Monday, October 29, 2012

Kids didn't have to go to school but I had to go to work... :-(

Hurricane Sandy

1.) How did hurricane season make it all the way to the S's without me really noticing it til now? I remember a couple tropical storm reports back in late August/early September, but we're all of a sudden on Sandy?

2.) I live in Harrisburg, PA. The governor has declared a state of emergency, and so has the mayor. State offices and schools are closed, but my employer is open. I'm left with 2 things. Either A) The state and city etc are all overreacting or B) My employer might be under-reacting? Our decision makers are in the midwest, so I'm not sure what the storm coverage is like out there. Here, everyone is being encouraged to stay safe and take it very seriously.

3.) School is canceled today, which has to be a pain for anyone who has kids whose job is open, because they are going to have to scramble for childcare.

4.) I'm a little nervous. They are anticipating major power outages, and possibly flash floods. I missed the flooding here last year, I didn't move down until the start of November. I can handle snow, having lived near Erie most of my life, and also in Western NY. The idea of water everywhere and ending up trapped someplace is a bit unnerving to me, even if it is unlikely to come to pass.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sorry, no blogs! But good news - and Catching up

I know it's been almost a week since I blogged last, but it's been a busy week and a good week.

On Saturday, as most people who read this blog already know, Tim and I got engaged. He first surprised me with his new costume, a complete Capt Jack Harkness (of Doctor Who and Torchwood fame) outfit, including hat, coat, suspenders, Webley revolver and vortex manipulator. This went perfectly with my own Doctor Who inspired costume. I was dressed as Oswin Oswald, the junior entertainment director of the Alaska which crash landed on the Dalek Asylum planet in Episode 7:1. Then we stopped at his parents' house. We were there ostensibly to check on the house since his folks were out of town for the weekend. Then he surprised me again by setting up a bottle of wine (a 2009 Riesling he brought back from his trip to Germany a couple years ago) that he had been saving for as special occasion, along with the glasses we drank from on our first Renaissance Faire date. He asked if I’d like to marry him and then pulled the box with my beautiful ring out of the jacket pocket. We drank wine and called our families, and then went on to our friend Kim’s Halloween party.

To answer the obvious questions:

1) No, we haven’t set a date yet.
2) Yes, I’m incredibly happy and grateful and excited, etc.

Here is an awesome drawing one of my friends from Sparkpeople did of Tim and I in our costumes, complete with Tardis backdrop:

The week since has been prepping for tonight, which is the Halloween/Samhain party at UCH being put on by Clover Grove, one of the groups I participate in. Tuesday night we went grocery shopping so I would have ingredients to make stew for the pot luck. Wednesday night I went to help set up. I’m amazed by how we were able to transform the space in the Common Room. I’m looking forward to wearing our costumes again. Last night I went to Zumba so I can wear my rather form-fitting costume without worrying about my gut hanging over my utility belt. And tonight is the party. But we’re a little slow at MARCO today, so I decided I’d get back to blogging.

Other topics I’ve missed blogging about this week – Football – Mike Wallace’s butter-fingering up the game last week and the Steelers managing to win despite it, the Retro uniforms for this week – Weather – FRANKENSTORM! – The Election – Mourdock – An idiot but at least he’s an honest one and he didn’t say a woman’s body can tell when it’s a “legitimate rape.”

Have a fantastic weekend folks! I’ll get back to blogging more diligently this week, I promise. (Girl Scout’s Honor – Hey, the Girl Scouts do still have some, since they aren’t discriminating against gay and lesbian Scouts and parents! – But that’s a blog for another day)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tales from the Police Blotter - Fiction

"I swear if we get called out to one more place about this bacon shortage, I'm never eating it again." Officer Ben Fulcher said to his partner as they headed for Union Deposit.

"I'll call your wife right now and tell her the good news, Ben. She'll be thrilled." Officer LuAnn Polson quipped back.

"Call her later, we're here." Fulcher said as they parked at the Waffle House. Through the windows they could see a disheveled man pounding emphatically on the counter. "You come in from the other side, I'll take lead. Hopefully, we can just talk him out of here."

Office Fulcher came quietly through the door. The man at the counter was yelling, "This is the Waffle House, how can you not have bacon? What is wrong with you? People deserve to have bacon with their waffles!"

Fulcher gently put a hand on the man's shoulder. The customer turned to face him, his eyes were unfocused and bloodshot. Officer Fulcher could smell cheap beer on his breath. He spoke to him in a soothing tone, "You're right sir, people do deserve bacon. Unfortunately, there's a nation-wide shortage. Millions of people are without bacon right now, isn't that sad?" This tone usually worked well on the inebriated, enabling him to lead them to the car.

"It's all a lie! The media just wants you to THINK there's no bacon. They're in on it! The president is keeping it all for himself and his friends. It's Bacon Socialism! Bacon should be for the masses, not only for the privileged!"

Fulcher glanced across the restaurant at Polson. She rolled her eyes. It was the Great Bacon Conspiracy. This guy was going to make some new friends if they had to 302 him. So far though, he wasn't presenting any real threat. Fulcher tried again.

"Sir, you're absolutely right. Everyone should have bacon. It should be a constitutional right. But there is no bacon here sir, and you're scaring this young lady." He gestured to the woman behind the counter wearing a white paper hat, who did her best to go from looking bored to scared out of her mind.

The bacon-starved man looked at the officer, and then spoke quietly, as one trying to bring others to his cause. "She's part of it too sir, and she probably doesn't even know it. There's bacon here. It's hidden for the Mayor and the Governor. I know if she just goes and looks in the back, she'll find a secret cache of bacon!" he finished triumphantly, his volume having risen back to shouting for the last sentence.

Officer Fulcher raised his eyes to the stained drop ceiling, praying for patience. "Sir, what is your name?"

"You can call me Wilbur," the man replied.

"Okay, Wilbur. There's no bacon here. And I can't allow you to continue to harrass the employees and disturb the other customers. So why don't you let Officer Polson and I give you a ride home?"

Then Wilbur tried to take the Waffle House hostage with the only weapon he had.

He unzipped his pants and pulled it out, gripping it firmly in his hand and then screaming at the staff, "I will urinate on every person in this restaurant if you don't go in the back, and get me some bacon RIGHT NOW!"

Officers Fulcher and Polson reacted the moment Wilbur reached for his zipper. On Fulcher's signal, Polson released the tazer from her belt and fired. Her shot landed squarely in the meat of Wilbur's left buttock just as his reached the end of his threat. The "weapon" in his hand misfired, and Officer Fulcher quickly stepped aside to avoid the spray as Wilbur fell to the ground. The rest of his "ammunition" pooled underneath him as he twitched.

"You should have let me taze him sooner, that was almost the Cracker Barrel incident all over again." Polson said.

"He would have wet himself anyway." Fulcher replied.

"True enough. Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who has to haul him into the cruiser?" Paulson asked.

Fulcher nodded. He threw rock, she threw paper. He cursed, she laughed and said, "Stop throwing rock every time and you'll stop going home smelling like pee."

Fulcher sighed heavily as he pulled Wilbur to standing and then over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. Polson graciously held the door for him as they exited the scene.

This story was inspired and informed by:
The Susquehanna Twp Police Blotter
Apparently This Matters: Bacon Shortage
How to Perform the Fireman's Carry

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is it lies or make-believe?

Because of our shared love of Downton Abbey, Tim’s father loaned me his boxed set of Upstairs Downstairs last week. (British TV is so much better than ours!)

I was intrigued by one of the characters in the first episode. She’s a housemaid who’s just entered service, and when we first meet her, she gives her name as Clemence Dumas. She tells the lady of the house that she is from France, and she had to come back to England because her mother was ill. Her employer says they will call her Sarah, because a name like Clemence is above her station. “Sarah” tells the others in the household that her mother was a gypsy princess, and her father was a French count. She claims that her mother died giving birth to her. She also says she can tell fortunes by reading palms and tea leaves and that she’s never wrong.

On her first day of work, she observes the cook, Mrs. Bridges, giving food from the larder to an elderly woman for money. Sarah believes that Mrs. Bridges is stealing for her own ends and thinks that would be a good way for her to make a few extra quid. When she is caught and forced to tell the truth about everything, Rose, the head housemaid, accuses her of thinking that she’s better than all of them.

Sarah replies that she doesn’t think she’s better than them, just more interesting. Rose calls her a liar and Sarah defends her self that they aren’t lies, they’re make-believe. Her stories are her escape from her lot in life.

Make-believe has always been a word relegated to children’s programming here. It’s what we tell children about things on the TV, so they know that the scary monsters or the man who can leap from tall buildings are not real, and they don’t need to worry (or shouldn’t go jump from the roof). And when they grow older, we tell them that some good things they believed in were just make believe. And can we blame them if they feel hurt and angry that we lied?

So when do we stop playing make-believe and start telling lies? Is it all a matter of perspective? Age? Are politicians (this is a non-partisan statement) all just playing make-believe, not lying their butts off? And where is the line between make-believe, lying, and acting 'as if'? Can we really 'create our own reality?' That's all Clemence was trying to do.

Acting 'as if' is a concept I learned from Wicca. It's also known as 'faking it til you make it.' If you assume the attitude and actions of a successful, happy person, you will be a successful, happy person. This is not lying or make believe, because you are taking a thing that is not-real-yet and making it real.

So the difference between make believe and lies, as far as I can tell, is knowing participation. When we watch a movie, we know the story isn't true, but we allow ourselves to believe it is for a time. We make-believe that the characters in our favorite book is real. A lie is when fiction is presented as truth to an unknowing audience. For example, like Sasha Baron Cohen and his team did when they made Borat. The result may be entertaining, but it can also cause people to feel embarrassed and foolish when they find out the truth.

In conclusion, I think that I will teach my children not to lie, but I will never, ever teach them to stop playing make-believe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Posting pictures of yourself counts as a blog, right?

Dress rehearsal for my Halloween Costume!

Here's what I was going for:

And here's what I ended up with:

I am Oswin Oswald. I am human and I fought the Daleks. Remember me!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review - Rising Regina, Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

I took yesterday off, sorry folks! Tim and I spend the entire day at the wonderful Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. When we got back home, I was too exhausted from walking and standing and having fun to sit in front of my computer and write a blog. But the good thing about taking a day off from blogging to do something fun is that it gives me something fun to blog about!

Rising Regina is a familiar sight and sound to many regular Pennsyvlania Renaissance Faire attendees. They identify their musical style as "Americana Roots Rock." This year the band will be performing during the last three weekends of the year, October 13-14th, 21-22nd, and 28-29th. The band is comprised of two sisters, Jessie and Kiki Young, and 3 other talented musicians, Rich Kulbacki, Eric George and Phil Raffle.

Sunday's performances at the Endgame Stage at the PA Renaissance Faire included a special guest performer Libby Eddy standing in for Kiki Young on vocals and violin.

Sunday's playlist included songs from both the band's CDs and some unrecorded material. I really enjoyed their unique take on the Celtic standards, "Danny Boy" and "Banks of Loch Lomon." The last song of the set, "Johnny Jump Up" was my favorite. I wanted to get up and dance to it. (but it was noon and no one at the Faire was drunk enough to dance yet.) It's not on their current CDs, but I'll definitely be looking for it when it is available. I also loved the song This Road. The verses are slower and thoughtful, and the chorus is amped up and rockin'. I like when music does something unexpected. Almost all their songs included beautiful 3 part harmonies between Jessie, Rich and Libby. The band members are all very much at ease on stage, talking about the inspiration behind the songs, why a song is special to them, etc.

So if you are in Central PA and planning on attending the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in the next two weekends, definitely check out Rising Regina!

Info for this blog from:

Rising Regina on Twitter
Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In the strangest places...

Tim and I spent the day on a scavenger hunt. We were looking for the last few elusive pieces of my Halloween costume, as our first Halloween event is next weekend. Here are the places we found the items.

Belt - Spencer's at the Capital City Mall
Chain & Whisk - Discount Store Colonial Park Mall
Tights and Back-up Whisk - Boscov's at Colonial Park Mall
Flashlight & links to fasten various items to previously mentioned belt - Home Depot

So now, along with a red rose hair clip from the PA Ren Faire, a red dress from Forever 21 and the awesome-est high-tops ever from DSW, I'm ready to put it all together for next Saturday. I'll post pictures next week so you can see how close I get to this:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Is this what it feels like to be a Bears fan?

After last night's loss to a 1-4 Tennessee Titans, I'm feeling very disheartened by my beloved Steelers. I will always root for them, but the bar has definitely been lowered. We have some quality players, who do their best to make the most of every play (Roethlisberger, Suisham, Harrison, Redman, to name a few) We have a ton of injured players. We have players who all of our hopes are pinned on, like Polamalu (The defense will totally get better as soon as we get Troy back!) and Mendenhall (Once his knee is 100%, our offense will be unstoppable!) We sound like the SNL skit with George Wendt and John Goodman talking about Da Bears.

There will always be Steeler Nation. We are legion. But if things don't start clicking, I feel like this is the beginning of a less-than-glorious time in franchise history.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review - A Deadly Mission

A Deadly Mission (The Olympia Brown Mysteries) by Judith Campbell

I heard about this series from the UUA World weekly e-newsletter I receive. The $.99 for the Kindle Edition turned out to be money very well spent.

The heroine of this series, Olympia Brown, is a college professor and a Unitarian Universalist minister. A Deadly Mission begins with Olympia hearing about the death of a of a student at her college. The girl had been involved with a group called the Boston Fellowship. Olympia had noticed the girl's behavior change, and her weight loss, and felt guilty that she hadn't tried to do more to reach out to her.

The start of the book is a little slow. The author spends some time establishing the world her characters live in, a small academic community in New England. We find out about her family and friends, etc. There's a long break between finding out about the girl's death and finding out any information about the Fellowship.

The book picked up the pace with the introduction of a new student at Olympia's college, Bethany Ruth. Bethany is a sweet girl from Oklahoma who comes from a very conservative Christian family. Olympia befriends the homesick girl and is alarmed for her when she finds out the bible study group she had encouraged her to attend led her to meeting members of the Boston Fellowship.

The story gets much more focused at this point, everything moves around how to save Bethany. Olympia's son tries to find out more and Olympia is threatened when the Fellowship finds out who he is. Olympia's priestly friend Father Jim discovers more deaths of college students in the area. These deaths all seemed like accidents at first, until further research reveals they all at the same cause of death, and were all members of the Fellowship who were trying to leave.

After having picked up and put down my Kindle several times over the past couple weeks, I got hooked in and stayed up til midnight last night to finish the story. The story is tragic in parts, exciting in others, and all too realistic. The hero characters (Olympia and her friends) have depth and history that drive them to help others, but they do this without immense wealth, magic or super powers. They are just intelligent people who care about others and have the courage to take action.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nyx's Bad Night - Fiction

Pain. She woke up to pain and her first thought was 'It feels like someone kicked me in the spine. A lot.' Her next thought was remembering that someone had.

Nyx tried to make herself breathe slowly. First question, where I am now? The answer was comfortingly apparent once she noticed the IV in one wrist and the ID bracelet on the other. Hospital. Okay, no immediate danger.

Danger. How had such a normal night gotten brutally complicated so damn fast?

She was taking care of business in the back of the bar. Just a typical Saturday night in Harrisburg. It was a seller's market; it's not like there was ever a cop anywhere downtown after 10 PM. Nyx was just taking advantage of the socio-economic climate. The people who were too scared to do that were sheep.

Sheep. The hospital sheets were white and soft like sheep in a mattress commercial. She wanted to go to sleep, but she needed to remember what happened.

One of the flock stomped back the hall near the bathrooms towards her. To use the colloquialism, the girl was a hot damn mess. She walked like it was her first time wearing platforms, even though she probably had a closet full of them. Nyx had been successfully avoiding her for weeks. Customers like her brought more trouble than they were worth. Hot Mess was yelling something about "Dis-respect!" when Nyx felt leaves and ice cubes from a mojito hit her in the face. Hot Mess took a wide swing and Nyx narrowly dodged the forearm that was adorned with a thick, cheap-looking gold cuff.

Cuff. Nyx looked down at her wrist again. It was hand-cuffed to the bed rail. Shit.

After ducking, Nyx scrambled for the emergency exit at the end of the hall. As her hands reached the bar to press, she was shoved hard from behind. She fell rather than stepped through the door. As Nyx tried to get her balance back to run, Hot Mess grabbed her by the hair and threw her against the dumpster. She landed on the ground. Glancing up, she saw that several others had come out into the alley. Now she was the sheep, and the wolves were circling. Nyx curled into a ball and covered her head. She felt boots and high heels kicking her back and legs with vicious force.

With the edges of her vision darkening, Nyx knew she had to do something. Maybe if she hurt one of them badly enough, the rest would leave her bleeding on the ground rather than bothering to finish her off. She let the blows shift her so they wouldn't notice her going for the knife in her boot. With all the strength she had left, she struck out and brought the 4 inch blade straight down through someone's Louboutin knock-offs. A chorus of screams bounced off the walls of the alley. The crowd began to back off. Rough hands emptied Nyx's pockets of product and cash, and then she was alone.

Alone. No one was going to come to see her here. She wasn't even sure what hospital she was in. No one even knew where she was. In pain and alone. Nyx rubbed her middle finger and thumb together in a silent gesture, disgusted by her self-pitying thoughts.

She was completely shocked to hear his voice say, "Is that the world's tiniest violin playing your song?"

*End Scene*

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Gandalf and the Doctor should totally hang out

This springs from a conversation Tim and I had on the long ride back from my parents' house yesterday afternoon/evening.

1. They both like cool hats - floppy wizard hats, fezes, Stetsons.

2. Gandalf could easily take care of the Weeping Angels. His staff and Glamdring broke the Bridge of Khazad-dum, and smote the Balrog. Obviously stone enemies, not a problem.

3. The Doctor could have sonic'd the door to the Moria open in Fellowship of the Ring.

4. The Doctor could have easily taken care of the whole Ring problem. He could have had the Tardis materialize over Mount Doom, dropped the ring into the mountain of fire, and the whole thing is a 45 minute episode rather than a 12 hour trilogy.

5. They both regenerate.

6. They both believe in humans/mortals and put immense power in their hands.

7. The Doctor and Gandalf both have a habit of showing up just when they are most needed, whether you're escaping via the air lock of a space liner or about to be burned to death by a volcano.

Blogging Break

I was away over the weekend attending the wedding of two awesome friends. The blogs will resume as planned later today. Possible topic idea - Why Gandalf and the Doctor would be the Ultimate Fantasy/Sci Fi Duo.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shopping Jones

Everyday they come into my Inbox, tempting me.

Pictures of beautiful clothes and shoes complete with money-saving coupons! NY & Co, Kohl’s, ModCloth are all seducing me with sales and gorgeous rich fall colors. NY & Co’s Fall Collection has this beautiful deep red shade they are calling Chianti. I love it; I want every dress, sweater, and pair of pants or shoes I see in it. I try to remind myself, Christmas is coming, you need to save money for other things etc. And then, sounding just like Rumplestiltskin on Once Upon a Time, I hear my NY & Co credit card chortling from inside my wallet, “You don’t have to pay for it today, dearie. You can use me! Just remember, fashion magic comes with a price!”

Sometimes I think my favorite websites and stores are conspiring together. The deep reds, browns and tans of the NY & Co fall collection would be great with the boots that I want from ModCloth. And I've worked so hard to be in better shape the last two year, there's a voice in my head that says "You deserve new clothes. You deserve an entire fabulous new fall wardrobe. You've got it now, so flaunt it!" Maybe I should watch Confessions of a Shopaholic. I need a good cautionary tale right now.

Because seriously, I would rock the hell out of this dress. And these boots. And this sweater. And this bag...

Is there a pill for this!?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm too old to date Zack Morris

So last night I had a dream where Zack Morris (yes, that Zack Morris, from Saved By the Bell) picked me up to drive me to school. He asked me to go to the school dance with him. I was going to say yes, and then I remembered that I'm not in high school and haven't been for a long time. I said, "I'm 2- wait no, 32 years old, Zack. How old are you going to tell your friends I am?" He said he would tell them I was 18, and I was flattered, but it didn't seem like a good idea. Then, since I didn't go to school, Zack dropped me off at the mall.

So this dream got me thinking about the things I am now too old to do at the ripe old age of 32. The maximum age for enlisting for active service in the Air Force is 27, and for the Marines 28. (I could still join the Army or Navy for another two years.) I am too old to audition for American Idol.

There are other things I am probably too old to do, even if there's no law against it or rule restricting my participation. I'm too old to start training to compete in most of the Olympic sports I enjoy watching (figure skating, gymnastics, diving, ski jump, etc) Based on watching No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, I think I'm too old to begin a serious career as a professional chef. I'm too old to become a super model or a movie star. Too old to become an astronaut, (see too old to join the Air Force) too old to become a ballerina, too old to become the star of a Disney Channel sitcom.

There are tons more things though that I am NOT too old for! I could train for a marathon, climb a mountain, start a business. I could travel anywhere in the world. I could write a book. I could write 12 books, and get them turned into an HBO series. Charlaine Harris and George R.R. Martin are 60 and 64, respectively. I could go back to college. I can be a Mom. (I really still have time, biological clock, could you turn it down a minute!?) Lots of people do all those things (sometimes two or three of them simultaneously) all the time. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying, yes, I can do it. I can do anything I put my mind to. That's how I was raised.

So while I am too old to date Zack Morris, there are a whole lot of things I can still do. It's all up to me.

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Goethe

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why I unabashedly love Tim Tebow

Yesterday was not a football day at our house. The Steelers had a bye week and I managed to strain my shoulder in my sleep Saturday night, so going out was not in the cards on Sunday. Neither was sitting up at the computer long enough to write a second blog. I was catching up on things this morning, seeing the results of yesterday's games, and cringed when I saw the Jets had gone down 34-0. Tim (my Tim, not Tebow) had mentioned last night that it was ugly and that Santonio Holmes (former Steeler) had been injured. The Jets coach was angry. "I was going to say we got our butts kicked, but we got our *sses kicked." FOXSports writer Sam Gardner had some pretty harsh, definitive phrases about the Jets performance. "Sunday’s effort was so exceptionally horrid, and New York’s moribund offense was so unthinkably inept"

You would think with that kind of performance, the Jets fans would be chanting "Tebow, Tebow, Tebow!" He only played briefly again in Sunday's game. After the game, he dodged reporter's attempts to bait him into saying he wants to play more, or to say the game would have turned out differently if he'd been in it more. Always hopeful, always looking ahead, he did his best to turn the attention to next week.

“Different teams that I’ve been on, with losses like this, I feel like we really have rallied behind because you don’t want to feel like that again,” Tebow said. “It kind of puts you on edge a little bit. When you’re in meetings, you’re a little more focused; when you’re on the practice field, you go a little bit harder; when you’re in the weight room you lift a little bit more. And I think it could be the best thing that happens to us all year.”

This is why I love Tim Tebow, and I'll watch any team he's with. He is a class act. He's positive, he's inspiring without shoving his faith down people's throats. He's not the only NFL player to take a knee in thanks or in respect to a higher power for a win, or if another player is hurt. Is he an amazing quarterback? I don't think he'll ever a Peyton Manning or an Aaron Rodgers. He is a team player, and maybe being a star quarterback requires a little of the swagger that seems to be absent from Tim Tebow. But I'd rather hear what Tim Tebow has to say after a game than Cam Newton or Michael Vick any day. I love the Steelers and I love Ben Roethlisberger as their QB, but would I want my daughter (or sister, or sister's daughter for that matter) to date him? Of course not! But I'd feel pretty good about her dating Tim Tebow.

And I'll admit, he's pretty easy on the eyes too.


Fox Sports