Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buying Zombieland at Buy.Com - Maybe So!

I wrote a few days ago about how Vicki has a knack for finding bad TV. It happened again.

Last night, I entered the apartment to find her watching the credits to Lord of the Rings. OK, good enough.  We chatted about the kids and the weather and left the TV on the channel on which Lord of Rings had played.  Soon, we heard a teenage boy giving us important survival rules for when the zombie apocalypse arrives. The most important, it turns out, is the 'Double Tap" - never think you have killed the zombie on the first hit - always hit it again.  The movie, Zombieland,  drew us in.....it was a train-wreck and we could not look away.  The thing is, it was actually very entertaining. 

I have lifted the IMDB storyline description here rather than figuring out a better way to describe it myself:

Searching for family. In the early twenty-first century, zombies have taken over America. A shy and inexperienced college student in Texas has survived by following his 30 rules: such as "look in the back seat," "shoot twice," "avoid public restrooms." He decides to travel to Ohio to see if his parents are alive. He gets a ride with a boisterous zombie-hating good-old boy headed for Florida, and soon they confront a young woman whose sister has been bitten by a zombie and wants to be put out of her misery. The sisters were headed to an LA amusement park they've heard is zombie free. Can the kid from Ohio get to his family?

The movie is actually a comedy, not taking itself as a true horror film seriously at all.  Don't get me wrong, it is gruesome to watch blood-oozing zombies devour human flesh and be blown away/torn apart/smashed in a variety of ways....and yet, somehow, it is very entertaining.  Maybe because it is all done so matter-of-factly.  The characters are not surprised by any horrific scene they come across or task they must perform.  The movie plays a bit like a video game, and Woody Harrelson portrays the larger-than-life, good-ol' boy hero better than any true action hero ever would have. He often feels no need to carry a weapon, despite that there may be a mad flesh-eating monster pop out at him at any time. Instead, he just grabs whatever is handy and takes care of the problem.  Contrast his machismo with the geeky sidekick teen-age boy and you have a well-balanced team with both bringing strengths and weaknesses to the mix.  The fact that they team up with a pair of sisters, a couple of the remaining few humans of the non-zombie variety, adds some interesting depth, and humor.  

I looked up the movie today and found out it was released in 2009 and the DVD is on sale for $15 at Buy.com.  This might actually be worth owning to be able to watch more than once.  Not that you need it to follow the storyline, but there are a lot of one-liners worth another listen, and sometimes, a zombie movie is just the sort of mindless entertainment needed at the end of a long week.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Drugs, Guns and Stuffy Noses

Today I was reading a bit on phenterminewhich reminded me of pseudophedrine, which led to an article about how making the decongestant illegal, except by prescription, drastically reduced the crime rate in Oregon.  Pseudophedrine is a key ingredient in creating methamphetamine and it appears that out-lawing it may be the most effective method in reducing illegal meth labs (are there legal meth labs?) and lowering related crimes.  Some states have tried various forms of limiting the availability of the drug by making it only available in small quantities behind the pharmacy counter and by tracking, but those interested in manufacturing meth found ways around all the safety precautions and tracking attempts.

A NY Times opinion piece (How to Kill the Meth Monster - Nov. 10, 2010) explains that meth is highly addictive, dangerous and has devastated countless families and individuals and implies that simply making pseudophedrine only available by prescription, or not at all,  is an effective way to drastically reduce the problem.

On the one hand, I agree. It is probably true. I doubt it would be hard to find statistics to back up the thesis. On the other hand, why should I have to go to a doctor (and pay the co-pay and be exposed to all the other sick people in the waiting room) to get a prescription for something I know I need (now at a higher cost because it is by prescription only - supply and demand at work here) that I can currently pick up fairly easily?  I live on the border between Oregon and Washington. In Oregon, you cannot buy pseudophedrine over the counter. The substitutes suck...that is, they do not relieve my nasal congestion.  In Washington, I simply ask my pharmacist for the medication, sign something attesting to my identity, age, weight, height, religious affiliation, and my mother's permission to buy the medication (tracking to make sure I do not buy a suspicious amount of the meth-making ingredient), make my purchase and soon have my nasal congestion under control.  Is it right that my ability to do that is possibly going to be eliminated because a group of drug addicts and criminals want to use the drug to manufacture an illegal substance?

Is this another form of the gun control laws argument?  Those who are going to use a gun/a drug/ heck - even a vehicle, properly are going to go it. Those who choose not to are breaking the laws.  Why are we considering taking away the rights from those not abusing the system because we cannot control those who do abuse it.

Ah, guess that last line answers my own question.

Holiday Food Temptations

The Holiday treats have started appearing at work, and on TV, and in the stores and at the restaurants....Everything looks so good!  I may need to read up on how to suppress appetite during the Holidays!  Last night was a fundraiser for the kids's school at Burgerville, a local fast food restaurant.  Casey reminded me that the pumpkin shakes are amazing, so Vicki and I shared one, and I have to say, it will be difficult not to drop by another time or two while the special flavor is still available. I am not a huge pumpkin fan - not really into pumpkin lattes or ice cream, and I like pie, but it is more about the Cool Whip and crust than the filling. That said, these shakes taste just like you are eating a slice of pumpkin pie. The only thing missing is the crust. I seriously wanted to dip a piece of pie crust into the shake to complete the experience!  If you like pumpkin pie and live near a Burgerville, you really have to try one of their pumpkin shakes. Tis the season!

Friday Mystery

Where is everyone?

Maybe it is not so much of a mystery that I am at work today, but a lot of people do not seem to be. It's been dark, rainy and somewhat quiet all week.  Some folks have been out sick.  Now, it is finally Friday, and maybe coming in to work did not seems necessary.  It is lunch....I still need to grab something to eat......but the office is very quiet.  My supervisor brought his big dog to work.  He is a sweetie - the dog, not the supervisor.

There is a long line of closed doors along one hall - proof that few of our administrators chose to come to work today.  Those that are here seems to be not so much working.....I hear a conversation about a dog jumping on the bed.  No other conversations.  No phones ringing. No one walking in the hallway.

Surely, I must have some work to do....but first, where is my yogurt? *grin*

Shopping has Begun

I made my first online purchase of the season today!  Was that a Silver Bell I just heard?  It feels good to have set the wheels in motion.  Last night, I had Vicki and Kelton spend some time together evaluating Wii games online to figure out which ones he really was interested in, and I think we have those narrowed down.  After her bath, Kaylen was begging me for hints about what I am getting her for Christmas....so that was a perfect time to get more ideas out of her....."Well, what would you like?"

I think my shopping list is starting to crystalize more, and even includes ideas for my Mom for the kids. Believe it or not, that list of ideas includes dress shirts and ties for Kelton, because he really enjoys dressing up for school sometimes.  Maybe over the next week, the after-Thanksgiving ads will provide me with the last few ideas I need before I make the real purchasing decisions!

The Art of Watching TV

I admit I used to be quite the TV addict. About all I seemed to have energy for after work, school and kids, was watching TV. (Yes, Casey was the same way....and yes, perhaps there was an element of our downfall in there.)  Ever since moving out though, I do not watch much TV.  There are a couple shows I kept up on last winter, and now I am only down to keeping up with Cougar Town.  Hey - I like a good comedy - and Courtney Cox is pretty fun to watch!  

I still watch some TV, surfing when I am in the mood, and I do like to watch movies, but it is not an every night thing. Vicki, on the other hand, has pretty much never watched TV.  She has watched a couple series - like Xena and Buffy, and she does watch professional football - but beyond that - TV is sort of an oddity for her. She is fascinated by the quantity of channels and variety of shows.  However, and this was news to me, I have found there is a skill to finding quality shows, and she does not have it.  (Sorry, Hon.)

Often Vicki visits the kids with me on my weeknights with them. Sometimes though, she stays to work, and when I come in late, she has found the remote control and is watching some bizarre show that she cannot explain to me.  I have watched her surf and she finds the weirdest stuff that I would not think to stop and pause for....maybe because I know better.  I know there are quality shows out there - well-written, good actors...etc....but when she surfs, and even sometimes when we surf together....the bad shows dominate. Let me just say that several times the movie, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" has come across our TV screen. Yes, it is as good as it sounds.  (You did catch the sarcasm, there, right?)

Anyway, maybe we are better served keeping off the TV and searching online instead for obx vacation rentals and planning our next trip to Powell's Books...

Free Weekend!

This weekend, the kids are with Casey, and part of her family is coming down to visit. Kelton and Kaylen are very excited about seeing their cousins.  So, I can be sure the kids will be having a great time while I spend the weekend doing nothing or everything or anything. It is a NO PLANS weekend!

Well, there is one plan - catch up on some sleep.  Some early-morning phone calls and late work nights have meant not a lot of sleep at the apartment this week, so sleep is definitely in order.  Beyond that - the days are an open slate. Exciting!

OK, I do need a haircut.
We may be in for a Harry Potter weekend.....trying to watch all the previous movies (again) before going to see the new one.
Maybe read, surf the net, read ads about lipofusedo some online Christmas shopping, or help Vicki learn to find the good stuff on TV rather than the very strange shows she ends up finding....(that is a post in itself!)...who knows? Right now, it is lunch time, and I can feel the free-time inching my way as I work through this rainy Friday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bring it on!

Has anyone seen any of those cute electric "fireplaces" or "wood stoves"?  I saw one the other day that was under $100 and about the size of a microwave. It was so cute!  I think something a little bigger would be better, but what a nice way to make a home free a bit more cozy for the winter!

I wonder if the top gets warm enough to put a pot of water on to keep the air moist?  Have to watch that with kids around, of course, but moist air is supposed to cut down on colds and other air-borne illnesses. As heaters, these things get really good reviews, plus they look nice.

 Hmmm,....I am thinking about a decorative stove, a tree, Christmas decorations, shopping...it appears I am embracing the season!


So, now I have to figure out where to do most of my on-line shopping.  I suspect I will start with Amazon.com.  I can take care of a variety of things there -  toys, games, books, kitchen gadgets - just about anything. I like to be able to order enough at once to get free shipping. If I am careful, maybe I can get most of my shopping done there, and only venture beyond for a few things.  I am happy to report nothing heavy is being ordered this year - no weights, no need for a power lift chairor anything else requiring a back-brace to lift and a loan to pay the shipping costs!   I like to have most of the things I am looking for magically appear from UPS, and then be able to just go out to the mall, or wherever, to enjoy the atmosphere and pick up a "want" here and there, rather than desperately rushing through the stores for "must haves."  Too much stress!

The Wish Lists

Casey and I started comparing present ideas for the kids today.  They have pretty much told us the same things, so no surprises.  It is tough figuring out who gets them what and what Christmas Day will look like.  It appears the tree is likely to have a variety of Wii games under it this year, perhaps some Legos, pink and purple things. I am happy to report no one is looking for Ferrari partsunless they are part of a Lego set, that is! Both kids are into the Legos this year, especially Kelton.  He has gotten really good at building the models, and then just mixing the pieces all together to make his own creations.  It is fun watching the contraptions he comes up with! Reminds me of when I used to build things as a kid - which is really fun.  He also likes building together, which is even more fun!

It's Raining, It's Pouring....

Oh my goodness have we had rain!  Last night, on our way to Powell's Books, we really could have used a boat rather than the car. There were two puddles....no....LAKES.....that I was not sure we were going to make it through.  I was happy Vicki was driving. I hate that kind of stuff - snow, ice, standing water....Ugh!  I did not hear how much rain we got yesterday, but heard 10" of new snow in the mountains.  It was nearly clear for a bit this morning, which was nice to get a bit of daylight.  That is over now.  It is dark and rainy again.  

One good thing about the rain is the sound on the roof.  I don't imagine even www.bestsleepingpills.org has anything that could help a person sleep any better than the soothing sound of rain on the roof.  I love falling asleep to that sound.  Judging by the view out of my office window, I will be hearing that sound again tonight!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Disney on Ice

I uploaded pictures from my camera today and found some from Disney on Ice, the Japanese Garden and OMSI.  The Disney on Ice adventure was last month - Casey and I took the kids and they both LOVED it! We took the light rail train to the coliseum so we would not have to worry about parking, and that was fun because the kids, who are now experienced riders, were able to teach Casey about it.

Disney knows family entertainment - no doubt about that.  Everything from the costumes and music to the fabulous ice skaters and general storyline was fun for all.  The very best parts were watching the kids' sheer delight as they noticed characters they recognized, familiar music, and interacted in the audience participation parts.  I took many pictures and not many turned out - but I did capture a few magical moments.

Fall Cleaning

I felt productive today.  Over the past few weeks, or so, I have brought a few boxes and bags over from the house to try to make room in the apartment.  Today - I actually unpacked things that had been stacking up, made room, started a Goodwill bag.....and even did a bit of cooking and cleaning.  As the winter sets in, I guess I am feeling like I will be inside more, and need the apartment to feel more like a home.  I did not go so far as to polish the bathroom faucetbut I did vacuum, clean counters, hung some pictures of the kids, and a tapestry Vicki and I bought on our recent trip to the Japanese Gardens.  The place feels good tonight - cleaner, more things on the walls, more like home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Recovering from the Weekend

No, I was not overindulging in anything but kid-fun and Life!  The weekend got off to a fun start after I picked up the kids on Friday night.  Vicki, kids and I headed over to my sister's house where most of the family gathered to visit with some relatives from Canada that we rarely see.  There were 8 kids under 11....or was it 11 kids under 8?  It was loud and crazy in a small space with about 15 or so adults and the 8 kids....but the really good part is the kids are old enough and get along well-enough to play somewhat unsupervised.  That is, they can play for a bit before an adult needs to make sure they are not inflicting too much damage on the house or each other.  Kelton thought to take along paper and foam stickers for everyone, and that was a good activity for 20-30 minutes. Yeah!  I was able to make my way around and say "hi" to everyone while Vicki and my computer geek nephew talked  managed hosting services, or gigabytes or secured servers or some such techno stuff, and the kids played.  We ate, we drank wine, we visited...and when it was time to get the kids home for bed, they were quite disappointed that it was time to go.

The next day brought the new adventure, for us, of geo-caching.  Since my GPS was stolen, we had to just use maps and clues on a website, but still found 3 of 4 caches, and had to give up due to darkness on the 5th, so it did not count.  :)  The kids swapped treasures in the caches they found - take one out, put one in - and had a good time playing this modern version of treasure-hunting. 

Sunday we filled with breakfast, homework and a day-long trip to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry).  It is like a hands-on science museum.  It was exhausting and fun and maybe even a bit educational.  By the time I returned them to Casey safe and sound last night, they were very tired kids, wired from too much fun and not wanting to go to bed, but tired.  Yes, I stayed until they were asleep.  I don't just wire them up and drop them off.  :)  Good weekend. Now I need a nap!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Japanese Gardens

Yesterday Vicki and I spent some time at the Japanese Gardens.  We had not been expecting that it was free admission day, but it was, which meant A LOT of people were there. So, it could have been a more peaceful experience, but it was still enjoyable. The foliage is still changing...so some bright orange and reds were still visible among the browns and greens.  I most enjoyed the water features - ponds, fountains, waterfalls, and the interesting stone paths.  I love the way different textures and materials can be used in ways that are functional and beautiful.

Here is one of my favorite pictures from the day.

Isn't the surface of the water remarkable?

Happy Weekend!

Computers at Buy.com

I am not a computer geek. I like computers when they are working. I do not enjoy them when trouble-shooting or repairs must be undertaken.  Casey recently had to send the household computer in for repair.  It has not ended well.  I am working on possibly getting money back from the guy that did not fix the computer. I will save the gory details and leave it for now at this - the household computer that Casey and the kids can now use is an old one that has been in the garage for the past 3 (?) years.

Casey should have asked Vicki to fix the computer, but a communication error between Casey and I happened, and well.....now Casey and the kids have a very old computer they are working on...Ugh..

I was wondering what a new computer costs these days. Not that we can afford to buy one....just wondering.  I found this Dell at Buy.com.  It is under $400...slices, dices, runs around the track, has super kinetic teleporting gizmo devices and....oh, wait....that might not be quite right. Like I said - no t a computer geek.  Here are the specs:

Dell Vostro 468-5909 Desktop PC, Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 (2.93GHz), 2GB DDR3 Memory, 160GB HDD, DVD Super Multi-Drive, Windows 7 Professional

Let the Shopping Begin!

How did it get to be the time of year that I need to start Christmas shopping, or maybe already should have?!  I am starting to get junk email about 25% off here and free shipping over there, and realizing I probably should be opening those emails instead of hitting "delete" so quickly.  I  actually did open one today from a place that has things like nostalgic toys, Christmas ornaments, kitchen gadgets and  personalized baseball bats.  I have not ordered anything yet, but I probably will soon.  I need to have the kids bring the mail order catalogs they have been browsing over to the apartment this weekend so I can get some ideas of the things they really want, as opposed to the kind of want.   So hard to know what they will actually still be interested in a week after Christmas...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

As the Seasons Change

Wow, how time flies - whether or not you are having fun.  It is hard to believe that the end of this month marks one year since Casey and I broke up.  So much has changed. I have now almost been through all four seasons as a divorced mom, a parent who does not live primarily with her kids, a person trying to make it outside of the security of the small family and home that had been built over years.  What else?  A lawyer -  I passed the bar about a year ago.  A partner of a new person in a relationship that started 8 months ago. Wow - looking at it that way, anyone should wonder what the heck I was thinking, getting into a relationship just a few months after my marriage ended....but it wasn't that way. I was not looking at all. Neither was Vicki. The relationship found us.  The mother of a child with difficulties adjusting to school - yes - Casey has shouldered most of the burden, and I guess the fact she has been job-free and able to do that is sort of a blessing in disguise.

Much of this year has been fun and exciting....being out on my own, experiencing the world in a new way, traveling, meeting new people, doing new things.  Other things have been hard though - being the "outside" parent, the one not kissing the kids goodnight every night, struggling to figure out the right ways to interact with Casey and how to be good co-parents and ex-partners, being forced to work part-time in a job I'd had for over 7 years, not finding work in my new chosen profession, living without my dogs,  and living in a small apartment after being in houses for most of  the past 20 years.  I think that will be hard this winter. It was fun being in a trendy, fun neighborhood during the warm weather, but once the cold sets in, walking outside to do my laundry, taking groceries up the outside stairs, being confined to a very small space will probably not be nearly as amusing.  Oh, well, as with all things - there is good and bad. Without the harder things, we'd not appreciate the easy ones, right?  There are good things ahead.  Can't you feel it? I can!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Watches at Buy.Com

You know I am always on the look-out for a good-looking watch, and here I have found one on a terrific sale - normally the price is around $150, but now available, with shipping, for under $60.  Looks like a great deal in time for Christmas!

This is a Kenneth Cole, which I am fairly sure if I followed fashion at all, would mean something to me.  What matters to me is that it looks cool - and is really functional.  The gears are visible, which I find intriguing, there are mother-of-pearl accents, and the watch itself is stainless steel. This is a self-wind watch, and (here comes the beauty part) water-resistant to 99 feet. The bracelet-type band has a fold-over clasp with a safety button for extra security.  

I don't really care about name brands, and high-priced gear.  It makes me nervous to think about wearing a watch worth over a couple hundred dollars - they can so easily get scratched or whatever. I don't like being careful with my jewelry, but I also don't want to damage my favorite pieces, so a great price on a decent watch is an exciting find. This is definitely a sharp-looking watch that I would be proud to add to my collection.

The L Word - at Buy.com

It is no secret that I enjoyed the ShowTime Series, The L Word.  Although some of the six season were not as outstanding as others, overall, it was a quality show that entertained. Some folks wanted more - for it to represent all lesbians, for it to uplift and educate, but ultimately, TV is about entertainment, and it was always entertaining.  The show's main characters tended towards those with a very feminine look and an upper middle-class lifestyle. Even those without glamorous jobs still tended towards high end fun, fashion, and didn't seem to let work get in their way much.  The best thing about the show though, was simply that it was about lesbians living life - they got into and out of relationships, dealt with having kids, having and losing jobs, dealing with friendship, diseases and death.  It was nice to see people at least somewhat like me on the screen once a week.  It was validating.  People not in a minority group do not know what it is like to not see yourself portrayed on television. How many shows star Koreans, Hispanics or African Americans?  The fact that your mind may have picked out one or two in each category highlights that those were probably unique rather than the norm.  If you are not white, middle class, you may not see many models validating your life on TV.

I really enjoyed The L Word, even at it's most frustrating, when characters were doing stupid things, or the writing seemed weak. Often it was excellent - so forgiving some slips was not inconceivable.  The entire six seasons are available in one collection and can be found on sale for under $150, possibly less.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Falling for the colors

I need to remember my real camera.  The fall colors have been spectacular this year!  I am enjoying them so much, especially on the sunny days!  My Blackberry does a decent job on some things, but leaves are not one of them.  Still, these turned out kind of cool....almost like a watercolor effect:

Halloween Report

 Trunk-or-Treat at the kids's school. We transformed the back of my car into a graveyard complete with tombstones, spiders, dried leaves, and scattered bones.  The knife in the skull was cause to bring out the crime scene tape....flashing strobe lights were also in order.

In the top picture, Mario was passing out candy to his school mates after he had already made his rounds to the 30-50 participating vehicles.

The last picture was on Halloween night as the kids were just starting their doorbell-ringing adventure.  Mario and Princess Aurora made quite the haul!

Monday, November 01, 2010

OK, I am lifting this...ah...sharing this....directly from CNN Commentator, David Frum.  It makes me oddly happy, thinking back on some of the BIG Halloween parties I attended in Seattle in my early to mid-20's....

Halloween is overwhelmingly an adult holiday. This year, for example, Americans spent an estimated $800 million on costumes for children, $1 billion on costumes for adults. Where did that adult dress-up party begin?
As best we can tell: in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood. In the 1970s, that neighborhood emerged as the heart of a new home-owning, bourgeois, coupled gay community. A local variety store had long sponsored a Halloween street festival for kids. In the 1970s, the street festival transitioned into an adult party of lavish costumed theatricality. The "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" -- a troupe of transvestite nuns -- got their start here.
The Castro Halloween party spread to other gay neighborhoods in the 1980s: Greenwich Village, West Hollywood, Key West, Florida. In 1994, University of Florida anthropologist Jerry Kugelmass published a book on the new trend, "Masked Culture," describing Halloween as an emerging gay "high holiday."
And after a while -- the straights imitated.

Here is the link to the full article: