Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bill Maher on CNN regarding Religion

I saw this clip this morning in the gym locker room. I could not stop laughing - priceless. I saw the preview for this movie this past Sunday. I can't wait to see it.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

That's what happens in our criminal system. It happens in the courts; it happens in the investigations; it happens among "us", the people that read these cases. And well, I will get on my high horse and say that I would like to exclude myself from the "us" because I believe in the old-fashioned way of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty".

And while I do not have access to in-depth files, profilers, the minutia of detail, I still choose to read between the lines -- the lines where the media influences one direction and most people follow.

Fortunately, there are people like me who have access to the things I don't. One group of people are called The Innocence Project. They actually accept cases that EVERYONE ELSE BELIEVES IS OVER and conduct their own investigation.

I first really learned about The Innocence Project after I read Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA. It is a book I highly recommend for people to read because it outlines exactly why I think investigations -- and the media -- go awry and convict without due cause. These people MOLD THE CRIME AROUND THE PERSON THEY FEEL IS GUILTY. So what you read is not the truth; it may appear to be a cut-and-dry case, but unless you were there, or there is concrete evidence, YOU WILL BE LED TO BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO BELIEVE. There is no humanity in crime and there is no humanity in attempting to convict the right people.

Maybe one day I will post my own opinions on notorious cases that most people believe, without a doubt, are correctly judged. If you know me, you know the cases and for most of you, you are incredulous that I would feel differently than WHAT THE MEDIA MADE YOU BELIEVE. And usually, I get questioned and the questions asked are just plain stupid. When my answers don't match what THE MEDIA MADE YOU BELIEVE, YOU CONTINUE TO SPILL THE SAME SPIEL THAT THE MEDIA MADE YOU THINK WAS RIGHT.

But because I am so content with my beliefs, and I have a holier-than-thou attitude that I know better than you because I am able to think with a clearer mind, I don't feel the need to convince you that you are wrong.

But because it is a deeply intense subject matter for me, I prefer to discuss not-so-famous cases, specifically from the work by The Innocence Project.

Here is a short recap of Paul Gregory House. A man convicted of rape and murder in 1985.

On the afternoon of July 14, 1985, Muncey’s body was found under a brush pile in a ravine less than 100 yards from her home in Luttrell, Tenn.

She had disappeared the previous night, while her two kids slept and her husband was out drinking at a local dance. She’d been killed by a blow to the head, and there were signs of a fierce struggle.

At first, people around Luttrell whispered they’d seen it coming -— that Hubert Muncey Jr., a drunk known for giving his wife black eyes and bruises, had gone too far.

But within days, Union County police arrested Paul Gregory House, a 23-year-old paroled rapist from Utah who had just moved to Tennessee and was friendly with the Munceys.

Paul Phillips prosecuted the case in 1986. He says House became a suspect the day after the murder, when he inadvertently led a witness to the body.

"This witness is out in his car, searching for some sign of Carolyn Muncey, and he sees House come up this bank. When he came up the bank, he's carrying this black cloth. And we believe that that was his shirt that he had lost from the night before," says Phillips. "That’s why we think he went back to the body. This witness went back to that very spot and discovered her body under the bank hidden under brush."

House told police he’d been home the entire night. But his live-in girlfriend, Donna Turner, blew his alibi, saying he left their trailer-home about 10:30pm to go for a walk, and was gone a little over an hour.

"According to Donna Turner, when he came back to the house that night, he was exhausted. He was panting. He was sweating. He had no shirt. He had no shoes," says Phillips. "His hand was all swollen up. He had scratches on various parts of his body. I mean, that's significant. You don't get that in ordinary activities.”

He told Turner that he'd been jumped by two men in a pick-up truck, and that one of them fired a gun at him as he ran through the woods to escape. His lies, physical injuries and incredible story made House the prime suspect. But the case was still entirely circumstantial.

Eventually, what did him in was the forensic evidence: semen stains on Muncey’s nightgown, and what looked like blood on House’s jeans. The clothes and samples of Muncey’s blood were boxed up and sent to the FBI lab in Washington D.C. for analysis.

At the trial, an FBI serologist delivered the coup de grace. He testified that the semen found on Muncey’s clothes came from someone with the same blood type as House.

This happened before DNA testing, so he couldn’t say for sure that it was House. But he also testified that the blood found on House’s jeans was consistent with Muncey’s blood.

The jury took less than four hours to convict House of first degree murder. House has been on Tennessee’s death row ever since. In the last few years, he's developed severe symptoms from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. He also has difficulty speaking.


In 2002, this article stated:
Now, the DNA evidence from the semen found on her underclothes has proved that House was not a rapist; rather, it came from her husband. The victim's blood, it has since been shown, was not spattered on House's jeans during the homicide, but later in the crime lab.

Furthermore, two witnesses say the victim's husband, Hubert ''Little Hube'' Muncey, confessed to killing his wife accidentally after he had been out at the local community center, drinking and dancing. That testimony was never heard by the jury.
A three-judge panel in March upheld the death sentence. House asked for the full court to review that decision, and in yesterday's opinion the 11-member court referred the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court by a 6-5 decision.


And just last week, The Innocence Project reported that the hair found in Muncey's hand doesn't even belong to House nor the husband.

And yet, Paul House will still stand trial October 13. Despite this evidence, and the evidence from 2002, prosecutors refuse to say they are wrong.

It seems this is always the case -- save face, instead of having grace. Fortunately, we have teams of good people, who use logic, science, and seek the truth to help people like Paul Gregory House...where no one else will.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Movie Review: Eagle Eye

CJ has been excited about seeing this movie since she first saw the previews for it, which was earlier in the summer. So Tim and I decided we would do movie night (well, before 6PM so we could get the matinee discount prices) this past Friday, at its debut.

It's not that CJ is a thriller buff. More like a Shia LaBeouf-buff. She just wants to see HIM and since I've done the same thing, why not?

The movie started off pretty good..."thrilling". A young man is being commanded via phone, electronic billboards, etc. instructions to get out of a 'set up' -- he has been targeted as a terrorist and the FBI is after him.

So lots of cool stunts happen and the hollywood thriller begins...

And throw in a modestly pretty girl, who is also being commanded to do things -- her son being the 'carrot' to make her do some odd things. Then toss the two clueless, but ever-ready to pull off amazing stunts, victims and there's nothing Hollywood could think of to make Shia shine as the next rising action star.

And surprise, surprise. Billy Bob Thornton shows up as an FBI agent hunting down Shia.

I love Billy Bob's movies. To name a few: Sling Blade, One False Move, Tombstone, The Apostle. And I've seen most of his others, those pieces of crap...but I love to see him. No, not in _that_ way. Just something about the way he walks and talks...so it was a nicety to see him in this one.

And he was great but I'm sure it's because I'm a fan.

But as the plot weakens, I mean, 'thickens', it's obvious what is going on. And I realize "I know this movie...it's just a 21st century twist on...

...I finally figured it out, after asking $Bill and Tim if they knew of an 80s movie that had a computer come to life and wreak havoc on a man's life. That movie, as crappy as it was, made me cry...when the song at the end played:

Well always be together
However far it seems
(love never ends)
Well always be together
Together in electric dreams


And then I would boo-hoo.

And truly, that's what this one was for me. Except no boo-hooing. And I doubt I'll watch Eagle Eye 100 times like I did with Electric Dreams. And why I did that, I have no clue because I forgot all about the damn movie until I watched this...

BTW, CJ LOVED the movie. Couldn't understand why People Magazine rated it only two stars...

The Sarah Palin Inteview

If you can watch this and STILL want Sarah Palin as your vice-president, well, I feel soooo sorry for you. You obviously cannot be influenced by your instincts and choose to remain stubborn to your "cause". Whatever that means.

You're just a sheep that can't think for yourself and you really shouldn't have the right to vote.

The Sarah Palin Interview with Katie Couric

Vote For Deflocked

I love getting e-mails and feedback from my blog. I have a few regulars and I *so* appreciate you all reading my rants and reviews.

This morning, I read an e-mail I received from Jeff Corriveau. After reading it, I was thrilled and I said to Tim "You won't believe what kind of e-mail I got today!" He responded with "Were you notified that you just received $100,000 in your bank account?"

Killjoy. And I said it out loud.

The e-mail from Jeff was great. He mentioned reading one of my postings and relayed his own anecdote to my story. This is meaningful because I do get e-mail from people that simply state "Love your blog! Please see mine at www.ItsAllAboutMe.com (I'm making that up; I have no idea what's on that site). And usually, I do go to the site and, usually, it's some kind of sell piece and has nothing to do with any personal subject matter.

But Jeff provided me with a great introduction to why he targeted me and if I have one weakness, it's to do my duty to help the 'small' man out. And I don't know what Jeff looks like, so I don't mean small in size, but in relation to breaking ground for his passion.

And his passion? He is a cartoonist and his strip is in the run for a placement within our locally operated, but no longer locally owned, News & Observer.

He needs votes -- and a lot of them since he's competing with twelve other cartoonists. I read his strip and I like it. I'm still a cartoon strip reader, but I am pretty picky about what I like. But thankfully, there's new talent out there. One of my recent favorite strips is Lio. Hopefully, Jeff will have his chance to give me -- and the rest of Raleigh -- something to enjoy.

His strip is "Deflocked" and you can see some of his samples at its namesake website deflocked.com.

And to vote, please go to The 2008 N&O Comics Vote. Hurry -- voting ends at 11:59 PM Monday, Sept. 29th. We can vote up to five times on one computer. Let's give this strip, and Jeff, a chance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paid for By...

I heard about this offer from Doug Stanhope on Keith and the Girl -- the best podcast out there. He has stepped over the line on this one, and I mean it in a very positive way. The mockery, well, it's just priceless: Saving Bristol.

One Roof

If you are like me, and peruse CNN.com ten times a day (okay, more), then you have already read this. But if you are not so obsessed with reading every intricate detail the web has to offer, then you may have missed this and, well, it's good and funny.If you haven't watched any of Chris Rock's comedy specials, especially the ones that HBO has aired over the past several years, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. He is HI-LARE-EE-US.

In fact, tonight, Kill The Messenger, will debut on HBO 9 PM (10 PM Pacific).

And I did not get paid for that advertisement.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things III

This morning, in the hubbub of getting people fed (including me) and making lunches, etc. Mi-Mi decides to practice writing words.

She told me she has learned how to draw a small "e". "Great!" I say. Is it hard?

No, she tells me and concentrates on writing out her words.

She says "I can write "Jade"". She shows me her work.

Cool! I say.

I can write "same".

Wow! That's great!

And "Zoe"

Perfect!

And this one is really easy, "hoe".

To myself, I think "wow, what an unusual word for her to learn!" So I ask, "you mean the gardening tool?"

And she looks at me funny and goes, "No! What Santa says!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

PSA #3: DON'T VOTE FOR SARAH PALIN

I have made it known that I am NOT anti-abortion. It isn't that I want everyone to have an abortion. I certainly don't. It's that I think everyone has their own reason for their choice.

And thus, when I say I am pro-choice, I'm pro-choice about everyone having the freedom to choose for themselves. You want to be Hindu? Go for it. You want to have a dog? Sure! You want to marry a man *and * you happen to be a man? Send me an invite. You want fries with that? You got it.

Nothing pisses me off more than the fucking religious righteousness, usually hypocrites BTW, that feel they can project their "moral value" on others.

And now, we have Sarah Palin (and John McCain...and the Republican party in general), proudly broadcasting her biases.

And I will never understand, people that I know, that I work with, women even, who say, when I say "you know she's anti-abortion" and they're like, yeah, except for that, I like her.

OPPRESSION! What the fuck can she do for you if you are NOT anti-abortion? Anti-gay, or shall I say, an extreme homophobe? Why the fuck would you consider anyone who oppresses any human being? "But my financial outlook will be better." I don't know what the fuck that means because at some point, you are not thinking about anything or anyone but yourself...and it's not true.

It's not true because, by golly, KARMA EXISTS. You think selfishly...you will be punished.

Okay, enough of my ranting on the stupid fuckers that still think it's OK to vote Republican. Here's my next PSA for why you shouldn't vote for Palin:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Biking In Raleigh

Raleigh has a crappy bike plan. Meaning: there aren't many bike-friendly places in Raleigh for commutes (to work, to a transportation hub, to parks, to grocery stores, etc.). We have great greenways (if you don't get stuck in them alone...in the dark) but if you want to really pedal for transportation, Raleigh sucks.

But that's not the worst. It's the ding-dang drivers. Those assholes that find the car to be an extension of themselves and decide that the road is for them, not for anyone else. Fuck pedestrians. Fuck mopeds. Fuck the "stupid" people that want to ride a bike anywhere. I'm better because I have a big fat ass and I have no fucking cardio in me, so I just sit in my big, expensive SUV and bitch about the stupid, healthy folk, who ride those bikes to where ever. Plus, where the fuck would I put my golf clubs?

I don't ride my bike other than out of sheer pleasure. No not that way...but entertaining-wise. A ride through Umstead's fire truck trail; or the beautiful greenways. This is a leisurely ride, usually with my man and my kids.

But, since I only live about 10 miles from work, the idea of biking to work is delightful. More health benefits. Plus, it feels pretty good to ride a bike - a liberating feeling that I am in control of my transportation...except up hills, but that's another story.

But if Raleigh were equipped with better bike paths, to ease the pain of dealing with ignorant, fat ass, small dicked car drivers, then I would be more apt to do it. But because Raleigh is not, I am a courteous driver to bikers and I flip off everyone else on my way to work.

But Raleigh has a survey for fellow Raleigh-ites, on a future bike plan. What this will do for Raleigh, I have no idea. I'm skeptical, but filling the survey out is free. And if you feel like there is hope for change (VOTE FOR OBAMA), then give it your due diligence and fill it out.

Raleigh Comprehensive Bike Plan

Thank you for your support.

Monday, September 22, 2008

There Is Nothing More Thrilling

than seeing the face of my five year old, racing out of the door, with the biggest smile, the most excited eyes, clutching dollar bills in one hand...as she races to meet the ice cream truck driver stopped outside of our house.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Childhood Memory

I was reminded, today, of another friend of mine during my Clark days.

Clark days refers to the time I lived in the Philippines, while my father was stationed at Clark AFB. This time period was a very memorable time - second grade through eight grade. I arrived in the middle of the second grade and I left right before I had to begin eight grade in another country, with a whole 'nother group of people. Military brats, especially overseas, are in a league of their own.

Anyway, a friend of mine posted a picture of "me". It took me awhile to figure out why she thought that was me -- and the other girl looked like someone I knew. I figured it out: she and I shared the first name. It didn't dawn on me that we were all friends, but I was friends with each one of them.

This is confusing, you see, because in the military, people come and go. Christina is my friend who posted the picture and she left Clark during the earlier years of my stay. The other girl, AKA Cindy, was there almost the entire time. So in my memory, I don't recall me, "Cindy" and Christina hanging out. We might have...it's just been sooooo long ago.

But my memory of "Cindy" came back in this recollection:

Once upon a time, there was a boy by the name of Dennis. He was older and he had a younger sister, Gina, that rode my school bus.

Dennis, on the other hand, would drive a motorcycle. I have no idea what grade he was in or how old he was, but he somehow mingled with Gina's age group, including me. And "Cindy".

I fell head over heels for Dennis. In fact, I recall spending the night with some friends, and having the opportunity to hang out at a dance club. This was popular, especially for middle school girls who's parents weren't strict like mine. Or maybe, they just didn't care. Because I can't imagine why parents would let their 5th, 6th and 7th grade girls hang out at "dance" clubs.

But I did get to go and I was so thrilled. Dennis was there and I remember slow dancing with him, in my shiny, silky, lavender shirt. I don't recall if "Cindy" was there too, but I'm thinking she was. My only memory, faint as it is, is my purple shirt, disco lights, and Dennis.

Well, not long after that, there was some kind of big party event in a park in my subdivision: Diamond Subdivision. I don't know what this event was, but it was really crowded in this park and music from Journey was booming in the background.

I was with friends and was just so excited about even getting a glimpse of Dennis. I was truly in love with this guy. And I was hoping he felt the same way. After all, he did ask me to dance with him! And he rubbed those fabulous hands of his on my silky, lavender, shiny shirt.

Then some geeky acquaintances of mine came up to me and told me "Hey, Dennis is looking for you! He's been asking if we've seen you."

My heart dropped. I was dumbfounded. How could this be possible? My dream come true! Dennis is as hot for me as I am for him? It is love! I must find him!

But sadly...I realized, quite devastatingly, in my own heart...I knew...it was not me he was truly asking for. Yes, it was "Cindy", but it was, , the _other_ "Cindy".

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kids Say The Darndest Things II

This evening, Mi-Mi told us "don't get mad at me for asking this question". She repeated, "You can't get mad at me for asking this question". We said okay.

She asks, "Is "fuck" a bad word?"

[Yes, we told her, it is.]

Later, she tells me "Pull my finger." I told her no (I know the trick). She demands "PULL MY FINGER!" No, I say again. She then says, "Awww man. It came out before you could pull my finger..."

Redemption

I don't know if all runners feel this way but one bad run can sure fuck me up.

I feel defeated. I lost the game and it was all my fault. I feel like "who do you think you are? you are no stinkin' runner. You _think_ you are, but really, you're not. And most of all, you suck trying to be one."

Forget all the runs I did prior to the bad one. Forget the highs, the PRs, all the amazing feats prior to that bad run. I coast on the coats of a minor runner depression.

Until redemption...

And redemption came to me today.

A few weeks ago, you may recall my Run from the Water post. This would be the "bad" run. Forget that I ran 8, 9, 10, 11 miles successfully. It's the 12 mile run that I DID NOT finish that fucks with me.

I run fine afterwards. Having really good run days since.

But today was another planned 12 mile run. Well, it should've been a 13 mile run, but because I was a wussy, I was set back to trying a 12 mile run again.

During my morning commute to work, I was struck with a plan for my 12 mile route. I would run from my front door into Umstead, which is a major -- and absolutely magnificently beautiful -- park here in Raleigh.

It is a safe route -- right on sidewalks along major roads. So I would be safe from the predators that are just waiting to pounce on me. So my warped brain says.

It was the Duraleigh walker--now-runner who inspired this route.

She is someone I see nearly everyday on my route to work. Fortunately, I am not a predator or I guess I could figure out how to take her because I see her so often. But instead, I am a distant admirer.

She walks the entire length of the road. I don't know where she starts, but she is out there often, rain, cold, heat, whatever. Sometimes I see her with her man, as they cuddle in the cold. But most times, just her. No headphones. Just her and nature.

For the past few months, I've seen her running. Even as far into Edwards Mill, running towards Duraleigh. So on Friday, I saw her running and I thought "you know! she runs from Umstead. I can do that!"

So I explained my route to Tim. Approximately seven miles to get to the Umstead entrance on Trenton Road, then the remaining five through Umstead to the Old Reedy Creek/Black Creek intersection. That should be close to 12 (and, proudly, I was right).

Tim would drive to Old Reedy Creek, mountain bike through some of the Crabtree trails, then meet me at the Trenton Road entrance and run the five miles with me to the car. So a tough workout for him -- a brick workout.

We estimated a time that I would end up at the Trenton Road entrance. Maybe an hour and 20 minutes; 1 hour 30 minutes at the most. I got there in 1 hour and 13 minutes. woo-hoo!

I shocked even myself! I texted Tim when I turned onto Reedy Creek Road at 57 minutes: "FYI I'm just turning on Reedy Creek". Then when I got there, I texted "I'm here". Then I called. I figured he wouldn't hear the phone on the bike, or be able to get to it.

So I waited about 10+ minutes and he came roaring towards me with big eyes. He was impressed that I was there already. :-)

After he locked up his bike, we hit the trail and the first part is wonderful because it goes down. After that, it's shitty until the last two miles. And believe me, that's a loooooooonnnnnng time.

Tim was awesome at keeping my pace brisk. It wasn't intentional, but because it was just a good damn day for me to run, I wanted to go with the flow.

And we did. We finished 12.32 miles in 2 hours and 2 minutes. WOW. That is amazing for me. And I had negative splits the last five miles, hitting sub-10 mn/mile pace.

I will remember this day for the rest of my life. Aw, who am I kidding. Once I have a bad run, this day will mean nothing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Obama's Inbox

I found this somewhere. Another funny one from The Onion:

Obama's Inbox

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book Review: The Chardonnay Charade: A Wine Country Mystery by Ellen Crosby

So after some real heavy books. in volume and in subject matter, I thought it would be nice to read something more 'light-hearted'. Instead of a Harlequin Romance, which were by far a favorite light read for me as a young girl (and I'm now 40!). So I thought a mystery series set in wine country would do the job.

The one I actually had saved in my wake county library book list was titled The Merlot Murders but since that wasn't available, I picked this one. The titles were tickling my fancy so how could I go wrong?

But I did and the book was hard to finish. Not because it was long but because I had no real interest but I can't NOT finish something I started. It's an ego thing.

I couldn't wait to finish so that I could start on a book I _could_ enjoy.

The writing was not great. There were a bunch of big words mixed in regular folk talk. It just didn't blend. Relationships that were supposed to be meaningful never came through because there was just not enough to mold characters to one another. And it is significant because, for instance, we are supposed to believe that the main character and her winemaker Quinn, are supposed to have sexual tension. Never did I sense or feel any of that in the writing.

Then there's her sister, Mia, who is partying way too much. There is no big sister care of what her sister is doing other than a few random sentences about how bad she's partying...and then the last few chapters, her sister's drinking and partying becomes part of the overall plot.

The mystery is pretty much solved by the reader in the beginning. It is WAY TOO OBVIOUS, so obvious that once the truth is revealed at the end, it's just an eye-rolling reaction...DUH. I knew that and I was hoping for a different surprise.

But because most of the characters, except the main one, are barely written about in depth, it would have been disappointing for anyone else -- including the main culprit -- to be revealed as the guilty party.

So I don't plan to continue down these series for my "light-reads"...the fun ones that take me away from the deep tomes I have been reading off and on for the past year. In fact, I dropped Merlot Murders from my booklist.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Electoral Polls

I try to ignore these, but of course, all the newsgroups, news sites, any site, have headlines depicting the latest electoral polls. I found this article extremely interesting, regarding the information gathered by our polls. Apparently, they are missing their demographics. Not entirely, but it appears that it can be skewed:

Why I'm Ignoring the Polls This Year (Hint: Cell Phones)

Not All Experiences Are Created Equal

My favorite user experience guru and company, Good Experience, isn't keen on the Facebook experience. Despite that, this video is pretty darn funny and a good poke at the "Facebook Experience".

On the Facebook Experience

Monday, September 15, 2008

PSA #2: DON'T VOTE FOR SARAH PALIN

Another reason why I will not vote for a Republican -- gay rights. Sure, there are gay republicans...they just hide behind their "christian values".

Another copy-and-pasted quote from Care2Petition. I'm stupid so I had to look up GBLT: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender/Transexual:

You've probably seen countless news stories about John McCain's "maverick" record. But while he'd like you to believe he's a moderate, at the end of the day Sen. McCain marches in lockstep with the anti-GLBT right wing. Did you know:

* John McCain has publicly embraced the hateful California marriage initiative that would deny marriage rights to committed same-sex couples.

* In 2006, he appeared in a TV ad for a similar measure in Arizona.

* He doesn't believe GLBT couples should be able to adopt children.

Don't let Sen. McCain get away with embracing discrimination while telling us he's protecting GLBT rights. Don't let him tell us he's a maverick while supporting hate and bigotry.


If you are interested in signing the petition, please do.

I'm In Love With A Vampire

That's what I told CJ last night, when I went into her room to say goodnight. She looked at me like, you are the strangest person I have ever known. And I'm her mother.

Anyway, True Blood is the new series on HBO by the creator of Six Feet Under, one of the best shows I've ever seen...with an ending that to this day, I can't forget.

True Blood is about vampires. Vampires that live in our society as 'regular people', but hey, they're just dead. The living dead.

And the main character is Sookie, who is adorable -- and skillfully played adorably by Anna Paquin. Does that name sound familiar? Because she was the LITTLE GIRL in that sick movie, The Piano, who won an academy award for that role.

Oh yeah. And she was in X-Men.

But she is beyond fantastic in True Blood. I'm in love with her too.

But it's Bill Compton, the vampire that is of interest to Sookie (and get this, he's interested in her too) that has stolen my heart.

It's a bit cheesy in the way he puts his dark, brooding, mysterious charm -- you know, that vampires are known for -- but it works. At least for me it does.

When he tells Sookie that he can feel her, and will know when she's in trouble, because she drank his vampire blood (long story -- but with only two episodes shown, you have time to catch up). Wow..

When he tells her he'd come over to talk to her Grandma about the Civil War (after all, he was around during that time) because it would make Sookie happy. Oooh-la-la.

And finally, when he kills the two people who were beating Sookie up to death and licks her wounds to healing. BE STILL MY HEART!

So, an unusual love story that has captured my still beating heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Guest Blog Entry: Flying Frog Adventure Race

I enjoyed Tim's rendition of his first adventure race. He came home pretty late last night (Saturday) and went through a very cool dramatization of his adventure, with $Bill and Eric. I asked him this morning if he would write it up so that I could include in my blog, so here it is, a very special blog entry from Tim:

---

"The 2008 Flying Frog Adventure Race includes a 5-10 mile Mountain Bike course, 5-10 mile Trail Run and a 2-5 mile Paddling course. The course is gentle enough to be finished by the novice racer, while challenging enough for the experienced adventure racer. This race is scheduled to last 3-6 hours"

This is the official statement on the flyingfrogar web site. I have been interested in doing an Adventure Race, but wanted first to get my feet wet with a novice course. My friend Bill found this one, and we signed up under the All Male category. It took a little while, but we finally found our needed 3rd team member - Eric.

Given the description this sounded like the perfect starter. Personally I prepared with the mindset that since we had a range (Adventure races apparently wait until sign in on race day to reveal the course / distances) on each event and a 3-6 hr timeframe, we certainly would have to be in the middle of the listed distances. I was incorrect. At sign in we were given our instructions and maps - which gave the Total Course Distance:

Canoe / Kayak Section - 4.2 miles
Biking Section - 14.8 miles
Running Section - 8.7 miles

I'm not the scholar in the bunch, but didn't take me long to figure that I was going to be grossly unprepared. The distances were at least double what I had expected. In fact, this year I have run no farther than 3-4 miles at once. I have been immersed in my weight loss efforts with P90X (there's a plug Tony) - and the other disciplines suffered.

We didn't have a lot of time to think about it though and soon were geared up ready to start. First up was canoe. We had 3 unknown challenges along the way, and right away we had to untie ropes with knots in them before we could row - row - row your boat. I think we were dead last getting the stupid rope undone. It was a really small rope, and we have big fingers!. Once we hit the water though, the 2 times Bill and I rowed together really showed.. Actually, Bill had previous canoe experience and took the rear position. I took front, and Eric got to ride in the middle first. My job was simply to mindlessly row 5x's then switch hands, row 5, then switch again, etc.. Bill's job was to counter whatever the hell I was doing wrong, and keep us straight. Initially we were slowed by the inexperience of other teams - not ours. On many occasions throughout this leg, we either had to stop to keep from hitting others going sideways, or backwards or criss-crossing so much we were in danger of being boarded. We paddled down to first checkpoint (2.1 miles), then Eric and Bill switched positions. To my knowledge Eric is like me in the canoe - less experienced - yet it took him little time to figure out how to counter my heavy right handed paddling, and we passed even a few more teams. I can't remember the official time - something around 1:10 ish...but we really did well coming from behind with the stupid knot thing.

Next up the bike. I have participated in sprint tri's before. Was bike man on Half's (56 milers), and good deal of time riding thru Umstead and local greenways. So, not a stranger to what I thought was "Mountain Biking". Yet again - wrong !. Not long after we started I noticed that I was on a very narrow trail going over lots of roots, rocks, trees, very steep (to me) inclines with corresponding ups and tight turns between trees. And last but not least Bill and I had close to bald rear tires on our bikes and it had rained all week. Couple all of the above with mud and slick tires, lack of experience and a daunting distance - and you can see that we were in for it. Eric was the expert on this leg, and I learned this type of course was called a single track. I won't be able to remember all the falls, but Bill was our tree man. Literally slamming into trees while trying to navigate thru the slippery turns. I witnessed one of these while riding behind him and damn near lost control thru the tears from laughter. I tried to do what I saw Eric do by pulling back to raise my front wheel and 'climb' over a fallen tree. This didn't work and front wheel caught in said tree and I went head first over. Eric went off a bridge which sadly I missed, but sure it didn't feel good. Many, many times we had to dismount and walk the obstacles. Bill made a valiant effort to stop me from sliding back off an incline after I had successfully dismounted during the attempted climb, yet succumbed to the downward slide.

The 14.8 miles took us 3 HOURS... I haven't been on a seat for that length of time in a good while, and NEVER on a single track - which apparently takes actual SKILL. As we reviewed the map and went thru checkpoints, it seemed like we would never finish. We were going thru our liquids quick, and I forgot to mention it was extremely humid / hot. Things were looking bad. One of the funniest things to me was hearing Bill on a few occasions complaining out loud with colorful explicative's and how he hated his bike. I have rode with Bill off and on for many years, and usually always from a distance staring at his backside. Never have I heard him complain like this - much less swear about how it sucked. Thats usually me - so although I was dying as well, just funny.

Earlier on the bike I was having a great time. I was trying to watch what Eric did, and took point for a while and actually sped up to a faster pace. It was a thrill blasting thru the turns and trying to figure out how to balance, and slide using a touch of brake. I simply need better equipment and more training.

After forever, I followed Eric out into the clearing to get back to the TA (transition area). I didn't see Bill, but soon saw him walking his bike out and moaning. He looked to be in extreme pain, and I thought he had broke something the way he was walking. After a few minutes he could finally speak and told us he had caught part of his bike on his man-berries.. God that hurts, but since I knew he would be fine I laughed my ass off. Mostly that was a release of our now 4 hours of hell, and the fact that the bike was done. We all limped / rode to our spot at the TA while several onlookers gave us a nice round of applause and good-jobs.

For all of you who do any type of mutli-sports, you know the TA is still clocked in for total race time - so the goal is to get your gear ready for the next event, hydrate - maybe eat or gels, change if needed, then get the hell out. Not for us. You would have thought we were getting our campsite ready for the night. We took off our shoes, waded in the water, I ate cookies and drank a coke, Eric and Bill did much the same. In the back of our minds I know each of us was thinking there was no way in hell we were going to finish the 8.7 mile MOUNTAIN trail, or even start it. I was thinking that we had done a pretty good job for first time AR's, and we should just pack it in. A quick check on individual status, and it was decided we would at least try, thinking we could turn around at anytime.

After the 15 minute TA !, we set out. Obviously this was going to be more of a hike - with short bursts of shuffling - footed - jogging. We had our 2nd challenge of the day right after the start. This was a small navigational exercise using the compass to find 5 or 6 orange triangles using the bearings and pace counts we were given. We had a little issue - o.k., I had a little issue with this since I was not use to the pace count of the 6' 5'' person who laid out the course, but we finished this fairly quickly - and it turned out to be a nice physical break from the race. A little excitement here when one of the course volunteers asked what he should do with the copper head snake he just found..... uh, don't touch it?

Back on the course again we were progressing, but hurting pretty bad. Guzzling thru our limited water supply (an amateur mistake I know, but it was god awful hot), Bill informs us that if we can't find water soon we would have to turn back as he was starting to cramp (think dehydration). We shuffled thru some short runs, and I at one point started to feel better - thanks to my coke and cookies kicking in. Eric led most of the way, and kept a brisk walking pace - which although tiring would get us there quicker. We made it to the half way point, and some nice firefighters who were there all day with us had a cooler full of ice-water ! I can't tell you what that means at this point. We all loaded up and almost immediately felt better. I had initially thought the run course was going to be the same route as bike, and after we learned it wasn't - we had even more to feel good about - since it was shorter / flatter. We actually ran a good deal of the next part, and think we all knew that we could now make it. I instructed a wrong turn shortly thereafter and was scolded harshly for the extra 50 yards ! Made it to next checkpoint where I volunteered to put a big rubber band thing around my ankles and walk 400 yards. Not pleasant, but no biggie and gave us a walk break. Eric kept the lead and we jogged flats and downhill's, but walked up. Came out of the woods to the Greenway trail and Bill pulled the famous, "lets run to x", then when we get to x its, "lets run to y - its just a little further".. tricky, but effective.

Came upon the last checkpoint and the friendly firefighters with more water - and we - or at least me, was so happy, since we only had 2.8 miles back to finish. Eric volunteered for the last challenge, which was to shoot a bow and arrow. He was about 50 yards or so away, and finished in 3 shots. Don't know if he was Daniel Boone in a previous life of not, but each shot got progressively closer, and the 3rd was a bulls eye.

Back on trail, we tried to do same thing. Run flats and downhill's and walk ups... But, we were slowing down a lot, and really close to shot. Water ran low again, and Eric was verbalizing symptoms of dehydration. Hard to imagine that given how much we were drinking - but with that humidity it was getting to us all. I couldn't hold my water bottles, kept slipping out, and I also had trouble concentrating when running the trails behind Bill. He later mentioned how tough this was mentally - which I hadn't thought about - but for those that don't know, running and biking on this type of trail requires constant concentration.

A lot of bitching and moaning peppered with words of encouragement and we finally saw the clearing at the end of trail. It would be very difficult to describe how happy we were. I wanted us all to cross together (no I don't know why, just thought it was the team thing to do), and we had to adjust our individual paces to make that happen. I think Eric and I were going a little faster just in that blind fury to be done, while Bill was casually jogging along trying to enjoy the moment. Coming out of the clearing we heard some clapping, and one of the participants yelled something at us, that I heard, but simply couldn't comprehend. I would soon find out. We crossed the finish line, I damn near collapsed and then the race director came over to congratulate us. Told us to go towel off, get some fluids and then come back to pose...

Pose? What the hell? For what - longest team time ever? Ugliest bunch? Smelliest? Worst hair?

Nope. Seems we were 3rd place for the All Male Division. I don't even know if we got it for a few, but it was true. The team that took just under 7 hours (I think was 6:50 - something), almost quit after bike, had taken 3rd. We later saw on the leader board that around 5 teams were DNF's (did not finish), but so what - makes it even better that we didn't. A win is a win. We were pretty pleased with ourselves. And don't think I'm knocking those DNF's.. - It's happened to me on races, and this was the toughest thing I've participated in. Some, I know were due to injuries - and others may have just been like us, not prepared for the distance or technical riding.

We posed for our picture with our plaque, and packed up to head home. It had been quite a day. Many times on the running portion I proclaimed how impressed I was that we were even trying, and yet we all made it. Pretty damn cool. It was a well organized race with great sportsmanship and friendly volunteers.

I'm already scouting out the next one - and this time I'll be ready :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

PSA #1: DON'T VOTE FOR SARAH PALIN

Since the news media -- and the stupid people -- are talking about Sarah Palin more than John McCain, I thought I would start some Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on THE candidate that is all the buzz.

I am still amazed that people are still rooting for her on the most shallowest of terms: she's a woman; she supports special needs (um, can someone tell me what nominee would NOT support special needs?); she's a PTA mom; she runs before she works; whatever the fucking dumb-ass reason the fucking sheep come up with.

She's just like me? NO THE FUCK SHE'S NOT. She is a fucking white, tight-ass, racist republican that happens to put lipstick on.

So, maybe you can tell that I don't like her. I don't. She's a religious fanatic that I equate to the fucking other religious fanatics that find themselves to be holier than thou. Some of those idiots actually strap BOMBS on and blow themselves up, in the name of GOD...yeah, they call him ALLAH, but it ain't no different than the religious fuckwads we have here that blow up abortion clinics.

So, with that said, here is my first PSA on why you should NOT VOTE FOR SARAH PALIN. I am subscribed to many e-newsletters. This particular PSA is copied from "Defenders of the Wildlife Action Fund":

As governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin has proposed paying a $150 bounty for the foreleg of each dead wolf. The aerial hunting program she champions has already killed nearly 800 wolves. She’s opposed efforts to save America’s polar bears from extinction. She’s fought against efforts to save some of the world’s most endangered beluga whales.

At nearly every opportunity, Governor Palin has sided with Big Oil, mining companies, wealthy trophy hunters and other entrenched special interests in support of policies that would greatly harm the wild animals we treasure.


They want your donation to promote this in a TV ad - and since I am quoting them - I am going to point you to the place to donate, if you so care to: Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

But seriously, the best thing you can do is NOT VOTE FOR SARAH PALIN.

What Would You Buy?

I posed a question to a friend of mine the other day, as he talked of considering getting another car.

"If you had a check for "Pick anything you want", what car would you pick?"

It's a difficult question to answer because one car just can't do it. My friend couldn't pick just one -- his choice was a big truck with a cab and the other I forget.

And when I decided to pose the question to myself, I couldn't pick just one.

For instance, my first choice would be more practical and selfish: a new Honda Odyssey, fully equipped to the hilt: hybrid, satellite radio, GPS included, DVD player, passenger windows that roll down, the automatic rear door lift, all-leather, rear camera, sunroof. Oh, and most certainly in 100% Black. I love the minivan I have now and I would just want it IMPROVED.

But for the fun person in me, I would want the mac-daddy Jeep -- the one with four doors (the Rubicon), again, in BLACK. And I'd have to relearn how to drive a stick-shift, since you should only have this type of car in stick-shift form.

For the retro-fun in me, I would get an old International, CJ-5, or the old LandCruisers. But I'd have to have it all re-done to make it up-to-snuff like the minivan above. Gas mileage is extremely important, so this would not be a practical choice.

And for a (sort of) sporty type, no, it's not the sports car (quite honestly, I'm not a fan of sports cars...I roll my eyes if a guy is in there -- I could care less what they look like -- it's just TOO STEREOTYPICAL OF SMALL-DICK, BIG EGO)...and if it's a girl, well, whatever. So for me, it would be the Cross Country Volvo wagon (I test drove one and it was FUN) or one of those Audis...I like the logo and their look.

But let me say that, for the record, I am not a car buff. I am sure there are a zillion cars out there that would fit my ideal choice that would be my car for 'carte blanche'. But from the little that I do know, these would be my choices.

What would be your ideal car?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Story of Bravery

I read The Onion a bit and I always find something to chuckle at (note: ending with a preposition). This one was one I found very ironic and amusing. It's a bit sick, but not too much.

read more | digg story

Things That Go Bump In The Night

...that would be me.

The other night, I awoke to the urge to pee. I hate that because, once up, even if I keep my eyes shut, my brain turns on and I can't get back to sleep.

But before my brain was turned all the way on, I had to make my way to the potty. I had my hands out to feel for the door. I must have been at a left-arm-straight-to-my-left and right-straight-in-front-of-me because BOOM! My cheek hit the two-inch thick piece of door, where the latch-thing-sticks out. And it hit directly on the edge.

I saw stars and my check immediately throbbed. I peed. Then crawled safely back into bed. My brain was turned on and the first thoughts that went through my head were: aren't cheek bones fairly sensitive? Did I chip my cheek bone? It really hurts. WhyTF did I do that? What was I doing with my hands? Will I get a black eye? Will I go to work if I have a big honkin' bump on my cheek? Will I die?

And then those thoughts lingered to other things that kept me up for a little while.

I didn't die, but my cheek still hurts...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Pray For Gays

And it's not what you think.

This evening, Tim said 'did you hear about that bitch and her church praying for gays to be 'ungay'?!' And immediately I was like "What???!!!" I have got to find that article! And it isn't hard to find.

THIS IS WHAT McCAIN CAME UP WITH FOR A VP?

Talk about an extremist. It's people like her, the crazy fundamentalists, who have the GALL to talk about other religious fanatics being coo-coo, that give true christians a bad name. In fact, so bad a name they have that I cringe at the very word. Who the hell do YOU think you are, to pray for me for things YOU find unacceptable? What about praying for a cure for cancer? Or for poor people to have better healthcare? How about for cyclists being able to have the law of the land followed and have ignorant-asshole-car-drivers actually SHARE THE GOD-DAMN ROADS?

I twittered recently how fascinated I was with Palin. Fascinated in the sense that I had no idea who she was. I'm sorry I ever found out who she was...and I'm even more sorry that she has a chance to become our fucking VP.

I'm not religious...until my empty gas light comes on, then suddenly, I find god. But I think it might be worth a shot to knock on wood, chant, consult your demigod, spark up some incense, and yes, pray for a cure for this ignorance...

read more | digg story

Unzipped

I have noticed this and my interest was peaked again by my buddy $Bill's blog post mentioning seeing one. Today, while running with my other buddy Frank, we passed one and Frank mumbles, in a particularly important part of my running story, "i hate that!"

"That" would be cyclists who ride with their shirts unzipped. Just to clarify, "that" would be male cyclists.

Why do they do that? Is there some scientific reason behind this? Like it makes you faster to show your chest? If that's the case, then why not go shirtless?

I don't get it and I personally don't like it. It has a lot of machismo behind it, which is very cheesy. Cheesy in the stereotype of a "guido" that wears a see -through black shirt, or a button down shirt unbuttoned to below the ribs, very similar to these guys with their shirts unzipped.

Is it supposed to be cool? I just don't get it and I don't get it because I see it so often.

I'll be interested to hear what the reason is behind this style. And I'll be the judge as to whether the reason sounds reasonable or not...:-)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Random Thoughts

Why are there some people who insist on being asshole drivers? Today, a "co-worker" (no, I didn't know him, but we were heading for the same place) tailed me on the windy -- and pretty -- Old Reedy Creek-Trenton Road. I stuck to the 35 mph speed limit and he stuck to my bumper. I flipped my rearview mirror down DRAMATICALLY, so I wouldn't have to see the MFer, even though I could still sense his presence on my ass.

The sad thing? There was someone on his bumper.

He followed me and once we entered the work environment, he passed me, to which I mouthed "asshole" to him as he passed. These people, these very stupid idiotic people, just chip away at my recovery from road rage.

***
I run. I do aerobics. I stretch. I do yoga. Well, I stopped yoga for a bit to get in some Body Sculpting. And as I have previously mentioned, I am dealing with shin splints. Because of yet another < facetiously > very important meeting to attend < /facetiously >, I have to switch preferred exercise classes and went to yoga today. What I discovered was that my calf muscles are TIGHT. Why? I am active. And for the most part, I thought my calves were in shape. But, apparently not. Yoga will now be my class of choice.

***
Why is WRAL not showing the men's U.S. Open Finals? Instead, they're showing the same old news they showed this morning. And BTW, I hate football. I hate it more because everybody is all excited about it. That's right. Call me scrooge.

***
There is no cure for ignorance. If you don't bike, then you don't want to share the road no matter what the laws say. You still think you know better and clearly, it's the biker folk that are clueless. After all, a biker can't win between bike vs. machine. So why risk your life and ride your bike? Yeah. That's right. Me and my fat ass in my big SUV, watching football on Sunday and drinking budweiser...bitching about biker's being the stupid ones...

***
I think EVERYBODY came to work today. No one was home sick or on vacation. Nope. They were all at work taking up my parking spaces.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Reader Mattress Sighting

My favorites! My friends sending me a mattress sighting. This one is from Kerry, Gabe and Maddie, somewhere on I-85 between Atlanta and Raleigh:

Run from the Water

Since Tropical Storm Hannah dampened my 12 mile run yesterday, I had to go for it today. Unfortunately, "go for it" only lasted for a few miles before I threw in the towel. What should have been a two-plus hour run turned into a little over an hour. There were just too many obstacles preventing me from pursuing the full 12.

I decided to take a route to Shelley Lake, go around Shelley, then come back towards Lake Lynn, take a loop around that (or two, depending on how many I had left) and be done with it.

I didn't start out totally confident but not thinking it couldn't be done. But once I factor my negatives, it doesn't take much to sway me the other way.

First off: I'm running my long miles in a different environment. Not usually a bad thing, but it's one factor -- I am running a different route than the past several weeks. This also meant that I would be exclusively on pavement, which is a bit daunting for someone who took two days off last week because of shin splints.

Also, I would be running in my new shoes. No way will I run in the shin splint shoes (AKA Brooks) and the Thursday run in my Climacools just reminded me of the _other_ pains I get from running in those shoes. Twelve miles in a brand new pair of shoes is had me feeling tentative.

Second: I was starting around 10 AM. Still early, but way late compared to my usual 8-8:30 starts. Also, a day later than usual. And I had an evening out last night, versus eating to carb up for my run.

I started off a bit slow, as usual. I wanted to keep my pace at or under 11 mn/miles. The first mile ended up being 11:19, so I wanted to see if I could quicken my pace.

As I approached Creedmoor Road from my neighborhood, I noticed a loose dog not far away from me. I love my dogs but I don't like other people's loose dogs. In fact, I am semi-terrified of loose dogs. See my phobia on being chased by a dog on bike...

The dog saw me and just stared me down. I knew he was trying to figure out what I was and why I was moving fast. I debated on just running past it, since it was MY ROUTE but I knew that I would panic and had no idea how to fight it off if it decided to attack me or worse, chase me.

So I took a sharp left to the Vet Hospital we use, ran up it's gravel road, and cut through it's lot to hit the sidewalk adjacent to Creedmoor. Ha! Ha! I felt pretty good that I was so calm about making that decision...when up ahead, at the intersection of MY ROUTE and Creedmoor, the dog saunters onto the very sidewalk I'm on.

Fortunately, he was not a rabid dog and ended up being more scared of me than me of him...at least, that's what kind of psychological warfare I made towards the dog. He had no idea I was on the verge of panic. But he ran off and my next fear was that some car was going to hit him, which would have just traumatized me.

I run along, cross Creedmoor and take a left onto Millbrook. This was a decent route, despite the sidewalk and swooshing cars on busy Millbrook, because for the most part, it's downhill. I felt great and ended up -- according to the GPS -- going around 9:30 for the next two miles.

I decide to go clockwise around Shelley, so that I go down the big hill and the hill by the bridge where everyone feeds the ducks. I'm having a hard time slowing down (this is where I see my second 9:30 mn/mile) and I try to concentrate because I know I am having an adrenaline rush, plus the downhills are helping me feel great.

I cross the bridge -- having to dodge people who pay no attention to anyone around them -- and continue around the treehouse thingy overlook when I hear someone coming my way tell the gentleman in front of me something. I ask that gentleman what she said and he said that the trail was flooded. Oh. Okay. No biggie, I think, I'll go around. As I approached the flooded part of the trail, I noticed no way around and it was a good five feet hurdle to get over the flooded part. I make a U-eey and acknowledge to the gentleman "yup, it's flooded!"

So now I have to go counter-clockwise around Shelley and run UP the two hills that I was trying to not deal with. My new route is to go all the way around to the flooded part, turn back, and go back the way I came.

I can still see that my pace is still too fast for a twelve mile run. But it was one of those moments where it is just too difficult to slow down...am I really going that fast?

So I go across the big straightaway that divides the lake from Millbrook...go down the hill to start around the lake and after circling around the soccer fields, more flooding. A LOT OF FLOODING. In fact, the water on the trail was just a part of the lake. This was too good to pass up so I took a break and decided to take pictures.

This is the trail as I first came upon it:


A different shot:


Then a shot turned just to the side where the trail was still dry, albeit covered with pine needles:


And another shot of how it is even with the lake:


And lastly, a shot of the whole lake from my end to the bridge where everyone feeds the ducks, well on the other side of the lake:


Fortunately, this side of the lake allows a lot of room to run around the flooding and I made it back onto the trail. It becomes this point that my watch no longer provides me with accurate readings, which makes me wonder a lot about my 9:30 mn miles. Except for the next remaining almost three miles, I get a reading of 7:45 mn mile and 2:xx mn miles. Not a single time does my watch make the drop-gps-sound, but something screwy was happening.

As I approach the left turn that takes me _around_ the lake, I notice it too is flooded. And again, it didn't appear to have a lot of room to get around it and I just started thinking about what else was flooded if I were able to get around that one. So I end up following the trail straight out of the park and onto North Hills Drive.

Once I got onto North Hills, my run turned yucky. I was no longer in any shaded areas and just direct sun...and the humidity was awful. I take my first half of a gel and feel like it never kicked in for the rest of the run.

I turn from North Hills to Lake Lynn and it just gets worse. It's now that I start factoring all the bad of this run. A 'cursed' run by all that was already mentioned and now, the route I had in mind being another obstacle and my watch giving me wrong times. I felt like it was a sign that my run was not meant to be.

So as I debate myself -- go home, no continue to Lake Lynn -- I feel a minor second wind. I know that going to Lake Lynn is easy on Lynn Road (after one major hill) and since I run Lake Lynn so much, I felt confident that I could put the miles in once at the lake.

I cross Creedmoor again and I've made up my mind not to take the left on the road to my neighborhood...I'm going for it and hitting the lake. But once I started up the big hill, and knowing how little water I had left, I said 'screw it! i'm going home' and the short run to get me back home was the longest ever.

So it was a disappointing six miles, give or take, of a 12 mile run. Well, I wasn't too disappointed, really, It was just an awful day, weather-wise, for this run and then everything else just made me not want to do it more.

But I got some good pictures out of it!!

Book Review: The Slow Moon by Elizabeth Cox

I went on a quick reading rampage, after finishing Tree of Smoke, and devoured a book over the weekend.

It started off intriguing: two teenagers, off to "do it" for the first time, only to have a violent gang rape occur to the girl as the boyfriend leaves her alone for a few minutes to get a rubber. And then it happens: the boyfriend is accused and the girl can't remember a thing.

And all along it is known that he didn't do it with other boys. And throughout the story, it is pretty much revealed who were the culprits...even though the young girl cannot remember.

A lot of other story lines are entwined about several characters, including the parents of all mentioned in the book. I wasn't really captured by any of the characters. There were flaws in all of them but they were also made out to be better than the people they were. For instance, the young rape victim finally remembers and feels sorry for the men who did this to her. She faces them and they are all sorry for what they did.

And throughout, we are lead to believe that it was an act of randomness, due to drinking and pot. They really aren't those kinds of boys.

And successful parents are also flawed. But also very good. The boyfriend who was accused, well his parents were madly in love with one another, yet the father has been having an affair with his wife's sister for years...and is madly in love with her.

So I really couldn't feel for the characters and there were just too many ugly sides to each one that just made me feel nothing for them, the story, or the book. I couldn't comprehend why the title? And what was, if any, the moral to the story? I'm not saying every book needs a moral, but it needs a story and I couldn't figure out what this story and/or moral was about.

And at the back of the book, there is a section for "Questions for the Reader"...apparently, a book for Book Club selections. And one of the questions was something like, Why do you think the author quoted Alfred Lord Tennyson to open the story? And I thought, I have no earthly idea...

Crisp

This is a salad place at Crabtree Valley Mall.

I took the girls to the mall yesterday, in my quest for new running shoes. As previously mentioned, I am having trouble with the pair that I have been using so I finally broke down and decided to find me a new pair. I find running shoe shopping very stressful when I have to actually find shoes appropriate for my feet. The whole "let me watch you walk", "let me measure your feet", "let me watch you run in them". I don't know if any of that is legit but whatever. I did it again yesterday and went back to an old label, the Asics...for a whopping $96 buckaroos. WTF do they have to cost so much?

Anyway, before conquering shoe shopping (which, BTW, was purchased at Fleet Feet, which is NOT at the mall...but that's another story), I decided to feed the beasts first.

CJ opted for her usual, Moe's. I can't stand Moe's. Sure, I ate there for awhile, but it ain't unique! Everything tastes the same. Kind of like Mickey D's. Either it's in a big flour tortilla or a small flour tortilla... So while I stood in line with every GD sheep in the mall -- i.e., EVERYBODY LIKES MOE'S SO EVERYBODY IS IN THE MOE'S LINE -- I noticed a sparsely lined...okay, NO LINE, at the adjacent nook called Crisp.

Crisp is a salad place. I had seen it before but whenever I had seen it, it had yet to open so I didn't get to try it. But it sells a variety of salads that are 'freshly prepped' in front of the customer. The prices were pricey. Most of them were about $9.xx for a full salad and almost a dollar cheaper for a 'half' salad. It almost leads one to just get the full salad since the price difference is minimal.

But the menu for salads looked really, really good -- and for the most part, the ingredients appear fresh. So I stood there being tempted by a salad (BTW, they serve wraps if the salad is not up your alley). But I had thought about getting something from Le Petit Bistro -- a salad and quiche, as I have done in the past. But I was reminded that the salad is grabbed from somewhere on the display that is already prepped and the quiche, well, they pop a slice in the microwave. Not my idea of fresh so after grabbing CJ's lame taco from Moe's, and Mi-Mi's even lamer, stereotypical Mighty Kid's Meal from Mickey D's, I headed to Crisp to try out a salad.

I didn't tempt myself for the full salad and ordered a half Crisp Cobb Salad. According to the menu (grabbed from their website, the Crisp Cobb Salad is made up of:
iceberg & romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado, smoked bacon, crumbled egg, blue cheese, and tomatoes.

That is everything I love in a salad.

So the process is to open a crisper full of lettuce. The lady, or salad chopper, grabs a handful of the lettuce and puts it into a stainless steel bowl. She then scoops up every other ingredient, that is displayed in front of the customer. One whole boiled egg is first chopped, then the bowl is flipped over, on top of the chopped egg, and is chopped with one of those big mezzaluna type knives. Chop, chop, and more chopping and then it is placed back into the stainless steel bowl from whence it came from.

The dressing is then pour atop the salad and then tossed. Afterwards, it is placed in a clear plastic bowl (not very green) and ta-da! The salad is complete.

It was delicious. Every bite was perfect and flavorful. Probably just a tad too much dressing for me, as I prefer a little dressing to all of my salad ingredients but it certainly wasn't overpowering.

Now, I don't speculate this salad to be any healthier than Moe's...maybe slightly, just because there are more veggies involved, but it is not a salad for anyone watching their weight. But if you like salads, and you like to eat slightly healthier than the fried, richly drenched meat, and other stuff that is served at the food court, I would strongly recommend giving Crisp a try.

Plus, you wouldn't have to wait as long because the line to this place was NEVER ONCE FULL.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Movie Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

A night out for Tim and I. I wanted to see the new Woody Allen movie.

I didn't actually really know it was a Woody Allen movie. I just knew that Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men), Scarlett Johansson (Lost In Translation) and Penelope Cruz (All About My Mother) were in it...and were pretty darn good in it.

Before the flick, we stopped at The Red Room to enjoy our Citipass Buy Two Tapas, Get Two Free. Can we get any cheesier than using coupons at a hip tapas place? Whatever. I saved twenty bucks and ate great food with a bottle of wine (shared with Tim, of course).

The movie was showing at one of our favorite "support local" theaters, The Rialto. Of course, The Rialto stands out among the best of local fare... And so it was wonderful for a flick I wanted to see to be showing there.

Although I was wined out from the bottle at The Red Room, I was dumbfounded to see that there was a Spanish Tempranillo that could be purchased by the bottle for, get this, *$15 dollars*!!!! Fifteen dollars for a bottle of wine outside of The Wine Store???!!! I could drink the whole bottle for myself!!!

But I settled for a classic Newcastle, which took me threw the whole movie...while Tim chugged on his Foster's jug.

We had a decent seat and once the film started, Grandma and Grandpa. who were sitting two rows away from us, decided to move up one row to sit directly in front of us. Not sure what this accomplished _for them_, but for us, they got in the way.

I moved to the seat on the other side of Tim, so Grandpa's big round head wouldn't block the entire screen. But as Tim was stretching to get comfortable, I looked over at him and his head was directly in line with Grandpa and Grandma. I was like, WTF is he doing talking to them??? He wasn't. They were CLUELESS that his head was adjacent to them. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen.

So Tim curses under his breath "WTF? They're laying in my lap???!!" So before Tim started clocking Grandma, I did the mature thing and suggest that we relocate to other seats.

Now to the movie...

Very, very good. Perfect to see at The Rialto. If you live near Raleigh, go check it out.

Basically, it's a narrated story about Vicky (played by a subtle beauty, Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Johansson), two friends who spend the summer in Barcelona, Spain (my dream country) to study (Vicky) and to enjoy the country (Christina). They meet Juan Antonio (Bardem), the over-confident, very blunt and, um, extremely sensual Spaniard who tries to sweep them off his feet. And he sort of does and that's where the story takes you... Beautiful landscapes with beautiful people. It's quite comical and Cruz does an outstanding job as the whacko ex-wife of Juan Antonio.

A great evening. I loved having great food -- Spanish themed -- and then hitting a beautiful theater to see beautiful people romp in Spain, one of the most beautiful countries I have never seen.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Book Review: Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

I have had this on my list of books to read for awhile. I am not sure why. Well, I think I know. It was on one of the best of the year lists. I am sure that's how I got this one under my nose.

Because as I started reading it, I realized, it was about Vietnam.

I'm not a fan of war stories. Sure, I watched the amazing Band of Brothers and was BLOWN AWAY by the series (one of the best I've ever seen), but only with a little twist of the arm from Tim wanting to see this series.

But what kept me tied to this book, besides ego and not feeling defeated by starting a book then stopping, was that it debuts in the Philippines. And as some of you may or may not know, I lived a life in the Philippines (PI).

What I enjoyed most was the talk of the culture of the PI. The way kids approached the Americans and some, calling them "Pa-DER" (father). Talk of the Huks, which were a Communist military group in the PI, which I didn't really know much about but heard the name. And the biggest treat was reading about the Aswangs.

I grew up with family that believe in Aswangs. An aswang, based on my upbringing, are creatures: half vampire, half human, that hunt after people...especially children and pregnant women...for their blood. And even scarier for a child to learn is that the aswang can transform itself into any creature. But, the way one could tell something was not of a real being, but of an aswang, is that they end up being larger than norm.

One story told to me was that an aunt of mine (keep in mind, everyone is an aunt or uncle, whether they were blood relatives or not) was pregnant. She was sitting in her house, conversing with other family members, when an unusually large, strange dog approached her and started licking her belly. No one was fooled a chased the imposter out of the place, to which it promptly transformed into the human-vampire and flew away.

Imagine being an only child and living in an environment where this is believed. So anytime I heard sounds on the roof -- because aswangs could land on the roof of your house and roll their tongues down to suck on you -- I feared for my life.

One can tell if they are approaching by certain sounds. I recall an incident when this happened at my house and I was rushed indoors. I don't recall what I heard, if anything. I just recall the terror in my Auntie's eyes.

And garlic hung from my window. Always.

So to read about this creature in this book was exciting. And he spoke of the aswang as I believed it to be...and as the people of the PI believed it.

And since the book partly dealt with Psychological Operations during the Vietnam war, one of the ruses used was to kill someone and make it appear that an aswang was responsible. In the book, Johnson writes that this instilled more fear in the people than a true enemy of the war. How very interesting.

But it became very clear to me that it was difficult for me to keep up with the pace of the book. And by pace I mean subject matter. One of the most important pieces of this novel -- a paper written by "The Colonel" -- became significant as to why the colonel ended up ruining his career and later, being possibly murdered.

By the time I came to realize the importance of the paper, I was 3/4ths into the book with no idea where to restart and discover why it was so significant.

And then the number of characters became convoluted and except for a few, I became confused as to who was who. And why was I reading about some of these characters in such depth when they didn't seem to interact with one another? I was reading two accounts of war...well, more because I also was introduced to a double-agent from the VietCong and his friend Hao, who ended up being the TRUE double-agent. I finally figured that out. Well, no I didn't. It was described and I had no clue.

It wasn't awful and I think if one is into war accounts, this one is really good. It just didn't flow well and I ended up more confused than suspensed. And for another big book - 614 pages - I didn't want to spend _that_ much time reading something that muddled in my head.

The Top 5 Best Moments This Summer for Women

I got this as a "shout" from my Digg account. A great article that really demonstrates some great strides for women, especially in other countries. In fact, the photo on the article is priceless...

read more | digg story

Thursday, September 04, 2008

...I Am The Chill That's In The Air

...Take a look at the sky just before you die! It's the last time you will!

I WAS BORN FOR DYING!!!!!

Darkness! Imprisoning me! All that I see! Absolute horror! I cannot live! I cannot die! Trapped in myself! Body my holding cell!

Any of this sound familiar?

These are all lines from Metallica...my favorite band EVER as a teeny-bopper and into my adult life, until "the napster" incident...when they became assholes.

But a kick back to my childhood, as I quickly approach my 40th birthday this month, XM radio has provided me with my own personal gift (at least, that's what I tell myself) by offering "Mandatory Metallica". Channel 51 offers non-stop music by the one and only band that I can listen to without changing the channel with disgust. Well, Nirvana would probably fall into that category...but I cannot think of any other single band that I could listen to non-stop...every song.

It was fate. I haven't been listening to my XM much, even though it's paid for. But I'm on my Keith and the Girl kick, so podcasting is what plays on my radio...when I'm not listening to the Showgram.

So imagine my surprise, as I move through my channels, to hear something that I know. And then, to get that constantly! Forget the Showgram! It's Metallica time!

And what's the appeal? I have every one of their albums. I could put onto my iPod and shuffle through all the albums. But, as I think is related to the fact that I do like talk radio, knowing that someone else is playing this stuff makes it appealing. He or she is just like me...except that they must not think they are assholes NOW like I do...

But I love it. I love hearing the old stuff. MY MUSIC. I own it. They are mine.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

She's Just Like Me!

I can't get enough of this Palin chick. I read an article from Runner's World about how she's a runner and supposedly, that is why her firstborn is named Track.

Now, if she could change her stance on abortion, she would have my kudos...but alas, that is not the case.

read more | digg story

Typical

Today is typical of how an average day goes for me.

First, I wake up...albeit slowly...and shower. If I'm lucky, I'll have a few minutes of silence, sans the sound the television in the background, before the girls get up.

And while they get ready, it's not so bad. But for me, if I haven't really thought about what the day's clothing line should be, I spend about 20 minutes staring at my clothes, trying to figure out what I should wear.

Example:
I like this shirt, but I have to wear a strapless bra and I hate my strapless bra! [Some days, I forget why I hate it and go for the strapless bra, only to thrown the mucker across my car as soon as I am on my way home...and vow never to wear it again.]

I love jeans, but I just wore jeans yesterday. I shouldn't wear jeans every day. [Why?]

This skirt is beautiful. I love this skirt! Why have I never worn it? Oh, I know why. Because I don't have a single blouse to go with it.

Ah. Let me put these two things together. [Dress. Look in the mirror. Frown.] Never mind.

And so on...

By this time, I need to get breakfast for me and the rugrats. Sure. I think: surely the rugrats will feed themselves! But alas, no. I have to be the responsible adult and feed the children.

Usually, they have no earthly idea what they want. Even if the day before, loads of breakfast items were selected by them and purchased by us: yogurt, bagels, peanut butter, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, pop tarts, frozen waffles, frozen French sticks. We are loaded with yummy, fatty breakfast items. And in the morning, Tim or I ask: What do you want for breakfast? And a solemn, "I don't know..." is their reply.

Today, however, they wanted waffles. Not frozen ones but the bisquick mix kind. No biggie, but we have none prepared so I now must mix some waffle mix. I have plenty for the week, but I guara-damn-tee you, tomorrow and the next day and the next day, they won't want a bit of it.

I love my waffle maker. It's the Waring 'professional' waffle maker. But the sensor has been whacky, so if you don't pay attention, you'll end up burning one. And that's what happened to me: burned the first one; second one perfect; third one stuck. Finally, I got another one done plus my own.

While the mixing and the cooking of the waffles, plus fixing my lunch while they fix this lunch, this is what I hear:
Kid #1: Mommy.
Me, after 5 second delay of processing "mommy": Yes.
Kid #1: Sunkist was so cute...he stood on my lap!
Me: Cooo...
Kid #2: Mommy!
Me: oooool. Yes (to kid #2).
Kid #1: Mommy.
Kid #2: Put mustard on it!
Me: What?
Me: Yes CJ.
Kid #1: I need to show you something.
Kid #2: Mommy!
Me: Yes mi-mi?
Kid#1: Mommy.
Kid#2: Mommy! Put mustard on it! And by mustard, I mean chocolate!
Me: What?
Kid #1: Mommy. I need to show you something.
Me: Okay - what? [by this time, Kid#1 has been tailing me with a brochure.]

This goes on. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. And about 20 long minutes later, I can finally sit down to eat. I love my kids. But this mommy stuff is going to drive me crazy. The mommy stuff goes on ALL THE TIME. In stereo. And if you answer the wrong one first, then there's another scandal to deal with: I asked first! No you didn't! Yes I did! Mommy! I Asked first!!!!! Tsk! Mommy!!

So as my scatterbrain watches the clock: I want to be better than an on-time mom; I want to be the early mom! So I am trying not to act rushed getting everything ready for them.

Lunch packed. Check.
Gym bag. Check.
ID, phone, money. Check.
Girls, are your backpacks ready? Check.
Lunch boxes ready? Check.

I look down and see that Mi-Mi has no shoes. Go get shoes!! Oh yeah! And brush your teeth! Your breaf stanks. To which Mi-Mi replies, "Mommy. You're mean."

I brush my own and forget to check to see if I actually combed my hair. Scurry the children down the stairs and already, I am missing something. My coffee!!

Go back up the stairs and locate the mug of café.

Go back downstairs. Put my backpack on. Hold onto my lunch sack. And carry my coffee mug. I'm ready.

But Mi-Mi is squirming with her backpack and starts whining "Something doesn't feel right!!" And I look and see that a container of hand sanitizer that snaps onto her backpack is stuck on her back. Now, find a place to put my coffee mug down. Put lunch sack down. Take backpack off. Fix Mi-Mi's backpack. She's out the door and I have to pick and pack everything back onto me.

Walk out the door and make it to the car. Go through checklist again in my head. Finally, drive off into the sunset. No wait. That's another fantasy...

Make it to school...with CJ screaming in my ear: Oh my god! There's Ian. I ask: Where? And she screams: Don't look at him! Don't look at him!! So I put one hand up to appear as though I'm not and she laughs: you are blocking the wrong way!!!

I park to walk the girls into school. Mainly for Mi-Mi, since it's her first full week. I want to make sure she knows where her classroom is. I almost past the room because she told me she was in the third (of four) room but it was the first room.

I meet her teacher and we hear her tell the other children to put their folders into this folder thingy. In the background, I hear the teacher ask another boy: are these your spare clothes? DOH! Is what I think.

We open Mi-Mi's backpack and ta-da! No folder. Backpack was NOT ready as she stated. She looks at me with sad puppy eyes and I tell her: I'll go get it.

Teacher swoops her off as I walk back to my car, back out, and drive back to my house. While I'm there, I pick up spare clothes and tote the folder around so I won't forget it.

Leave house. Drive back to school. Fight for a parking space. Walk back in. Find class. Teacher's are busy. Put folder in folder thingy. See Mi-Mi sitting and doing puzzles. Give her a squeeze on the shoulder and tell her I brought the folder and put it in the folder thingy. Plus, I got her spare clothes. She looks at me like, 'whatever'.

I tell the assistant teacher, quite proudly, "I have Mi-Mi's spare clothes!" She stares at me like 'whatever'. I ask where I put them, hoping she'll just take them away from me so I can just go. She tells me they go in the cubby and I have to guess who's cubby belongs to Mi-Mi: what backpack did we buy her again????

That's done. I take a quick look behind me at my beautiful baby girl, sitting there quietly. And I walk out forgetting the stress of my typical day...

BTW, that was just from the hour of 7AM-9:15AM...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Spin City

Today's headline on wral.com:

Cooper search warrants: Husband's story inconsistent

What does that imply?

To me, it implies that he has told several inconsistent accounts of the morning of his wife's disappearance.

But the very next line of this article states this:
Cary police were suspicious of Brad Cooper’s story the day they talked to him, saying it was inconsistent with interviews with family and friends.


Um, wait. Who is exactly inconsistent? The friends? The family that do not live with the Cooper's? Brad's story is inconsistent with _their_ story. Not the other way around.

But for the masses of sheep this universe holds, Brad Cooper is telling inconsistent stories and therefore, he did it.

I don't know who did it. And neither do the Kary Keystone Kops, or they would have arrested him by now. And lord-of-the-monkeys help us if Cooper did not do it and no one is focused on the real killer.

But, I have already heard many folks, with sureness and assertiveness, as though they had witnessed the very crime: Oh. He did it.

Yet, we have no idea how. He did it with a knife? His hands? Rope? Gun? Was she beaten to a pulp?

I guess it doesn't matter. The "fact" is, his story is inconsistent with every non-member of the household...all the other sheep that know exactly how the Cooper's lived beyond those front doors.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Cat Got Your...

It's been pretty cool having Sunkist in our home. Brenna the dog and Sunkist get along fabulously.

Of course, Brenna is still 100 times larger than the kitty, so it is a bit difficult to watch them play because, well, Brenna's paw just pummels the cat. Well, at least it looks that way because the cat always comes back to attack Brenna. It's best not to look.

But I can tell Brenna knows she's so much bigger because when we do tell her to back off, she comes running (or jumping) towards us with such excitement, like, "i didn't mean it!" or even better, the whole Bugs Bunny skit: "I will love it and hug it and squeeze it and pet him...and I'll call him george..."

A few days ago, Mi-Mi was excitedly telling me "look what brenna is wearing! She did it by herself!" At first, I was only half-listening, not really paying attention since Mi-Mi tends to dress Brenna up in some really funky outfits. But I noticed peripherally an odd thing on Brenna. I looked dead on, and still, my mind could not process what Brenna was wearing.

Finally, I figured it out:


It's the kitty litter box's entryway.

A shot of Brenna's face:


As best as I can determine, the cat decided to do it's thing and Brenna couldn't resist invading his privacy. But literally, tried to get it because both her front legs were IN the entryway hole.

She was breathing heavily and barely moved. It all makes sense now as I had heard some obnoxious noises coming from the girls' bedroom, which is where the kitty litter box was (since moved). She got stuck and was struggling to walk towards civilization for help...after desperately trying to save herself.

It wasn't easy getting her out of that contraption. The entryway is SMALL and sized for a fairly modestly sized cat, which is still a 1/4 the size of Brenna's width.

But she was a trooper and patiently waited for me, without complaint, to figure out the "puzzle" of getting her out of it with as little damage -- both to the dog and the entryway -- as possible.