Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shower for Erin & Baby Aiden

In April Jessie and I went to Phoenix for a super-special shower for Miss Erin and Baby Aiden.   Erin's mom and sister were the creative masterminds behind the shower, and these gals really outdid themselves! 





Martha's got nothin' on these gals!  A highlight was the chocolate mousse dessert in baby food jars.  So cute, and not too difficult to pull together.


Of course the best part was time with my best girls.  As usual, we didn't take nearly enough group pictures, but we got a couple good ones of a very cute preggo girl. 
 Big loves to Miss E and the baby-to be!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Apparently I Have a Lot To Say

My job involves a lot of email.  It always seems to be just on the verge of getting the best of me...my inbox feels like that last five pounds you can't shed no matter how much you exercise.  But I take comfort in the fact that this seems to be a universal truth among my colleagues.  Sometimes I feel like our position descriptions should read: Go to meetings.  Write email.  Repeat.

Today I had a complete meltdown when Outlook started sending me nasty-grams about my mailbox being over its size limit.  Not only does it flash these insulting little warnings in the corner of the screen every minute or so, but it stops letting me send messages!  And when you can't send email you can't get a darn thing done.  So I was rendered useless at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon.

But there were only 40 messages in my inbox.  No drafts.  And I emptied my deleted items.  So what gives?  Sent mail.  The only possible explanation - everything's piling up in my sent mail.  And I am certainly not deleting that!  You know what happens when you delete your sent mail?  You can no longer CYA.  Know what that is?  Cover Your A**.  And Lord knows that working with college students in a public educational institution requires all kinds of...coverage. 

"This is why I have auto-archiving!" I wailed.   I was a good kid and I did the right thing and I auto-archived like it was goin outta style but I'm getting the nasty-grams anyway and I can't do a darn thing and I've been rendered useless at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon!

Dagnabit.

So I call in the cavalry:  The Tech Guy.  But The Tech Guy didn't respond to my skype (cause that's how you get The Tech Guy, ya know.  That, or set up a World of Warcraft character resembling you and e-wander into his neck of the magical forest to challenge him to a duel).  So I went old-school and left The Tech Guy a voicemail.

After 30 minutes and a whole lot of gnashing-of-my-teeth, The Tech Guy arrives to find me sanitizing the office.  Seriously - that's all I could do while rendered useless by that blasted sent mail.  Three clicks later he surmises that my auto-archiving stopped.  On November 20, 2009. 

Well NO WONDER!  That alone could have brought on the rapture. 

So the Tech Guy rips open his shirt to reveal the super-hero insignia emblazoned on his chest and fixes it.  He archives everything from November 20, 2009 to December 31, 2010.  Roughly a year's worth of messages.

And then he showed me just how many messages there were.  And I died a little inside.  And then I felt the early-onset carpel tunnel which will surely be the end of me.

...
...
...
9490

Nine thousand, four hundred and ninety.

Just shy of ten-blessed-THOUSAND emails.

Lawsie mercy.

And I was out of the office for at least five weeks last year!  


Though you may have started to doubt it, there was actually a point in my telling you this.  If you are a loyal reader it means you are probably also my friend and, as such, send me emails from time to time.  And you probably know that I am rotten about responding.  My replies are day-late, dollar-short if they even come at all.  I have guilt about this.  It's not the kind of gal I want to be, but it just happens.  And now I know why!  By the time you send nine thousand, four hundred and ninety emails for work there's just not a whole lotta steam left to whip open the gmail when you get home.  So from now on it's probably best to sent me a text.

Or Skype me.

Or set up a World of Warcraft character resembling you and e-wander into my neck of the magical
forest and plunk down on a toadstool.

Wait.  Is World of Warcraft a card game?  I'm pouring a glass of wine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Resurrecting and Old Laptop (Jolicloud)

As technology turns over making something you purchased last week obsolete you start looking for ways to get some more life out of the stuff you have. Here's a great way to resurrect an old laptop.

The Spects: HP Compaq nc6000, Intel 400Mhz Processor with 30GB hard drive and 512ram.
1) Download Jolicloud (http://www.jolicloud.com/download) and burn to disk. Jolicloud runs a modified version of Ubuntu which is great for nerds AND laypersons because not only does it work out of the box but you can open up terminal and start adding all sorts of fun features.

2) Stick the disk in and follow the instructions, you can leave a copy of windows but starting fresh and deleting everything is probably a better way to go here.

3) Make sure you go and setup an account at Jolicloud.com from your main computer. This will sync Jolicloud with all your computers and even the Jolicloud app on Chrome (have not found a use for it yet but seems like a nice feature). It's also how you log into the computer.

My experience: At first I thought Jolicloud would end up being way to limited for the tech work I usually do. The system started bogging down when I had more than one tab open. I was a little discouraged and I stuck the computer back on the shelf.

Then in a fit of genius I poked around online for some extra ram. I offered a guy $5 and said I'd pick it up. We met at Safeway and I slipped him the cash for the goods. Two screws, a metal plate and a click of the ram later I had 1GB of ram on the laptop and SHAZAM!! I have a fully functioning Linux computer that is easy to use for all my web work.

After about 4-5 days of regular use it's obvious anything more than a few tabs will bog the system down. As long as I stick to checking emails, writing lists or reading google reader, it runs quite well. So, get on with it, see what computers you can pull out of that closet! (And if you don't want it anymore, let me know.)

~Jim

Sunday, May 22, 2011

YON Update: Takin' Care of Busines


Things are getting done around here!  That may be the hidden benefit of our prolonged rainy season.  Lord knows there’s not much else good to be said about the winter that wouldn’t quit.  We’re sufficiently soggy.  

Progress on the Year of Nothing list:

3.  20th Anniversary Celebration. 2011 marks the 20th year that Brenda Lee and I have been BFFs. We told ourselves we'd celebrate on our 10th anniversary, and then we didn't. Our 15th came and went before we knew it, so now we need to go big for our 20th!

And “go big” we did!  With husbands in tow, we spent the first week of April in sunny Puerta Vallarta. I highly recommend sunny vacations with your bestie.  We played tennis, took up our share of space in the pool, enjoyed the local tequila, and attempted to eat our weight in avocado. 

 


5.  Organize & consolidate our finances. Between the two of us, we had a ridiculous snarl of accounts, cards, banks, investments, etc. It's time to bring order to the chaos.

Due primarily to my darling husband’s affinity for number-crunching, number 5 can be crossed off the list!  Pre-consolidation we had eight or nine checking and savings accounts spread over four different institutions.  Now we’re down to our online bank and the local credit union, and accounts that can be tallied on just one hand.  The best part of the whole process?  Getting to kick Chase Bank (and their constant solicitations, pushiness, and ridiculous fees) to the curb.  We don’t miss them a bit!

13.  Welcome Jimbo to adulthood. The Dish Fairy hits the big 3-0 this year, and continues to insist that birthdays are no big deal. I just can't tolerate that kind of attitude and will be mandating birthday hoopla.

Hoopla Accomplished!  Like me and my Brenda Lee, Jim and his bestie Lucas were born 10 days apart.   I guess guys don’t say “bestie” do they?  “Brotha from anotha mutha”?  Can I even say that?  Certainly not without sounding ridiculous.

 Anywho, these two are truly cut from the same cloth so it seemed only appropriate to celebrate their collective 60th birthday (complete with His & His novelty shirts) together.


16.  Take dance class. While Jim was away at school we often talked about what we'd do when we lived in the same zip code and this one came up over and over.

Checkity-check-check!  We took a 10-week Social Dance class this winter, and even convinced our friends Dante & Jenn to join the fun.  This is where we confirmed that Jim is the better dancer, and (while I can hold my own) I can’t foxtrot my way out of a paper bag. 

 To sum up:  We danced our way into Jimbo's adulthood with tidy accounts and frequent flier miles to spare.  I love the power of a good list!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Viral Videos and the spread of Horrible Music

Let me lay out the timeline of events that leads to this very opinionated rant:
  1. Viral Video by ARK Music Factory "Friday" showcases the 13-year-old Rebecca Black singing a very simple and down right horrible song written and produced by Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson produced as a vanity release paid by her parents for $4000.
  2. Video garnishes mass criticism and spreads like wildfire.
  3. Everyone is tortured by the video at least once and I assume I am done dealing with such a poorly written and executed song.
  4. A student posts a link to the Glee (the TV Show) video of "Friday" in the Oregon State Glee Facebook Page (Ugh)
  5. I finally watch the Glee episode that includes "Friday" performed during Prom.
  6. I see a post from a very musically talented undergraduate at St. Olaf who says he loves the song "Friday" and that it's "relevant to his life."
  7. I Listen to MPR's midmorning and hear a story entitled "Songs about me: Narcissism in Popular Music" where she plays less than 10 seconds of "Friday" and says she can't listen to anymore. (Thank you Kerri Miller)
First of all, when does a 13-year-old singing about cereal and the days of the week in complete auto-tune ever become anything more than something to laugh and marval at? Have our musical expectations of Pop Culture dropped so low that a computer fabricated song garners more attention than musicians who spend their life perfecting their craft?

How about an 8-year old with talent - why hasn't this kid hit viral...even if you don't like banjo music you gotta appreciate these boys (fiddler is 12 and guitarist is 13)! Talk about someone working hard to make music.

The Midmorning discussion resonated with me because it's true. What we are force-fed through the Music Industry and Viral Videos tends to be narcissistic junk that although catchy really has little substance. I admit, the majority of the songs that I enjoy from pop culture are about relationship loss, longing or desire and are almost always in the "I" perspective. We seem to value this music that does nothing but get our toes tapping and feed our ego centric desire to hear about someone else feeling the same way we do all day long.

Of course the segment of the population that drives the popular culture are Teens and College students who are just coming into the ability of abstract thought. They follow the group mentality as if their life choices should be made by the masses and not through deliberate decisions.

There is nothing redeeming in the song "Friday" and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. The world is full of junk like Friday but Glee has to go and jump on the band wagon insuring this piece of junk will stick in the repertoire and get covered by everyone and their mom. I want to believe there are musicians out there still writing popular music with good life lessons like my friend Nick and his Brave Chandeliers. (Shameless promotion)


I realize the Big Three (Universal, Sony and Warner) and viral videos will always choose that which is either controversial or straight up catchy but oh how I wish we could buck the trend. What if the Music that became popular and spread like wildfire through the internet had real substance? What if talent defined who won on American Idol? What if Glee did more live performances and focused on the rehearsal aspect and less on the performance?

It's all wishful thinking, I know. Heaven forbid that we get musically educated and realize the value of live music and it's power in the world. How about the positive life lessons that evolve from participation in a musical group? If you think uniting over a cause through facebook has worldly implications, what would happen in the middle east if you started choirs in every town?

We underestimate the power of music and when money comes short it's the first thing to go from personal budgets, churches and schools. We hunker down and hope and pray things get better. Then when things get really bad we turn to it for hope, for encouragement and something maybe a little bit deeper. You always hear the stories about the Alzheimer's patient who can't seem to remember anything but can sing an old him if prompted. The stroke victim who can't speak but can remember words to favorite songs.

On our death bed I doubt we will be singing a song about Friday and Partying. The people facing flood waters and devastation of their homes probably aren't sitting around singing Poker Face. We turn to songs with substance, with meaning. Something we clearly need more of in our culture of instant media streaming and viral videos. With so much popular music though coursing through the wires what happened to the old standards that everyone used to know?

Maybe we need more of the cheezy well crafted oldies...

Off to buy me a set of bagpipes and start arranging.

~Jim

Monday, May 9, 2011

YON Amendements


No sooner than I clicked “Publish” on the Year of Nothing list did omissions come to light.  Isn’t that always the way those things go? Because I like to keep things complete (and because, let’s face it, anything I don’t write down gets forgotten all together), are my YON amendments:

20.  Go to the Farmer’s Market.  An absolute necessity, right?  The Farmer’s Market is one of the things I love best about Corvallis – they really do it right.  We might live here for the rest of the year or the rest of our lives, but I’d hate to miss out on the market either way.   And then there’s the deliciousness to consider…nom nom!

21.   Welcome Baby Benaim.  In keeping with the current trend among the ladies in my life, my darling Schmerin has a bun in the oven.  And what a cute oven it is!  She’s one of those gals who carries her pregnancy like she’s smuggling a basketball under her t-shirt. 

22.  Welcome Baby Lovely. That trend I was referring to?  It’s no joke.  Nikki-6 is sporting her own baby bump, due within a week of Miss Erin.  I wonder if this will slow down her running, canoeing, biking, hiking, or DIY home improvements?  Probably not!

So I'm updating the full YON list and charging ahead to enjoy each little item to the fullest!  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our Moms are Better Than Your Moms

Or maybe we're just biased?


Either way, Jim and I hit the jackpot when it comes to moms (and mothers-in-law).

Happy Mother's Day to the matriarchs. Long may you rave!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

MugRug: How Did I Live Without It?


Do you know about MugRugs? Suddenly they're everywhere as those crafty gals who sew are whipping them up out of scrap fabric. As a birthday gift, I received my very own MugRug custom made by KnittyBitties.

Knowing that the rug would get the most use on my desk at work, I requested something appropriate to life in Beaver Nation. Isn't it cute?


Even the back is adorable! Though you can't tell from the photo, it's quilted too.

Now my water bottle (with its tendency to sweat) and my beloved Starbucks traveler have a nice tidy, spirited home on my desk.
This is not my first KnittyBitty creation. My magic apron, coffee coat, and beautiful table runner have all come out of the little ETSY shop that could. I love crafty items that are fun AND functional and this one hits it out of the park!