Saturday, July 28, 2007

Strange cocoon

It's been on my weeping willow for weeks now. I haven't disturbed it because it's managed to hang on through a couple pretty big thunderstorms, so I figure it deserves to be there. This photo is from July 15. I just went down to check on it, and it's still there, and a little bigger. It appears to be a cocoon of some sort. What's odd is that once I saw it actually eating part of a leaf. The wormy thing inside was munching along the spine of the leaf, clearing one side but leaving the other intact. It doesn't seem to be eating anymore, just hanging there, although it does move around.

Just for kicks I thought I'd try investigating on the web by typing in "stick cocoon" and sure enough, there it is. It's called a bagworm. They say it's a bad thing and you should kill it. Actually, they say I should have killed it a long time ago, and by now it's probably had babies. Or maybe it was one of the babies that hatched back in June. I don't know if I can bring myself to go down and rip it off. The tree seems to be fine. In fact, it's got lots of new growth, which is a very good sign, because for the first few months it seemed very weak. But this article uses the word infestation, and I would hate for my now healthy tree to suffer, so I guess I should go cut the stick-cocoon-thingie off the branch. Okay, here I go...

...Well, that wasn't so bad. It didn't scream or anything, so that's good. And now my tree will grow to be big and strong. :)

Hello again!

If I have any readers left, hi there! I took a break from blogging, for no reason other than I've been busy and uninspired. I've been on a couple of trips, one to the Cleveland, OH area and one to Kansas and Missouri. Aw yeah, Wichita, baby! Not. How bleak. Although, I did get to tool around in a Lincoln Town Car. That was sweet. Rentals are so cheap there, I reserved a "premium" vehicle, but they didn't have any when I arrived, so they bumped me up to "luxury." Boy, it was a boat! Smooth ride though.

I flew Northwest, on "regional jets," which is their way of saying "tiny planes." That's fine by me, except we were only allowed one carry-on. Usually that means one piece of luggage and one personal item, such as a purse. But no. They meant one thing, period. They were seriously walking up to people waiting at the terminal, forcing people to check stuff, even small bags. There was no way I was checking my computer or my purse, so I jammed my purse inside my computer bag as best as possible and snuck through. There was plenty of room in the cabin, so I don't know what the big deal was. And the flight attendants were so mean compared to Southwest's. They made you pull up your shirt to prove you were buckled in, for crying out loud. And even though I've heard all the Southwest jokes a dozen times, I much prefer them to Northwest's dire seriousness.

I had two out-of-the-ordinary passes through security. At the airport in Wichita, they put me on an American Airlines flight to St. Louis, because the Northwest flight was delayed and I would have missed my connection. So I got to fly nonstop, which was nice. However, since the last-minute switch made it look like I had just bought my ticket that day, I was flagged for "special" security screening, which meant I got the full pat down and my luggage was rubbed with explosives-detecting patches. They searched my purse, rooting around in it for god knows what. My tiny tube of lotion was right on top, but they didn't say anything. Go figure. Then, in St. Louis, trying to get home, they x-rayed my shoes three times, and had to do a hand inspection with those patches again, because apparently one of the shoes has a metal rod and the other doesn't. Kay.

I didn't have much time in Wichita to explore. And perhaps my bleak view of that city, as well as Hutchinson, where my training was, has something to do with that. I can't imagine many small cities are amazing from the vantage point of the airport or a hotel room. From what I've read, Hutchinson actually has a pretty good space museum, and Wichita has Exploration Place and the Museum of World Treasures. So maybe next time.

What I was most excited about was seeing the arch in St. Louis. I never quite made it to the arch itself, although I certainly did see it from a lot of angles. Here's the view from the traffic jam I was stuck in for 20 minutes:

(I made the mistake of trying to go someplace downtown when the Cardinals were playing the Cubs that night, and the entire city was trying to get to the stadium.)

And here's what it looks like if you've crossed over into Illinois and turned around to come back into Missouri:

And here's what it looks like from the very nearby ghetto:

And here it is from a freeway overpass:

Apparently two days in a row shortly before my trip, they had power outages at the arch, causing hundreds of people to be stuck at the top, and even inside the elevators. So I wasn't keen on going to the top anyway. But I would have liked a photo of me in front of it. Good news is, I'm going back to St. Louis next week, so I'll have another chance. Hopefully there will not be another baseball game causing gridlock downtown!

While I've been galavanting about the country, back at the office there have been many announcements. First, we're moving on August 24. It will add about 10 minutes to my commute, which I'm not thrilled about, considering my first criterion when I bought my house was to be close to work. Ironically, now the office will be closer to my old apartment in Apex! This new location is apparently in a top of the line building, which is lovely and all, but the owner has decided no more business casual dressing because we have to project an image now. To whom?? Our customers never come to see us, so what does it matter how we dress? A couple of good things, though: we'll have a break room now, so we won't have to eat lunch at our desks, and I think the bathrooms will be nicer. Currently they are so disgusting! All of the toilet paper holders have been broken, so the TP rolls just sit around. And half the time people miss the trash can when they're drying their hands with paper towels. So hopefully this fancy-schmancy building will have a little nicer loo.

Part of the reason we're moving is we're going to be hiring 15 new employees in the coming months. That may not sound like a lot, except that there's only about 15 of us right now, so that's doubling the staff! I'm really wary that things are going to change a lot, not only with all the new people and positions, but even just the physical layout of the office. We're all going to be in cubes now, instead of basically one giant room, which I think will greatly change the social dynamic. It will be harder to joke around and stuff. Plus, the owner is going to be sitting back near us, so we'll have to keep quiet more anyway. I wonder what the face of the company will look like in a year. Exciting and scary at the same time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I need a meme

Search that phrase in Google and this is what you get. So.

1. Name a movie you have seen more than 10 times.
Love Actually.

2. Name a movie you saw multiple times in the theater.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie.
I'll see just about anything Julia Roberts or Drew Barrymore is in.

4. Name an actor who would make you less inclined to see a movie.
Bernie Mac

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.
Titanic. "What to do?"

6. Name a movie musical in which you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.
Lion King

7. Name a movie you have been known to sing along with.
Evita, Chicago, Lion King, Mary Poppins

8. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see.
The World's Fastest Indian. It is a surprising little gem.

9. Name a movie you own. (I will add: ...that no one would expect--MM)
Team America: World Police

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.
The only person that comes to mind is Will Smith, because that was the answer of the blogger I got this meme from.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?
I vaguely remember going as a child, but don't remember exactly what we saw.

12. Ever made out in a movie?
No. That would be a waste of money.

13. Name a movie you keep meaning to see but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Citizen Kane. It's at the top of all those lists, and I really should see it.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?
No...but I've turned off some I've rented. Like Reservoir Dogs and Epic Movie. Wanted to walk out of Mary Reilly (which contradicts #3 above, but...)

15. Name a movie that made you cry.
Mr. Holland's Opus

16. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?
I can't remember! Maybe The Queen?

17. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?
Romantic comedy

18. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
Back to the Future is my first vivid theater memory. It was very full.

19. What movie do you wish you’d never seen?
12 Monkeys. Just awful.

20. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

21. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?
I remember being disturbed by the ending of Blair Witch. The kid in the corner? Yikes.

22. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?
The time I laughed the hardest was definitely at South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. I was breathless and crying for the first 30 minutes.

23. What was the first R-rated film you saw? Or perhaps the one you knew your parents didn't want you to see...but you did anyway?
I watched Footloose at my friend Leigh's house. (Funny sidenote: I just checked IMDB to make sure my memory wasn't failing me, and yes, Footloose was originally rated R, but has since been downgraded to a PG!! Ah, modern mores.)

24. My bonus question: What movie did you expect to hate but actually enjoyed?
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Totally not my typical kind of movie. I got dragged to it and ended up laughing my butt off the whole time!

25. And just to make it an even 25, bonus question 2: What movie would you like to see remade?
Wizard of Oz. Julia as Dorothy, Mike Meyers as Scarecrow, John Cusack as Tin Man, Will Farrell as the Lion, Jim Carrey as the Wizard, Reese Witherspoon as Glenda the Good Witch, and Michelle Pfeiffer as the Wicked Witch (I'd say Meryl Streep or Emma Thompson but they've both already done witchy types). How funny would it be if Robin Williams was Uncle Henry and Nathan Lane was Aunty Em?!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Quintuple Digits

Thanks for all the hits, y'all!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Uncharted waters

Comet has always been an indoor kitty. It's safer for him, and easier for me. But now that I live in a house with a backyard, he has been staring out the sliding glass door longingly. I decided to let him explore one evening while I sat on the patio where I could keep an eye on him. It was fascinating. He made three laps around the yard, each one quicker than the last, sniffing and investigating every single thing. And then he started bounding around chasing a fly or something. It was adorable, and, strangely, made me proud. My baby in touch with his inner kitty!

Since then, he meows to go out all the time. I don't like the thought of his pristine white coat getting sullied with all sorts of outdoor dirtiness, but so far he hasn't rolled around in the mud or anything. I'm also leery of the neighbor's cat invading Comet's territory and them getting in a scuffle. Sometimes I try to resist his cries to go out, but then I look in his cute wittle face and, I know it sounds corny with a capital C, but I think of that old saying, "If you love someone, set them free." I'm totally the overprotective mommy and I need to let Comet go forth and least in the relative security of an enclosed backyard. :-)

The other day, I let him out while I was getting ready in the morning. I kept looking down in the backyard from my bedroom window, checking on him (and taking the above photo). When I couldn't see him anymore, I figured he was close to the house, lying under the patio table, perhaps. But when I came downstairs, there he sat on the kitchen floor, the screen door wide open. He must have figured out how to slide it open to let himself back in! He's more resourceful than I give him credit for!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Double take

My department went bowling the other night for a "teambuilding" activity. I suck at bowling but it was fun anyway. A coworker and I took pictures, and I was copying them to the shared server when I saw this one and thought, "Who is that?"

Then of course I realized it was me! Holy cow my hair is long and dark. Even though I check the back of my hair every day in the bathroom mirror, seeing a photo gives a whole new perspective.

Here's the girls' team: Jen, me, Kim, and Susan.

And the guys' team: Taylor, Jace (boss), and Sy.