby. Quitter. Big fat lazy quitter."

I am on purpose not extending "post every day" into the month that involves Christmas mainly because I'm fairly certain a few days out of this month may leave me internet-less. I do not yet know how I will survive this fate, however I have chosen not to make it worse by breaking a promise. I don't really cut myself any slack when it comes to promises (or wearing brown shoes with black pants, or getting places on time, or ... most things). So I didn't promise to post in December, secretly I thought I'd post at least 3 times a week but now... it feels like such a failure to break my 33 day straight blog posting run.

It is perhaps more of a failure to force you lovely people into reading this drivel every day for the rest of the month. At I'm safe from the judge-y cells -- I never promised to be entertaining.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

If You're Gonna Play the Game, Girl, You Gotta Learn to Play it Right

I graduated from college in 2000 at the very end of the dot com boom. I interviewed a lot during the spring and summer of that year – graduating with a Comp Sci degree at this time meant that interviewing was ridiculously fun. I was flown around the country and ate a lot of nice meals – at once point I commented to a friend that interviewing was the best job ever. I eventually settled on a position programming graphics for video slot machines partially because the whole dot com business plan seems suspect to me (I won’t claim that I foresaw the bubble burst but I was cautious enough to avoid the whole scene – not that it mattered, I was still jobless come 2002) and partially because slot machines were vaguely related to video games but mostly because I’m a sucker for a job with a high novelty factor. The job made for great ice breaker talk -- people loved to chat about slot machines and I enjoyed being the novelty act . Ironically, I hate gambling.

Growing up I spent a lot of time in Reno and Las Vegas where they had not only casinos but shopping malls and airports and the National Finals Rodeo (none of these things were available four hours away in my home town). Nights at the Peppermill or the Tropicana were usually spent enjoying the luxury of hotel TV while mom and dad partook of the pleasure of video poker. Today, when my parents meet me in Vegas Dad often puts money into a machine next to him and implores me to gamble for just a little while. I like hanging out with my dad so I humor him but I usually pocket half of the money and slip off to the pool after an hour or so. I don’t like gambling mostly because I don’t believe in winning. Everyone knows that the house always wins but somehow most people still believe that luck will shine on them.

My year and half of intimate contact with the inner workings of slots decimated any belief I might have had in luck. Slot machine mechanics leave no room for chance. Table games seem more promising – there is no equation in the background sealing the odds against you and the presence of human opponents makes the game more open to error. Poker, they say, is more about reading people than it is about luck. It’s probably lucky that I am not tempted to put money on my ability to tell what people are thinking. I’ve never been an empath, people are usually a mystery to me. Unfortunately reading people is a gamble that remains important outside of casinos. I think my doubting of luck and my inability to read people are both extensions of being the type of person who would end up as a programmer to begin with. I know luck is involved when you pull the handle of a slot machine not only because I have been the watchmaker but because even without first hand knowledge I know that the machines are deliberately constructed to make the house win. I do not know what people are thinking because brains (and hearts and souls…) have no program to follow. Even when I successfully catch on to what others are thinking I never know how to react and, not being able to predict the likely response to my action leaves me feeling like reacting at all is too much of a gamble to risk.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

NaBloPoMo: Taking Self Obsession To New Heights

Blogging every day for an entire month has been much more rewarding than I had expected. I’ve found that if I make myself think about writing I usually find I have something to say. The most obvious lesson that so much blogging has taught me (And most likely all of you) is that I am ridiculously self involved. As a result of this charming personality trait I have become obsessed with site meter. I average 23 hits a day, and while half of those are me correcting typos I still feel pretty damn popular. Site meter has also taught me a lot about the audience I am reaching. I like to believe that my readers are a motley band of admirers but in reality I know I’m mostly talking to my mom, the girl who sits next to me at work, and 3-4 very bored friends. Site meter has taught me that there are also a few strangers out there -- most of whom find my blog through random web searches. I suspect they are all greatly disappointed in what they find here but the rest of you can be assured that if you ever lose your bookmarks or tags my blog can be found through any of the following web searches:

Female Dork” (5th hit -- this is clearly my niche, there are only 4 female dorks more google-able than me!)

"Britney Spears getting out of a car" (3rd hit) (this is the most popular way to find my blog, no less than 5 very disappointed naked beaver seekers ended up here through this method)

whatdoes a 32c breasts look like pictures” (5th hit -- this 13 year old boy must have been the most disappointed of all, clearly his parents are forcing aol parental controls on him and mom took away the Victoria Secret catalogs he had hidden under the mattress. An now this: My blog looks like boobie gold -- there are at least 2 posts on this blog about my boobs -- and yet no pictures -- I'm sorry, I know hormones are a bitch) (typo not mine (for once) -- do I sense a little once handed typing?)

Updated to include this last minute gem:

"sandra lee's panties" (7th hit)

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Devil Comes to Kwanzaa

As promised I bring you proof of the horrors that transpired last night...

This was not a recommended "Tip" or "Idea" from Pillsbury's icing department. I promise you that even though the recipe asks you to stir your icing and brown stuff in a bowl Sandra NEVER uses a bowl to stir in icing fixins' (something she is a huge huge proponent of).

Bonus Sandra Knowledge: Did you know that if you add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to cool whip it tastes EXACTLY like real whipped cream?

Let the hellish sprinkling begin! With the help of my third cocktail I began layering on the first circle of cake hell starting with pumpkin seeds.

While shopping for the ingredients (if I can be so bold as to use such an official term to refer to things like cornnuts) we often felt tempted to buy other things to add to the cake -- once you've committed to sprinkling popcorn on a cake you become kind of eager to try anything -- we almost bought sprinkles thinking that so much sprinkling should not be possible without actual sprinkles. For the sake of preserving the brown we resisted.

I apologize if this close up image is too much for some readers to handle -- I debated sparing your eyes and stomachs but if i had to eat apple pie filling and pop corn in the same bite you guys at least have to suffer through the visual.

Here it is, the moment of doom -- giggles and gags coming out all at once.

Bring in the replacement dessert. Nothing washes down Kwanzaa like "black and tan" ice cream.

Happy Holidays -- may your god bless you during this joyous season and keep Sandra Lee far far away from your celebratory foods.