I just finished Ship of Fools by Katherine Ann Porter, and I wasn't impressed. There wasn't a single likeable or sympathetic character and the (plotless) narrative dragged on and on. The themes of nationalism were heavily drawn and overdone. I'm not sure why I finished it, except that I feel bad criticizing a book unless I have. Am I missing something? Has anyone else read this book? Liked it? I vaguely remember it being on a list of books I could choose to do a book report on in 10th grade, but I'm not sure. Somehow, I can't imagine a teenager ploughing all the way through that much nonsense.


Not so good

You Are 32% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.



I love the rain.



Not to trespass on the Apartment Food Hobos' territory, but I baked last night! Cooking is a very occasional thing for me since B and I generally live off the Whole Foods 'oven-ready' section, so it always feels like an event. I tend to call my Mom and tell her about it and say things like "and I used real live flour!"

Anyway, I made an Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake. Say that five times fast. It's made in a cast-iron pan, so you know it has to be good. And it was. We ate it warm, with vanilla ice cream, while watching an episode of the original Star Trek (Yes, we really are that nerdy).

The only thing wrong with it was the cake part. When I took it out of the oven, it was nice and fluffy, but by the time it had cooled for ten minutes, the whole thing was only about an inch thick. Still tasty, but not puffy. What did I do wrong? The same thing happened with my attempt at chocolate chip cookies a few weeks ago. Any suggestions?


Somewhere out East, I think?

So the unofficial Austin city motto these days is "Keep Austin Weird," a phrase which is printed on t-shirts, bumper stickers, signs, store windows, and any other place it might be useful in generating a dollar.

In what I guess is supposed to be Texas A&M's response, I saw this bumper sticker a few days ago:

I think it's supposed to be sassy and funny, but instead, I think it's just a sad commentary on College Station.

*Disclaimer* In no way do I mean to denigrate Texas A&M, Aggies, etc., even though I do think College Station is probably a very boring town (although I haven't been there and I'm not even sure exactly where it is). I would even go so far as to say that some of my near acquaintances are Aggies.


Me and Pemberley

  • So those of you who have known me for awhile are probably aware of my Jane Austen fanaticism. I have read all the continuations, seen all the movies, and hated most of them. I finally saw the new Pride and Prejudice last night, and I was fully expecting to be disappointed. However. I thought it was the best adaptation I've ever seen, even better than the BBC miniseries. Obviously, a lot had to be cut out, but all of the plots and subplots remain mostly intact. Also, for once, the script writers realized that maybe Jane Austen could write better dialogue than they could. Bingly was exactly the Bingley in my head. And the photography was stunning. The only thing that wasn't good was the lack of emotional restraint. You would think they were remaking one of the Bronte books or something
  • The first time I ever read a Jane Austen book was during my senior year of high school. Pride and Prejudice was assigned for the home-schooling English course I had to take to make up for the year I missed. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I skimmed. And wrote a BS paper. And then I forgot all about it. I don't remember why I picked up Emma right after I moved to Austin, but I did. And I was in love. So I went and tried Pride and Prejudice again. To my amazement, it had transformed into something great. Now I read all of Jane Austen's books at least once a year. They are all my favorite.
  • About two hours ago, I took a bite of blueberry bagel with mustard and the first thing I thought was "this tastes exactly like Jane Austen reads." Make of that what you will.
  • I don't think B enjoyed the movie quite as much as I did.


A bag of plenty

5 things I'm not sure why are in my purse:
  1. A plastic fork, unused (at least, I hope)
  2. A TV-B-Gone - btw, remind me to tell the story of how B and I were going to convince his mom that one of her Shitzus had mysterious powers...
  3. 9 pens (of which only three are black, red, or blue), and 19 mechanical pencils
  4. Proof of my SCUBA certification (just in case I need to make an emergency dive, you know)
  5. A small, plastic, cowboy-singer figurine that kind of looks like Stevie Ray Vaughan from the back



Bella discusses the innate cruelty of playful dogs with her fellow sufferer, Squeaky Banana.


Oh god, another one of those

Because everyone needs a 1920's name.

Your 1920's Name is:

Sammie Bobbie


Best. Shoes. Ever.

B was horrified when I came home with these, but then again, he mostly wears a pair of 10 year old Birkenstocks.


If I were a rich (wo)man

Here is the first thing I would buy.



Sometimes I see accounting as making everything balance, and then I like it a whole bunch because I can dive into my spreadsheets and make all the numbers harmonize with each other, and everything is zen.

Other times, I see accounting as making everything equal to zero, and then it feels like a big waste of time and energy for no results.



Here is a big difference between me and B: when something little bothers me, I tend to just live with it, while B goes out and changes it. For instance, if I have a pair of shoes that aren't quite comfortable, I just live with it, or I don't wear them as much. B buys inserts, or buys a different pair. Neither of those options would ever occur to me. Or if something in my truck is rattling, I don't worry about it unless parts are actually falling off while I'm driving (and even then, only if they are big pieces), while B would systematically hunt down the source of the rattling and then fix it.

So on the occasions when I discover that I can eliminate a minor annoyance without a lot of trouble, I am thrilled and impressed. Are you aware that you can buy a toilet seat cover without the rest of the toilet? Our house came with oh-so-fashionable wooden toilet seat covers (that was irony, Mom).

So while we were at Home Depot, we just bought new ones! It was as simple as that! And it didn't even require a screw-driver!

However, I was rather alarmed at the number of terrible toilet seats that are available for purchase. Now that I know how easy this is to change, no one should have any excuse for those vinyl squishy seats that always scratch your legs, and have to deflate for a minute after you sit down. And I was not previously aware of such things as colorful, 'designer' toilet seats, but they all look like they were designed by the same guy who decorated my dentist's office back in the 80's.

Finally, check out the guy at the bottom of this toilet-seat maker's web-page. Is he surfing? Dancing? Does he have a toilet seat at home that matches his kicky paisly shirt?


Slim pickings

Whenever I see the phrase 'wasp-waisted' in a book, I think of the girls in the Minoan bull-jumping picture from my old art-history text book with the heads of wasps. It's wierd.

In other non-news, the dogs went for their yearly vet exam this evening, so they are now walking around with their tails between their legs. To prevent any further intrusion, so to speak. Monster Mash has a lump on his leg that feels like a large, hard, round pea under his skin. It doesn't seem to bother him, but it scares the hell out of me. Have any other dog people seen anything like this? The vet only told me to keep an eye on it, but I'm still worried. However, that didn't stop me from using a sharpie to draw a pupil on it. Monster is not impressed with the new eyeball on his leg.


Why the hell not

This is my candidate. I even have bumper stickers.


We'll always have Paris...

I'm feeling nostalgic today. Of all the pictures I took in Paris, I think this is my favorite. Between the Seine, Notre Dame in the background, and the guy playing very French-sounding music on his accordion, it's like the essence of Paris. When I look back at our trip, my favorite parts were the times when we just wandered around aimlessly, got lost on the left bank, and sat on the steps to the quai eating crepes from street stands. Our trip was crowded with tourist attractions, which is certainly necessary, but now that I've checked off "seeing the Eiffel Tower," "visiting the Louvre," etc. from my list of Things To Do Before I Die, I think I would like to go back again and spend my time just enjoying the atmosphere. Next time I visit, I will spend days, rather than minutes at Shakespeare & Co, the bookstalls along the river, and the cafes.


I drank the Kool-Aid

Here's a great article in the Statesman about our flagship store turning one year old. Is it normal to be this enamored of the place where one works? Despite being occasionally irked by marketing types, I am completely convinced that I work for the greatest company in the entire universe.

Celebrity Encore

Dan Rather can kiss my granola-crunching, tree-hugging ass. I need to enter my Excel Trance(TM), but Mr. Rather is visiting and has caused the entire marketing department to enter a highly agitated state of bliss/panic. Its like the entire building is vibrating with manic PR energy. Plus, the entourage took up all of the good parking places. At least our new building is big enough. Once, Fortune magazine came to do a photo-shoot at the old building and the only place they could fit everything was the break room, and they completely blocked access to the refrigerators and my contraband Diet Vanilla Coke for several hours.

Wow, I'm grouchy today. The good news is that I no longer drink Diet Vanilla Coke, and I have an electric kettle at my desk for my tea, so invade away, TV people! I defy you!


Celebrity encounter

I have mentioned before that I help with the accounting for our two non-profit foundations. Last time I talked about the Whole Planet Foundation was because I had the chance to have lunch with my CEO and CFO because of it. Just now, the foundation's director, Philip, came by my desk to introduce me to Professor Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank. Luckily, this was completely unexpected, and I was too surprised to be nervous. I was excited from the beginning to get to work on this project, because I really believe in the missions of our Foundations, but they are turning out to have all kinds of cool extra benefits.


We meant to go to the Kite Festival yesterday, but by the time we had breakfast, shaved dogs, did laundry, took showers, had lunch, called B's parents for the weekly chat, and got rid of some wasps nests outside, we missed it. We were, however, still in plenty of time to enjoy the massive snarl that is downtown Austin event traffic. So we ended up parking at the Amtrac station, next to some serious blight, and then meandering through about 4 miles of the trails. I find Austin beautiful all of the time, but springtime at Town Lake and Zilker is the highlight of my year. Pictures here.

Sebastian is a badass

Yup, that's a mohawk. This is the second year in a row that I've done this to him, but I think he really likes it. He gets very self-concious when he's all the way naked, but somehow that little ridge of hair makes him feel like he's still covered up. He pranced around the park yesterday with his tail and his nose up, and generally acted like the badass that he thinks he is.


Even more exciting than being an accountant!

So I've been working on knitting a sweater for close to a year now. I'm not even done with the first side because I chose a pattern that requires itsy-bitsy size two needles and lots of skinny stripes. This was an idiotic move on my part since this is my first sweater, but once you've bought all the needles and the 14 skeins of fancy expensive yarn, there's nothing to do but keep working away.

I keep taking breaks, however, to knit easy things like hats. Also, there has been quite the epidemic of pregnancy among my acquaintances lately, and tiny little hand-knit baby hats are a cute and quick present. I knitted the hat in the picture for myself because I liked the self-striping yarn so much, but now I'm thinking I might felt it down for a friend's son.

So there. I realized this morning that I have never blogged about my knitting before, and I apparently have a deep-seated need to out myself as one of the most boring people ever. But hey, buy me some yarn and I'll make you a hat!



The inspection sticker on my truck expired last October. Today, I took it to the first place I found on Lamar Blvd., a seedy, rundown looking shop with only one other customer. I waited while a grizzly old man was finishing up an inspection for a very impatient woman. An old, slightly pimped Caddilac pulled up in front of the shop, and a young Hispanic man got out and went inside the tiny waiting room. A few minutes later, an elderly black man rode up on an ancient bicycle. He dropped the bike and hurried into the waiting room. When he passed me, I could see track marks on his arms. He was inside the room less than a minute. He came out, got back on his bike, and rode away. The grizzly old man finished the inspection, and he and the impatient lady entered the waiting room so that she could pay. I followed them. The young Hispanic man also came in. When they were done, the impatient lady hurried out and the young Hispanic man jerked his head at the grizzly old man, who said to me "My machine is broken. I cannot do any more inspections today." I said ok and left.



I like the song Earthbound by Rodney Crowell a whole lot, mostly because it includes a nice list at the end, and I really like lists. Since last night, it has been stuck in my head, along with the word 'epidemiological' from a book I'm reading (Three Junes by Julia Glass, if you must know). It goes something like this:

I could shed my skin and in the blink of an eye (epidemiological) I could fly fly fly (epidemiological)
Tie my dreams up in a sack Lay my head down on the track (epidemiological) and die die die (epidemiological)
My life's been so sweet I just can't stand it (epidemiological)
I must admit I've made out like a bandit (epidemiological)

Last night's conversation with a real good friend of mine (epidemiological) drinkin wine
wine wine (epidemiological)
Said fifty years of livin and your worst mistakes forgiven (epidemiological) takes time
time time (epidemiological)
One man's lust for life brings world reknown (epidemiological)
Next guy can't get two feet off the ground (epidemiological)......earthbound

Earthbound....hear the wind through the tops of the trees (epidemiological)
Earthbound....summer sun nearly ninety degrees (epidemiological)
Earthbound....big ol' moon sinking down...... (epidemiological) think I might stick

I knew love once way back when she had almond eyes and olive skin (epidemiological)
And long black hair (epidemiological)
She was Irish Spanish mixbreed I was southeast Texas hayseed (epidemiological)
We were almost there (epidemiological)
Her daddy didn't like my kind around (epidemiological)
True love took the next train out of town (epidemiological) ......earthbound

Earthbound....where there's fathers and daughters in pain (epidemiological)
Earthbound....mama's boy walking home in the rain (epidemiological)
Earthbound....like a ship run aground (epidemiological) I think I might stick around
EARTHBOUND (epidemiological)

With each new day that passes I'm in need of thicker glasses (epidemiological) but it's
all OK (epidemiological)
Someday I'll be leaving but I just can't help believing that it's (epidemiological) not
Every golden moment I have found (epidemiological)
I've done my best to run right in the ground (epidemiological).....earthbound

Earthbound....see the sky big and beautiful blue (epidemiological)
Earthbound....fallen angels are talkin' to you (epidemiological)
Earthbound....keepin' close to the ground (epidemiological) think I might stick around

Earthbound....Tom Waits, Aretha Franklin, Mary Karr (epidemiological)
Earthbound....Walter Cronkite, Seamus Heaney, Ringo Starr (epidemiological)
Dalai Lama, Charlie Brown think I might stick around (epidemiological)
Earthbound (epidemiological)