Friday, December 22, 2006

Yahoo's Christmas Present

Today I received my Christmas present from Yahoo! and am quite pleased.

They sent me a high-end wine opener with assorted tools in a handsome black leather case. It looks great.

After Google's Xmas gift blew my Motherboard, I sure could use some wine.

Thanks Yahoo!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Google's Christmas Gift

This year I received a Christmas gift from Google -- it was a digital picture frame, which they consider a good gift for me, after my company has spent about $130,000 advertising with them.
Actually, I liked the gift too until it blew up my computer. Evidently, this Chinese-made piece of artwork doesn't have a good way to separate electrical currents inside of it, which spelled big trouble for me.

Here's how it shook out for me:
1) I loaded images
2) half of the images were broken, so I plugged the frame back into my computer to fix the images
3) After being satisfied with the images, I put the batteries into the frame to let it run continuously
4) the batteries started to go dry within ten minutes, so I plugged the frame into the wall with the power cord that came with the frame.
5) more images corrupted in the frame, so I plugged the data/USB cord into my computer (forgetting the frame was also plugged into the wall)

6) MY COMPUTER BLACKED OUT AND WOULD NOT RESTART immediately upon inserting the USB cord into my machine.

Now, $600 in repair bills and a week without my computer, I am starting to not like Google's idea for a Christmas gift.

Bah Humbug!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

That Xmas Tree is Pimpin'

On our return trip from Iowa, Hambone and I listened to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince on the Ipod for several hours in a row. One of the songs was called "Pimpin" and it gave detailed descriptions about what is and is NOT pimpin'.

For instance, white socks with black shoes is NOT PIMPIN'

When we decorated our Christmas tree this weekend, Hambone suggested we put my furry purple pimp hat on top of the tree instead of the traditional star or snowflake topper.

After he had adjusted the hat on top of the tree, he stepped back and delared it PIMPIN'.

Gettin' Midwest on those Nachos

In Mid-November, Hambone and I made our annual trip to Iowa, stopping for a visit with some family in Indiana. We watched an IU/UofM game in the stands, where we discovered that they they don't serve any alcohol. :-(

However, after the game we all went to Macri's for a hearty meal. My brothers were very interested to get our take on the nachos there, since we are the self-declared Nacho Connoisseurs.

I'd say those nachos were a 8 of 10. Part of it was that I was RAVENOUS by the time I got them, but to Macri's credit, the chips were fresh and they used real cheese. I deducted two points for using canned Jalapenos, but other than that they were very good.

It was great to see family again, and in Iowa (the next leg of the journey) we were able to catch most of Hambone's siblings too.

Here's what we learned on the trip overall, though: We added up the hours spent driving and it turned out to be 44 total. The trip lasted just over 4 days. That's a lot of driving. From now on we FLY!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rat Season 2006 Comes to a Close

With the weather starting to turn toward winter, I'm sad to report that our rat season is slowing down.

This year yeilded a respctable 15 rats, however it paled to the armageddon of last year. Total for the overall effort: 38 caugh in traps, and an unspecified number killed underground by the exterminator in 2005.

We didn't post as many gratuitous photos this year because the whole thing has become rather humdrum. Even Maggie doesn't get too excited when there's one in the trap. She goes over there and sniffs a bit, but unless she's got the energy to start playing with it, she just waits for Hambone to get the air rifle.

So now all is quiet on the western front until next June. I thought you'd all want to know.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New ManPower?

Hambone and I went shopping last weekend and came across this storefront. We were tempted to buy ourselves some Chinese Boys because, well, why not? Seriously, who couldn't use a few Chinese Boys?

The hook for us was the "Free Delivery"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Paparazzi, Part Deux

My new hairdo seems to be the key to outrageous attention. This week Hambone and I appered in the Baltimore Sun for simply being "fabulous". The article is here for today, but may be gone tomorrow. Mostly they took lots of pictures of our home, and then spelled our names wrong in the article. Ah well. I suppose that's the way of the fabulous.

The funny part is that when the photographer came to the house, there was a live rat in the yard in one of Hambone's traps. It was screaming and thrashing around in a very conpsicuous way. It lent a little "white trash" to the event.

The rats keep us grounded. LOL

Monday, September 25, 2006

Technically Speaking

Sometimes the error messages that come on my screen are kind of funny. For instance, lately I get this message every time I use my wireless mouse:


And I have to wonder, "Critical of what?" Are they insulting my hard drive and this is my computer tattling on this aftermarket mouse?

Or are the batteries criticizing the mouse itself, and this is the mouse asking me for more polite batteries.

Maybe the batteries don't like my new hairdo, and my motherboard is sick of hearing about it.

Either way, I suppose new batteries wouldn't hurt...

In other news, Hambone and I found this handy rack at an antiques store in Pennsylvania:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What We Did Over Labor Day

While many of you out there were attending barbecues and having big social time with family and friends, Hambone and I got it into our heads that we needed to find a Wardrobe to put in our living room because we currently lack a coat closet there.

After shopping the antique malls in the morning, Hambone remembered suddenly that he had a "perfectly good" wardrobe in his warehouse.

When we arrived at the warehouse, we found that the wardrobe had been walked on by his employees with drywall on their shoes, and some of his partners' dogs had peed on it, and the front door was broken in three places, and the shelves were torn out.

Here's a picture:

It didn't look like much, but I had faith. Hambone seemed dedicated to repairing the doors and every other structural problem you can see here, so I thought about how to clean this thing to make it look good again.

I settled on washing it with a scrub brush and dish soap for the really nasty stuff (including the pee) and then this great aerosol wood polish/oil that I found at the Getto Walmart by our house. As a finishing touch, I used Old English to camoflage the scratches and skishes.

Here it is in process--

And, after about 6 hours of just plain swearing at the thing, it was finally finished -- and I have to say it looks great. It's a nice addition to the room.

A Footnote About City Birds

I know you have already heard my adventure with feeding birds, so I won't bore you by rehashing it all. However, what has been interesting is that my yucky neighbor (the one who air dries his underwear on a clothesline in the back yard) has now been inspired to feed the birds.

He sprinkles crumbs in the alley every day, which is only good for attracting pigeons. Great.

Now when Hambone and I leave the house, this is what we see. Every day.

I have to say that this starts our days out on a rather ominous tone. Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of my neighbor's psychological handiwork...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Chesapeake Explorer Gets Political

As some of you may know, the neighborhoods of urban Baltimore are organized into little political groups called neighborhood associations that act as the sounding board for the 'hood and liaise with the city govenment to help put the citizens' perspective in front of the politicians.

I became involved in our neighborhood association when I wanted to generate funds and permission to build the bocce ball court. And, when that project was finished I was in the throes of getting married and was pretty busy at work so my involvement lapsed.

For fun, I went to a meeting a couple of months ago and found that almost the entire board was empty because of others doing similar kinds of things with their time. So I volunteered to be the Vice President of the association. A vote was taken and voila, I was in.

Two days later, the President of the association called me up and announce her resignation because she had just gotten married.


The good news is that this term expires in October -- that's the cool part about being voted in during the term. We'll see what happens after that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Nachos at James Joyce -- Thumbs WAY UP

Last Friday night Hambone and I wandered around the Baltimore Harbor to the James Joyce pub, where we discovered "stealth Irish Nachos."

Because really, isn't an Irish pub the last place you'd expect to find good nachos? And the real stealth move is that they aren't called Nachos. In the Irish rendition, they're called "five layer dip."

The other way they fool you is by serving the guacamole, salsa, sour cream and refried beans in an ice cream sundae glass that is surrounded by nacho chips around the base of it. When these nachos arrived, it looked for all the world like we were receiving dessert.

But I have to say, the chips were insanely fresh and delicious and the chip-to-topping ratio was right on. Even the guacamole was fresh. I have to give this the thumbs up, with extra points for creative presentation.

Me gusta mucho!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Damn Paparazzi

So I have recently become FED UP with my really kinky curly hair. This summer with its 92% humidity has pushed me over the limit. I would come home from a particularly stressful day and Hambone (who has asked if I would please please stop cutting my hair so short I look like I'm playing for the 'other team') would openly jeer at my mile-high hair.

Last week I went to the new salon on Charles Street called "M" (that's the entire name) and asked them to either straighten my hair somehow or to just shave it off. They decided to do a "reverse permanent" on me, which took my wild and ridiculous hair and straightened it right out.

Surprisingly, after the deal was done, my hair is long enough to cover my ears. Who knew.

Now that my hair is ... more normal, I have been trying the hairdos you'd usually see on TV and in the Movies. My current favorite is the "Carmella Soprano."

Yesterday I was having lunch at a cafe in Mt Vernon and this Chinese girl at the next table held up her phone and took a picture of the top of my head. I was really quite put off by this.

I think her picture looked something like this -- I tried to re-create the photo when I was sitting in my office this afternoon. (That's how I roll) I can't see what she wanted from that picture...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Movie Review: Clerks II

Because it was so bloody hot outside this weekend, Hambone and I went to the movies in order to accomplish two goals 1) get out of the house and 2) not experience heat stroke

We went to the Columbia Mall, where I am constantly struck by the "whiteness" of it all. After frequenting Arundel Mills Mall, where we're the only honkies in the place, Columbia is like a trip to Stepford.

Anyway, we saw Clerks II and laughed ourselves silly. I mean, you have to really appreciate course humor and it is required to see Clerks I first. If you meet these criteria, the movie is dead on with the humor of the first Clerks.

But it's a dirty, dirty movie. Be ready.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Issues with Fungi (not Feng-Shui)

So in landscaping the yard, we opted this year for Scott's brand Black mulch. They say on the package that the mulch will never fade, and will keep looking great year after year.

What they didn't mention is the propensity to grow giant fungi all over the place. I'm not sure if the fungus comes from the heat generated by the black color or if the 80 bags we bought had spores already inside the bags.

Here's what we've got -- it starts out as this yellow stuff, then turns white, then starts BELCHING spores for days and days.

Monday, July 10, 2006

More about Feeding Birds in the City

This is the top of our garage (see the photo, left) You can see the pigeons waiting there hungrily for me to refill the bird feeder yet again. Well that isn't going to happen. Not until they stop begging like mongrel dogs.

See the gap in the lineup there? That's because Hambone's buddy took one out with a B-B gun. See how the rest of them are undeterred?

As an added bonus, the birds didn't actually eat all the seed they had shoveled onto the ground, so now we have little plants growing under the feeder. It's quite a joy.

We did buy more feed over the weekend, but neither Hambone nor I am ready to recycle this set of events...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wild Birds are HOGS

So we bought a larger bird feeder after I broke the one we had. (It tipped over when I was cleaning it out after the rain) I figured the larger feeder would help the seed last longer. But no, indeed that was not the case.

The birds, those sweet little sparrows and nuthaches and such are HOGS. They go to the feeder in flocks. Most of the birds sit on the ground, and the bird or two on the feeder SHOVEL the food with their beaks out of the feeder to the others.

We've watched the seed fling off of the feeder to 30 sparrows on the ground on a number of occasions. Then the pigeons come between the flocks of sparrows to gobble any remaining seed.

In our three weeks of 'birding' we've burned through 35 pounds of bird feed. I'm not kidding.

I really enjoy the birds, but this seems to have grown out of porportion. Has anyone got any ideas for how to manage this? I thought I was on deck for about 15 birds, but the flocking is really more than I had bargained for...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Rat Season 2006

It's July officially now, which means the rats are back. I'm not sure what it is about this time of year -- maybe their young are big enough to require more food than they did earlier in the year, but we haven't seen a rat since the beginning of last winter.

On Saturday (July 1) a rat dug under my Clematis, one of the three remaining after the rat/plant carnage of 2005, and snapped off all the vines.

I declared to Hambone that "It's ON."

He put out a trap that evening and by morning we had caught the culprit. Hambone's become quite skilled in this area.

Afterward, I found out that he had been 'baiting' rats and pigeons by pouring seed on the ground because he missed shooting things in the yard. For those of you considering bird feeders in the city, you may want to keep the bird seed in the feeder. You'll also want to keep the seed dry -- when it gets soggy it produces *quite* a stench, which draws some of the undesirables from the neighborhood, if you know what I mean.

Yesterday we bought a new feeder that's a little more water proof. I'm waiting for them to make one "Hambone proof."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Joy of Birds

Six weeks ago Hambone and I and one of my associated Hams and her Pre-Ham went to the Flea market to see what there was to see.

I stumbled across a bird feeder for $4 so I bought it. Mostly I liked the shape of it, and wondered if there was such a thing as wild birds in Baltimore City.

Three weeks later, we bought bird seed for the thing. Evidently, getting the right kind of seed to attract the right kind of bird is a bit of a science. Luckily Lowes did most of the work for us by putting pictures of the kinds of birds we would attract with each variety of seed. Hambone and I pointed at the birds we'd like to see in the yard, and presto -- A $25 bag of seed was ours.

I filled up the feeder last week, and at first not a whole lot happened. Then the sparrows started to arrive, much to my enjoyment. On the 7th day of bird feeding, the pigeons arrived, which nearly caused me to pull the plug on the whole deal.

What a sight that was, with sparrows on the feeder and big dumb pigeons standing on the ground below the feeder begging like dogs.

However, the doves and the sparrows seemed to drive the pigeons off over time -- perhaps sensing my disdain at their presence. Now the main visitors to our yard are "nice" birds, and I can't begin to explain the change in our yard.

When we sat outside for coffee on Sunday morning, we were serenaded by wild bird calls and we could watch the birds playing and eating on the feeder. Even Maggie was transfixed.

These days she lays by the back door watching the birds all day instead of waiting by the front door for Hambone and me to come home all the time. We all sit outside (when it's not raining) after work to watch the birds. Hambone and I share a bottle of wine, and Mags chews on her rawhide. So peaceful.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Little Soggy, But Basically OK

I am sure many of you have heard about the torrential rain storms here in Baltimore, Washington and Philly. Yesterday found me in some of the worst traffic *ever* as I tried to make my way to the Mansion on O Street to give a speech to the Woodrow Wilson folks.

It took about two and a half hours to get from here to there, roughly double the normal commute. However, compared to all the others who had their rides quadruple in length, I felt pretty lucky. Many of the attendees were hamstrung by the two closed metro stops down town, and yet others were stuck on the wrong side of the mud slides on the beltway.

In Baltimore, we're wet, but not strangely flooded like DC. THEY really got hit hard. We don't even have water in the basement, if you can believe it.

Go Baltimore!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Best Ribs Ever

In our home, it's not unusual to see Hambone walking through the back yard with a half a hog on his back. Last weekend, for instance, he went hog shooting with one of his friends.

He came back from the trip quite cheerful and wanted to butcher the entire boar right away. However, our next door neighbors who are polite city-folk were having a little cookout with their kids and their parents. We were pretty sure they wouldn't understand about Hambone lugging in 200 pound hunks of boar with the spine and legs still attached.

We went for nachos instead.

He wound up hauling the meat in under the cover of darkness. The "stealth redneck" approach.

We prepped and froze most of the meat the next day, and Hambone made his special secret Rib marinade -- 7 limes, 7 lemons, 17 cloves of garlic, a yellow onion and 1/2 bottle of whiskey.

We let the ribs marinate for 3 days, and last night we grilled it up. As we lifted the ribs to put them on the grill, all of the rib bones fell out into the pan. We slathered the meat with BBQ sauce and grilled them for about a half hour. The meat needed to be removed from the grill with a fork because it was so tender.

That's some good rib eatin' there, man.

If you ever wind up with a whole rack of ribs, let me know how it works out for you!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Becoming a Pod-Head

With all of the hullaballoo going around about iPods, I really wanted to hate them. It's a compulsion with me, where I become contrarian about anything that people rave and rave about.

In a coincidental occurrance, Hambone and I found iPod Nanos on his AMEX rewards list, so we had one sent to us. When it arrived, I snubbed it for days. I wouldn't even take it out of the box. And when I did open the box, I mocked the packaging.

I loaded the iPod up with all of the CDs I already had, thinking that would be lame. But no.. no that wasn't lame. That was... the gateway to a new addiction.

Initially, I enjoyed the shuffle -- everything was on shuffle and I listened to it through the car radio adapter kit. Then I started with the ear buds. Then I started noticing I got anxious when it was not within my grasp.

I have become...

a Pod-head.

The horror.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Paper Moon -- Nachos Thumbs-Up

Last night one of the hams and her boyfriend "the Warrior" invited Hambone and me to Nachos at Paper Moon, which is one of their favorite hangouts.

I have to give Paper Moon's presentation a thumbs-up for real cheese and delicious guac. They lost a couple of points because the salsa was from a jar and the chips were pretty broken up at the bottom of the pile of 'good' chips. Maybe our plate of nachos was made from the last few in the bag or something.

The other thing that's cool about Paper Moon is that it's decorated with something like 50 mannequins. And little army toys. My personal favorites were the ceiling fans that had hundreds of tiny buttons glued to the blades.

Me Gusta Paper Moon. Yay!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Adventures with the Roomba

So the bloom is off the rose with the Roomba as far as Hambone is concerned. He thought the idea of buying it was silly from the get-go, but I still have faith.

I have found that using the Roomba is much like hiring a relative to vacuum for substandard wages. If you're sitting there watching, then they do a good job. As soon as you leave for work, look out.

When I leave, the Roomba finds unfathomable things to get hung up on for long enough to drain its battery. Yesterday afternoon it was a sock stuck in the brush. Last night it was tangled in Hambone's Atari cords. God only knows what I will find it tangled in tonight.

At one point, the Roomba shut off right at the top of the stairs, ominously claiming another of Maggie's favorite haunts. I feel a power struggle coming on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Branding through MS Word?

Have you ever noticed that Microsoft Word tells you every time you have misspelled one of their brand names? For instance, if I type powerpoint into a Microsoft Word document, it puts the squiggly red line below that indicates a misspelling. When I ask it for suggestions, it always recommends PowerPoint, which is the branded typographical spelling of PPT.

I have always found that strange.

I started goofing around and realized that Microsoft Word also helps to brand Google as a proper noun. Everyone knows that a google is also a number (1 with 100 zeros behind it) so why does it show as Google the proper noun in my editor? I mean, it says I've misspelled it if I leave it lower case.

Ironically, Microsoft does not know its branding for the MSN content network online. If I type "msn" into Word, the program doesn't flag it as misspelled at all.

Any ideas?

Anyone else see this going on?


If you will recall from my other blog, I have had a love affair with my Dyson Animal and their telephone support lady, Diane, for about a year now. I have picked up drywall dust, hair, nails, and even some surprisingly large rocks with my Dyson and haven't had more than the passing complaint.

Hambone has recently confiscated my Dyson and brought it to his construction company for their new-construction home cleaner to use.

I was sad about that for a little while, until Hambone bought me a new one this weekend. This one has a furniture attachment, so as soon as Hambone brings our furniture back from display in his model home, I am looking forward to testing it out.


Dyson Rules.

Why is my blog here now?

I bet a bunch of you are wondering why I sold out and went to Blogger instead of continuing to host my own blog.

I'll tell you why -- there is a dirty rat scoundrel hacker out there, who for some COMPLETELY UNEXPLAINABLE REASON hacked my blog down to its underpants and not only deleted the whole thing, but broke the code so badly that when I rolled the server back to the last time the blog worked, the server kept breaking the blog.

Not only that, but there were some spam robots installed that instantly posted 450 comments on the blog as soon as I posted any new entries. AND those comments only showed as "14" on the first page of my blog. The server was swarmed.

So you dumb turkey, I am over here now. If you start spamming me here, at least it's not on my server.


Adventures in Vacuuming

This weekend I cajoled Hambone to by me a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. After our success with the Dyson, I am optimistic about new innovation in vacuuming.

The Roomba is a cute little thing that beeps cheerfully when you set it to do the most mundane task in the house (next to dusting, but so far there aren't robots for that). It reminds me of the game "Simon" from the eighties. Happy sounds, blinking lights, what's not to love?

I put the Roomba down in the middle of the living room, in view of its infrared docking station where it can recharge itself and then immediately start vacuuming again. I went outside and had a glass of wine, and when I came back it was still happily roaming the floors.

Its suction isn't much, but it was very successful picking up the tumbleweeds of dog hair littering the living room. I liked that very much.

Maggie is a little less in favor of the Roomba and eyes it with great suspicion. When it runs, she likes to perch on the very top step and watch it to make sure it doesn't cause us any harm.
Yesterday I set it to run all day while I was at work, which was a little... less successful. Evidently, it got stuck on Maggie's favorite rug and ran until the batteries wore out. This made Maggie so upset that she threw up. The barf ran all down the stairs, which ironically the Roomba can't clean.

Ah well. I still like the Roomba. Today I am testing it upstairs.