Friday, August 31, 2012

Fan of Friday: Week of 8/31/2012

Have you seen this woman?


She's Felicia Day and if you don't know who she is, then clearly you haven't seen Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and I don't think we can be friends anymore. Seriously, what's wrong with you!? Go watch it now and come back and thank me in the comments and I'll forgive you.

I like to believe that if I ever became famous for anything (like maybe my mad minesweeper or Duke Nukem skills), she would play me in the movie version of my life. That would be a boooor-ing movie.

Anyway...

She's one of Joss Whedon's muses so she's been on Buffy, Dollhouse, and of course Dr Horrible. She's also a big old geek in real life who loves video games, hence her show "The Guild" about a group of people playing an online role-playing game.

I get so easily distracted...

Point of this post, she also has two awesome online outlets: her blog and her youtube channel. While her blog is basically self-promotion, it's still very entertaining. But if you really want to be entertained, you should watch her web show. Some of it is over my head because it highlights a lot of games I've never heard of, but beyond that, the rest of the videos are so much fun. It's hard to sum up the videos, but she has on her "celebrity" friends (I use quotes because they are well known in the geek community, but may be anonymous in other circles) and does stuff. I know that's the worst summary ever, but I find it very amusing.

Here's a link to her blog and here are a couple of my favorite videos.



Maybe, someday, if I ever met her, I could translate my redheaded-ness and my skills at one old school video game (the aforementioned Duke Nukem) into a friendship with her. That would be awesome...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Project House Update: The Master Bedroom

I now have a new favorite room in the house. And it only took us over a year to tackle it.

When we moved into our house, the previous owners hadn't invested any money in cleaning up the house since they moved out. They patched no holes, cleaned up no scuffs, and left every random and outdated fixture and outlet in place. The worst room was by far the master bedroom. The walls were beat up and dirty, there were outlets so old I'd never seen anything like them before, and you could tell exactly where the bed was because they installed reading lights about three inches above where our bed sits.

Former Owners' Master Bedroom
We left those lights there exactly one night until we realized there was no saving them. We covered the holes with some purchased plates and went on with our lives.

Well, we finally did it. It took us a year to start and a week to complete it, but we did it. And points to Dan for making it last a week. We usually try to tackle rooms in one weekend and just end up stressed out and angry. Now we have a strategy to redo a room and it should save us a lot of headaches.

So here's what it looked like when we started.

Master Bedroom - Before
We put samples on the wall months ago and purchased all the paint at Memorial Day. I believe the color is called "Snowdrop". After months of staring at four nearly identical paint swatches for months on end, we were 99.9999% sure on this color.

Originally, the ceiling and the walls were going to be the same color and my mom would paint on some clouds to create a sky on the ceiling, but I changed my mind and thought it would make the already low ceiling look even lower and too young. We agreed to save this for a different room, maybe a future nursery. Instead, we decided the ceiling would be crisp white.

On Saturday, Day 1, we moved out the majority of the furniture, removed the wall plates, lights, and ceiling fan, and painted the ceiling. Also, we patched all the holes in the walls, including the holes where the reading lights used to live. Oh! And Dan installed the new ceiling fan! It's one of the few things we haven't argued about when it comes to home stuff. We both love it. It reminds me of a propeller.

Master Bedroom - Day 1
Sunday, we decided that the door to our bathroom should be the same white. It was painted the same gross bisque/blah beige color as the walls and I did not want a reminder of how gross the room had looked before. I only painted the door frame, but I'll go back and paint the door itself sometime soon.

Monday, Day 3 ,we tackled the biggest, most complicated wall in the room and the room was officially blue. Even with all the edging, it only took us about two hours to get it all done.

Master Bedroom - Day 3
Thursday, Day 4 (we had plans Tuesday and Wednesday evenings), we tried to finish the wall our bed goes on with enough time for it to completely dry before going to bed, but we failed. So, that night, we slept with the bed in the middle of the room and used my dresser as a head board. We did manage, though, to complete two full walls.

Friday, Day 5, while I was at work, Dan finished painting the last wall. I came home to a completely painted room.

Saturday, Dan installed new, clean white outlets and the recessed ceiling light. (Long story, but Dan found a great deal on Amazon for four LED recessed lights, but they only sent us one! So, until the rest are delivered, our room has one empty hole for the missing light.) Also, a couple of months ago, we took my sister to Ikea, and while we were there, we purchased coordinating dressers.

Dan's dresser and my dresser
We decided to wait to set them up until after we painted the bedroom because we didn't want to have to move them out of the room. We finally got to start setting them up on Saturday. Dan set mine up on Saturday and I set his up on Sunday.

Sunday, Day 6, while Dan was out for the morning, I set up his dresser as a surprise. My mantra was "I have two mechanical engineering degrees. I will not be defeated by a stupid Ikea dresser!" I also finished rearranging the furniture in the room. All by myself! Let me tell you, it is not easy moving around all that furniture by yourself. Wait, no, I had cats, but they only made things more difficult, usually by creeping under furniture I was barely able to hold up, let alone try not to drop it on a cat. Fun...

And here's the "completed" room! Isn't it sooooo much better?

Master Bedroom - After
Here's the list of stuff still to do:
  • Finish painting the door white.
  • Install the second recessed light.
  • Purchase pretty knobs for my dresser.
  • Hang curtains to cover the terrible blinds. We've agreed that, although the blinds are atrocious, they are very functional. So, the plan of record is to hang some long, thick curtains beside the window and they should hide the blinds when they're open.
  • Buy a headboard/bed frame. We're still using my old dresser as a make shift headboard until we can find one so we don't get the fresh wall gross with "head dirt".
  • Hang art and rearrange knick-knacks.
  • Deal with the fireplace. This one is a biggie, but the bedroom has a beehive fireplace that's just a pain. It's stereotypically Southwestern, it takes up a lot of wall space, and it doesn't work. Currently I've set up a bunch of candles in it, so it's kind of pretty, but it's just a pain more than anything. In a perfect world, we'd just get rid of it completely, but we've settled on making it over. We didn't paint it because of what we may do to it down the line, so it stands out even more. I'll go into more detail when we finally get to it, but for now, it's my White Whale. 
I just can't stop looking at this pretty new room. Dan says it feels like we're staying in a hotel because it's so different. It's just so clean and bright and young.

Sam's sexy pose in the new room
And it smells of new paint and particle board. Yummy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TV 2012: The Mindy Project

If you are unaware of my love for Mindy Kaling, you can read about my girl crush here. Since then, I've also read her book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), which if you haven't read, what is wrong with you? I'm cheap so I reserved it at the library and, no exaggeration, it took months until I was at the top of the list and I got to read it.

Anyway, you would think that I would be over the moon for the premiere of "The Mindy Project", but I think it made me nervous more than anything. I want it so badly to be good, what if it wasn't?

Fortunately, it premiered online waaaay early and I scooped it up. (Side note: Can I just say how much I love that pilots are being released early? I find it much easier to latch onto a show if it isn't battling four others shows when all the networks premiere at the same time.)

Image Source
Things I liked:
  • She's a little bit of a bitch and I love it. The problem with women on TV is that there aren't really any shades of gray when it comes to being a bitch. If you are the sweet, wholesome girl, you are the hero and if you are a bitch, you are the villain. However, no one is ever that cut and dry. We can be both things at all times. The show "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23" tries very hard to show you that you can be a bitch and a good person, but it just ends up creating a caricature rather than someone realistic. In the Mindy pilot, there's a moment where she and her coworker are trading insults and she takes it too far (bitch move) and he takes it even farther and she gets offended. We've all done that. You just get caught up in winning the fight that you let the bitch flag fly and end up regretting it. If it were "New Girl", she would have awkwardly called him a poopy-head and stormed off. Not something over the age of 11 would probably do.
  • Cameo by Bill Hader! Woot woot! Love that guy!
  • The sheer amount of glitter and sequins in her wardrobe.
  • She talks how I wish I could talk. Sometimes having a filter is just a hindrance.
  • Lying to yourself is my main strategy in life. I get it. Having others intentionally lie to you is even better.
  • "One time I left a flea market with a samurai sword."
  • I'm pretty sure they utilized an M.I.A. song. More shows should, really.
  • After watching it twice now, I could probably guess what the direction of the show is, but it wasn't rammed down my throat. If I had to sum up, it's probably that Mindy knows she's made/making some bad decisions, but she should start to get her life together. Whether or not that will actually happen is yet to be seen, but I'm all for personal growth. And I'm all for not ramming the concept of a show down my throat in the pilot.
Things I didn't like:
  • Again, stop trying create a will they/won't they relationship in the first episode! I know they will eventually develop the chemistry between Mindy and Danny, but does it really need to start in the pilot? I would much rather watch Monica and Chandler than Ross and Rachel. Let people just be friends! There doesn't always have to be constant chemistry. Things can progress from friendship. 
  • I think there were at least three references to her being chubby. When I was watching this show, her size was never on my mind UNTIL they brought it up. Why does she have to belittle herself by referring to herself as chubby? She's an accomplished doctor and with a great life and yet she still feels the need to focus on her size? I really wish it had just been a non-issue. Once she brings it up, it's all I can focus on!
  • It felt like the entire episode took place over a week, but it was actually a day. I don't buy it. TV needs to realize that it's ok for things to take time. Not everything happens immediately. I wouldn't have even thought that it could have possibly all taken place in one day until it was referenced at the end of the episode. 
  • I do not like the British guy. I'd say that if they give him a personality and a back story, he might not be that bad, but I kind of just want him gone now.
I give it an A. Most of the problems I had with the episode were hopefully only pilot issues so I will be watching this show religiously. I already am and there's only one episode to worship. 

You can watch it here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TV Round Up: 2011

Last fall, I reviewed almost every new pilot I could get my hands on (which, looking at the list now, was only six. Sad). Now, a year later, I figured I'd give an update as to what I think now of each of these shows before I start on the new crop of pilots (yay for shows being released on the internet early!).
  •  The New Girl. I gave it an A-, contingent on the fact that they don't try to hook her up with one of the boys. I have basically been watching the first season religiously and I'm sticking to my guns: I will continue to be happy as long as they don't hook her up with Nick. I like the chemistry and I have to imagine they will get there eventually, but no time soon, please? But I will gladly be watching this shows second season.
  • Up All Night. Here's what I thought a year ago, "There isn't a hook to this show yet. It needs to hook me in. I don't get excited to watch it." It earned a B-. And I still feel the same way. I kept up for the first half of the season, but then they switched around the work dynamic, which was the only reason I was watching because the home dynamic was not relatable and just kind of annoying to me. Now that supposedly they will be focusing even more on the home life rather than the TV show in the second season, I'm out.
  • 2 Broke Girls. I gave the pilot an A, but honestly, I only really ever watch it because it came on after HIMYM and there wasn't anything else on. You could pick almost any episode and it would be the same formula: work at diner, try to make extra money on the side, hijinx, hijinx, hijinx, and vagina jokes. I'll probably watch it if it's on, but I won't be going out of my way.
  • Whitney. B. Here's the thing: I'm ashamed to admit that I still like this show. I do. Not for Whitney because she is annoying as all hell, but the other characters aren't that bad. They definitely almost killed it in the middle of the season when one of the characters was suddenly like, "Oh hey, I'm gay", but it's come back a bit since then. I was very surprised that it got picked up for another season, and probably it's last season, but I'll continue to watch it. Not that I will openly admit it.
  • Charlie's Angels. D-. Hahahahaha, it's dead. There is some justice in the TV world.
  • Pan Am. C. This show had promise, but it had a bad timeslot, a plot that jumped around between too many characters, and the whole retro thing is only kitschy-cute rather than kitschy-irritating for so long.
Looking back at the grades I gave, I think I did pretty good. Anything with a B- or higher survived for a second season. Hopefully this next crop of pilots will follow the same trend. And I promise to do better than a measly six this time. I'm already writing up my review of "The Mindy Project", after I rewatch it like four more times.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Project House Update: The Jolly Green Giant Wall

We've been getting A LOT done on the house lately. Our big "End of Summer" bbq is coming up in mid-September and last time we held this party, it was two weeks after we moved into the house. Realizing how much we wanted to get done by party time and how much progress we wanted to show for having worked on the house for a full year, we started to panic. We wrote out a list of everything and it was almost a full page. So, the result is lots of progress!

When I revealed the paint changes to the living room, I outlined what was left to do. The biggest task that fell under my umbrella of "design and management" (not Dan's practical umbrella of "muscle and skill") was the naked wall.


The three things that needed to be done (In addition to this, Dan had to finish routing all the cables so it wasn't just a big, tangled mess):
  1. Find an entertainment center that fits our needs
  2. Hang mirror above the entertainment center
  3. Make frame collage wall
We had very specific needs in our entertainment center. First, we needed something that could house Dan's electronics. The shelves needed to be wide and deep enough to house his stereo and his homemade DVR (See? So smart!), especially for the connectors coming out of the back. Secondly, any cabinet doors needed to be glass or porous so that remotes and controllers would work on any equipment stationed inside. Third, we wanted this entertainment to seem like a piece of furniture. Most of the entertainment centers we looked at were very short so a TV could be placed on top. We wanted something at least 30 inches tall so the piece would feel more like a console table or a buffet. Lastly, we wanted a piece that matched the existing wood in the living room, somewhere between a walnut and cherry color.

Apparently those are really difficult criteria to meet. I looked for months at almost any store imaginable. Target, Ikea, Best Buy, Walmart, you name it. Nothing met all four constraints. And then, I found it.

World Market had it. The only problem? It's World Market. While I love World Market for their decor and food, their furniture is very hit or miss. Anything cheap will fall apart very quickly (and I can state this as fact because my sister worked there for way too long), but the expensive stuff can be pretty nice. And as you can see from the picture above, it wasn't cheap. It was actually double what we'd hoped to pay. But since this was the first one that came anywhere close to what we needed, I called my sister to get her opinion and we pulled the trigger (but we did use just about every internet discount and rebate we could find so it wasn't too bad. Gotta love the internet).

The second thing was the mirror. This one was probably one of the luckiest things to happen to us in a long time. When Dan started renting his last house, his parent's brought him a bunch of furniture they no longer wanted. We used most of it, but the giant mirror that had once graced their former formal living room long ago in Texas was now residing in our guest bedroom closet. And guess what? It's the exact same color as the other wood in the living room! And second miracle? It is the EXACT same width as the entertainment center.


While the mirror isn't exactly our style, we're calling this one a win and moving on.

Lastly, the collage wall. It seems to be more common to use all white frames, but that just wouldn't work with the colors in the room. Also, I hate when whites don't match and I knew I'd never be able to find all the frames in the exact same shade, black's easier.

We based the collage around one large picture of the map of our travels on our honeymoon. When we were in Rome, we traced our path every day on the city map and it became our favorite souvenir. Throw in a shot from our engagement session and two from the wedding and you've got most of our romantic milestones covered!

  1. Honeymoon map of Rome
  2. Engagement session image
  3. Wedding canvas
  4. "Nerds in Love" sketch (I love that it's the same pose as our wedding picture.)
  5. I still need to find something, hopefully a good pic of the kittens
  6. Map of the Reid Park Zoo, the zoo in Tucson
  7. Sweet pea water color my mom painted for our wedding
  8. Sunset from our first trip together, to Disneyland
  9. Clock image my sister gave Dan (I totally found this frame again last night when I was cleaning. It'd been missing since the move.)
Here's the wall now in all it's glory. The living room is really coming together now! (See where my jug ended up? Isn't it pretty like this? I just looooove cherry blossoms!) And it feels much less GREEN now. Not that I don't like the green, but sometimes, it's A LOT of green

Yes, I watch reruns of "Two and a Half Men". The joys of no cable.
A little bit of design advice: NEVER do a tile surround of carpet. It used to be the cool thing back in the day (and cats love to sit on the tile border), but NONE of your furniture against the wall will be level, ever. We had to make these little cellphone-like pieces of wood to attempt to stabilize the entertainment center.


Just don't do it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sometimes Engineering Isn't a Team Sport



I'd like to think that engineering is different than most professions. We work as a team to get something out the door. It's impossible to do something single-handed. Yet, that's not what my mentor would have you believe.

My mentor is a great guy and a great engineer, but he uses just about every smarmy, sleazy trick in the book to get himself ahead. Here's the thing: when you are good at what you do, no one contemplates for a second that you might be throwing someone else under the bus.

I've lost track of how many ideas he's stolen from me at this point. I admit part of it is my own fault. There are a lot of times when we'll just be talking, discussing ideas for one of my designs and I'll bring up a good idea. Since he's got at least ten years experience on me, it's nice to bounce ideas off someone who will be able to tell you if there's something unforeseen that could hinder it. The problem then arises when he passes the ideas off as his own later to the higher ups.

Here's the thing, I would NEVER take credit for someone else's idea. As someone who's job is basically creating ideas, that's about as low as you can go. It's like plagiarism. It's important to add the footnote of "When Blah Blah and I were talking earlier, he mentioned..."

And there's no real good way to call someone out when they don't give you credit. What are you supposed to say? "Hey! That was my idea!" I'm usually just left sitting there, with my mouth open in disbelief, wondering why this guy thinks that he should get to shine for my idea. Does he really believe that if I shine, he can't shine, too? Everyone already knows he's a much better engineer than I am, so why does he feel the need to keep me down?

He found a new way to outshine me last week. A problem had been brought to his attention and he was to find a solution. My only involvement at all was that he told me about the problem and we spent some time brainstorming some potential solutions. Easy enough, right? Just brainstorm until we brought the problem in front of the large group to get input. This was his baby and I was just the sounding board.

Once in this meeting, he said, "Carolyn has a topic" and through me under the bus. This was most definitely not my topic, but OK, I would just explain things to the best of my ability. At first, I actually thought he was doing me a favor because my biggest critique is that I don't speak up enough in meetings. This meeting was just to define the constraints and get some feedback before we started working on it. Low pressure situation.

As soon as I had finished explaining the problem, I mentioned several of the ideas we had discussed and the benefits of each. Turns out, though, he already had the perfect design in his back pocket. So here I am, bumbling on and on about these ideas we'd come up with together and he swoops in with the perfect idea, makes it very clear it's his idea, abandoning any responsibility for the other ideas I've already outlined. Somehow, all the crappy ideas were now mine and good thing he was here to save the engineering day!

Look, I understand that there is an inherent competitiveness in any job situation, but this guy is supposed to be my mentor. He's supposed to be showing me the ropes. He's supposed to take me under his wing. Doesn't he realize that when I look good, it makes him look good too? He's supposed to look out for me, not be the one I need to look out for.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

PMS is Emperor Palpatine

"Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete"

"The hate is swelling in you now. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant."

"Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you."
For a twelve hour window every month, I become a pod person to my hormones and the voice in my head tries to coerce me into destroying the rebel alliance.

There's a reason women never wish for super strength as a super power because if we ever had it, there would be a trail of bodies that have been ripped limb from limb once a month. 

This morning I cried for five minutes because my bun slid an inch down the back of my head. My cats, being boys, just looked at me with a mixture of fear and confusion. Rusty sat down next to me, I thought, to comfort me. He bit my knee.

I can feel the hormones pound through my body with every beat of my heart. Making my hands clench. Making my face scowl.

The odds are high that I will fall asleep at my desk today. Being internally furious takes too much energy.

Poor Dan gets the worst of it. The hormones uncap the shaken bottle of everything I keep inside. Anything and everything becomes a fight. Actual quote from me this morning: "Why would go around and pick up all your dirty laundry from the floor and not pick up any of my dirty laundry?!?"

Nothing is good enough. He either needs to be on pointe and perfect or just run for his life. Running and hiding is probably the smarter option, honestly. And actually, if he could have some food delivered to the house while he was hiding, there may not be a sobbing, swollen-faced mess to come home to.

Maybe I'll be kind to him and program this into his phone with a monthly reminder. "Order Chinese food and RUN!" He'd appreciate that.

Or maybe I'll let the hormones loose and see if he'll do something around the house for me for a change! Sometimes the dark side isn't such a bad thing. That Death Star was actually pretty cool. You know, from an engineering stand point.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Clean an Old Jug

{I love that the title kind of sounds dirty...}

Since Dan and I are actually old people masquerading as much younger people, we usually spend a large chunk of our weekends at garage sales, estate sales, or antique fairs. We usually don't end up with anything and when we do, nine times our of ten, it's Dan that finds a gem he can't live without.

However, this past weekend at an estate sale, I found this beauty.


Isn't it gorgeous? Or more importantly, can't you imagine it being gorgeous?

I've seen enough DIY and craft shows to know that there are a million different things you can do with a giant bottle if you want (It's hard to tell from the pictures, but I'd estimate that it's a five gallon bottle). I've hunted them online, but the things cost usually $35+ and add on shipping for these giant things and it's quickly an arm and a leg.

So, when I found this baby under a table on a back porch at an estate sale for only $4, I wasn't leaving without it. (Dan pulled the price tag off before I could get a pic of it, but trust me, $4!)

The biggest problem I faced was it was hard to tell how much clean-up would need to be done under the thick coating of dust. There was a layer of gravel in the bottom so the thing might be scratched to hell on the inside.

First, I just tried dish soap, a scrub brush, and the spray nozzle on my hose.


This got 90% of the dirt off, including almost all of the exterior dirt. Some mud speckles remained if you really looked close (on the scale of a pin prick), but they scratch off with a fingernail.

The remaining 10% of the grim remained at the bottom of the jug. Whether it be rust or engrained dirt, I really can't tell, but it wasn't going anywhere easily. So, I got on google and Pinterest and came up with a variety of solutions.

Solution #1: Denture Cleaner


Since I already had this sitting around (see? I am secretly old. No, it's actually for cleaning my retainer), I dropped a couple of tablets in a few inches of water and let it work it's magic.


I checked on it 15 minutes later (the allotted amount of time given on the tablet instructions) and no change. I swirled it a couple of times and checked back later and still no change. Verdict: failed on whatever this dirt is.

Solution #2: The Hot Soak

Since it's already a million degrees out, this one was pretty easy. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of dish soap into the bottom of the jug. Then, add some really hot water. Swirl it around, set it in the sun, and hope the heat lodges the dirt free. The theory is kind of like soaking dirty dishes in a sink full of hot water. While this method may have helped a little bit, there was still plenty of it stuck on. Verdict: failed.

Solution #3: Coarse Salt

Another solution I found for smaller bottles said to pour in about an inch's worth of coarse salt, some dish soap, a teeny bit of warm water, and shake the hell out of the bottle. With a jug this large, it would almost take an entire container of salt to create the layer required. I saved this one as a last resort, especially since the instructions said it make take a couple of attempts (that's A LOT of salt for a $4 jug).

If you learn nothing from me today, learn this: DO THIS METHOD FIRST! Oh my god! It's like magic. I just used whatever salt was remaining in our Morton's Salt kitchen container (somewhere between one and two cups), a couple spoonfuls of dish soap, and around one cup of boiling water. Don't use so much water that the salt all dissolves, but enough that mixture behaves like a liquid.

"These aren't the dirty dishes you're looking for"
After a couple of swirls, the blue mixture was already changing color with all of the dirt it had cleaned. It was amazing. I felt like a serious fool for waiting so long to try it. And it only took one attempt to get ALL the dirt out, so I'm only out one container of salt! Verdict: winner winner, chicken dinner.

Here's the final product.


To finish it off, I used a funnel to pour in some Windex, shook it around a few times, and used the same funnel to pour the extra back into the Windex bottle. With some additional scrubbing on the outside with Windex, I'm really happy with the results. The jug is still a little cloudy from all the micro-scratching on the glass from being outside, but there's not much I can do about that. It just makes it look more vintage, right?

So, long short short, use Solution #3. It's awesome.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roommates: A Look Back

On my lunch break, I like to visit Apartment Therapy and hopefully get home inspired. However, a couple of days ago, they posted an article about what makes the best roommate. This got me thinking about my former roommates and advice I would give to anyone trying to find a roommate.

Not including my family or my husband, I've only ever had two roommates (if you don't count the two girls I shared a suite with in a dorm when I spent the summer doing research in Michigan). These two roommates were at complete opposite ends of the roommate spectrum. My first roommate was horrible, so I'll leave her anonymous, and the second one, Rachel, was totally and completely awesome.

Roommate #1 was a childhood friend that I reconnected with in college. She was a great friend and a good person, but I think she had previously had some crappy roommates so her defenses were always high.

We had been planning to move in together for months because her current roommate wouldn't be back for the Fall semester. Things got complicated that summer when she got engaged. Her fiance and his sister were actually renting an apartment in the same building, so it was really convenient for her. They decided to get married over winter break, so I just assumed she would be moving out. Even though I was on the lease, she had the nerve to ask me if I would move out once the got married and maybe I could live with her fiance's sister. Why did I have move out? Because they wanted "the good apartment". Yeah, that wasn't happening and I made it clear that he wasn't moving in here while I was here either.

Maybe this was a bad foot to start off on, but things just got worse. The apartment came fully furnished (awesome) but her fiance had some extra furniture that he was willing to lend us that was much better than the stuff we had. Not a big deal, she said. She'd just talk to the apartment manager to get them to take back some of the furniture.

It was weeks in that crowded, over furnished apartment. She did absolutely nothing to get rid of the extra furniture. I finally called the apartment manager, who had no idea what I was talking about, and told me there was no room left in storage since we'd taken so long. I told the roommate and, when the extra furniture remained, I piled the fiance's stuff up by the door, finally set up our living room, and left them to deal with it.

We never had any big problems after that, but she could just get under my skin. We had a rule to keep the apartment locked at all times since we lived in kind of a shady neighborhood. She'd always pop over to the fiance's apartment to get something, leaving the door unlocked, and end up staying for hours. I wasn't about to leave the door unlocked when I'd go to bed, so she got locked out a handful of times. She eventually learned to take her keys with her.

Now, this next one sounds like absolutely nothing at first, but it pissed me off for weeks. A couple weeks after I was settled in, I decided to host a dinner for my family. I wanted to prove how grown-up I was, living on my own for the first time. I planned this fancy meal with courses and was prepared to really wow everyone. I even had a bunch of new kitchen stuff from Ikea I was excited to try.

Dinner was going really smoothly until I started to make dessert: baked apples. Baked apples are relatively simple so I wasn't worried. That was until I couldn't find my peeler. It was weird. It was brand new and I'd never used it, so where was it? After looking for a while, I finally gave up and peeled a half dozen apples using a knife. It's a miracle I still have all my fingers.

About a month later, the peeler showed up in a sink full of dirty dishes. As calmly as possible, I asked the roommate where it had been and she said she borrowed it, took it to the fiance's apartment, and had forgotten it. I'm pretty sure that moment is what an aneurysm feels like.

Once the first roommate got married, she moved in with the fiance and I have no idea what happened to the fiance's sister. However, luckily for me, the first roommate helped me reconnect with another childhood friend, Rachel, who was apparently sent by the roommate gods.

After living with these two girls, here's my list of rules for getting along with a roommate.
  1. Move in with someone who has a similar timeline for living together. It was really hard to feel settled when, by the time my first roommate was basically done unpacking, she was packing everything back up again.
  2. Set up some ground rules. Keep the door locked, who will put the chain on the door at night, who gets the bathroom first in the morning, who takes out the trash, etc. It's easier to stay on the same page when you start on the same page. 
  3. Find out what the other person is comfortable with. I am not known for being a clean person, but with Rachel, it was easy to agree to try and keep the common areas like the living room and bathroom fairly organized (i.e. not addressing wedding invitations on the coffee table for over a week), but things like leaving dishes in the sink for a couple of days was okay.
  4. Keep your roommate in the loop. I would always let Rachel know if I wasn't going to be home for the night so she wouldn't have to leave the chain off the door so I could get in. We'd let the other know if we were going to the store in case the other needed anything. Invite the other to join in on the movie you're watching. Some common sense and respect can go a long way.
  5. Be true to your word. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but don't say you're going to pick up paper towels if you aren't. You may not owe your roommate paper towels, but you sure as hell will piss them off if you fail to deliver.
  6. Define "borrow". I never had a problem with people borrowing my stuff, but there are limits. Don't use my only pot and then leave it dirty in the sink so I'd need to wash it before making mac 'n cheese. I don't mind if you use my shampoo if you run out, but that deal only lasts for maybe a week. And don't jack my peeler and take it from the apartment!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Project House Update: The Evil Shrub

I can't take any credit for this one. This one was all my husband, being a beast.

Last weekend, Jimmy, Dan's best friend, was bored and felt like working on house stuff. I don't exactly follow the logic, but I think he wanted an unconventional workout and since he can't really tear apart the condo he rents, he wanted to take it out on our house.

Which was completely, 100% fine by me. Do you know how many projects Dan gets out of using the excuse, "I just can't do it by myself" (Apparently my muscles don't count. And they shouldn't. My arms are chubby spaghetti, if that makes any sense. Or unbaked baguettes...)

The first thing they tackled was getting all the solar coils for heating the pool back on the roof. When we had the roof redone in June, Dan saved us a couple hundred dollars pulling the coils down himself. However, it's much easier to pull them down, with gravity working with you, than putting them back up, against gravity.

Between the two of them, though, it couldn't have taken more than an hour to get all 20+ giant coils back on the roof where they belong. Now, what else could they do with the rest of the afternoon?

How about tackling the world's most annoying bush?


It's hard to see in this picture, but there's a sidewalk that goes all around the pool. However, on the far side of the pool, no matter how often you trim it, this damn bush will always end up stabbing you. It's not like it just pokes you. The leaves are sharp enough that probably 80% of the time, it draws blood. It's just a huge pain.

So the boys took action. I gave them permission to do whatever they needed. "Burn the sucker to the ground, as long as you're careful and jump in the pool if you catch on fire."

Fortunately, they chose to just chop it down instead.

They were really quick, too. They sent me to my parent's house to borrow some rope so limbs wouldn't fall in the pool and by the time I returned, I was able to get this picture.


It was a good amount of progress, but I was oblivious to how much progress it actually was. They were discussing taking the scraps to the dump and I piped up about how it would probably fit in the two curb side garbage cans we have.

"Take a look at the trailer."


And they weren't even done yet. Yeah, there was no way it would fit in the trash. It really didn't look as large as it was until they started attacking it.

It took them probably two hours, but now all that remains is a stump and a large rock that was apparently hidden underneath the bush.


Doesn't it look so much better? No more stabby stabby! Also, it really opens up the backyard. That portion of the yard always felt kind of claustrophobic, but it's like it can breathe now. We'd like to plant some trees on the other side of the wall to hide our neighbor's house, but it's such an improvement!

Good job honey!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Promise I'm Not a Crazy Cat Lady

This will be the last post about my kittens for a while, I swear!

Even though Dan jokes all the time about how the cats are ruining his life (he's even made up a song about it), I think he is slowly starting to become a cat person. He will never, ever admit it, but he's definitely more of a cat person than a dog person.

Proof, you say?

BAM!


Do they ever take naps on me like this? Nope. It's like they can sense that they're being a cute, cuddly inconvenience.

The thing you need to know about Dan is he never really had any pets growing up. I think he may have had a box turtle at one point, but I don't ask for details in case the turtle met an unfortunate end and he was clearly a sociopath as a child and no one ever put two and two together. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Anyway...

Once we get out of the stage where the cats keep costing us money and time with vet bills, I think he'll be a little more open with his love of them. But for now, he is adamant in his stance that the cats were sent to make his life hell.

Especially now that they outnumber him...

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Monday, August 6, 2012

As You Probably Guessed...

...we decided to keep this little guy. Rusty!


Isn't he so adorable? It puts the ginger count in our house up to two! And the adorable kitten count at two as well!

Our biggest concern was how well he would get along with Sam. Well, about 50% of the time, they wrestle. It actually looks pretty painful, but they both seem to like it. For the most part, we just let them, but I do break out the spray bottle when they really go at it.


Another 40% of the time, they team up against Dan or me. They are always trying to get in my bowl or glass, behind any closed door, knock anything on the floor, or going after my camera strap. See?



But the remaining 10% of the time? That time they spend being best friends.

Actually behaving for a second at the vet. Poor Rusty had blood work done, hence the bandage.

I just thought this was a cute picture until my sister pointed out how creepy Sam's leg makes it.

They both so cute and have such different personalities. Sam is loud and bold and loving, but spoiled. Rusty is independent and calm and brave, but isn't a fan of snuggling or being held. But they are rubbing off on each other. Sam's more calm and less bitey and Rusty now hops into my lap for a cuddle every once in a while.

Dan pretends like they're ruining his life, but I know he couldn't imagine not having them now.

And because cat videos on the internet are the greatest thing ever, here you go!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Fan of Friday: Week of 8/3/2012

Pub trivia.

This week I participated in pub trivia and it was awesome. I am a bit of a trivia nut, so I knew it'd be fun, but bars aren't really my scene. But after my awesome friend Mitch made a team and summoned my brain power, how could I refuse?

And so, Engineer Death Experience was formed (4 engineers and another guy I don't really know that well. I want to say he does something nerdy, too, so it counts)!


While I am usually better at buzz-in style trivia because of my cat like reflexes (Side note: anyone who says "cat-like reflexes" has clearly never met Sam. Yesterday, he was sitting on my step-stool [Side side note: I am short] and he just fell off of it. For no apparent reason. Graceful he is not.), since there were so many people, it was write-in style. The only real down-side is with write-in answers on a team in a bar, you either have to whisper so no one else will hear you, including your own team, or basically shout the answers over the music. The drunk guy at the next table made fun of us afterward for failing at whispering.

Either way, after the first score tally, we were somehow in third. And after the second, we had risen to a three-way tie for first. The last couple of rounds sucked (No, I don't know Robert De Niro movie quotes. Not things he said either, things people said to him in movies) and we finished in fourth place, just shy of third place.

I even won a bonus question for a free beer, but since I don't drink, one of my teammates lucked out.

It was a lot of fun and if you've never tried pub trivia, I highly recommend it. Check out geeks who drink to find one near you. It's free because they assume you'll order something, like a pretty delightful veggie burger. We're thinking of making it a weekly thing, but hopefully closer to our house and closer to quitting time so there's less of that awkward in-between time.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

If I Ever Won a Gold Medal...

...it would be in Minesweeper.

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After racking my brain for days now, trying to determine if I have any skill that would put others to shame. I had all but given up, but my lovely father reminded me of my awesome Minesweeper skills.

My record is under 100 seconds for advanced. I'm quite of proud of that one.

That and my insane skills in Duke Nukem Zero Hour multiplayer with a 50 caliber sniper rifle.


Just to sum up, no actual skills here...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Exploring the Real James Bond



I love James Bond. Not Sean Connery or Pierce Bronson or Roger Moore or Daniel Craig (actually, I do love Daniel Craig. Yummy!). I love the character of James Bond. The character as Ian Fleming wrote him, not the caricature that Hollywood has turned him into.

For my birthday this year, I requested the complete collection of Sir Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. I had been reading the novels when I could find them at the library, but I wanted to read them all, start to finish. It's been almost 8 months, but I'm on the last one. And through over a thousand pages of Bond, I feel like I've finally got a grasp on the man he was meant to be.

Over the past fifty years, twenty-three movies, and six actors, James Bond has been many things, but accurate sadly to the books was never one of them.

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  1. He's lucky, not invincible. If you were to believe the movies, James Bond is almost a superhero. He swoops in, saves the day and the girl, all the meanwhile avoiding insult and injury. In actuality, he's been stabbed, shot, poisoned, tortured, even stretched on a rack. Most of the time, he messes up the plan and lucks into a solution at the end. The bullet hits the book instead of his heart. The girl pulls him out of the water before he drowns. The barracuda attacks the goon he's fighting. And I prefer my Bond this way. It makes him human.
  2. He's a romantic at heart. He's not the smooth talking ladies man who, like the Fonz, snaps his fingers and all the ladies come running. Yes, he basically does sleep with someone inevitably in every book, but it's not anything like the movies. He knows all these women for 200+ pages of plot before he beds most of them. He has relationships with them afterward as well, the ones that survive anyway. After "Diamonds are Forever", he brings the girl back to England and tries to make it work, but she leaves him for an American marine. And most people criticize the fact that he got married in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", but it made perfect sense. James Bond has always been looking for that perfect woman to settle down with, but at the same time, he doesn't want to put any woman through being married to a spy. He doesn't need a wife, he's got a housekeeper who mothers him and a job that takes up all his time. However, deep down, he wants a simpler life. A normal life. Every time he meets a new woman who tickles his fancy, he convinces himself that this is the one. This one will be different and they can, somehow, have a happy life together. It never does, but he keeps on trying.
  3. He didn't rely on much technology. True fanboys will talk about how there is a Q in the books, but honestly, I couldn't tell you anything about him. I know someone comes along and explains to Bond about his hidden weapons in "From Russia with Love", but there definitely isn't a character created. And there really isn't a need for him because Bond doesn't rely on technology. He has his gun and his wits and that's really all that he's comfortable with. No sonic watch. No machine-gun car. I'll let this one slide some, though, because all the books were written in the 1950's. A time before security cameras and cell phones and everything now that James Bond must work against just to complete his goal. It was much easier just to come up with a fake name, pretend to be a rich tourist scouting real estate, and become besties with the bad guys. But that's part of what I like about the novel version of Bond: he has to use his wits to get himself in and out of these situations.
  4. He didn't like being a spy. At nearly the end of every mission, he had plans to return to England with the girl of the moment, marry her, move to the country to become a chicken farmer, never to be heard from again. He was tired. He'd basically been a spy since WWII (so roughly twenty years when the novels were released) and he knew he wouldn't be able to push his luck much longer. Double 0's have a very short lifespan and he wanted out. He wasn't a superhero bent on saving England from every potential threat. He was almost middle-aged and he wanted to live his life. However, whenever he gets the stability he so craves, he's itching for the excitement of the field again. In a perfect world, he'd be a spy without the possibility of dying. He wants to have his cake and eat it, too.
All that being said, I do enjoy the movies. The first few were very close to the plot of the books. The problem came that the first few movies removed some of the human element of Bond. It made for a much more exciting movie when he wasn't lucky, he was skilled, and was a suave ladies man. That concept snowballed and by the time the 70's rolled around, the technology needed to be updated. Hell, when "Moonraker" was published, no one had been to outer space yet. Bond was just trying to protect a rocket prototype. But twenty years later when the book was turned into a movie, somehow James Bond is now heading to the moon? I'll never really understand that one. As time went on, people latched onto these things and, by the Pierce Bronson era, he was only these things.

Personally, I would love a remake of the series where it's all period. I want to see my Bond as a vet of WWII, trying to navigate the evolving, repairing world. To see him battle the Commie Russians and SPECTRE and to drive through the French countryside for days, trying to tail the villain. If you take out the technology conundrum, I believe the character and the stories would shine more. 

That's not to say I'm not enjoying the revamp of Bond in the last decade. I love that the newest Craig movies have gotten back to more of the roots of Bond. He's flawed. He gets the crap beaten out of him. He wants to love the girl. He doesn't know if he's the good guy or the bad guy at times. He relies on those around him. He's finally human again.

And because I wouldn't leave you high and dry, here's the trailer to the new Bond movie coming out this fall. Luckily, they always seem to be released around Dan's birthday and we celebrate by Bond-ing it up.

 

I can't believe I almost forgot to mention how awesome he was at the Olympic Opening Ceremony! As much as I love the Olympics and the British (probably my two favorite things), the British ain't no Chinese. The ceremony was kind of a stinker, EXCEPT for the total awesomeness that was Daniel Craig as Bond. 

[Note: I tried to find a video of it, but apparently it's not on YouTube. That's just wrong.]