Saturday, December 30, 2006

That's a lot of pages

For kicks, I decided to keep track of every book I read this year. In January, I had a goal of reading 40 books. It looks like I exceeded that goal.

In order, here's what I read in 2006:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
2. The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand
3. Hand-Me-Down by Lee Nichols
4. The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey
5. A Million Little Pieces by James Fray
6. Marley & Me by John Grogan
7. 1776 by David McCullough
8. Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four by John Feinstein
9. Lapham Rising by Roger Rosenblatt
10. Jemima J by Jane Green
11. Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry
12. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
13. Tell Them I Didn't Cry by Jackie Spinner
14. Engaging Men by Lynda Curnyn
15. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
16. Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend by Lynda Curnyn
17. Bombshell by Lynda Curnyn
18. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
19. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
20. Looking for Mr. Goodfrog by Laurie Graff
21. Gap Creek: A Story of a Marriage by Robert Morgan
22. Love @ First Site by Jane Moore
23. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louis Murphy
24. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
25. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
26. Me vs. Me by Sarah Mlynowski
27. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
28. Letters to a Young Journalist by Samuel G. Freedman
29. Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire
30. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
31. Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore
32. All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
33. To Have and to Hold by Jane Green
34. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
35. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
36. The Other Woman by Jane Green
37. My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell
38. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks
39. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
40. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
41. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
42. Babyville by Jane Green
43. A Widow's Walk by Marian Fontana
44. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
45. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

Looking back at the list, by far my favorites that I read this year were Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Marley & Me, Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, Tell Them I Didn't Cry and The Book Thief. I recommend them all.

I'm aiming for 40 books again in 2007. This year, I might even keep track of how many pages each book is. Just for kicks.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Let me get political for a moment

So the reports are in that Saddam Hussein has been hanged.

And while I'm not arguing that he deserved what he got for what he did, I wonder momentarily what purpose it will serve. Are the Iraqi folks just going to go, "Yeah, he's dead. Now we're safe and the Americans are wonderful" ? Are the insurgent folks going to take the opportunity to blow up more explosives and are supposed to just sit by and hope that our troops don't get caught in the crossfire? Is Saddam being dead really going to change much of what's going on over there in the big sandbox known as the Middle East?

Don't get me wrong, I support our troops whole-heartedly. I support what they do and that they're willing to put their lives on the line to keep us safe and ensure our freedoms. But there are still times, four years later, when I wonder exactly what we're doing over there and why. And I don't think I'm alone in those thoughts.

Hello, my name is Pokey and I'll be your server tonight

It must have been national Awful Service Day in restaurants across the county yesterday.

I met up with my friend Nicole for lunch yesterday in Neenah. We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks due to that whole holiday madness and we each had the afternoon off, so we decided to meet and grab a bite to eat. We went to Applebee's and were seated promptly by a not-so-very-friendly wait staff. Our waitress showed up and got our drink order and then disappeared into that place where waitresses go.

And we waited. We had only asked for a minute or two more to peruse the menu and make our decision. We should have asked for 30 seconds since that minute turned into 10. But she finally came back, took our order and disappeared again.

She brought our food, returned once with drink refills and eventually brought our check and change. The quality of her service wasn't too terrible (I've had much worse service at Applebee's in the 'burg), but I think the thing that annoyed me was her very soft voice. I mean, busy, loud restaurant and we could barely hear her. Not too good. But tolerable.

Then last night, my parents came down to see my Christmas tree and take me to dinner. We went to Fratello's, which I've heard is normally quite good.

Maybe the first problem was the time. We never even left my apartment until 7:30. And considering I usually eat dinner around 6, that's kind of late for a big meal for me. But anyway, we went, got seated, were told our waitress would be with us in a minute and once again, were left to peruse the menus.

Sure, our waitress came. About 15 minutes later. She took our drink order and disappeared into that black hole where waitresses go. It took her 20 minutes to come back with our drinks and to take our order. Then it was another 20 minutes before she came back with my mom's salad. Surprisingly, our food made it out to us in another 5 minutes.

The food? My parents said their meals were good. Me? It could have been better. My cheeseburger, which I had specifically said "charbroiled burger with cheese" initially came without the cheese. And then instead of being medium well like I had asked, it was essentially still mooing. Yeah, last time I checked, medium well meant the burger was brown inside, not pink. But fearing it would take another 20 minutes to fix the pinkness and that I would die of starvation, I sucked it up and ate the still-mooing burger.

We finished our food, dad left a fairly generous tip considering the service and I filled out the comment card. And we left.

But that still-mooing burger came back to haunt me. Not only did I attempt to go to sleep on a way too full stomach, sometime in the middle of the night I felt like I was going to throw up and I got super hot. Now, either this was a hot flash (and hello, I'm only 26, way too young to be getting hot flashes) or else this was the still-mooing burger trying to get revenge on me. The good news, I didn't throw up. The bad news, my stomach still feels a little queasy.

But yeah, really bad service at area restaurants I visited yesterday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More laziness

My lazy afternoon continued on into the evening.

I read. I did laundry. I met my mom and niece in Appleton for dinner. I came back home. I read some more. I finished my laundry.

And then I watched three hours of Friday Night Lights, the TV show on NBC that I've been wanting to watch all season. But it was always on Tuesday and it conflicted with something else I watched. And do I have to remind you of the temperamental VCR?

But there was a marathon on tonight. So I watched it. And it was good. And it's being moved to Wednesday nights. Although Lost is also on on Wednesday nights, I might be able to find some time, or a less temperamental VCR, to watch Friday Night Lights. Because I liked it. And I don't have to worry about missing the first episodes of the season, because nice NBC has them online so I can watch them. :)

And now back to my dull, non-productive vacation day.

Vacation day ramblings

I have the day off, yet I still had to make a few calls for work. Well, OK, it was one call, but still.

It's all because the bosses let me have today and tomorrow off, yet those are the only two days this week the district attorney's office is working. And I need to talk to the DA. So I called him, got his voice mail and left a message, telling him he could call me back on my cell today or tomorrow or wait until Friday, when I'm in the office and he isn't.

I'm crossing my fingers he'll wait until Friday.

Other than that, it's been a lazy day. I started some laundry, because, hello, the last remaining pair of pants I have that aren't dirty are about 2 sizes to big, so I'm always pulling them up when I stand up.

And I made a trip to the library. I picked up The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. Both have come highly recommended. Oh, and I grabbed Love Actually on DVD, since I have some time on my hands between now and Jan. 3.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tagged again?

Apparently you can be tagged multiple times in this game. Because suddenly I've been tagged again. And I'm supposed to come up with 5 more things you may or may not know about me. Here were go again...

1. I can't iron. I put more wrinkles into clothes than I take out. My family thinks it might be due to the fact that I only own a small, table top ironing board that I had while I was in college. I guess that's why my sister-in-law though a great Christmas gift would be a full-sized ironing board. I'm not optimistic my ironing abilities will improve though. Maybe I'll just start buying clothes that don't require ironing. Or just wear wrinkled shirts.

2. I'm a very picky eater. Although I think I've gotten better over the past few years. I like more fruits than vegetables. And I'm quite good at picking stuff that I don't like out of or off of food.

3. I play the violin and piano, but I hate performing solo. I think it goes back to a piano recital I was in in 4th grade. I had to have my pieces memorized and the first one (I can't recall what it was) went fine. However, for my second piece, I was playing "Dixie." I was playing and it was going good. I was almost to the end. When my mind went blank four measures from the end. I remember stopping, thinking and turning around to my piano teacher and asking if I could start over. She nodded yes and the folks in the audience laughed. Not in a "ha ha ha, you suck kind of way" but more a "ha ha, isn't she cute." I started the piece over, finished it with flying colors and have hated performing solo since.

4. I spent my summers during college working at a school supply warehouse. For the first three summers, I packed orders. My last summer I was the "checker," which meant I made sure all the stuff was right in the order. If it was wrong, I got to ride a yellow three-wheeled bike around the warehouse to get the right stuff. That was the most enjoyable part of the job. It sure wasn't the fact that all of my supervisors were lesbians, together.

5. My first car was a red 1985 Chevette. It didn't like driving on the highway and the check engine light would always come on. One time, while working at The Wisconsin State Journal in college, my boss sent me out to Belmont, Wis., this itty bitty town near Iowa, for a basketball game. It took me like an hour and half to get there. I went, parked next to the school's cow barn, covered the basketball game I was at and drove back to Madison to file my story before heading out for a night game in Middleton. All the way to Middleton, my car hurked and jerked down the Beltline. I was a bit frightened. I called my dad, told him what was going on and he told me what the problem was. Apparently the Chevette ate through transmission fluid like a normal car goes through gas. And I was running with no transmission fluid. From then on, I always carried a spare bottle or two of transmission fluid in my backseat. And I wonder why my dad didn't want to keep the Chevette another two years so we could get collector plates for it.

There, that was five more things. That means over the last few days you've learned 10 things about me. I think that's enough for now. And I don't think I'm going to tag anyone either, just because.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas list

I've been tagged, so I guess I'm supposed to list some stuff you may or may not know about me. Considering it's the Friday afternoon before Christmas and I still have one and half stories to write before I go home, I'm not promising anything amazing here. But I'll try.

1. At some point in my life, I've used every imaginable form of the name Jennifer. I've been Jenny W. (that was kindergarten when there were four Jennys in my morning class and another two in the afternoon class), Jenni, Jennie, Jennifer and Jen. Even now, I go by different versions. Jennifer in my professional life, Jenny or Jen by my friends and Jennifer by my family. Like I always say, I answer to anything within reason.

2. I took ballet lessons at the YMCA when I was in kindergarten. But then I broke my wrist falling off a piece of playground equipment and my mom never signed me up for lessons again. Probably a good thing. I don't think I'm quite cut out for ballet.

3. I bleed Badger red, but for a brief period in high school I seriously considered going to Marquette University. But then I found out what kind of tuition bills I would be getting and thought better of that decision. Dad's probably glad too since the campus was in one of the worst areas of Milwaukee.

4. I lived in Indiana for exactly 365 days. I moved there on Halloween and left on Halloween. I was a sportswriter, loved my job, liked my friends and hated Indiana with a passion.

5. I'm a procrastinator. Even in school, I would wait until the last minute to start writing a big paper. I'd pass it off as "preparing for my future career that will be full of deadlines."

Yeah, that's five. If you already knew them, sorry about that. If not, that's five more things you know about me now.

I'm supposed to tag some folks now. I tag Lootsfoz and whoever else feels like participating. Because I think most of the other folks who read this have already been tagged.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day Two: Operation wrap

I didn't tackle the filing cabinet yesterday. But I did wrap my Christmas presents. Well, most of them anyway. But I ran out of wrapping paper with one gift left. And although it's going to be a pain in the butt to wrap my nephew's gift, there's no way I'm putting it in one of those over sized gift bags because, hello, you don't do that to a 2-year-old.

So I had to make a Target run tonight after work to get wrapping paper.

And tonight, I will finally finish wrapping presents. And then Christmas can come, cause I'll be ready.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The list of things to do...and nothing's crossed off

I was going to be productive on my day off.

I was planning on going to the YMCA and stepping on the treadmill to run to nowhere. I was going to wrap my Christmas presents. I was going to make a dent in the pile of books sitting by my recliner that are due back to the library in approximately 6 days. I was going to do a lot of things.

But I haven't really done anything yet.

The YMCA and the treadmill to nowhere? I really thought hard about that one. But in the end I decided it's my day off, why exercise?

The Christmas presents? Still in the shopping bags piled in my closet. But in my defense, wrapping Christmas presents is so something you do at night, in front of the lit Christmas tree with Christmas tunes playing. There's still time to get this one done.

The pile of books? Well, I guess I can say I was somewhat successful here. I finished "Babyville" and started "A Widow's Walk." That means I have a chance at getting them back to library on time without a late fee.

I did talk to an old friend and make a doctor's appointment. That and started to think about getting stuff together to roll my old 401(k) over. But then I discovered a lengthy menu of press 1 for this and 2 for that. All I want to do is talk to a real person people!

As for the rest of the afternoon, I might get ambitious and tackle my filling cabinet. It's got papers in it from health insurance stuff from two jobs ago, not very useful. But at the same time, that could end up being quite a chore. We'll see. Maybe the pile of books will call my name again.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A roundoff, backhandspring with a twist

My stomach was doing flip-flops all day. And I'm sure the greasy tacos I had for lunch during our office Secret Santa exchange didn't help matters.

No, my stomach was doing gymnastics because I had a date tonight. A dinner date with The Boy, who I haven't seen since October. And I was nervous.

I made fettuccine Alfredo with garlic bread. And for someone who isn't much of a cook, I must say it was quite tasty. Granted it wasn't too difficult to make, but I was quite impressed with myself, especially since my specialties usually come from a box.

And afterwards, we watched High Crimes, a movie I own on DVD, but honestly don't think I've ever watched.

The night was good. And my stomach has stopped doing gymnastics. And that's all I'm going to say about that. :)

But they looked so cute

My feet hurt.

I decided on a whim to wear a pair of high heels yesterday. It looked like a good idea. The heels are cute and it was something different than what I wear everyday. And I've only worn them a few times.

But in retrospect. It wasn't the smartest idea.

Midway through the day, my feet ached. When I finally took the shoes off at night, it felt good to walk around shoeless. I thought a good night of sleep would be all I needed to help nurse my feet back to normalcy.

Not so.

I woke up this morning, put on the shoes I normally wear and my feet still ache like they're still in those darn shoes.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

You baked how many cookies?


That's how many cutout Christmas cookies my mom, three aunts and I made this afternoon. In case you're wondering, that's 49 dozen cookies and 6 burnt roosters.

In case your wondering, we quadrupled the family recipe. Most years, we just triple it, but we had one extra aunt this year, so we made more cookies.

Fun tidbits:
* We used one 48 ounce canister of shortening plus an additional two cups.
* There was about 30 cups of flour involved in the actual cookie dough. Additional flour was used to sprinkle over the counter top before the rolling pin was used.
* I was not allowed to use a rolling pin. Apparently I'm too slow.
* Eight eggs were used.
* We employ an assembly line technique in making the cookies. Two people rolled the dough, two people used the cookie cutters, the first two people then scooped the cookies onto the pan, one person was in charge of the oven and one person counted the cookies and doled them out to the four tins waiting on the floor.
* I was the counter.
* My aunt's cat started to help herself to a cookie, but I caught her in time. Then she got ticked off at me (probably because the cookie was so tasty) and launched into the never-ending hiss.
* The cookie partly enjoyed by my aunt's cat was not in my cookie tin.

From start to finish, the whole process (from mixing the dough, to rolling, cutting the cookies out, baking and clean up) took 3 hours. That's 200 cookies per hour.

From my mom's tin, I took four dozen home for myself. I spent the evening frosting and decorating them.

But 600 cookies and they all turned out fine and tasty...except for the 6 burnt roosters.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Badgers, drivers and presents, oh my!

I'm not exactly sure where the afternoon went.

My morning, early afternoon was spent glued to my recliner, watching my Badgers knock off Pittsburgh, the No. 2 ranked team in the country. Great games by Alando Tucker and Brian Butch. I guess watching today's game kind of made up for missing last week's game against Marquette due to the temperamental VCR's inability to record a game. But I still would have liked to see it.

And I have one thing to say to ESPN, if you're going to send Dick Vitale to commentate a game, can you at least make sure he knows how to pronounce the football coach's name? Cause, um, it's not like Wisconsin totally sucked it up this year on the football field, can we say 11-1 and heading to the Capital One Bowl? Learn to say Bret Bielema.

Afterwards, I ventured up to the Fox River Mall to finish my Christmas shopping. The drivers on the mall property sucked. Hello Mr. SUV man, when the sign says "Left turn no stop" don't stop for crying out loud! And when I beep my horn to indicate that you are stopping unnecessarily, don't respond by giving me the one-fingered salute. Respond by PUTTING YOUR FOOT ON THE ACCELERATOR! That was only one driver, but there were many others who ticked me off.

But the Christmas shopping is done, not I just have to wrap it all and remember to get batteries. Because if I don't have batteries for a certain walking horse, I shouldn't even bother to show up for my family's Christmas gathering!

And I almost forgot, I even cleaned the shower today. Not that it was completely grungy, but I cleaned it. And I hate cleaning the shower. Now I just need to finish cleaning the rest of the bathroom.

Now it's off to either wrap Christmas presents, watch Madagascar or read. I'm not sure which I'll end up doing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A caffeine plea

Dear man who refills the vending machine --

Please restock the Diet Coke in the breakroom's soda machine. Because although I can manage to swallow Diet Pepsi, I much prefer my caffeine intake to come in the Diet Coke variety.

The crime reporter who needs her Diet Coke

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tell me the answers rabbi

I was working on a story about Hanukkah today. After talking to some folks in the Jewish community, I had to find a place where I could figure out how to spell terms likes dreidel and Maccabees. Where do I find the information?

Yeah, not kidding.

It even has a chat feature that you can have a real, live, interactive conversation about any questions you have about Judaism with a real rabbi. I wasn't able to try this out since the computer I use at work is a dinosaur.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'll get those right out

I told myself I was going to send my Christmas cards out early this year, what with the whole moving thing.

I finally sat down and did my Christmas cards tonight.

Note the date today is December 13. And if I'm lucky, I'll remember to grab them on my way to work tomorrow so I can get the stamps to mail them out. Then it will be December 14, which is quite close to when I've historically sent my cards out.

So much for being on top of things this year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dashing through the fog

So I can barely see the stop and go lights at the next corner.

That doesn't bode well for my travels north tonight. It's the nephew's 2nd birthday party and I have to head up to the Fox Valley for pizza and birthday cake. And of course to give him his birthday present, which the postman thankfully dropped off on Sunday.

Wish me luck driving through the fog :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Make the brightness go away

It was a very sleepless night. And I'm mostly to blame for my tossing and turning.

I was stupid and thought I could curb an oncoming migraine by going to sleep. Not so. Instead of just getting up and drugging myself with massive amounts of Advil (the only remedy I have at the moment since my prescription medication disappeared the moment my health insurance from the 'burg died), I just tossed and turned and hoped like heck the migraine would be gone when I woke up.

It was still there.

After sitting through a dull meeting this morning, I was looking forward to retriting to my desk here at work in the darkness I enjoy working in.

Someone had other plans though. Plans that involved lighting which makes me feel as though I'm sitting here, blogging with a spotlight directed on me.

And this brightness, not so good for the migraine I temporarily curbed this morning.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hey Mr. Postman

Dear Mr. Postman --

I'm not quite sure what you're doing delivering packages on a Sunday afternoon. But my soon to be two-year-old nephew will appreciate your hard work when his Cool Aunt shows up at his birthday party Tuesday night with the present she was hoping to give him and not some alternative, or worse nothing. may think it's OK for packages to take side trips throughout the city of Philadelphia or the mail facility there, but I'm glad the folks at the United States Postal Service realize the importance of customers getting their packages on time.

Thanks again,
The Aunt who will now be cool because Ice Age: The Meltdown has arrived.

Non-twinkling problem solved

Take that non-twinkling icicle lights.

You've been replaced. With lights of a multi-colored, non-icicle variety. Lights that aren't supposed to twinkle. So I won't be upset when they don't.

Now it's off to finish other Christmas related things...the letter telling people, "So I moved away from the 'burg to this new city and new job and everything is just great. Merry Christmas."

At least tonight should be an enjoyable time. And when I get home from the company Christmas party, I'll be able to enjoy my non-twinkling, functional, multi-colored lights on my patio railing.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Consider this your last warning

This is the last straw.

Something has to be done about my temperamental VCR.

After a full day of Christmas shopping, I was looking forward to coming home, changing into sweats and enjoying the Wisconsin versus Marquette basketball game I had taped this afternoon.

Wait, let me rephrase that. The game I thought I had taped.

Turns out today was one of those days the temperamental piece of crap decided it didn't feel like going into record mode, even though the timer was set, the day and timer were correct and the little red light was on that indicated it was ready to kick into record mode at 12:54 p.m.

Yeah, never started recording. Instead of watching a highly anticipated basketball game, all that was on the tape was an episode of Grey's Anatomy, which on any other day would have made me quite happy. But not today. Today I was ready for basketball.

So now I'm crabby. And the VCR better start counting its days left in my apartment because it's either going to a repairman to be fixed or else will find its new home in the dumpster if fixing it ends up costing more than replacing it.

Either way...this VCR's days are numbered and someday (hopefully soon), I'll be able to set my VCR and not have to worry that it decides to record.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Just wanted to know how's Philadelphia?


I placed on my order on December 3. And according to your "Track my package" page, it's been "in transit" since December 5.

But it hasn't left Philadelphia.

Please tell me what my package has been doing in Philadelphia for the past three days? Is it taking the grand tour of town or the mail facility?

The reason I ask is because I'm pretty sure my two-year-old nephew would really enjoy getting his birthday present on the day he gets to smash his cake. I thought ordering his present from you on December 3 would allow for ample delivery time in order for it to make it here before his birthday early next week. As in four days from now.

The Cool Aunt who may not be so cool when she arrives empty-handed

I got in...and then I froze

No matter how many times I go to prison, it never fails that I forget about the metal detectors.

I had taken my earrings out at my desk and when I got to prison, all I took in with me was my notebook, pen, car keys and driver's license. Too bad I forgot about the ring, watch and bracelet that I wear and feel naked without. And I called it, the underwire bra set off the metal detector. Lucky for me, I didn't have to resort to the brown paper lunch bag option. Maybe it has to do with being in a medium-security facility rather than a maximum security one.

So I went in, talked to the inmates who knit (who also enjoy watching "Smackdown" while their knitting scarves, mittens and blankets) and was set. On the way over to the unit, we got to ride in a nice, warm minivan.

Not so on the way back.

It was a 6-seater golf cart. With no shield from the icy cold wind. And remember, it was probably 10 degrees outside yesterday morning.

Yeah, I was an ice cube when I got back to the main building. I think it was more than a half hour before I was able to feel my feet, and even longer before I could feel my ears. Then they burned. So not fun.

Maybe subconsciously, it was the prison officials way to let me know NOT to wear anything metal the next time I have to visit.

I bet I still won't remember though.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

I'll take the orange one

Tomorrow I'm going to prison....for the fourth time in my life.

No, I didn't murder anyone or rob a fast food restaurant. Instead I'm going to prison to talk to inmates who knit.

But it's the getting into prison part that worries me. Most people think it's surprisingly easy to get into the Big House. Yeah, not so. Trust me, I know from experience.

It was three years ago, I had just started my job in the 'burg. My boss sent me up to one of the prisons in Waupun. It was one of two maximum security facilities in town. We're not talking about a guy who got busted for some cocaine. No, we're talking about the bad guys, the guys who do things that make you shudder. And to think, I was going there because the Archbishop of the Milwaukee Diocese was coming to visit.

While the looks I got from some of the inmates while walking through the halls was enough to creep me out, it wasn't the worst part of my visit. That would be the actual getting in part.

My boss had warned me about security. So I took off all of my jewelry before leaving my car. All I had with me was my driver's license, notebook and pen.

It didn't matter. The metal detector went crazy when I walked through.

The security guard thought it was my shoes. Nope. He thought it was my glasses. Wrong again. I remembered I had two small barrettes in my hair. Yeah, not the items making the detector beep. The guard wands me with the wand. I still beep.

The guard gets this embarrassed look on his face. He asks me if I'm wearing an under wire bra. I swear, I must have turned a million shades of red. I nodded. The guard reaches beneath the desk, pulls out a brown paper lunch bag and sends me to the bathroom with instructions. All the while my photographer is laughing at me.

I disappear in the bathroom, follow the instructions and return to the prison lobby.

The damn machine still beeps.

This is getting embarrassing. After many more beep inducing trips through the metal detector, we finally determine it's the clasp on my dress pants that's setting the metal detector off.

I thought I'd made a mental note to always wear a sports bra when I got to prison, but obviously I forgot, because I've been through the same routine on my other two visits.

Tomorrow is visit number 4. Hopefully I'll remember in the morning. I mean, come on. If they let inmates have knitting needles, shouldn't I be able to wear a bra of choice?

Chances are, I'll forget though. So if I never post again, it's because I got stuck in prison.

That was no leaf

I was sitting in my comfy Lazy-Boy recliner during my lunch break, enjoying my peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. And out of the corner of my eye I saw it.

A small mound of fur scurrying across my patio.

I'm assuming it was some kind of fuzzy animal of the rodent variety. What kind, I'm not sure. But I do know two things.

One: It was outside.

Two: It will hopefully stay outside because now I will be furry rodent watch everytime I open my door in hopes that the furry rodent in question doesn't get in.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Excuse to the boss: I couldn't solve poverty cause there were CDs tempting me

I got into the office today at 11 a.m. after some morning appointments and promptly wanted to leave once a co-worker dropped off three CDs for me to borrow. Jason Mraz, Snow Patrol and Jack's Mannequin.

With CDs sitting on my desk taunting me, how could my boss expect me to solve poverty? So I shoved the CDs back in the corner (not too far back though...I wouldn't want to forget them!) and they eventually got buried by pages and pages of poverty data.

I managed to pound out a very very rough draft of my answer to poverty. The original plan was to hit the YMCA after work and run on the treadmill to nowhere, but since it was quite cold outside I decided not to go. Besides, I wouldn't want to ignore the CDs any longer!

So I gathered up my belongings, shut down my computer and then headed home to listen to the new tunes.

I've only gotten part way through the Jason Mraz CD, but so far I give it two thumbs up.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Tape delay is no friend

Here I was all excited to come home, change into comfy sweats and enjoy a night of watching Wisconsin take on Winthrop in college hoops.

Until I realized the game was being shown on Wisconsin Public Television...on tape delay.

So while I could stay up until 11 p.m. and watch the game until 1 a.m., I decided to put up with the static on the radio broadcast and listen to the game.

In case anyone cares, with 7:15 remaining in the first half, the game's tied at 21.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Then the twinkling stopped

Mom came down to the City on the Water today to help me put up my Christmas tree.

Sadly, it isn't a real tree, which I want oh so badly. Nope it's a fake one that I got my first Christmas out of college during the worst 365-day stint in my life, also known as the year I lived in Indiana.

She was visiting me that year when she decided I needed a Christmas tree for my lonely little apartment in Indiana. We bought it at Menard's and I almost hacked up a lung in the parking lot because I was dying of bronchitis. Being the mother she is, she made me go see a doctor even though I had no insurance yet. He gave me drugs, which knocked me out. So I slept on the futon while she decorated the tree. She's helped me every year since.

Then she decided I needed some lights on the railing I have by my patio. We were shopping at Target and after much deliberation, I decided on the icicle lights. And not just any icicle lights, but the twinkling variety.

So I got them home and strung them along my railing as I froze outside. They looked pretty and all twinkly. I came back inside and was cleaning up a bit when I glanced outside at my oh so beautiful twinkling icicle lights.

They weren't twinkling.

I'm not sure if it was the cold (it's quite Arctic out today, the mercury's probably in the high teens and it's windy...making it quite chilly) or what, but the lights no longer twinkle. Grr.

I haven't solved the twinkling mystery yet. Some of the strands still light up, but others just stay dark. At least there's some light. Maybe I'll putz with them next week. But at least my tree is up and my apartment looks kind of Christmas-y.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

A pick me up

It's kind of amazing what a visit from an old friend will do to your mood.

Work ended on a somewhat bad note for me. I'm stressing out about some stories I'm working on that deadlines are quickly approaching (or in the case of one, has passed). But I got a call from a friend of mine from my days down in the 'burg.

She ended up coming up to the City on the Water. We spent some time catching up, gossiping on what's going on at my former place of employment and chatting. We then headed out for dinner at Rocky Rococo's (and I now have a flyer with a phone number on it!). On the way back from dinner we stopped at a few stores and wandered around.

First stop, Stein Gardens and Gift. Can we say amazing, but over priced, land of fake Christmas trees? We wandered up and down the aisles of Christmas stuff and picked up a few things. She successfully completed her shopping for her work Secret Santa thing, I found the Advent calendars with little chocolate pieces behind the door.

Then it was a pit stop at Target, where I have to admit, I was quite good. I only got the things I really needed, like toilet paper and deodorant. Well, I did have one impulse purchase. They had Goonies on DVD. For $9.50. It's Goonies people, who could resist? I sure couldn't.

By then it was getting late, so she had to head back to the 'burg. I came back home, satisfied with my purchases and also in a better mood. My troubles at work were forgotten and I had just spent an evening with the only thing I really miss about the 'burg.

All in all, it was good night.