Sunday, September 28, 2008

itchy and scratchy

... seeing how my paperwork blues post garnered lots of comments and questions, I will be responding to them in a separate post rather than having it buried in the comments section. This will happen in a day or two, so stay tuned, k?

In the meantime:

I occasionally have these welts appear on my forearms near the elbow, we've always figured it's some sort of low-grade contact irritation. Back in high school, I remember occasionally getting them, and assumed I was reacting to a particularly nasty mosquito bite. Then one day my parents decided to try and make me more of a girl, and bought me some sort of toiletry set from Marks & Sparks; in order not to waste it, one day before school I put some of the scented powder on my face. Halfway through school I was scratching and scratching at my cheeks, feeling these huge raised welts. I remember a friend of mine asking what was wrong. Me: "Oh, just reacting to a mosquito bite lah." She: "Ummm... it looks much more than that!!" I don't recall what happened to that toiletry set, but I've been wary about putting unnecessary junk on my face ever since: one of the reasons I don't do make-up.

Fast forward to about 2 years ago. This was just before I was leaving KL to get hitched, fiancee visa in hand. For a few weeks prior, I'd been getting those elbow welts, and since I'd been hanging out with Rail at all these different mamak shops, and we all know just how well they actually clean their tables, I figured I'd just switch to wearing long-sleeved shirts, never mind the heat! Another strange place that itched was my right ring finger, under my engagement ring. Then, one morning I woke up and my entire scalp was itching like crazy! It was covered in these tiny welts and o.m.g. did they itch!! I happened to have an appointment with my masseuse-cum-torturer, who said I was probably "heaty". Thankfully everything receded in time for my trip to Chicago.

Then soon after the wedding, the itchies and scratchies acted up again. The hives struck badly, and Dr Kosh had me take Claritin, which seemed to help dull the worst of the breakout. One curious development was my engagement ring - it would actually BURN my skin if I wore it more than 24 hours. As a result, I have worn it only once or twice since then. :( I'm also thankful we chose "cheapo" silver rings for our wedding bands - so far no problems with that!! :)

Discussed it with a GP who gave us the names of two allergists we might consider visiting, but by that time the symptoms had all but died out, and I felt I didn't have anything to show. Besides, procrastination and inertia are two of my many middle names, LoL!

... fast forward to about a month ago ....

Remember the the day of the bling? It was also a day of bowling. And I *think* I was starting to feel hive-y itches before leaving for bowling, but I wouldn't swear on it. ... but you know where this is leading, right? Yup... a few hours after coming back from bowling, my thumb and ring finger of my right hand (two of the three digits that get inserted into questionable ball holes) stared to swell. The elbow welts returned, and in greater numbers. Caused by the bowling? Or the cheapo bling? Or some combination thereof? No idea. But I divested myself of all my jewelry, just in case.

No real difference.

A week or two later, I went to bed with a tingling sensation in my upper lip - woke up the next day looking like half of Angelina Jolie's pouty lips! That went down in about 2 days. I'd post a photo except that my 'stache and nosehairs seem more obvious than the duck-billed lynne, LoL!

And in the past week, I've had hives on my scalp, specifically at the base of my head. Splotches have appeared on my eyelids. Over the past two days, they've appeared on my shoulders, behinds my ears, heck even on my earlobes too!! It has *not* been fun!

Claritin didn't seem to be doing anything. The generic equivalent of Zyrtec seems only slightly better, perhaps staving off new outbreaks but not doing anything for existing hives.

... and no, we haven't dug up the piece of paper from two years ago with the allergists' phone numbers, let alone gotten an appointment fixed. Did I mention inertia and procrastination? :D

Then yesterday, I attended my Meditation session in the 'burbs: One of the attendees, when asked the usual "Hey, how are ya?" responded with "Oh, my allergies!! They've been really bad this week. My hives are *so itchy!*".

And I felt this load roll off my shoulders - it's not just me!!!!!

Since this outbreak, Kosh and I have speculated about the significance that I've had similar outbreaks at the same time of year (even though 2 years apart), and have been wondering if I had developed some sort of seasonal allergy. To know that someone else is experiencing an upsurge of symptoms makes this hypothesis slightly more likely. It's a bummer though, to suspect that I may have developed allergies. Doesn't sit well with my Leo pride.

But all the more reason to visit that allergist, to figure out that I'm allergic to, eh?

Now please excuse me while I scratch my scalp to death!

:p

Thursday, September 25, 2008

paperwork blues

As I mentioned earlier, it's been just about 2 years since Kosh and I got hitched.

The paperwork culminating up to that point was immense.

Since Oct '04 I'd been in and out of the U.S. on a tourist visa; getting married during that time would have been a violation of the tourist visa conditions. So in November '05 Kosh applied for permission to apply for a Fiancée Visa. Among the submission requirements was of course proof of relationship. The engagement ring receipt, photos of Kosh in Malaysia "meeting her parents", photos of me in the U.S. "meeting his parents", and personal statements from the both of us were among the items provided.

Once that was approved (~March '06 - I was back in Malaysia by that time in order to not overstay!), I then could apply for the Fiancée Visa itself. From Malaysia. It ended up being a long 6 month separation :( Again, proof of relationship had to be provided. Taking into consideration what had been submitted before, I provided copies of the "I Miss You" cards Kosh had sent since I'd returned to KL, plus the birthday card sent by his parents, as part of the "evidence". Didn't like the encroachment of privacy, but what to do...

July '06: Fiancée Visa granted - yay! The limit of that type of visa? Must get married within 90 days of entry. Hence the small ceremony we had for immediate family only - no way we would be able to organise anything on a large scale within that time limit! Got all that done, then filed a ton of paperwork to adjust my status from "visitor" to "conditional permanent resident". This of course included proof of the marriage and therefore of relationship. The Conditional PR was granted in Dec '06.

Now it's time to "petition to remove conditions on Permanent Residence" (must be done within 90 days of the 2nd anniversary of having been granted the conditional PR). And guess what? More "evidence of relationship" is needed.

You know, I understand that this step is very very important, because once the PR is granted, I'm pretty much "home free". And US permanent residency (i.e "being a green card holder") is a valuable status, one that is not easily granted. I understand that the government would want to make sure ours is not a "sham marriage". I totally understand, and don't question the need for closer scrutiny at this stage.

... BUT ...


I'm really really irritated by their instructions on what needs to be submitted as "evidence of relationship" this time around. I find these open to interpretation, ambiguous, and therefore unclear.

So, let me ask you this: When the instructions say "The documents should cover, but not limited to, the following examples:", do you think you MUST submit EVERYTHING in the subsequent list of five types of items?

Because I certainly don't take it that way. Especially since some of the items are just NOT APPLICABLE anyway. We ain't got no kids so we can't produce no birth certificates of "children born to the marriage". And since Kosh had to get the lease to this apartment done without me around, it's under his name only, and it's just less of a hassle to continue to just renew it as-is rather than have a completely new one drawn up just to have my name on the thing as well. So oooops, that's two out of five that are immediately out the window.

But that's okay, the instructions say the list of five types of items "should" be covered. Not MUST. Which is fine, we have more than enough things to throw at them to fulfill items #3 & 4. Of course, #4 seems to be a catch-all: "Other documents you consider relevant to establish that your marriage was not entered into in order to evade the U.S. immigration laws."

Hmmmmm.... so if that's #4, what's #5?

5. Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by at least two people who have known both of you since your conditional permanent residence was granted and have personal knowledge of your marriage and relationship. (Such persons may be required to testify before an immigration officer as to the information contained in the affidavit). The original affidavit must be submitted and also contain the following information regarding the person making the affidavit: his or her full name and address; date and place of birth; relationship to you or your spouse, if any; and full information and complete details explaining how the person acquired his or her knowledge. Affidavits must be supported by other types of evidence listed above.


Wait wait wait... what?????

The wording makes this item seem compulsory. And yet, this is one of the "examples" that we "should" cover. So, do they mean "if you choose to go the affidavit route, you must have at least two of them," or, "notwithstanding the items listed above, you MUST have at least two affidavits..."?

I wanted it the be the former, but had this sinking feeling that the latter would be the case.

So we called up the USCIS helpline. Took forever to figure out the right combination of menu answers before we got to talk to a live person. Who, after a few minutes to "research your question" returned with the answer: the affidavits are a must.

Geeeeeeeez.

Can you guys please re-phrase the entire Evidence of Relationship" section so that this is UNAMBIGUOUS please???

Stepping back, I need to reiterate, I completely understand that this being essentially the point of no return, the government would want to make sure that evidence provided is not *all* of it provided by the couple that potentially has been playing the system all this while. I totally get it.

What I am pissed off about is the ambiguity of the instructions.

Because I thought I could spend about a day or two getting the documents together, and send the package off by the end of this week. Instead, we've had to kinda scramble to figure out who could provide the required affidavits... it's not like we're the most social of people.... Sure, I have my yoga group, and I'm sure many of them would be happy to help, but they are *my* social circle, Kosh has only met them once. Ditto with my pottery, Spanish and French circles. So that's a no go. And Kosh's social circle was limited to work, and again, it's not like he wanted to socialise during his precious time off, nor did he want to subject me to (nor me subject myself to) many of the people there.

Yes, we need to get out more. But that's beside the point.

We have identified two people with enough appropriate "personal knowledge of (our) marriage and relationship", and they are happy to help. Yay!

Oh, but did you notice the last line of item 5? "Affidavits must be supported by other types of evidence listed above". So not only do these two kind souls have to draw up some sort of statement saying that they know ours is not a sham marriage, but they MUST attach some supporting evidence. There's just no satisfying them, is there?? So in addition to alllllllll of that, I figure we best err on the side of caution and get their affidavits notarized, even though two years ago, the Affidavit of Support Kosh had to sign did not require notarization, and that was a very important declaration. Seeing how ridiculous this all is, we might as well just go all the way with it, eh?

I feel angry, guilty, and even rather embarrassed that we have to impose such ridiculousness on them in order to get our business settled.

But hey, hopefully by early next week, the entire package will already be in the hands of the USCIS.

Can't wait.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My head feels lighter...

Before: After:

... and Kosh says I look younger, LoL!

(The "before" pic is cropped from a pic by Dave taken during Davecago3 early August 2008)

... and while we're on the topic of hair ...

1991: Me. Seated at my desk in my dinky little dorm room, studying. My roommate is also seated at her desk, also studying. Our backs are facing each other. My attention wanders off, and I play with my hair while trying to read the words in front of me. My eyes travel to the hair I'm playing with. I notice hair of different thicknesses: small medium large, or light medium and dark colored, and wonder about them. Then I notice split ends - aarrgghhh! I reach for the pair of scissors, and start snipping away at the nasty ends. A few minutes later I realise I hear the same snip! snip! from behind me - my roommate has also been distracted the same way, LoL!


~1998: Me. In front of the mirror in the ladies' bathroom in the project site office. I'm supposed to be observing how an internal audit is carried out. Instead I'm bored to tears, and keep going to the bathroom to wash my face with cold water. One of those visits, I study my hair in the mirror, searching for rambut gatal (literal translation: itchy hair, LoL! A "proper" translation would be rogue hair, I suppose), having recently learnt of that concept from my housemate. I spend the better part of my time at the office not auditing or observing, but plucking out those thick dark uneven hairs from the crown of my head.


fast forward to current times: every once in a while I'll spend some time in front of the mirror hunting for them rogues. I have to keep myself in check though, because I can see how easy it is to just keep on a-pluckin'... wouldn't want to turn up all trichotillomanic, do I? But, you ask, just how much difference is there between my normal and rogue hair? Ah, good question! I just so happened to have snapped some photographic evidence recently... see for yourself:
Going from top to bottom you can see medium small & large ... and yes, the "large" is just *one* hair. I wasn't kidding when I said dark & thick!

Have you noticed similar variety of hairs on *your* head?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Foody Friday

One unforeseen benefit from joining Entrecard: stumbling across lots of food blogs that share simple yummy recipes!

Benefit #1: CHEDDAR BROCCOLI SALAD by Mira at My Kitchen Table.
(image taken from here)

Please click to see the recipe. Very simple. I tried a half-portion, using about two stalks of broccoli to make 3 cups, and that was a good size for two people plus leftover for another day. Kinda miraculous to have had leftovers tho, because o.m.g. Kosh and I couldn't stop eating it, it was so good! It helped to have sugar in the mayo: it could have passed for a dessert, LoL!

I didn't have the presence of mind to take a pic of it though, hence the "stealing" from Mira's site. (I do hope you don't mind!)

= = =

Benefit #2: SOPAPIA CHEESECAKE by Shawn at Live Laugh, Blog

So we're supposed to be watching what we eat, and all that good stuff. But the call of crap (read: GOOOOOD but bad for ya!) is heard all too clearly in our household. Rather than buying them all the time, I figured let's try to make our own. I don't know if we save any $$ or calories, but at least it'll be different.

So this dessert caught my eye. Seemed really simple. I used 2 cans of extra-large flaky crescent rolls, so had about one "roll" extra for both top and bottom. I suppose next time I'll use "regular" ones. Oh, and Kosh kept hinting he *really* liked cinnamon so I used almost double the stuff for the topping/glaze. Here's how it turned out:

it's *really* brown on top - blame the extra cinnamon, LoL!


Here the cat's eyeing the pieces we're salivating over...

Dayumn! This is as good as desserts we'd get at restaurants! *now* I know it's just lots of sugar and cream cheese and a touch of vanilla.... simple! and yummy!!

Kosh and I have been pretty restrained about gorging ourselves on it - it helped that on the day it was made I had already planned on mega-massive burgers and salad, so we'd be full and would only have space to taste, rather than gorge on, said dessert. (Of course, we each had another slice a little later that evening, LoL!). And yesterday we each had similar portions. At this rate, this dessert will last us another three or four days/helpings each!

I can picture myself bringing this as a contribution to a pot luck or something.. yea, give everyone a sugar high, LMAO!!!

= = =

Next experiment? If I have the opportunity for another dessert-like dish, it'll be this one - DUMP CAKE (although I wouldn't do cherry, ugh!!)

= = =

The only drawback? Each recipe seems to call for SO MUCH SUGAR!! For someone who doesn't use any sugar in her cooking, it's really "wrong" somehow to be putting all that sweet stuff in there!

Next time around, I'll already cut the recommended amount, and look into substitution.

So.... arrrrrrrrr* you hungry yet?

* happy talk like a pirate day! that's today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

... these feet are made for walking ...

Depending on incline and speed, I take between 52 and 60 steps in 30 seconds while on the treadmill. I usually do 30mins, which brings my total steps to 3120 - 3600 steps for every gym session.

Today, in addition to the above (*gasp!!* yes we actually hit the gym today!!), Kosh and I spent about one hour walking this evening.

The "excuse": reduce the turnaround time of Netflix DVDs by dropping them off at the 9pm pick-up Post Office, resulting in their arrival at the DVD facility tomorrow, resulting in next-in-queue DVDs also getting sent out tomorrow, resulting in their arrival in our mailbox on Thursday! [Yes, sometimes we really want to squeeze our money's worth out of Netflix, can you tell?? LoL!]

Rough estimate of steps taken today? Looks like I hit the recommended 10,000 steps!!

Unfortunately, today is NOT normal :(
I do not foresee us putting in this amount of walk time every day:
we don't have THAT many Netflix DVDs to return,
... I wouldn't want to have that as a regular route, me being paranoid and all ...
and we're bored with walking around this neighbourhood ...

We do need to up our activity level, though.

The weather was so crummy over the past few days (they blame Hurricane Ike), all cold and rainy, all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book *and* gorge on comfort food!
It's just September!!!
It's not even winter yet!!!
Aaaarrgghhh!!!

*sigh!*

And while I wouldn't want to get all too hung up on the number "10,000", [I raise questions about quality vs. quantity], this is as good a target as any to strive for while getting other stuff into gear.

My thanks to Doris who prompted me to start thinking about how may steps we take in a day, which is another way of getting a handle on our level of (in-)activity.

I'm seriously considering getting us a pedometer each for our anniversary.

And since I've alredy discussed this with Kosh, and it's from me to us, this gift would NOT AT ALL be in the spirit of "Happy Anniversary I bought you a treadmill!" [see vid for what I'm referring to, at about 1m 30s - give the whole thing a spin tho, it's 2min short, and funny!]



Cheers!

Monday, September 15, 2008

... let's change the mood up a little, shall we?

... after a few geek, 9-11 and heartsick posts, let's move on to a book/author-related post instead!

FREE LAUGHS!
Patrick Rothfuss (only one of the best new fantasy writers since forever!) was goofing around at the recent DragonCon with gear he'd actually bought for his g/f ... risqué pictures were taken ... and now there's a contest for best caption on Tobias Buckell's blog. Do check it out, I let loose a few LoLs myself!

FREE E-BOOK!
What's the catch? Well, it expires 30 days after you get it. And it's available for a limited time only. But hey, for those who have been meaning to read Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere", you might want to take this opportunity! Interested? Click here. And make sure you download before September 23rd! [otherwise... I *think* you can read the thing online without a time limit...]

NEIL GAIMAN LIVE!
But if you want the real thing, Mr G is doing a book tour for the soon-to-be-released The Graveyard Book, and will be in Chicagoland -- Downers Grove to be exact -- on October 2nd. Places are limited for this appearance, so you might want to find out more about how to ensure a spot if you're interested.

BOOKING THROUGH THURSDAY!
I stumbled across a weekly book-related meme that prompts a book-related post, thanks to Tina the Creative Nerd. Yay! I *was* going to participate this week, but the topic didn't spark anything too bright, so I'll hold off till next week.. stay tuned :)

WHAT I'M READING

Currently reading Lord of the Silent Kingdom (Glen Cook): It's book two of what I assume is a trilogy. It's also as slow a read as book one. Thankfully the short choppy sentences from the first book seem to have been reduced. I'm still not totally hooked, but I really like the whole concept of the Night, and that alone already has me plodding through...

Next on the list (i.e. checked out from the library already, as incentive for once I finish the above book):
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
  • Lace Reader
The first two are as a result of watching a documentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead recently. The last one was featured in an email from Borders recently, sounded good, so I put in a request for it, not expecting it to be available so soon.

I'll be spewing out my opinion on these books at GoodReads once I'm done with them; if you share your reviews there too, give me a shout out! :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

heartsick

No matter where my life journey takes me, where I'm from will always be Malaysia.

... although I told myself I just didn't want to know anymore about what was going on, politics-wise, recent events were ridiculous enough to make themselves known to me. Then in the past few weeks, the sh*t really seemed to hit the fan. Inflammatory racist remarks and actions. The dude refused to apologise; surprisingly he was "punished" - suspended from UMNO for 3 years & stripped of all posts. Good, right? Ummmm, yeaahh... except that the reporter who reported it has just been arrested under the catch-all Internal Security Act. Three newspapers issued show cause letters for reporting the incident (but not Utusan Malaysia? Not NST? I bet they reported it too?). Then a 3-term Member of Parliament and State Exco *and* Raja Petra (RPK) are also arrested under the ISA - why? I can guess, but you know what? The government doesn't have to say anything, it *is* the ISA!

... enough already ... I am heartsick.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the wheel of life

... death is a necessary part of life.


[image derived from here]
but that doesn't detract from the horror that happened seven years ago.
may all innocent lives that perished,
as a result of this dark day
rest in peace


... on a much smaller scale,
on a more personal note,

the wheel of life continues to turn,
and now an elder of the family has passed away:

may you too rest in peace, grand-aunt G.
[1924 - Sept 2008]


... but there is no need to be sad ...
the wheel of life may take, as is its nature...
... but it also gives,
as is its nature
too

presenting, at long last,
my new niece "Rosie"

[look at the hero-worship in her eyes...
methinks she's going to grow up to be a daddy's girl!]

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

... geeky movie lists - how many have you seen?

... continuing in the "geek" theme ... I visit Wil Wheaton's blog every once in a while (check out "Ensign Crusher!" on my Famous Folk blogroll), and yesterday's visit was a very productive one (see Netflix additions!). He pointed me to an article at The Movie Retriever entitled Ten Truly Underrated Sci-Fi Movies. I then visited its follow-up, Underrated Sci-Fi Movies: Five We Missed, Five We Didn't. Please go visit if you're interested, the write-ups are very informative. But in case you don't want to bother with the clicking, here are their 15 underrated sci-fi movies: [*drumroll*]
  1. Primer (2004) : NVH, NQ
  2. Aeon Flux (2005) : HNI
  3. Body Snatchers(1993) : HNI
  4. Tron (1982) : NQ (added by Kosh a while ago)
  5. Sleeper (1973) : NVH, NQ
  6. eXistenZ (1999) : NVH, NQ
  7. A Boy and His Dog (1974) : NVH, NQ
  8. Enemy Mine (1985) : HNI (Caught bits of it on TV, just didn't call out to me)
  9. Gattaca (1997) : S+
  10. Silent Running (1972) : NVH, NQ
  11. Dark City(1998) : NVH, NQ
  12. Strange Days(1995) : NVH, NQ
  13. Cypher (2002) : NVH, NQ
  14. Stalker (1979) : NVH, NQ
  15. The Quiet Earth (1985) : NVH, NQ

LEGEND:
NVH = never heard of until now (10)
HNI = heard of, not interested (3)
NQ = added to Netfliz queue (11)
S+ = have seen it, liked it (1)
S- = have seen it, didn't like it (0)


Looking at how many I'd never heard of until I read the article(s), I have to remind myself that this is a list of underrated movies; to me that implies not many people know of them, and of that small amount, few really appreciate them. Phew! I feel less deficient now :)

What about you? Have you heard of these movies?
Have you also been inspired to add them to your to-watch list?


= = = on a related tangent ... = = =

Some of you may know I am quite the Rocky Horror Picture Show freak. And for those who know the show, remember the opening song Science Fiction/Double Feature? The song is a tribute of sorts to various B-movies and serials parodied in the show itself. I'm half-heartedly trying to watch the movies referenced in the song, in an effort to perhaps appreciate what the previous generation had to put up with at the movies, LoL!

Here's the list, courtesy of wikipedia:
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • Flash Gordon (1936)
  • The Invisible Man (1933)
  • King Kong (1933)
  • It Came From Outer Space (1953)
  • Doctor X (1932)
  • Forbidden Planet (1956)
  • Tarantula (1955)
  • The Day of the Triffids (1962)
  • Night of the Demon (1957), released in the U.S. as Curse of the Demon
  • Them! (1954)
  • When Worlds Collide (1951)
I quite enjoyed The Day the Earth Stood Still - the message relevant even to this day, and no I don't mean Klaatu Barada Nikto :D King Kong I half-listened to while puttering around on the 'puter, but all I can say about it is that it contained a LOT of screaming by Fay Wray, such that I don't think I want to bother sitting down and really watching it. The 1980 Flash Gordon was cheesy, I think I slept through 2/5 of it, but I should still give the 1936 version a chance... so that's 1.5 down, ten to go.

... so, have you seen any of these "classics"??


[I popped in our RHPS DVD while writing this, LoL!]

Monday, September 08, 2008

... has marriage made me more of a geek?

This is the month of our second wedding anniversary! Yay!
[if you're new and you want to read about it all, you can start here]

... so ... I noticed that someone in Amherst, New Hampshire searching for "episode family guy stewie walks away like david banner" was pointed to an old post of mine, which prompted me to revisit & reread it, and retake the Nerd? Geek? or Dork? quiz that was part of the post.

Here's the result:













Sept 2006 Sept 2008
"pure nerd" "joe normal"
52% Nerd 48% Nerd
26% Geek 48% Geek
30% Dork 30% Dork


Heh. I musta still been a blushing bride when I first took the test. Since then, my dorkiness has stayed the same, my nerdiness dropped a little but wow I've almost doubled my geekiness!! But that makes me now a joe normal as opposed to a pure nerd?
You scored less than half in all three, earning you the title of: Joe Normal.

This is not to say that you don't have some Nerd, Geek or Dork inside of you--we all do, and you can see the percentages you have right above. This is just to say that none of those qualities stand out so much as to define you. Sure, you enjoy an episode of Star Trek now and again, and yeah, you kinda enjoyed a few classes back in the day. And, once in a while, you stumble while walking down the street even though there was nothing there to cause you to trip. But, for the most part, you look and act fairly typically, and aren't much of an outcast.


Ummm.... yay?

firstly - geek, nerd, dork, whatever - I can't tell you the difference between the three - the supposed definitions are provided at the end of the quiz... so go try it out, then tell me your result and if you agree, k?

secondly - I don't deny the the geek/nerd/dork factor... especially when finding this blast-from-the-past over at Elisette's had me very very amused [although I'm sure us Zetans did a MUCH better job than this dude,,, but he's my bretheren so I won't point out how his pants seemed to be falling down, and how out of breath he was...] [hey see what I did there? I put into practice a rhetorical device called Apophasis / Apophesis: Mentioning something by saying that you won't mention it] [ugh, that further confirms the geekiness, yes?]

Play on, but beware the phlogiston my little one, and of the molality be wary ;)



=[HELP!! can anyone tell me why the table is appearing so far down the page??]=

Sunday, September 07, 2008

yummy, a list for breakfast!

For the weekend, figured I'd supply reader(s) with random items discovered while surfing the 'net recently: many, but not all, the result of following the Entrecard rabbit down the yellow brick road (more on that in another post).

1. From Dawn at The Quiet Whispers Of A British Angel, I got sucked in to the 100 Most Common English Words challenge. There's also a 50 largest countries challenge - I did better at that than the words one, strange... warning - addictive!

2. From Acadia at Superficial Gallery: Want your computer screen cleaned? Here's an excellent tool to help you out :) [A similar but slightly less effective one here. Click!!] warning - hilarious!

3. Also from Acadia: The Duck Game. (Dave, I immediately thought of you & your artificial duck!) I made it past Level 14 but was then stumped. If *you* do better, tell me! warning - music lulls you into spending MORE time than your realise!

4. From Melissa at Your Fun Family: A Vision Test that tests more, or other than, your vision! I got into a few questions at Level 3 before hitting a wall, maybe you can do better? warning - puzzling!

5. Didn't take note of who (whom?) I'd gotten this gem from: Unnecessary Knowledge. Just hit the generate button for seemingly bottomless trivia, like "The only man in ZZ Topp without a beard has the last name Beard" and "A group of ravens is called a murder". warning - total time waster!

6. and before you think all I'm doing is pointing you towards time wasters, here's a jaw-dropping account of how much effort, time and care goes into the crafting of wedding cakes, in this case, an ivory wedding dress cake. Found on Wedding Cake Hints warning - may make you want to get married all over again!

... and we'll stop at seven because I'm tired and this post has more links than an average chain-link fence:

7. finally, the titular breakfast list found at 'Story' the Great, who funnily enough didn't actually fill in his breakfast, LoL!. warning - may influence you to participate!
**
The Longest Breakfast Menu List

Everyone likes to start their day with a comfort food for breakfast. What kind of food do you take? This would be a good way to find out your blogger friends’ favourite food for breakfast.

All you need to do is to put your name down, the country you are in and your favourite breakfast meal. Let’s see how we can have this breakfast ‘menu’ travelled all around cyberspace and learn what each blogger living in different country and what do they eat for breakfast. This meme was created by a little lady with a penchant to spy around little baskets while marketing. Her favourite breakfast of the day is none other than Roti Prata, an Indian flat bread. What about you? What is your favourite breakfast meal of the day?

1. Spymama, Singapore - Roti Prata 2. CaramelCorn, Singapore - Half Boiled Eggs and Toast 3. Proud Mommy, Philippines - Fried Rice, Ham and Scrambled Egg 4. It's My Party, Dubai - sunny side-up egg, frankfurters and glass of orange juice 5. Chubz, Philippines - Pan de Sal with bacon or ham and a glass of juice 6. Lord Story 7. *lynne*, USA - eggs, either over-easy or cheesy "dirty" scrambled with turkey sausage and hash browns. 8. You next?

**

Wanna participate? Just copy between the ** and paste to your site. Please try to keep the links intact too; me being me, I followed the list back to its source in order to have all the links in place. Yes, I *am* a freak sometimes!!


Have a good weekend, y'all!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

transparency is key!

A common healthy eating tip for those who fight losing battles with their inner Snack Monster is for us to try substituting the unhealthy tortilla chips, chocolates, pastries, etc with healthy fruits or veggies instead.

If you're like me, however, all too often when I open the fridge looking for something to eat, the apple just doesn't call out to me, and I end up doing a few rounds of opening & closing the fridge and various cabinet doors searching for something, anything, that isn't the nuts, zone bars, ice cream or chocolate, but in the end I'd settle for one of those items, only to find myself at the exact same place 30 mins later.

Wanna know how to fix this? eeeeeasy! :) Here's what I now do:
ALWAYS HAVE FRUIT SALAD IN THE FRIDGE!


I usually use a combination of the following: one apple & mango, two or three gold/green kiwi (all diced), some watermelon (also diced - not too much, but they provide lots of juice!), a bunch of grapes (halved/quartered) and a banana (sliced, added fresh to the bowl you're eating out of only otherwise it turns black and nasty too fast). This makes enough for two to three days worth of snacking, desserts, etc. It's a wonderful way to start the day too, combined with cottage cheese for a protein boost.

One drawback: ice cream goes waaaay too well with it!! I have subbed Lite Cool Whip but it's not really the same. But you know what? It's really delicious without any toppings - nice and sweet, and good for ya!

.. if you do want to try this out, just keep this in mind: make sure the fruit salad is stored in a transparent/see-thru container. We used a different container for this most recent batch because the other bowls were dirty, and wow, Kosh and I kept forgetting we had the healthy fruit option! Finally finished it off this morning: I think the watermelon was starting to ferment LoL!!

Any tips you might have to curb *your* inner snacker?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

of candles, more candles, and bling!

so over two years ago I blogged about recycling a candle [see reduce, reuse, recycle! ... and other stories for background]. As pictured here, we salvaged about 1/3 of the original wax for reusage.

Surprisingly, we've re-recycled the wax twice more since then, using the same method & container.

The first (or second?) time, I tried putting in two wicks in an attempt to get *all* the wax to get used - unfortunately there wasn't enough oxygen for both, so that was a lesson learned.

Heh.

Maybe not. Read on.

The second (third?) time around, the wax showed signs of fatigue or something - only the wax an inch around the wick got used (the jar is like 3 inches across).

So *this* time around, I figured we'd just use a smaller, narrower jar. "This bottle that used to contain sun-dried tomatoes will do the trick!" I said to myself. And it seemed perfect! The wax filled it up nicely, the wick just the right length, everything was a go. It took its new place in the bathroom, and was put to use right away for, ummm, aromatherapy!! :D

Then the problems surfaced. As the wax level fell, the wick's position was of course deeper and deeper in the jar. The narrow jar with the even narrower mouth. Can you guess the problems?

One: it got difficult to reach in and light the friggin wick! fixed the problem by lighting a reed from the reed diffuser air freshener thingy and using that to light the wick. Yay, problem solved! Never mind that the inside of the jar was then coated with soot from the flame :p

... but what about Problem Two? Once lit, the flame struggled to burn, what with the poor air circulation and therefore low oxygen air. It got to the point where we'd just light the reed and wave it around: the smoke "aromatherapied" the bathroom odors much better than the struggling flame :p

Conceding defeat re narrow jar, I went ahead and re-re-re-recycled the wax yet again, this time distributing the remaining wax into two smaller votive candle
containers.

Ta daaaaaah!

If you look closely at the two you'll see one has a new long wick while the other is short and already used.

That's right, not only did we squeeze yet another round of life from this years-old wax, we also managed to recycle the wick from the narrow jar mistake!

I think we really outdid ourselves this time :)


...


and on another note: remember I'd "caught" Kosh ordering stuff for me? They arrived! So today I was all decked out in *gasp!* DOUBLE my usual bling count (haha!).



The new stuff? Cat Yin Yang pendant and Möbius strip bracelet.

Quality isn't that great, the bracelet's a little big, the chain for the pendant bites my hair, but don't let all that fool ya - I like :)

Thanks Kosh!!

Monday, September 01, 2008

throwaway - Part 3

... being part three of an ongoing series on wastefulness and frugality: see parts One and Two for previous posts ...

... ... ... so what set me off on this warpath against wastefulness??




This > > >



(sorry, took this pic on the sly in the local White Hen / 7-11)


This, to me, is the ultimate in waste. This is an affront to all of my senses.

What is "this", you ask??

... no-return rental DVDs ...


... and what makes them no-returns? They become unplayable after 48hrs ... and are then to. just. be. thrown. away.

Yes - the ultimate in this throwaway society - watch and throw!!


The culprit? Flexplay.com (I am so NOT linking to them!)


Their business model is certainly ingenious, adding yet another spin to the innovation brought about by Netflix. This time it's not just "no late fees", "arrives in your mailbox" and "no need to return to the store" ... it's "no MONTHLY fees", "get one by mail, or in a kiosk, or at a convenience store near you" and best of all "no need to get off your fat lazy ass to drop DVD off in the mail or at the store, just harm Mother Nature one DVD at a time by throwing it away when you're done". Oh wait, that's a plus????


geeeezzzzzz!!!!



okay okay okay so they have a page on "recycling" and (this is the silver lining) I discover that DVDs now are recyclable... yay!

However.

Flexplay claims "Most local recycling programs accept the polycarbonate plastics used to manufacture DVDs" - ummmm yeeaaahhhh.... first and foremost, polycarbonate falls into category #7 ("other"), which has traditionally not been recycled. Also, I looked and looked and looked and didn't find anything within the City of Chicago sites that specified DVDs were accepted; they do take #7s but a DVD isn't a "plastic bottle or container" is it?

Oh hey, you know the recent health concerns surrounding Bisphenol A (BPA)? Bisphenol A has been known to leach from the plastic lining of canned foods and, to a lesser degree, polycarbonate plastics that are cleaned with harsh detergents or used to contain acidic or high-temperature liquids (baby bottles!!). There's that pesky #7 again.

Now, in the million years (I kid you not!) it takes for a CD (and I assume similarly for DVDs ) to completely decompose in a landfill, will a byproduct of this decomposition be BPA? Yikes!! Because it's not unheard of for landfills to contaminate groundwater and/or aquifers by leakage, eh?


*sigh*


Let's get back to flexplay for a minute...

I concede one small point to them: there is this option online where users can request a postage pre-paid electronic label to recycle expired Flexplay discs. but... helloo?? ... this is for your target market of people who don't want to bother mailing back "actual" DVDs?! What makes you think they would then bother with getting a mailing label let alone actually mailing the darned thing to a recycling facility??!! Do you think your target market CARES about the environment if they are agreeable to purchasing unusable-in-48hrs DVDs?? I think not.

And the clincher?? "And of course, a Flexplay No-Return DVD Rental completely eliminates the energy usage and emissions associated with a return trip to the video rental store."* WHOOO-PUH-DEEEE-DOOOO!!! Again: WHAT ABOUT THE ACTUAL DVDs AND THEIR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT???

Bottom line? Flexplay = FAIL!!


A parting note: Like I typed earlier, the silver lining to Flexplay is the discovery/confirmation that DVDs are, in fact, recyclable, even though not here in Chicagoland. There are other options to consider (see here, here, here and here). As such - if you're one of those who occasionally gets "bad discs" when ripping/burning whatnot, or if you've got unplayable discs for some reason, please don't just throw them in the trash!! Accumulate them until they are worth sending to any of those sites, please? Sure, you may have to pay postage, but what's $5 against the long-term impact of those discs that would otherwise do nothing but harm?

More importantly, it's vital that we realise that recycling, while important, is a small fix for a very very very flawed system. See The Story of Stuff for what I mean.

On behalf of Mother Earth, and our future generations, I thank you for taking the time to REDUCE the waste you generate, REUSE whatever you do have, and in addition to that, RECYCLE as much as possible to close the loop.

:)
[*lynne* hops off soapbox]

* taken from Flexplay's "recycling" page; again, I am so NOT linking to them!!
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