Saturday, January 31, 2009

Outstanding Yak Refrigerator Cleaner

**Ominous Beginnings
Sometimes it really sucks being right about something. Even though I was betting that Sheri would end up with a migraine when she went out for the day with Donna, I was hoping it wouldn't happen. And apparently, her day went well until the car ride home. Staring into the setting sun would tend to be aggravating for anyone, much less someone prone to migraines. And, lo and behold, even though she was in good spirits when she got home, as the evening wore on, it was obvious that a migraine was settling in. The odd part about this time was that instead of being stubborn for no practical reason and trying to stay up, she actually took her medication and went to bed. And then slept for 12 hours straight. Should have known that was an indicator of some kind for what was to come.

**Tis a Silly Place
We woke up to a bitterly cold Sunday morning with her a little fuzzy around the edges, but otherwise pretty much ready to go. After gassing up the car and liberating some fundage from the bank, we grabbed our tickets to the show, directions to where we wanted to go, and snacks for the road and began droning east on I-88. The plan was pretty much to go east until we were 2 blocks from the lake and hang a right. Simple, right? Should have been, but between her suffering from the lingering effects of her migraine, and me having my usual anxiety about driving with all the psychos on the interstate, a couple spats occurred, and a turn or two was missed. Not that there was any great problem that arose from either of those events, it just tends to happen when we travel. We still ended up right about a block from the theater, as planned, with about a half an hour before the show, also as planned. And that was a freakin cold block to walk, I tell you.
I had never been to this particular theater before, but I wasn't too impressed with the way the icy wind would blow through the lobby each and every time someone came in any one of the multiple doors that opened out onto the street. I also found it odd that the building seemed to be settling at a lot of slight, but differing, angles.
Our seats were in the first balcony of what I would call a classic old theater. It was one of those balconies where when you step out of the little hallway leading to the seats and it seems like the aisle slopes downward away from you at like an 85 degree angle. Made me feel like if I was to trip that momentum and gravity would cause me to roll and bounce down the aisle, over the railing, and onto the main floor 23,652 feet below.
Our seats weren't really that bad, and the slight sense of vertigo dissipated once we sat down. We were just to the left of center, about six rows from the rail. View to the stage was good, but it still would have been nice to have some opera glasses, as it was really hard to scope out which dancer was the cutest from where we were. The show was great and somehow managed to incorporate just about all the classic bits from the film. My only complaint was what I perceived of as a slight lack of scantily clad dancing girls. The French taunters just seemed like they were just having waaaaay too much fun. The disco number had me laughing so hard I was crying. I don't think I would mind seeing the whole thing again. However, I fart in the general direction of Wicked.

**Now, That Is One Big Ku!
Once the show was over, it was once more out into the damned cold to get into the car and head north in search of Polynesia. And we managed to find it on north State street. Trader Vic's, one of the originators of the whole tiki/Hawaiian movement in the states, has opened in it's new location. I was so geeking out. Never mind that when we got in the door the first two things I saw were a Hawaiian tiki that had to have been 10 feet tall, and a rather stunning hostess. I was afraid that my head was simply going to start spinning in circles until it popped off. I had found one corner of Nirvana.
The dining room had not yet opened when we arrived, so we were seated in the bar area, where I found that everything in the area simply needed to be looked at and/or touched. Only the former was applied to the hostess, while both were used on just about everything in arm's reach. It was a slice of classic tiki heaven. A bit on the upscale side, not too heavy on the kitsch, but nicely done and very comfortable. Huge tiki statues around every corner and bamboo and tapa cloth on nearly every surface. Unfortunately, the dim lighting made it basically impossible to get and good pictures. But Larry was thrilled to meet some of his distant cousins. Larry also proved to be just interesting enough to draw the attention of the lovely hostess. Turns out she is not only native Hawaiian, she has two degrees. Wow. It was rather hard to not spontaneously drool. I did give her my card, though. It may not have been completely drool-free.
For the dinner part of the evening, I opted for the roasted vegetable curry, while Sheri chose the duck breast. Everything was delicious, right down to the fortune cookies and chocolates that appeared with the check. So, stuffed with yummy food, hopped up on coffee, visually overloaded, and really not wanting to leave, it was back out into the viciously cold night. I had managed to get away not only with leftovers, but a drink menu, a bar coaster, a swizzle stick, and a business card. All were things not nailed down in any substantial manner. Sheri simply would not agree to making a distraction whilst I made off with one of the large tikis, however. Not to mention that would have been the hernia heard round the world had I even attempted such a feat. So, with a last glance over my shoulder, this vision of urban Polynesia disappeared from sight, and my dream hostess with it. But, as the Arctic wind blasted through my clothes, I was sure of two things. Number one being that I knew I would return. Number two being that I was sure I had displayed a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm for the place and what it stood for. Furthermore, I couldn't care in the least.

**A Case Of The Mondays??
0600 Monday morning is when the dogs decided it would be a good time to go outside. I was not pleased with this decision. Sheri obligingly swung out of bed, shrugged on her robe, and after the briefest of pauses, made a stumbling dash for her bathroom, hand clamped over mouth. The next thing I heard was not at all what I had hoped to be hearing at that moment. To simplify the next six hours, and to spare you, dear reader, let's just say that she under went an extended and enthusiastic digestive system purge from both available orifices. Not good. Not good for a normal person, but really not good for a diabetic. By noon I was quite concerned with the situation, and was trying to decide if a visit to the ER was in order. Her blood sugar was normal, but nothing had gone into her system and stayed except for a few bits of crushed ice. I had two hours to figure out what to do before I was supposed to start getting ready for work.
It was when she started complaining of leg cramps that I pretty much decided that it was time to take her in to get checked out. And I know she was feeling totally awful, because she didn't even try to fight the idea. I called in to work, and then it was into the car and off to the hospital. After what seemed to be a long wait to be seen by the doctor, the day proceeded to get even longer. In the end, the score ended up being 1 bad IV start, 1 restick for a second IV, 2 liters of fluid onboard before she even had the slightest need to pee, 1 diagnosis of gastritis, and a heart rate that never got below 125 in 8 hours.
By the time 10PM rolled around, Sheri was near desperate to go home. She had finished her second bag of IV fluids, but her pulse hadn't gone down much at all. After having me assist her in removing the IV, the doctor came in to see her one last time. She must have sensed how fruitless it would have been to try and get her to stay, because she checked her pulse one last time and discharged her, telling her to follow up with her regular physician.
The next day, Sheri saw her normal doctor, who confirmed what we had already thought: the most likely cause was food poisoning. This was a bit odd, since we had basically shared pretty much all that we had eaten for the past two days. That pointed the finger in the general area of the duck from Trader Vic's, which I had only tried one piece of, and the vegetables that came with it, which I had none of. Whatever it was, it hit her and her alone. As much as I don't want to think it was the food from Trader Vic's, it does seem to be the leading contender. The increased heart rate had no good explanation.

**WARNING: Do Not Ignite And Insert Sideways Into Rectum!!
People are stupid and they aggravate me. Art should not come with warning labels. Chainsaws, maybe, and ninjas definitely, but not art. It was recently pointed out to me by someone who also lives in my house, that the tiki I'm donating for the charity auction is a bit top heavy. I knew this. Most of the time when I had it on display, it was leaned against a wall at a slight angle. Not that it won't stand on it's own, but it could be knocked over fairly easily when standing free. So, the question that came up was how I intended to address this situation. My rather simplistic answer was that I hadn't intended to address it at all. It was then pointed out to me that my creation was indeed capable of crushing small humanoids, should they happen to be in the way when it decided to lay down. I had to admit this was indeed a possibility. The issue of insuring a decent presentation at the auction also came up. The most obvious solution, in my opinion, was simply 'caveat emptor'. This was not agreed upon in the least. The opposing position was a stand or brace of some kind to reduce the issue of possible topplage. The idea of making some kind of permanent mount for it rubs me raw to no end. Should whomever buys it wish to do so, that would then be their prerogative, but I don't want to do it myself. But I do want it to show well and be sold for lots and lots and lots of money. Therefore, I may have to grudgingly devise some type of prop or stand. I may also do so out of a very slight want to not be responsible for any crushed munchkins. But dammit, I'm not gonna be happy about it.

**You know it's been too damn cold when 30 degrees feels like summer.

**Electronic Museum
My insurance agent had suggested quite a while ago that I should catalog my collection for insurance purposes. Sounded like a good idea at the time. Then I actually started doing it, and realized what a gargantuan job it was going to be. Five years of collecting has added up to a vast amount of items in an incredible variety of sizes and values. I think I had managed to catalog and photograph 2 whole boxes of stuff, which is a very small part of the whole collection, before I gave up and moved on to things that were more entertaining to me. Now I find myself revisiting the idea with the thought of moving just such a photo gallery online. The critical point would become finding somewhere that would basically let me have unlimited storage space, 'cause I got a lot of stuff to take pictures of. Guess I'll have to do some research on my week off. I should probably figure out how to take decent pictures, too. Might also be a good way for people to have some vague idea of just what the hell it is I collect. And there is the added possible side effect of potentially making other collectors jealous.

**Who waits almost a week to eat candy they're given? Seriously??

**I thought I had found the next stock piece that I was going to carve, but I may be taking on a commission piece, should I be able to figure out how to do it.

**Hope Kittyluv is feeling a bit better now. Honk!

**Doesn't look like I'll be going anywhere too far from home during my week off, and as usual, mountains of paperwork hunker silently in the office, awaiting my attention. The creeping mounds of clutter in the studio could stand to be beaten back a tad, as well. And I can but hope that much art will be done.

**Game On?
I'm hoping to get at least one game night in over my break, if not a couple. Got a couple of people interested, so it's looking good for at least one session. I need to touch base with Forrest and see what he's got going on. I can probably drag Big Bri out, as long as it isn't Thursday.

**Sharpie + post its + person overly attached to their car = great mischief potential. How can I resist?

**Squeeze Time
Not one, not two, but three awesome hotties were kind enough to gift me with multiple enthusiastic hugs this week. Mmmmm, makes me feel tingly all over.

**Why the hell the scrub bucket was where it was, I have no idea.

**Holy express elevator to hell, Batman! My 410k value has nosedived big time in the last quarter.

**A care package will soon be on it's way to IN. Hopefully it will find it's way through all the snow and past the censorship board.

**T-Shirt Philosophy
One of my purchases from the show was a T-shirt. I bought it because I found it amusing, but the depth of it sunk in for me later, and I can only wonder how intentional that may have been. On this simple black shirt, in rather plain white lettering it says, quite simply, "I'm not dead yet". Funny in the context of the show and movie, and yet strangely resonant for me on a completely different level. Time to get up, get going, and kick some ass. Why? Because I'm not dead yet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meet Larry....

Here's the latest effort to come out of the studio. It's done in maple, a stick from one of the trees in the back yard. He's about 7" tall and about 1.25" wide. A fairly simple design that took a week or so to do. At the moment I have no plans to stain or otherwise color it. The almost bone white color is an interesting contrast to the majority of pieces in my collection. I had also considered doing a 'Ghost Tiki' line since I have access to more wood of this same type and quality.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Riddled With Persimmons

**Fandom or Fan Dumb?
Some purchases I made over the past couple of weeks have made me start to question my position on things.

**Marsha, Marsha, Marsha
"Woah, not since the Brady Bunch went to Hawaii episode have I seen a TIKI so cool........" An exact quote, and the oddest compliment I have received in quite some time, courtesy of one of the folks at TAILS upon getting a picture I sent them of the finished tiki that I'm donating. (see previous post)

**6 Down
Thus far, six boxes full of various things have left the house in the form of donations. A slight clearing is starting to become noticeable in the downstairs clutter.

**I still have no bongo drums.

**Spamsicles And Zomig
The next wave of Arctic coldness is due to settle into the area starting Friday night and continuing through the weekend. That would be the weekend I have off. That would also be the weekend we're supposed to go see Spamalot. Go figure. The original plan was to take the train into Chicago and then just toddle around for a bit until it was time for the show. I have no intention of doing any toddling whatsoever in sub-zero temperatures. The notion of driving in has also reared it's head, for reasons I'm not quite sure of. And just to complicate things even further, Sheri is in the midst of another one of her digestive episodes. If that continues, that would most likely knock going to Trader Vic's off the list. I was already banking on her getting a migraine at some point during the Chicago excursion, but this recurrent stomach issue has the potential to kill our weekend plans, and who knows how much else, completely. A hospital stay for her would certainly eliminate our chances at a matinee. The flip side would be shuffling around downtown Chicago half frozen with an incredibly stubborn someone who's nearly doubled over with pain and trying to not vomit. At the moment, I find that I am not holding on to great hopes for a positive outcome to the weekend.

**Unexpected Hotness
What is up with Facebook this week?? My list of friends is enjoying a surge of attractive female additions, from high school crushes to ex-lab employees. I'm just tickled pink. Nor would I mind horribly being tickled by any one of them. Just saying....

**Trending Lower
Sheri's work schedule continues to thin out as her client's holiday bills start coming due, and the economy continues to slide. Some people are increasing the amount of time between their appointments, while others are just stopping altogether. Both of which end up having a negative impact on our cash flow, which in turn makes me quite cranky.

**Seek And Ye Shall Find. But Do You Want To?
Must be that time of year again. Having random thoughts wondering about my birth parents. In the end, I just fall back to the position that if either one of them wanted to know who I was, they'd have made an effort to find me by now. If they're alive. The nice thing about thinking about it that way is that it lets me play the hapless victim. I don't really have to acknowledge that the whole notion of meeting either one of those people is somewhat terrifying. Nor do I have to put any effort forth. I can just blame two total strangers for not incurring all the costs and enduring all the emotions involved with finding me. Sounds fair, right?

The Finished Product

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oddly Balanced And Reeking Of Lemons

**But What Are You Going To Do With It?
Got my second haircut in a decade or so today. The primary gripe that had been floating around the house before today is that I hadn't made a decision on a style. This has kept me somewhat puzzled. Have they changed the rules of haircuttery since last I had this done? Is it now mandatory that you have some definitive vision before they can crop your locks? I had just intended to let my hair grow. The general style that I would have had in mind was 'grown', followed by a sub-descriptor of 'long'. Not like I want it sculpted into the shape of a flamingo or something. I don't intend on having anything that requires extensive effort as far as styling goes. And to that end, I have already made the statement that the minute it gets to the point that it starts to irritate me or consume too much of my time, it's all coming off again. Sheri became most pissy when I said that. Mostly because she knows that I am full well capable of going into the bathroom with a full head of hair, and coming out with none. When I first started shaving my head it was done without any consultation or warning, so it really took her by surprise. The notion that I could do that again at any given moment doesn't sit real well with her. But for now, the hair remains in place and continues to grow in a rather styleless, but trimmed, manner.

**Passing Ships
Finally had my holiday get together with the Pirate Queen today. A bit of low key conversation over breakfast along with pancakes for the Raspberry Kid. Not at all bad, just would have been better later in the day.

**Since When Does 11 Feel Like Spring?
The sub-zero air has finally moved off to the east, and temps have grudgingly stumbled back into the low double digits. Those 11 positive Fahrenheit degrees feel great. I could end up being damn near orgasmic if it gets above freezing and there's a little bit of sunshine. But, if I hear just one more Floridian whining that it got down to fifty some odd degrees, I may begin a strict and active regimen of boot-to-ass applications in the sunshine state.

**A Horse For A Hawk?
In the midst of financial turmoil, the last thing I would have ever expected was a horse. I can sure appreciate the idea of having a dream, but I really hope that this doesn't end up costing her more than she bargained for.

**Need to call Cromag and see how he weathered last week's cold snap. Hoping that there were no incidences of frozen pipes, or anything else, and that the heaters managed to do the job.

**Jeweltiger is in the midst of an absolute dating frenzy. Seems that Bloomington was a bit of a bust though.

**Maybe It Was The Fumes
The donation tiki is very close to completion. The color of the stain has mellowed a bit, and I find myself being less displeased with it than I was. In fact, I'm actually bordering on not disliking it. Given enough time, I might get to actually like it. This will most likely happen in the day or two just before the auction. In any event, all that's left to do is to stain the very bottom of the piece. Then it will just sit in the corner until the day of the event. Should any of you happen to be wandering around DeKalb on the night of February 21 with nothing to do, drop by and check things out. for a preview of the event and some of the auction items!

**I have decided that this week I will be envious of Monte, as he will soon be out in Las Vegas. I wonder if I could qualify as a carry-on?

**The Melancholy Clown
I was hoping to have found someone to compete with in a merry war of prankery, but it doesn't seem that is going to be the case. Alas.

**Pawns and Pirates
Is there something in the air at this time of year? While I have been toying with the idea of starting up a game group, Big Bri has already gotten a jump on getting a pirate group together. January must be the official Start-A-Group month. I kinda remember trying this last year, and the air went out of it pretty quickly. I hope that a repeat is not going to occur. Also, I find it interesting that Bri almost always includes some element of community service when he gets a group going. I, on the other hand, just want to be amused within or by a group I participate in. Either way, a quick survey of didn't show much of anything in the ways of people interested in tiki culture or boardgames in this area. Sometimes it really sucks to be such an unusual melange of disparate interests.

**Run Away! Run Away!
One week till Spamalot. Which reminds me that I need to get the Metra schedule. And the address to Trader Vic's, if we still intend on going.

While I can appreciate and support Sheri's want to get the basement cleaned up and made functional, the pace of execution that might actually see it getting done within this calendar year just hasn't materialized yet. We're bordering on being three weeks into the project, and all we have to show for it is two boxes of coats and shoes that are ready to be donated. Illness has contributed greatly to the delay, but so has the idea of having no idea where to start. If it were all my stuff, I would probably just wait until she went to work and then approach it in the same way I went after the garage this summer. Just a massive attack resulting in lots of things at the curb, lots of things sold, lots of things recycled, and lots of space as an end product. But there is no way I'm going to go after her stuff. And, since we work in such different manners, I'm not even sure that I will be able to help her directly without it ending in a fight of some sort. For the most part, I don't really care, and figure that she'll get to it when she gets sick enough of looking at the mess. But, now her stuff is starting to cause me issues in the main room downstairs, so my anxiety level is starting to creep up a little bit at a time. Just one more reason it's good for me to be able to retreat into my studio space.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In The End...

Well, that's it. The Tiki Gods were indifferent to my prayers.This picture isn't the greatest, but even seeing the real thing, I must say that I'm not terribly impressed. The seemingly pinkish spot in the center of the tiki is actually a light source that was a bit too close when I took the picture. The true color shows at the top and bottom of the picture. It's kind of a nondescript muddy drown. I think I should have gone with the darker toned Early American shade of stain. Right now, this finish has a really yellow cast to it courtesy of the pine. Maybe after the stain cures completely, the color may tone down a bit. I hope. I did get a nice color match from the front to the back, so I'm glad about that. It's just as a whole that the piece doesn't really thrill me. I think it should do decently at the auction, but I don't think I'll really miss it when it departs from my collection. So, what do you, my slightly irregular readers, think? Let me know.

No Turning Back

By this point, I was totally committed. A nice thick layer of Minwax Gel Stain (beechwood colored) was slowly soaking into the once bone white pine. With my head swimming pleasantly from all the fumes, I sat back and wondered how it would look when I wiped all the excess stain off. After yet another prayer to the Tiki Gods, I reached for a rag and started to clean up the surface...

Finish Ready

Well, this was the end result. At least prior to applying a finish. I had thought about leaving this piece unfinished, but it doesn't really stand out at all in it's plain state. There's just not enough contrast in the wood itself for any of the the little details to really stand out. Except for all the freakin knots. That's what you get when you decide top work with pine though. Of course, the thought of ruining the piece after all the work that's gone into it by putting a crappy finish on it made me a bit queasy. If it turned out really badly, there would be no chance that I would have the time to strip it back to the bare wood before the auction. Not to mention the fact that getting the stain out of the end grain would be just about impossible. So, after a brief prayer to the Tiki Gods on high, I reached for the can of stain...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ode To Illinois Winter

I'm wearing ten layers of clothes
That cover most all but my nose
Breathing sub-zero air
My boogers freeze there
So woes grow as mucus flow slows

Monday, January 12, 2009

And It's Only Monday....

**Was That The Dog??-Meat makes me fart. I don't know how else to put it. And not just your typical laughing-too-hard-toot. This is more like eye-watering-paint-peeling-check-your-shorts-make-the-dog-leave-the-room farts. For a while there I was even grossing myself out. But perhaps I should explain. My father-in-law's birthday was a while ago, and we've been having a hard time trying to find a day when we can all get together to celebrate. Turns out that this past Saturday night was that day. The restaurant of choice was Tapaluna, in downtown DeKalb. This proved to be quite fortunate, given that the generally crappy weather we got Friday night and Saturday morning would have made going anywhere out of town quite difficult. Anyway, the restaurant was pretty nice in a minimalist kinda way. Sheri claimed it was just as bad acoustically as Filo Spinatos, but I didn't agree. The menu is based on the South American idea of tapas, which are smallish portions of food on the order of appetizers. The idea is to have a little plate of food, then some alcohol, then another little plate of food, then more alcohol, etc, etc, etc. Not being a drinker anymore, that part was lost on me, but there were some interesting things on the menu. Unfortunately, once you excluded the deserts, I think there were only two vegetarian choices. Not good for me. I was outnumbered three to one, so meatfood was in my future. Now, Sheri has had to alter her eating since she was diagnosed with diabetes. Trying to keep her carb intake at a reasonable amount proved to be almost impossible on our vegetarian diet, so meat started to make a comeback on her plate. As a consequence, It also started to show up more in my diet, which I wasn't overly fond of. Mind you, I try not to be militant about being a vegetarian. I try not to make things difficult for others when it come to eating, so I do on occasion have something meatish when there are no other options open to me. But I'd rather not, given the choice. Saturday night, I didn't have that choice. I ended up with both beef and pork finding their way onto my plate. And later that night, my body started to register it's displeasure. Now I have a good reason to pass on the hamburgers. Meat gives me necrotic-bowel-dead-and-laying-in-the-sun-for-a-week-smelling farts. So, thanks anyway, I'll just have a salad and some fruit. Unless you want to spend some time in a closed up room with me afterwards.

**Wolf In A Yarmulke-Why the hell was Chris in a dream of mine as a divorced Jewish vegetarian??

**Dreaming Of The Amazon-In another weird dream this week, Morgan was there. I was back at the old house, trying to get moved into the small upstairs room from the main room. Oddly enough, there were now 2 rooms in between (which don't actually exist), one of which seemed to be set up like a disco, and one that I wanted to convert into a tiki bar. Even by my standards, that was a strange dream.

**If the pattern of the past continues to hold true, Jeweltiger is well on her way to meeting the man of her dreams in the near to immediate future.

**Minwax On, Minwax Off-I think I should have gone with the rubbed oil finish. The gel stain isn't giving me the color I was hoping for. Plus it stinks. It doesn't smell immediately bad, like the liquid stains, but saves it's stench for when it starts to dry out. But now that I have the back stained (somewhat), I'm locked into doing the front and hoping the whole thing matches halfway decently. Of course, before I blame the product, I also have to consider the wood I'm applying it to, and my own particular skill level. And, after taking all those things into thought, I still choose to blame the stain. Just hoping that I won't end up thinking that it would have been better if I had just left it unstained. The last thing I need is for this item to go up for auction and just have it tank because the finish looks like crap. That would do nothing for me as the artist, and nothing for TAILS as a means of raising funds. By Friday morning I should know if I need to panic or not.

**Winter Wonderland, My Ass....-As if I couldn't hate the weather here any more than I do already. We are under a freakin blizzard warning. A blizzard warning. A. Blizzard. Warning. What the fuck?? This is not the Yukon. This is not Siberia. This is not even North Dakota. The word blizzard in my life should only apply to a yummy frosty sweet treat from Dairy Queen, not an actual real weather condition that happens where you live. And can make you dead. And then freeze you. This just so sucks. I really need to live somewhere I can have a goddamn mango tree in the yard. And all you freaks who were singing "Let It Snow" last month can just get your happy little eggnog swilling behinds over into my driveway tomorrow morning. And bring your most festive snow shovel.

**Cheese Sticks With Peanuts- No great reaction to Friday's little prank yet. Does kinda leave me wondering how many uses I can come up with for packing peanuts. Next in line is the sleeve gag, which I just happen to have some nice pink peanuts all ready for. I may have let my window of opportunity slip by for the evening though. And she's still not wearing the perfume.

**Can We Crash Here?- Need to check at Panera and Borders to see if either one would be a good place to hold impromptu game nights. At the rate I'm going, I'll never have the downstairs ready to start hosting events again anytime soon, despite all of Sheri's ranting. And I really want to get a semi-stable group going sooner rather than later. I had thought about the House, but their schedule is pretty erratic, and I don't think they really have any decent sized tables. I just kinda like the idea of having somewhere public and a bit more accessible for people to gather. Not that there's even been any issues with having people over to my place, aside from the Thundering Herd, and Forrest didn't seem to care about hosting either, but it's nice to have other options.

**I have broken yet another chain letter/text/e-mail. The penalty the universe will be imposing on me this time is that I will remain single for 13 years. Oh, darn.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Post #150!!

**I Still Object!!
What a thing to have to do on my day off. Go from getting kicked around at work on Sunday night to having to get up early to be over at the courthouse in Sycamore. Blech. And then to find out that they are trying to seat not one, but three, juries. Double blech. Not that I was overly concerned about getting picked, especially if it was a drunk driving case. Since part of my job includes drawing blood samples for the police, I usually get a pass on those right off the bat. So they took the 85 of us that were there and split us into 3 groups, one for each case, and we went to our respective courtrooms to begin the selection process. By now, it had to be getting close to noon, and we all had to be there by 0930. The judge came in, explained the case, introduced the lawyers and the accused, they selected the first 12 potential jurors, and we broke for lunch. Half of my day off was now gone.

At least I was in a city I knew and there were a couple of good choices for lunch. Unfortunately, Taxco was closed, so I opted to head over to Shawn's for a sandwich and a mocha. After a good mocha and a fairly dry sandwich, I meandered back to the courthouse. My second run through the metal detectors at the front door confirmed my opinion that the female Asian sheriff's deputy working there was quite a cutie. I wandered up to the 3rd floor jury room, sat by the window, and once again pulled out the paperback I had brought to pass the time. I had already put a 100+ page dent in it, and I had at least half an hour to kill before court was back in session. At least it was a good book.

Back in the courtroom, the jury selection process continued. They had only managed to seat four jurors before we broke for lunch, so the attorneys had 8 more left to agree on. I had been sitting there the whole time watching how the process went. The attorneys usually asked the same set of questions of each potential juror. So, in the time I was sitting there, I must admit to trying to figure out how I could answer any given question to get myself excused. But it wasn't looking like they'd even get to me. And so it went for the next couple of hours. The judge would make her little speech, and then the attorneys would both get a chance to question the potential juror. They managed to get four more seated, and threw out who knows how many before I was called to take one of the now empty seats in the jury box. I was then treated to the speech I had already heard a dozen times before from the judge. Then the judge asked me a question, the wording of which I don't exactly remember, but to which my response was that police officers should be held to a higher standard than the average citizen. That answer didn't seem to go over very well. When I mentioned that I was also responsible for collecting blood samples on persons suspected of DUI, the state's attorney dismissed me without even getting up from his chair.

So, back to the jury pool I went. By this point it was past three o'clock. Then, one of the judges came in and told us all that we would need to call the courthouse after noon the next day in order to see if we would need to come in to repeat this process all over again for a 4th trial (which they assured us was highly unusual) that was on the books for this week. Then they let us go home. We were all somewhat cranky. Even stealing a glimpse at the cute deputy by the metal detector did little to lift my spirits.

The next day, when noon rolled around, I was on the phone to the courthouse. The pre-recorderd message informed me that I did indeed need to report to the courthouse between 1315 and 1330. I was thrilled. After calling work and telling them what was going on, I gobbled some lunch, threw on some decent clothes, and made a beeline for Sycamore. My favorite deputy was there again. I headed up to the jury room and got settled in. The room started to slowly fill with somewhat grumpy and fairly vocal potential jurors. Seeing other people from the previous day on their way out of the courtroom, their duty served for the year, probably wasn't helpful. The bailiff checked everyone in, and the general muttering continued. Another half hour or so went by, when the judge from the case I had been excused from came walking in. She proceeded to thank us for coming in, but the case we were supposed to be seated for had been granted a continuance. We were free to go, and we wouldn't be called again for at least a year.
Looking at my watch, I saw I had plenty of time to make it into work. I was sooooo thrilled.

**Aw, Aint It Purty?
The ground is once again white thanks to an inch or so of new snow here. It's that really light, poofy snow that really likes to blow around. While it was coming down I noticed that it wasn't even in the form of flakes, but little needles instead. I call it 'greasy' snow, because it doesn't stick to anything, not even itself. So, your feet, your car, and the car of the idiot behind you driving too fast just slide around over the top of it. Fun, fun, fun.

**Feche La Vache!
Got tickets for the matinee show of Spamalot on the 25th of this month. Probably gonna take the train in, and I'm going to check and see where Trader Vic's is in relation to the theater. And I'm going to do my best to forget what the cost of the tickets was and just enjoy the show.

**Wait...You Pee It Out?
How does a tropical parasite end up in the frozen wasteland of DeKalb? Apparently, you let an 8 year old go swimming in a lake in Africa, and poof! schistosomiasis! What's that? Check out this article and get back to me:

Pretty gross sounding, eh? Anyway, the doctor sent a urine sample on this kid and wanted it checked. My first thought was that the doctor was out of his flipping mind. My second thought was how the hell was I going to check for that? We don't do much in the way of parasitology here, so references are kinda scarce. Still, the ONE book we had was enough to point us in a general direction, and the good ol' internet supplied the rest. After spinning down the entire sample, I had maybe 0.2cc of condensed sediment. Not a whole lot to work with. The one good thing was that the eggs, should they be there, are huge (microscopically speaking, that is). I mixed up the sediment, put a drop on a slide, coverslipped it, and tossed it on the microscope, fully expecting to see nothing. Which is exactly what I saw, aside from a whole bunch of white blood cells.

Then, there it was, plain as day:an egg. And where there is one, there are more. Sure enough, as I continued to scan around the slide, more and more came into view. Frankly, I was stunned. This was one of those things that you hear about in MT school, but usually with the caveat that it's something you'll never see in real life. And here I was, seeing it in real life.

Now, the part I didn't know: these little critters apparently have a diurnal life cycle. So when they're in your nice dark bladder, they're just hanging out, basically sleeping. When you piss them out, and the daylight hits them, they switch on. Which means they start hatching. And simple as they are, they really can't tell the difference between daylight and the light that comes from the source lamp of a microscope. Can you see where this is going? I was quite enthralled by my discovery and spent a lot of time looking at my discoveries under various magnifications and light configurations. Until I saw what looked to be an empty shell. Odd. I didn't remember that being there before. Maybe I had just missed it in my initial scan. And my second scan. And my third.

Then, from the edge of the visual field, movement. I recentered the field, and there was a free moving cilliate, trying for all it was worth to move around a big clump of white cells. I knew that wasn't there before. The cilliate that is, not the white cells. The eggs were hatching. Right there on the slide. How freakin cool is that?

Now before you all wig out, what was hatching out on that slide is only infective and dangerous if I was a snail. I've been called a lot of things in my day, but I don't think that 'snail' was ever one of them. If you checked out the diagram on the article I told you to read, you'd know that. Did I mention that there was going to be a quiz? Anyway, I got to spend an evening watching the eggs of this tropical parasite hatch and release the free living intermediate form right before my very eyes. probably the neatest thing I've seen in my profession in years.

**Maybe 2010?- The hits just keep coming for Dhawk. Sorry about all the bad news, kiddo.

**Write On!- Kittyluv gots some of her writing mojo back!

**Tiki X3- Many thanks to Kari and Big Bri for adding to the ranks of my tiki collection! Kari was kind enough to contribute what are now the smallest and next to smallest tikis in said collection. Big Bri passed along a neat little tiki toothpick holder that he picked up god knows where.

**Is it a wreck or a trip? Sometimes it's really hard to tell. Even from where I sit.

**She wasn't wearing the perfume I like, so she deserved all the peanuts in her purse. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

**Did I mention the cute deputy I saw this week?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What A Way To Start The Year...

**I Object!
I have rarely heard anyone express joy about being summoned for jury duty and that includes me. At least the average person can use it to get a day or two off of work. Me, I have to give up part of a regular day off (to start), and I am not sure that if the case should continue, that I can spin it into paid time off of work. And then there is the potential of this becoming a multi-day or multi-week process. Whoop-te-freakin-do. The last time I got called was for a DUI case, and I was dismissed from consideration. Seems they didn't care to have someone on the jury with a strong opinion and inside medical knowledge. I'm hoping that would happen again (the dismissal part), but until I get to the courthouse tomorrow morning, I have no idea what kind of case it is. If it's some other type of case, I could just get stuck there for who knows how long. At least I have a book to read while I wait, and if I take a pad of paper, I could get some sketch work or writing done. If I end up getting selected, I could end up getting a lot of all three done, depending on how things progress.

**Maybe By Easter
My progress towards getting holiday gifts out to those intended to receive them is not moving along at a pace that could be considered in any way rapid. Bu this point in time, most of them are wrapped. All except for the one that I now cannot decide if I want to keep for myself or not. I know I should just give this one and get another for myself, but it's quite tempting to just put this one on my shelf and let it merge into the books that are already there. Not to mention the development if new ideas for things I wouldn't mind giving people. Once that insane holiday pressure is off, I can come up with all kinds of good ideas. Plus, by now, no one is expecting to get anything, which makes for more exciting gift giving. I do think I need to run out to CJ's this week and pick up a thing or two. I should also check and see if my gift certificate to Moxie is still any good.

**On The Fence Over Water
Still not sure if I want to keep the aquarium or not. If I do, I need to order $100 or so of supplies to get the thing back into decent shape. If not, I have no idea what to do. Maybe Craigslist would work. Moving a tank is no fun at any time of the year, and even more not fun during the winter. Thermal shock can just wipe out plants and fish alike. But I'm just not sure if there is any interest on my part in this particular hobby anymore. I quit subscribing to my fish magazine a couple of years ago. But, on the other hand, I still have another tank that I special ordered and never set up stored in the basement of the folks house. If I was to get rid of the 75, I guess I could throw that one in as a bonus. Then I'd have more space to display my collection, or get a bar, blah, blah, blah. Right at the moment, I just don't know for sure.

**Ooooh, Gel....
I have the recurring thought that it is never a good thing to experiment with new techniques or materials at the end of an elaborate or extensive project. That very thing has been my undoing more than once. Knowing that, I cannot explain the gel stain I bought at Menard's the other day. I have managed to stain several of my carvings, to varying degrees of success, but never with this particular product. Makes me a tad nervous. More so when I consider that the piece in question is the one I intend on donating to the Tropical TAILS auction. But then I guess that's why they say right on the back of the can to test the product on an inconspicuous area first. The whole back of this piece could be considered an inconspicuous area. I figured the gel formula would be better for all the curves and oddly shaped surfaces on the tiki, since it's made to stick, and shouldn't run off like regular stain. I have no idea how stinky it is, though. Don't want to have all those fumes wafting around in the house, but I'm not real fond of the thought of having to do all this out in the garage in the cold. Plus, since the whole thing is pine, I have to pre-treat the surface so it takes the stain evenly. This could double the stinkiness of the process. Guess I'll find out exactly where I'll be doing the work when I crack the cans open tomorrow.

**From The West, Lo, An Idea!
Dhawk has supplied me with the bones of my current pictoral effort. Still turning over the notion of doing more variations on the Jaws themes, but I think that my have to sit for a while longer until I can generate something new. For now, I'm trying to decide if I am done with all the pencil work for this piece or not. Even as I sit here and type this, ideas for variations are floating through my head. So I may just leave this one simple and put in more details and flourishes in future reworks.

**Best description of group sex EVER:"...several sticks 'whacking' one kitty." Thanks for that one Jeweltiger!

**5:1=A Lot Of Tongue?
I have found that trying to work a design out on paper before trying to carve it can be helpful. Especially when you're talking about working a piece of wood that could have been 100 years old when it was a tree. Then you have to figure that the piece of that 100 year old tree may be 20-50 years old. Between those two things, and the somewhat irreplaceable nature of these pieces, eliminating possible sources of error is a good thing. Plus, it's much easier to carry around a pencil and a piece of paper than it is to carry around a log. Aside from the panel piece I started and have yet to finish (mostly because I can't decide how to do the eyes), I have a heavy piece of square stock that has caught my attention. That is where the need to sketch to scale comes in. The height:width:depth work out to be 5:1:1, which makes for odd proportions, except maybe in tiki carvings. I'll just have to wait and see what falls out of the old brain pan.