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Abby-someone. Abby-normal.
This isn't Hans Delbruck's brain, is it?
As my icon descriptions always say, "Yes, that's me"—it's a scan of a piece of 16mm filmstrip from one of my film school projects. It was a sort of poem-video (you can have music videos, so why not poem videos?) built around a recording of John Gielgud reading Shelley's "Ozymandias," juxtaposing images of Egyptian grandeur with Philadelphia urban decay. "Grandeur," in first-year film student budgetary terms, meaning me in kohl eyeliner, my parents' Egyptian Mau cat (who's actually named Ozymandias) wearing a gold necklace, and my Rosetta Stone replica from the British Museum. Hey, it was black and white, and not more than two minutes long, and highly impressionistic; I think it played the way I wanted it to.

I don't have the film itself anymore; it might still be hanging in an editing bin in the Temple film department basement, but I didn't take anything with me when I finally abandoned the program. I did shoot a video of the film playing, and the tape's around somewhere, but I wasn't always good at labeling my tapes, and I fear there's some, um, compromising footage later on the same tape that I don't want anyone (including me, at this point) to see. Well...I guess I could dig up all the tapes, find the one with "Ozymandias," and then point the camera at a wall and record over the compromising stuff; and then I could actually show the film to people. (I still couldn't run for the Senate, though. There are pictures. If only I'd thought to take them from Evil Ex's computer before abandoning him...)

Current Mood: artistic artistic

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Okay, our office is f!cking cold—and I don't usually complain about any temperature under 80°. (Which is what the temperature in here was most of the summer.) The thermostat says it's 65° and it's already on "Emergency Heat," but my manager reports it's only gone up one degree since he got here at 8 a.m. I'd hate to find out what non-emergency heat is like.

About ten minutes ago:
Manager: Okay, whoever can find a barrel, I'll start the fire. [General laughter, less "amused" than "don't we know it, I wish we could."] I've got plenty of old [Client From Hell] stuff that we can burn. [More-enthusiastic laughter, "yeah"s.]

Another employee: That would warm my heart.
Mine too. If only it weren't a violation of the fire code...

(We've had people come in and poke at the temperature-control system, trying to make it cooler in summer and warmer in winter; I wondered aloud if they'd mixed them up: "maybe we're getting the air conditioning now." Manager: "No, with the air conditioning it was warmer.")

Breaking news: It's up to 66°! That's an increase of half a degree every fifty minutes; at this rate, we'll be up to 70° by 6:30 p.m....just in time to go home. (Well, at least I can move my fingers without creaking now.)

Update (12:21): After turning off the emergency heat, the temperature went from 66 to 71 in 40 minutes. So the emergency heat not only doesn't work, it prevents the regular heat from working. (Maybe I'll turn on the emergency heat next summer when the air conditioning won't go below 79°.)

Current Mood: cold cold

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7:48: I decided to ease into the night's cooking extravaganza by toasting some chopped pecans in a skillet—about as simple as it gets: one ingredient, one pan. The recipe called for half a cup, so it's a good thing I bought a cup of pecans; yes, I managed to burn the first batch. (I watched it and stirred it and paid really close attention to it for four or five minutes, then walked to the refrigerator and back, and in those fifteen seconds it went from "slightly toasted" to "charred and black." Humph.) The second batch turned out all right, though; so, with that under my belt, I'm going to tackle the pie crusts. (One single crust for the pumpkin pie, one double crust for the apple pie, and I have exactly enough shortening in the house to make that many; no do-overs on these.)

11:29: Okay, the apple pie's done, the pumpkin pie's in the oven with 45 minutes to go, J.'s icebox-roll dough is in the fridge, and the kitchen's not a total mess. (Actually, it's probably cleaner than when we started, because we had to move and/or wash things just to get enough space on the counters to prepare the food.)

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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I posted this survey last Thanksgiving; the results were interesting, and there have been some changes to my friends list, so I'm posting it again. If you didn't take it last year—or if you did, and want to be re-counted—jump in!

At my office today, we got to talking about Thanksgiving food: what we call different dishes, what we put in them, and so forth. We're mostly from the Northeast, with one person from Florida and another from the deep South (Alabama or Mississippi or one of those), but even those regional variations were interesting. What do you guys serve, and what do you call it?

Poll #391109 Thanksgiving Food Survey

What's the main course for your Thanksgiving dinner?

Just turkey
6(75.0%)
Some other kind of meat
0(0.0%)
Tofurkey or its vegetarian ilk
0(0.0%)
Turkey and another kind of meat/tofurkey
2(25.0%)

If you do serve some other kind of meat, what is it?

If you're a vegetarian, what will you be eating? Is there a meatless main course option? What side dishes are available?

What do you call the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish?

Stuffing
7(87.5%)
Dressing
0(0.0%)
Filling
1(12.5%)
Something else
0(0.0%)

If "something else," what?

And how about them cranberries? Is it...

Cranberry sauce
4(50.0%)
Cranberry jelly
0(0.0%)
Cranberry relish
2(25.0%)
Something else
2(25.0%)

If "something else," what?

Are they yams or sweet potatoes? (I know they're technically different plants, but they can be used interchangeably, and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably too.)

Yams
0(0.0%)
Sweet potatoes
3(37.5%)
I can actually tell the difference and I use the correct name for each
2(25.0%)
Something else
3(37.5%)

If "something else," what?

Speaking of yams/sweet potatoes, have you ever made candied yams with any marshmallow involvement?

Yes, and I still do--they're yummy!
0(0.0%)
No, never have and never will--that's disgusting
2(28.6%)
Yes, in the past, but not anymore
4(57.1%)
No, but now that you mention it, I want to
0(0.0%)
I like it both ways (stop snickering!)
1(14.3%)

If you serve turkey, what do you do with the giblets?

Throw them out
2(25.0%)
Add them to the stuffing/dressing, and/or make gravy with them
2(25.0%)
Give them to the dog/cat/other carnivorous pet
2(25.0%)
Eat them on their own. Mmmm, turkey heart...
1(12.5%)
Something else
1(12.5%)

If "something else," what?

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Some pictures of the lovely, empty, gray beach and boardwalk (and there's nothing at all sarcastic in that sentence [or in this one]). My camera's not very good, so the pictures have the blue "outdoor light" cast, not entirely rectified by the Photoshop "Auto Levels" tool and my "Brightness/Contrast" hand-adjusting. Still, they're a good overview of the beach the way I like it. (Click on the thumbnails for larger versions of the pictures; even behind lj-cut tags, the big pictures seemed to take up too much room.)

Beach and boardwalk picturesCollapse )

Current Mood: calm calm

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I'm about to set off on a one-day trip to the beach (that's Ocean City, New Jersey, or "down the shore"); my parents have a house down there that they rent out during the summer, and then visit on weekends the rest of the year. I like it better in the off-season anyway; cool and gray and not crowded, just you and the sky and the sea and the seabirds. Well, tomorrow's going to be kind of crowded, because there's a craft fair, but much better than trying to elbow your way through crowds of teenagers smoking on the boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend. I was really hoping J. would be able to go, but he's been having one of his quasi-migraine dizziness/nausea episodes all week; last night, he said "if I feel motion-sick just sitting on the couch, I'm really going to feel awful after two hours in the car." Phooey. But at least now there'll be someone at home to keep an eye on the bird and feed the mice and water the plants. (We've left Peri alone for up to 24 hours before, but we always feel guilty about it. We give her plenty of food and water, and her cage has lots of toys and room to flap around in, so we're not worried about her getting in any trouble, but parakeets are highly social and they get lonely without their flock.)

In honor of going on a sort-of-vacation, I think I'm going to leave work before 6:30—yes, I must be getting wild and crazy, huh? That way I'll be able to spend some time with J. and watch the 7 p.m. rerun of the Daily Show before my parents pick me up. (Looks at computer clock.) Yeah, almost 5:15; I'm going to be very stern with myself and start saving files and shutting down. Have a good weekend, everybody...I'll post some sea-and-seabird pics when I get back, if my camera cooperates.

Current Mood: excited excited

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Talking to gnawingtreebark, who lives in British Columbia, I've developed severe Wildlife Envy—not that having moose and bear wandering down the streets of Philadelphia would be a good thing, but it would be cool to look up and see bald eagles instead of pigeons and sparrows. A few days ago I decided to keep track of all the "wildlife" I saw that day—stray cats and dogs count, dogs on leashes don't. And here's the list, in all its non-glory:

  • Rock dove, a.k.a. Ye Basic City Pigeon—lots of them.

  • English sparrow (technically a finch)—lots of them.

  • Gull of some kind—just one of them, flying over buildings down the next block, so I couldn't see it clearly enough to tell what kind it was.

  • Starling—one of them, perched on a telephone wire and singing quite melodically.

  • Gray squirrel—one of them, in the small front yard of one of the houses on Morris St. (one of the yards big enough to have actual dirt that plants can grow in).

And...there you have it. All the non-domestic animals I saw in one day. Thrilling, huh?

I've seen some more interesting stuff, even in my rowhouse neighborhood; mockingbirds, catbirds, house and purple finches, mourning doves. There are rats and mice in the subway (I have a slightly skewed Cuteness Sensor, so my rat-and-mouse reaction is "Awwww!"), and occasionally in our house (in addition to the pet mice). On the Temple University campus, where J. works and I went to grad school for three years, he's seen thrushes, warblers, a hawk, a wild turkey, and an unfortunately-deceased woodcock (it met its doom against the glass windows of the library). When I lived near Fairmount Park, I saw raccoons investigating trash cans at night. There are deer in Fairmount Park, too—every now and then they open the park to hunters to thin the deer population, which is a reliable instigator of animal-rights protests. And the iconically wild peregrine falcons have been known to nest atop the Ben Franklin Bridge, where they probably have quite an impact on the local pigeon population. (Specifically, the impact of a two-pound bird diving from a mile in the air at over 200 mph.)

Current Mood: restless restless

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The Nine Layer Meme; it's really long, so I'm posting in my journal behind the LJ cut tag, rather than making it a huge blog entry.

Nine layersCollapse )

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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Cross-post from my blog; apologies to those of you who have my RSS feed on your friends page, but I wanted to put this on LJ too because my Bird-Handling Breakthrough happened after a long day of reading and posting in the  budgerigars community.

The bird and I had a big breakthrough tonight: after a week of getting her used to being moved around the house in her carrying cage, I was able to take her up to the office and have her spend about half an hour contentedly at my desk, perched on my wrist or shoulder while I typed. She started getting antsy after that, and I took her back downstairs to her regular cage, but it's an embarrassingly big deal that I know I can spend time in the office without feeling guilty for abandoning her. (We leave her alone when we're at work all day, so I want to spend as much time as possible together when I'm home; parakeets are very social, and J. and I are her entire flock.) One of the main reasons I don't blog on the weekends, or more often on weeknights, is that I spend my non-working waking hours in the living room with her. (There are plenty of things to do there—it probably contains more bookcases than any other 14' x 40' rowhouse in South Philly, plus the TV and DVD player—so I'm not just sitting there staring at the bird all night; I'm not quite that bird-whipped.)

Anyway. The horizons of the house have suddenly opened: I can be in the office and with the bird! I can blog and keep her entertained! (She was curious about keyboarding; I think she'll turn into a real terror if she figures out she can move the keys herself.) And if I want to spend all day Saturday reading in bed, I could bring her into the bedroom, too. Ooohhhh, the possibilities are mindless. I mean endless.*

We really need a sign on the front door saying "This house is operated solely for the convenience of the bird"—she rules the roost, and I think she knows it. I can't walk past a novelty shop or toy store without getting her something: today it was a miniature Fisher-Price xylophone keychain. She's also got her own shatterproof cactus-stem margarita glass, to keep her out of my wineglass, and her own espresso cup and saucer, to keep her out of my coffee mug, and every little bouncing ball I ever got out of a supermarket vending machine is in, around, or under her cage. Election, shmelection; our house is governed by a blue-and-yellow fluffball who weighs less than eleven pennies. (I for one welcome our new psittacine overlords!)

*That's a frequent J.-ism; I said it to myself in my head as I was typing, thought "no, don't type that!", then re-thought "oh, c'mon, it's stream-of-consciousness," so I'm sticking with it.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

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[clears throat, looks around]

Ahem. Is this thing on?

I for one welcome our new theocrat overlords.

[sotto voce]

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

Current Mood: distressed distressed

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