Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy (Recycled) Halloween

Sure, I used this same collage last year. But I still like it. And didn't have time to make anything new. :-(

P.S. - Happy Birthday, Beth!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Home Improvement Hits and Misses

It was a mixed bag this weekend on the home front. PDM and I each had a home improvement project to work on. The front door replacement took PDM and our friend Tim longer than expected and was a little more involved than they had planned on (nothing in this house is a standard size), but it is basically done now and looks great. All that is left is to paint the interior trim and the job will be complete. The ugly old front door wasn't even exterior grade, so this is a big improvement. The glass lets in a lot of light and brightens up the foyer. It looks pretty from the street at night when the house is lit up. And purely by accident, we happened to buy it on the weekend that was a sales tax holiday for energy efficient home items. Since the door was a special order (non-standard size for our non-standard home), it was expensive, so the sales tax savings was significant. If it keeps our house a little warmer in the winter, so much the better.

My "supposedly simple" little two-weekend bathroom project went horribly off track. The first weekend I had planned to strip the wallpaper in the tiny half-bath, prepare the walls in the full bath next to it for painting, and remove the shower doors. Next weekend, I was going to paint both bathrooms and recaulk the tub. I am already way behind schedule.

When I removed the wallpaper, which appears to have been on the walls for the entire 42 years that the house has existed, a whole lot of wallboard came along for the ride. You are probably thinking that I suck at wallpaper stripping and must not know what I am doing. Let me assure you that this is the not the case. I've successfully removed wallpaper several times in the past and was able to do so without mangling the underlying surfaces. Now I know why the wall in the other bathroom looks so crappy and is going to need so much repair before we paint. I am guessing that some wallpaper was removed in there, with similar results, and the previous owners just painted over it anyway. We're not going to be satisfied with that kind of worksmanship. I asked PDM to help, so he tried mudding over some of the bad spots. We'll sand it smooth when it dries and then evaluate the results. If that doesn't work, we'll have to go to Plan B. Plan B involves replacing the damaged wallboards, so I hope we don't have to go that far.

PDM, who is cooking dinner for us right now (chicken burritos), wanted to make sure I let y'all know that I called him in to fix my mangled bathroom wall project. I told him that I was honest about how the two projects went down. But just in case you missed it, I will say it again. "PDM's project went great, looks great, and is 95% done and won't be a hassle to finish. My project turned out to be a horrible mess that will drag on for weeks, and I had to get him to fix the stuff I did wrong, and it is going to be a monumental hassle to finish, and probably won't look that good when it is done. And now he is making my dinner." And he is smiling.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I'm not keeping up with reading your blogs or posting as often as I would like. It turns out that treating a family member, even palliatively, is very stressful. I'm not sleeping well, and feel all glassy-eyed and distracted when I am awake. I hope to get back to normal soon, although I am not confident enough to make promises about it. And aside from treating a family member, all four of our machines are due for annual testing and that is also taking up a lot of my time. Then on top of it all lies the slowly creeping crisis situation with Atlanta's water supply, leading to a further feeling of unease. Oh yeah, and our department is getting a new chairman in January. Who knows what changes that will bring? More unease and uncertainty. I wish I were one of those serene people who don't let things bother them. Unfortunately I am not that type. I am restless and tense. Not a patient person who can wait calmly to see how things turn out.

But this weekend, I have just the thing to help keep my mind off the turmoil: a home project! There are no Tech football games this Saturday or next, so I'll be stripping the yucky wallpaper off of the bathroom walls. The other bathroom needs to be scraped and sanded and have some drywall repair. We also have a new front door to pick up and install, and we want to take out the old glass shower doors. The next weekend after this one, I will paint the bathrooms and we will re-caulk the tub. Projects are good. They keep you busy and give you a sense of accomplishment, and make it a little easier to forget all the problems swirling around outside your door.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Disaster! Paratroopers! Crappy Video!

It's official: I live in a disaster area (and I feel fine). Actually we got a little bit of rain over the last 24 hours. Not enough to help the water table or lake levels, but we'll take whatever we can get.

In other disasters, Georgia Tech's star running back Tashard Choice was injured early in Saturday's game against Army. The latest word is that he needs surgery on his knee and will miss at least one game (the VT game, unfortunately). He is a tough player with a lot of heart, and I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

Speaking of football, we had a treat before the game when four paratroopers from Fort Benning landed on Georgia Tech's Grant Field during the pregame show. It was a lot of fun to watch (and lasted much longer than a flyover). I used my tiny little camera's movie function for the very first time, and created my first tiny little movie. Unfortunately, I kind of suck as a videographer, especially since my camera's LCD screen is completely useless in bright sunlight. I couldn't tell what I was pointing it at (apparently, not what I was aiming for most of the time). I cropped the really awful part (believe it or not). So I present, without further adieu (or excuses), my very first crappy little video, ever:

I hope my shaky camera work didn't just make y'all sick. By the time the last guy landed, I sorta had the hang of it. Mostly.

I'm still eating my vegetables, just so ya know. I tried LL's fried zucchini, Magnetbabe's sauteed green beans, and Jim's roasted cauliflower over the weekend. Everything was delicious. I took tonight off because PDM made Mulligatawny soup. Mmmmmmm.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Water Wars

Who knew that the silly movie Tank Girl had it right? It isn't oil that future humans will fight over. It is water.

Nearly the entire state of Georgia is experiencing "severe hydrological drought". Lake Lanier, a man-made lake, is Atlanta's main water supply. Inflows are controlled by Mother Nature. Outflows are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers. The same Corps that accidentally released 22 billion gallons of water in 2006, just as the drought was beginning, draining the lake two additional feet. Mistake notwithstanding, the Corps still controls the outflows, which are reported to be ten times larger than inflow. The outflows are mandated by federal law for downstream power plants and some sort of endangered mussel. State and federal sources say that there are about three month's worth of water stored in the lake, and if there is not a significant change in the weather, we will run out of water at that time. They are talking about lake levels that are so low they haven't been seen since the lake was originally filled.

The entire northern portion of the state is in a Level 4 drought, which calls for severe water use restrictions. (Georgia has a water plan in place that restricts water use even in plentiful times.) The state is considering even tougher measures. There is going to be a huge economic impact. There is no question that restrictions will go even deeper, especially for businesses. No other major metropolitan area, including frikkin' Las Vegas, has ever had to impose these type of measures. Meanwhile, Alabama has no water use restrictions whatsoever, and the Corps keeps sending billions of gallons downstream to them and to Florida. Normally I am sympathetic to environmental causes and endangered species concerns, but we cannot continue to supplement the natural flow by a factor of ten (and yes, the Corps in their infinite wisdom just RAISED this amount as inflows continue to decline). This is very scary stuff here. We are not talking about having green lawns. No, we are talking about being able to take showers, drink, and flush our toilets.

For our part, PDM and I are trying to conserve. Shorter showers, less rinsing of dishes, and more conscientious water use. I save gray water when I can to take outside and pour over shrubs and trees. I keep a pitcher by the sink for such purposes, and a bucket in the bathroom for shower water. But all of this crap makes me seriously think about having a well dug on my property. Not going to do that yet. But if the rain deficit continues, we may have no other choice. It is only a matter of time before further rationing sets in, and they attempt to restrict indoor water usage.

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Down... More To Go

Hmmm. It seems that picking out a Top 100 music list involves more work than I thought. It will take another day or two for me to come up with one. In the meantime, I am happy to report that I have purchased various and sundry vegetables with the intent of cooking up some of your recommendations. I decided to go roughly in order. So tonight I sauteed some baby spinach with garlic, salt and pepper (thanks, thewritegirl!). Even though PDM does not normally like cooked greens, he said he liked it, and I did too. I think next time I will use less oil and salt, and maybe a tad less garlic. But this one's a keeper! Next up: LL's fried zucchini. I also bought some asparagus (y'all had several ideas for this veggie) and a few sweet potatoes that I intend to roast.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I'm still thinking about my next post, which will be a response to Dave's Top 100 post. Unless I change my mind. I am a female, and reserve the prerogative to change my mind at any time, for any reason.

Some other things I am thinking about, in no particular order:

*Big Daddy
*Work, especially the changes associated with the new guy starting on Monday
*Specific things I need to get done at work by the end of the month at work, regardless of the personnel change
*Big Daddy
*New projects around the house (three in particular, coming up soon)
*What to cook for supper on Monday
*Why can't my cats get along?
*Big Daddy
*How to conserve water (north Georgia is in "exceptional drought" right now, and it is very scary)
*How can I keep my plants from dying?
*Buying some new shoes (what can I say... sometimes I am that shallow)
*Ending some heavy procrastination on several fronts
*Big Daddy
*Plans for next weekend and how to fit it all in
*My sister
*Big Daddy
*Music (see above)
*Holiday schedules and plans
*Why does my back hurt all the dang time?
*Big Daddy
*Why am I not sleepy at 11:21pm on Sunday night?
*Big Daddy

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Side Dishes That Don't Suck?

Help me out here (especially you vegetarians).

I've probably mentioned before what a great chef PDM is. He is into "cooking science", or knowing how the chemistry and physics of cooking works. His studies in that area enables him to "wing it" with fabulously successful results. I'm a mere mortal in the kitchen, but still manage to crank out a decent meal or two. Main courses in the Cosmic Cat household are succulent, creative feasts that sometimes border on art. There is but one glaring deficiency: vegetable side dishes.

Yes, I am sick to death of boring, banal sides like steamed broccoli or frozen corn. For all the effort put into the main course, there is a sad lack of attention and creativity when it comes to making side dishes. Once in a while one of us finds a decent recipe that isn't all that much trouble and makes some vegetable magic. When it happens, we "ooh" and "ahh" and think "that wasn't such a big deal to prepare". But our repertoire of those dishes is quite limited.

So I am asking for your help. Share recipes, ideas, sources of inspiration, cookbooks, etcetera. I am not looking for vegetarian main dish recipes. I'm looking for ideas for vegetable side dishes worthy of sitting side by side with PDM's meat masterpieces. Got any suggestions?

Monday, October 08, 2007

"SEO Theory" Is Just A Theory

But so is gravity, knucklehead. So listen up! Tiff was spreading bloggerly, linky love last week and some of it came my way. This meme is way to read some very fine posts and promote a few of your own. Below, you will find a list of blogs with three of their very best posts (or at least the three they most want to promote). To participate, simply copy the existing list and add your own blog and three stellar posts to the end. Tag a few people and you're done! You might pick up a few new readers or get hooked on one of the other blogs on the list. If nothing else, you'll increase your Technorati rank and authority and help your blog's self esteem.

Oh yeah, and "SEO" stands for search engine optimization, just in case you were wondering and too lazy to look it up.

Instructions from the originator:

"This seo meme was conceived and designed by Bobby at Revellian .com. This is a new fun seo meme ride for us all. This is based on the seo theory that links to posts inside your blog are more important than links to your home page. I have selected three posts I want to promote along with my site’s name. You will do the same thing.

Let’s keep it simple and spread our good work around to both share and build some ratings! Make sure you pick three posts that you feel are your best. You could also select 3 posts you simply want to promote. Your site name is listed with your 3 selected posts beneath.

Once you have your post up: Add the sites and post links of the folks you tagged onto your post. Try to add the site and post links to anyone involved to maximize the effectiveness. Tag a minimum of 5 people.

Try your best not to double tag people so it will spread better! Please actually read the posts from everyone so you can see some really good work from our beloved blogging friends! Make your title a little different from mine to avoid repetitive titles."

Instructions from Tiff:

"Links to posts inside your blog are more important than links to your home page. The players of the seo meme select three posts they want to promote, and adds their name and chosen posts to a list of links in their "taggers" post, then posting the whole list inside their blog. A minimum of 5 people are tagged by each new player. The new players are encouraged to read posts from everyone so that the work of fellow bloggers can be discovered and enjoyed."

The list of primo posts:

Revellian dot com - SEO Keywords For Beginners, Content: The Kings Illegitimate Stepchild, Tales of Blogger-X Illusion

Mariuca - Wishing On A Falling Star - Love In Disarray, In Love With A Dream, The Good Client

Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery - Perfume Shopping Spree, Defining Beauty, In Full Splendour

Speedcat Hollydale Page - Rocket Boy in Hawaii - DC9, Speedcat’s Death Ride into Terror!, The Boy Inside All Men

Terri Terri Quite Contrary - Just How Immature Are We?, Finding a Voice, So Much More to See than the Game

Mahala- Uncle Huberts Custom Cows, Pray for the Child at Big Lots, The Legend of Saushie's Crotch

Tiff - How am I like Ron Weasley, A Social Experiment, Absolutely Boring Entry 101

Cosmic Cat - Just An Ordinary Thursday Night..., Not Gone With The Wind. Just Gone., The "Weekly Thoughtful Reminder" And Other Hazards Of Working

Now for the fun part: Who do I tag? Well, I think everyone on my links list deserves recognition and awareness. I will name a few, but anyone who wants to do this meme should do it, invite or not. I will leave my fifth and upwards tags open to all who wish to participate. The other four tags are magnetbabe, dr. sardonicus, beth, and dave. Among other things, I am damn curious to see which three posts y'all pick to share with the world! One more thing.. Once all is said and done, add your post at Bobby’s site by leaving a comment at Revellian’s Best Posts SEO Meme.

Edited: I will be adding links that my tagged bloggers post so as to maximize all of the linky benefits! Just added magnetbabe's contribution.

Here are the Fantastic Posts from the friends I tagged, so check 'em out!

Field Lines - Even MIT Girls Get the Blues, Bye Bye, Friend, Bad Hair Day

Pole Hill Sanitarium: 756, Stocking Stuffer, Why It Matters

dave: Tryptophan and Thanksgiving Walls and History The More Things Change

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda...

Georgia Tech just broke my heart. Again.

Just like the Virginia game. Come back from waaaayyyyy behind and then lose the game at the very end. Stupid, stupid, stupid mistakes. That holding penalty just cost us the game. Fuck.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sooooo, the new work schedule really happened. None of the physicists have to cover multiple locations, and I am based at the main clinic full time. And so far, I have been slammed with work. I was the second one in today (out of four clinical physicists) and the last one to leave. There was no blog browsing leisure time, oh no. No checking of headlines or RSS feeds. I barely had time to glance at my email. I forced a break for lunch. I have a feeling it is going to be like that a lot of days. The main location is the best place for me professionally. I have a lot to learn and experience in this field before I take the remainder of my board exams. Main campus has the most toys and is usually first with the new technologies. Plus there are just more senior physicists from which to gain knowledge.

The feel of the place is different, with the personnel reassignments. It will take a while to settle out into a new normal. Plus we have a new hire coming soon, further changing the dynamic. I'm not entirely satisfied with the task assignments (I believe I am more capable than they seem to think I am, and that is frustrating - feeling left out of some of the more challenging duties, or being passed over for someone who already has a lot of the cooler stuff as their "territory"). Not sure how I will handle this if it continues. Direct confrontation is not my thing. I might be able to work my way into things by taking initiative and working directly with physicians on some researchy stuff. Gotta think about it some more, and finding the time for the extra work might be tough. I don't think I am imagining things, because someone else who has worked at this location had nearly identical complaints. There has to be a solution; I just have to find it.

Meanwhile, if I am reading or commenting on your blogs less frequently, please understand why.