Monday, November 29, 2010


One of the homework assignments for my online class was to read a short piece called "Soup" from the New Yorker.  Now that I have a real job with a cafeteria that sometimes has 4 different soups a day, I am coming to appreciate soup more.  It is warm.  November in my state is not.  It has more than one food group and is much healthier than the other options.  It is cheap.  It is fun to say.  "Sooooooooooooup."  What is not to love about soup?

I found myself in a bathroom washing my hands before lunch one day, and I accidentally burst into song.  (I was, thank goodness, alone.)  "Who would not give all else for two/ pennyworth only of beautiful soup?" 

This past spring, my choir was performing with the school's orchestra, and we premiered a few pieces based on Lewis Carroll poems from the Alice books.  One of them was a supremely ridiculous choral and orchestral rendition of his poem about soup.  It had a rather high tenor solo, and none of the tenors wanted it, so, with a couple weeks to go before the performance, the director asked me if I would take it.  I am flexible and dependable and sympathetic to people in authority when no one else is volunteering.  That is how I came to premier a duet about Soup. 

It was gloriously ridiculous.  I had fun, though I was hardly stunning (having been violently ill and without a voice for more than a week before the performance [I actually had to keep cough drops in my mouth during the entire performance and a bottle of water with me on the stage, for shame]). 

The side effects are with me still.  How many people do you know who have to suppress their desire to sing about soup?  Besides me, I mean?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Too Many Books (Never)

Ran across this exchange on a site I follow and found myself agreeing.  Maybe someday when the e-readers can use amazing projection technology to show the full color stuff and let me actually page back and forth and mark and underline with ease and not have a tiny screen and be only $20 I will possibly buy one.  Or if I have to go overseas for an extended time and can't bring my libraries with me.

"MICHELLE: It is, but the production on this series is especially lovely—one can unfurl the whole cover (French flaps and all) and get one long vertical scene of some lower-level buildings—and it’s a real treat to read a physical copy. Online just isn’t the same.
MELINDA: We’ll be relics someday, you realize… shaking our canes at those digital-obsessed kids, doomed to meet our demise under the weight of a thousand overstuffed bookcases. ;)
MICHELLE: Yep. I’m already feeling curmudgeonly because I honestly cannot tell you who a lot of current celebrities are. Who are Nick and Vanessa? Why does their engagement merit a headline on CNN? I have no clue.
MELINDA: The police will shake their heads, sadly, when they finally discover our bodies. “Too many books,” they’ll say, sighing heavily.
MICHELLE: At least we’ll have died happy.
Amen, indeed.

The Next "Miles" book

A comment (#5) at a favorite author's site when he posted a notice about the new Miles book:

'Oh, and I got to see Bujold at the U Bookstore last week, and she read a scene from what she referred to as “Ivan: His Book.” She said she has sixteen chapters of it. So hopefully the next Vorkosigan book won’t have a seven year gap between pub dates.'

Squeeeeeeeeeee.  Well, I'm not so sure I want to be in Ivan's head.  I found it rather distasteful in a Civil Campaign because any time in Ivan's head meant less time in the heads of characters I liked better.  However, his segment of that book was pretty funny, and I do have a bit of curiosity . . .

Your thoughts about Ivan carrying a whole book?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Declaration of Independence (for one day)

I am going to read a book on my birthday.  I am not going to grade papers.  (I'm taking a day off work the next day to finish off that.)  Now I just have to decide what book.

The Top Contenders:

However, I bet you already know what the winner will be . . .  (What's your guess?  And what would be your top choice from the list?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Patrick Rothfuss t-shirt contest voting

Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind, which I have mentioned before, held a t-shirt design contest. Even if you don't get to vote, it's a riot to see the t-shirt designs people submitted.  I had a hard time deciding between Eolian Bar Shirt, Lute Design, and NOTW Tree.  I liked the clean layout of NOTW Fancy Design, too.

NOTW Speech Bubbles, Kingkiller (expression: hilarious), Hello My Name Is, and Lute Hero all made me laugh.  I'd definitely like them as coffee mugs.  :) 

Now you can start saving up for the time when they are actually available . . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wales, waste, and crankiness

The last time I was in Wales, it was January, and the nights were country dark even though we were in a village because, as my host told us, money was tight in the village, and they had decided to only turn half of the streetlights on at a time.  I thought about this today as I had one of those "Our society is wasteful, unhealthy, and decadent!" moments. 

Have you ever had those sorts of fed-up moments?  The students in my writing class want to talk about how easy it is to solve big issues like world hunger and poverty.  I passed a store with all its lights on and sign blazing even though it had been closed for a few hours.  I got some over-priced hot chocolate I was told was flavored with cinnamon, and I thought they meant the actual spice cinnamon, which is really good for you, but they actually meant some horrible sort of cinnamon syrup that tasted of pepper.  I'm trying to think of ways to cut down on senseless waste on my part when I eat at the cafeteria at work, but I can't figure out how to avoid all the paper and Styrofoam since they won't let us bring our own washable dishes. 

Maybe I'm just cranky because I remember how incredible that fresh apple juice our hosts served at that home-stay in Wales tasted.  And how clear the stars were once the rain and snow passed that night.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Neighbors at work: some day this will make it into a story

The guy in the cubicle next door isn't used to being next door to anyone.  This has become apparent in the last month as he has been working out of this location four days a week.  It was okay when he was only working here one day, but now that he's here all the time, I find myself wishing there were a way to sound-proof his cubicle.

He can't do much about some of it.  He's in HR and has to call people and ask the same 6 ridiculous categories of questions.  I even find it somewhat entertaining sometimes (also horrifying) to hear all of the strange ways people self-destruct in phone interviews.  Do that many people seriously not know their own work history that they just filled out an application about?  Do they really think that the correct answer for "What are you going to college for" is "to keep my parents from bugging me"?

The things that make me slightly crazy are all of the weird noises he makes.  Seriously weird.  Of course, if I had to do the same conversations all the time as listed above, I'm not saying I wouldn't have cracked, too.  Still.  He sounds like he has a horse in his cubicle with him from all the weird, blowing, rubber-lipped sighs he does.  There are certain foods I wish he would avoid because he always does those loud, weird, startling hiccup-burps after eating them.  (Pardon me, but I'm laughing so hard right now remembering these things that just piss me off when they're happening that I kind of need my inhaler.)  Sometimes he will do random movie quotes.  I'm pretty sure he's on the phone for those.  Mostly sure.

I know more about how he got his stupid new cat than anyone should have to.  Except for my other next door neighbor who just escaped and transferred cubes partly because he couldn't stand being anywhere near this person.  The traitor.

My friend advised that when he's making noises, I should play Miss Slightly Dumb and Concerned and go around and ask him if everything's all right when he makes these weird noises.  It would only take a few seconds.  It's a good idea; I just don't think I could keep a straight face with all I've heard.  Too many times I have had to stop what I'm doing and bury my face in my arm to smother the slightly hysterical laughter he is causing me to deal with.  Sometimes, my voice recognition software ends up trying in vain to translate the stifled noises I'm trying to strangle before they erupt as full out belly laughing.  The poor guy has enough problems; he doesn't need me to acknowledge that I'm aware of them.  Mortification.

On that note, I guess my passive-aggressive dreams of going through my old Dilbert calendars and pinning relevant ones about bad cube manners/hygiene on his chair would not be a good idea.

Maybe I should just play deaf and bring my big, old noise-canceling headphones.  Nobody really calls me on the phone anyway.  Maybe when I'm not using my voice-recognition software, that would be the best solution.  Running away is always a good idea, right. :)  Any other suggestions?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stories to tell: the exercise room

I wonder about the dark-skinned, middle-aged, middle-Asian man who seems to be stalking me in the exercise room at my apartment.  I don't exercise at the same time every day (I'm in there anywhere from 6:30 AM to 8 PM, depending on my crazy schedule, and it seems like soon after I enter, he shows up.  I never watch the TV because I am reading and using the stair climber.  He heads straight to the TV, where he religiously tunes in to one of two channels: The Women's Network or Black Music America.

I am careful not to make eye contact with people I don't know in particular and men in general, so I don't know if he is as embarrassed as I am to exercise to commercials and infomercials for maxi pads, Vagisil, women's health issues, and miracle bras in the company of a member of the opposite gender who should really have very little interest in these things.  Does he enjoy the talk shows and soap operas?  I can only assume he is totally comfortable with this stuff that is hideously embarrassing to me (even if it were with a male friend), or why would he do this all the time?  We have never talked.  I don't know if he speaks English, so it's only inside my head that I ask him, "Have you no shame?!" when some particularly excruciatingly embarrassing topic is displayed.

Variety is the spice of life, so sometimes at random and always on Sunday mornings, he zooms in to Black Music America, a channel that shows random pictures and plays music from artists you would expect from the name of the channel (with more of an emphasis on gospel music on Sundays).

Why these two channels?  Why me?  God only knows . . .