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October 2010

In which building begins and other miscellaneous things

We are all mending. Chance's inflated eyeball is back to normal and (I think) I'm over the worst. It's supposed to be 103 degrees here today so I figure if any of us are going to feel crappy again it'll be then.  I'm betting a lot of people are going to be camped out at Baskin Robbins.

Robot building! Part 1.

Dell, thank you for donating a box for the body of my robot, and now that I've built a robot please bite its shiny metal ass in rememberance of the crapilicious computer you sent me and argued about every single time it needed service. Also, don't think I didn't notice that when my extended warranty ran out you "forgot" to call me for a renewal just because I was the 1 person in 1000 to make you fulfill that warranty completely. But your box? I will admit, the box is pretty decent.

Robot 003

Plumbing ducting makes it look authentic!  Danger, Will Robinson!

(Yes, that is a trampolene I'm using as a workbench.)

Robot 003

On another note, I stumbled upon this site, Apples and VCRs, "an aggregate of the curious", and I'm getting a real kick out of it.  Especiallly this ad which was featured on the site:

heathen commercial from spencer hansen on Vimeo.

Ha! Leather hugs!

            - the weirdgirl

Floaty, pounding

I feel like crap, yo. Not emotionally, like I kicked a puppy or something. Not that I wouldn't feel bad if I kicked a puppy because really who does that? Unless it was a drooly mean hell-puppy that was bent on savaging my ankle back to Tartarus in which case, just to be safe, I might have to firmly shoo it off, possibly with my foot. That would be unfortunate. But no, I mean I feel physically crappy, which is also unfortunate as I've already been to the doctor's office three times in the last week and a half.  Triple your pleasure, triple your fun, with triplemint triplement triplement germs.  The first time was for the standard stomach flu (Chance's).  The second time was for the violent, every-single-thing-in-the-stomach, only-at-night puking that had not stopped after the "3-5 day" flu prediction (Chance's) and a little of my over-concerned parenting.  The third time was an emergency room visit after Chance (do you see a pattern here?) had gone to bed and come out again with his right eye ball completely swollen. And I mean swollen as in the white of the eye was so swollen it was covering part of the iris!  Like a big jelly bubble of an eye.  I had never seen that before.  It kind of freaked me out. I know that a lot of shit on TV is made up but I definitely had a speed of light flashing moment (you know, where the brain short-circuits?) where my mind did the, "Is there something in his eye? Will he go blind? Will he need surgery?! What if his eye keeps swelling up? Can an eye explode?! Didn't that happen on House?" as I calmly said, "Honey, I think we need to go to the doctor." 

You know it's funny, everyone is always really nice in the emergency room. Even though it's almost always in the middle of the night, and it's all about, you know, emergencies, people are very considerate and friendly. Almost like the shared comraderie of, "Hey I'm here with family members in pajamas, too," "I'm going to sneak a snack I'm not supposed to be eating," and "Yeah, isn't that bathroom disgusting? What a grand adventure!", but most importantly, of course, is the lovely bond of sharing germs.  Germs that I'm almost certain have led to the simultaneous floaty, yet pounding feeling in my head right this second.

Fortunately, Chance's eye was simply the victim of a very enthusiastic allergic reaction.  He is recovering nicely on eye drops and Benadryl.  I think he enjoyed getting to stay up late "like a big kid."  It is a little disconcerting not knowing what it was exactly that he touched and stuck in his eye, causing the reaction.  Him being a child who touches and sticks his fingers into so many things.  But at least we now know that his eye won't explode and what to do about it if it happens again.  (Outside of the frantic allergen-eradicating steam cleaning I'm giving everything in his room at the moment.)

Obviously I'm allergic to doctor's offices. Where is the Benadryl for that?                - wg

This is normal, right?

So I'm buidling this robot. Not a functional robot, unfortunately, because I just don't have the electronics chops for that.  Or the time to learn.  I have a little tiny bit of inclination to learn because that would be COOL!  Stay-at-home-robot-builder!  (I could make it into a career. Like cryptozoologist.)  But again, time & commitment outweigh inclination. Which is probably some fundamental statement about my placement in society. Or something. (deep waters! deep waters!)

Anyway, I'm building this robot. I'm already planning my Halloween decorations and I've decided to add killer robot into the mix.  See, last year I went with a mad scientist theme, a little Victorian, in the sunroom and it was a lot of fun. I dig the mad scientist/steampunk look.  Did I tell you last year we won an award?  Well, we did!  From our local councilmember for a "spookily decorated house" or "halloween spirit" or something.  And sure, he probably just printed that up on his home printer but it said the name of our city at the top and it had golden glittery bits on it and it was still an award!  I haven't gotten many of those.  (Can you tell?)  So what I want to do this year is have the robot look like he was attacking the scientist before they both went kaput.  (See, because the scientist is actually a skeleton in an lab coat.  If you work with skeletons you just have to assume the scene entails what they were doing before they died. Industry fact.)

So I have a dilemma. I've spray painted cardboard boxes in silver and copper.  I've gone to the .99 cent store to buy metal grates and things to make it look mechanical (and less like cardboard boxes). I picked up that cool accordian aluminum tubing that all great robot limbs are made out of.  I think I even have the head down (bucket, halogen bulbs for eyes, a grill for an "angry" mouth).  

What I don't have are hands.  What good is a killer robot without implements of death for hands?  All the great killer robots have giant pinchy clamps or sharp talon-like fingers.  I picked up some barbeque tongs that could be like giant tweezers, but I'm not sure it's threatening enough.  Don't make me grill a hotdog!  I'm a robot on the edge!  I'd love to find a small fan propeller for the other hand (remember The Black Hole? that robot scared the crap out of me!) but I can't think where one would buy a fan propeller that is both small enough and wicked looking.  

And of course, you don't want it too scary. I'm not doing buckets of blood here.  Just a scene that invokes the spooky without giving any of the children traumatic nightmares.

So does anyone have suggestions for hands?  Any other robot-builders out there?  Come on, it can't just be me, right?   

And yes, I'll post pictures.

               - the weirdgirl

This is not a new criticism but...

I've been dithering over posting because I've got a couple of different* things on my mind.  The first is all about entertainment and how it's making me into a cranky grandma.  Since I've been writing over at Culture Brats I've been stepping up my media absorption (natch) and there are some related trends that just send me over the edge.  But you (meaning me) don't realize how much those trends send you over the edge until you're ranting and raving over another video of kids partying until you're (again me) throwing walnuts at the screen, you know?

In a nutshell (ha ha, I'm a funny old person), I really don't like all the shows about being famous that are aimed at kids.  Reality TV has changed the whole definition of being "famous" (i.e. you don't have to have talent or achievement to be a celebrity, you just need to be on TV or the Internet, preferably with temperament issues) and I think when those shows were aimed at adults it was OK, because adults have the perspective to understand what they're watching.  But there are more and more shows about kids being famous, or their parents being rich, or being both, and even if the messages of the show are wholesome (such as, famous people are regular kids, too!) the kids still get handed a lot, if not everything, rather than working.  All I can think when I see these shows pop up is, "Is this what we're teaching our kids to expect?  No wonder there's so many entitlement issues." 

Because, for me, the American dream is about working hard to achieve your dreams and building a good life.  NOT "I wish I was rich so I wouldn't have to do anything."  And yes, I DO think there are a lot of entitlement issues out there.

The sad thing is we are at a point in our economic history where lots of people DID work hard to build a good life and they've lost it or are struggling. But is it a good solution to teach our children to rely on a fantasy of becoming famous?  What's happening to the idea of work ethic?  Or even simply the idea of being famous because you achieved something special?  Like curing a disease or going to the moon?  

I've always thought that our obsession with celebrities and the rich took an unhealthy turn a long time ago. But it really makes me angry when I see the same obsession purposely aimed at children, indoctrinating them, teaching them to expect that lifestyle is normal and/or expected.  I know it's always been out there but it just seems to be getting more out of control. Sure, there was the Monkees and the Partridge Family when I was a kid... but that was two shows!  Now there's iCarly, Hannah Montana (of course), I'm With the Band, Gigantic (launching soon!), Gossip Girl, etc. not even mentioning the plethora of teen reality shows. 

Basically, I'm just not sure any of these programs that show the lifestyle of the rich and famous (even if the themes within the episodes are positives) are sending the right message to our younger generations. 

(Now excuse me, I must shuffle off in my houseslippers to buy more ribbon candy.)

What do you think about these shows? Harmless or harmful?

             - the weirdgirl

*The second thing I've been doing is building a robot. You can see where the subjects don't mesh.

There is cute done right and cute done wrong

I STILL have a pile of BlogHer 10 stuff to go through; the cards, the info pamphlets, the tchotchkes.  I was feeling guilty about it but I decided that guilt is unproductive.  See how healthy I'm getting (as I scarf oreos efficiently in front of the TV)?  Also, my office has been an oven with the heat so in general it looks, shall we say, uncleaned?  For several, ahem, weeks.  

Which is WAY better than the months it used to wait before.

Anyway, our kitten/half-grown cat for some unknown reason likes to hang out amid my dusty clutter and guess what was the one thing she decided to pull out of the BlogHer pile as a toy?

40th_soccer 021

Yeah. Stimey's mouse tape measure!

What? Did you think it was going to be something from the sex session?

40th_soccer 021


                        - wg

Self-fulfilling prophesies

Today I signed up to be a volunteer library assistant.  It kind of cracks me up because of this quote:

Juno (V.O.)

"Jocks like him always want freaky girls. Girls with horn-rimmed glasses and vegan footwear and Goth makeup. Girls who play the cello and wear Converse All-Stars and want to be children's librarians when they grow up. Oh yeah, jocks eat that shit up."

When I was sitting in the theatre with my husband (who had been relunctantly dragged to Juno the chick flick) and that part of the movie came on I started nudging him like crazy until the poor erstwhile jock said, "Ow, stop it!"  Because he was, IS, a jock.  And I am that freaky girl with glasses (and pointy elbows) who wore her hair in a flip and wore plaid miniskirts when they were not in and drove a VW bug all around town and his friends made disparaging comments about (but not too many because they didn't think he was serious about her) and then that girl grew up to be... a librarian. Well, almost.

Keen ended up loving Juno, by the way.

Anywho, I'm excited I'll be in the library.  Because Juno said it right, I just never could express it, but I knew in my gut that the whole book nerd thing would totally let me hook hottie jocks. So now that my diabolical plan has come to fruition I feel it's time to give back.  Besides they really need the help because we're basically rebuilding the library after the fire.

Oh, we did not win the Kohl's Cares school funding contest. We did not even come close.  But at least the majority of small private schools who DID end up in the top 20 felt bad enough about it to turn around at the last minute and vote for Milbury, Ohio who lost THREE schools in a tornado. Only the high school got enough votes to get into the top 20 but I'm sure they will share the funds with the middle and elementary schools that were wiped out, along with the police station and main street.  The other school affected by a tornado, the autistic school, and the school for youth from broken homes, as well as our arson-burned school were all shit out of luck.  But I'm not bitter. 

Just freaky.

                   - wg

When Fall shortcircuits the brain (I blame school)

Dear Weather,

I am entirely frustrated with you.  I've never met anyone so fickle.  First, you ran cold all summer and I've got to be honest, weather, sometimes when a girl says she wants to pick her tomatoes she's not just being cute. Then when I absolutely gave up on all vegetable fun, you decided to come on strong.  I also really don't appreciate the heat wave while I'm making jam.  Hot kitchen + boiling fruit + flashbacks to equally miserable days of youth does not equal a good relationship.  And now you're right back to playing it cool while making heated innuendos.  Guess what? I'm not going to hang around forever while you decide what season you're in!

I've really tried to be patient but this is just not working. The sweaters are out in stores now. Get the hint.

P.S. I know it's totally tacky to leave this note on the windshield of your car but what the hell's up with not returning my calls?

              - wg


Real conversation - my mom (that's Grandma to you folks) talking with her two grandsons.

Grandma: So are you two having fun at school?  What do you like about it?

Diego: Recess!

Chance: Yeah, recess!

Grandma: Of course you do. Is there anything you don't like about school?

Diego: I don't like the praying mantises.

Me: The praying mantises?  Are they in a cage?  (I'm thinking they're a class pet.)

Diego: No, they're on the edge of the playground.  There are seven of them.  And they're this big!!  (Shows me hands about 8 inches apart.)

Me: Really?!  Do they chase kids down and attack them?

Diego's eyes get big and very thoughtful.

Grandma: So Chance, what don't you like about school?

Chance, quite seriously:  The plumbers.


This just in, meterological experts have detected a strange asteroid has entered our solar system.  Astronomers suspect that this new asteroid may be the cause of recent unpredictable weather patterns, and not El Nino like originally thought.  The asteroid also seems to be projecting some type of spore-like residue towards earth.  While authorities want the public to know there is nothing to worry about it is suggested that citizens avoid insects - that's right, insects - until the asteroid passes through our system.  More information will be coming soon as scientists continue to research this phenomenon. 

In other news, government officials suggest that anyone working with water to please check in with local health authorities. Strange behavior has recently been reported in water workers, including "lurking".  When key officials were asked if this had anything to do with possible contamination from asteroid spores they answered, "No comment".  Again, if you notice anyone exhibiting this behavior, or if you feel the need to "lurk" in restroom facilities, please go see your doctor. 

Organizing for help

I don't usually do this but we could sure use the help. Our local elementary school burned down this summer. It was a purposeful act of arson that took out a major building.  They managed to save the rest of the school but there wasn't one cent in the school districts'  funds to cover the insurance deductible. Nothing, no emergency funds, no surplus, that's how tight our school system budget is out here.  Our community raised $100K to cover that deductible.  When someone heard about the Kohl's Cares program they signed up our school.

Kohl's is giving away $500,000 each to the top 20 schools.  For a while we were hovering at 21st place but we've gotten knocked way down.  It looks like almost every school in the top 20 is a religious school and kudos to them for their organizing power. I really wish we had that kind of community behind us but we're just one neighborhood (and contrary to popular myths not everyone in California is rich).

If you'd like to help you can vote for us through Facebook through the end of this week.  If you'd like to spread the word please do!  I'm not quite giving up hope yet. Sometimes you get miracles.