Thursday, December 20, 2007

See ya!

I am off to Florida for a week to visit parents and friends. I don't know if i will be posting anything while I am away, so i wanted to tell everybody to have a joyous Solstice and a wonderful Christmas. Happy, happy Holidays from the land of Grinch balloon sculptures hanging from the ceiling and happy dragons peeking from around the boards.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wookie pain

ohhhhhhhhh, the pain. My brain will never recover. We were in-house today training on various shows when team member Rob mentioned that he had a terrible song stuck in his head called "What Do You Buy a Wookie (When He Already Has a Comb)?" ummmmmmm, what?!?!? He said that it was from the Star Wars Christmas album entitled Christmas in the Stars. Now, given my friends, I am quite familiar with the Star Wars Christmas Special, but i was unfamiliar with this record. Rob tried to describe it to the rest of us using words like "droid voice effects" and "random Wookie sounds" and "Anthony Daniels." He made it sound like each song was worse than the previous one. There's C3PO singing about the odds against Christmas, droids trying to decide what to get Chewbacca, a choir singing to R2-D2 (fronted by a teenaged Jon Bon Jovi, BTW) and a song that teaches droids that the meaning of Christmas is that they make gifts to make kids happy, though they get no gifts themselves. Wow. I didn't really believe him so we looked it up and found a posting on where you can actually listen to the songs. That is, you can listen to the songs if you dare. Dear lord, it's AWFUL. It is a crappy production of a poor execution of a terrible idea. My goodness, how can so much badness be in one place? The music is bad. The lyrics are bad. The performances are bad (though i will say that Anthony Daniels can carry a tune) The effects are bad. And the worst part of all? Now I have the Wookie song stuck in MY head. I am surprised that I somehow managed to miss this crap until now. But here it is, stuck in my head. Time for me to pass the pain on to someone else. Here ya go.

Monday, December 17, 2007


So the Nor'easter predicted for Baltimore on Saturday did not snow us in. There was a ton of rain, but it wasn't cold enough to snow. However, the wind was viscous all weekend. I was doing laundry and reading a book at 4:30 yesterday afternoon when i saw a bright flash and heard the transformer blow up. Good-bye electricity. I pulled the clothes out of the dryer, hanging them all around the basement so they wouldn't mildew, but there was nothing to be done for the washer full of clothes and water. I read by candlelight until 8:30 when i surrendered to the dark and went to bed. Yes, i realize it is slothful and indulgent to be in bed that early if one isn't sick or in love, but pretending i was a pioneer woman really was exhausting. My dreams this morning were confusing and culminated with images of me running naked in the snow - which made more sense when i woke up and it was 56 degrees in my bedroom. Let me say that 56 degrees is damn cold people. It was too cold to take a shower. It was too cold to think. So i left the house and drove to work. I stopped to pick up some breakfast even though i went grocery shopping this weekend (didn't want to open the fridge and couldn't cook anything from the freezer) and a mile from work my cell phone rang. It was team member, Felicia whom i was supposed to pick up at the Saturn dealership this morning at 8:30. D'OH! She called last night to remind me, but with no electricity the phone didn't ring and it was too cold this morning for me to think to check messages. Time to turn around, drive back PAST my house to Ellicott City to get Felicia to drive PAST my house again to get to work. Late, unshowered and not in uniform - and I'm the BOSS! Dang. Oh, Monday, i tip my hat to you, sir. You definitely won today. BGE claims that my power is restored. We'll just see about that. Hope everyone else had a better Monday then me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Elf Night

Are you familiar with the Christmas Angels from the Salvation Army? You know, the ones that you often find hanging on a tree and that list the name of a needy child that you'd buy presents for? Have you ever wondered where all those donations go or how they get to the kids? Last night i volunteered at Elf Night at the Salvation Army warehouse in Baltimore. Stacey gathered volunteers from her friends and from work in conjunction with a volunteer organization and we helped get boxes ready to go to 4000 kids in the Baltimore area. The best way to describe Elf Night is "barely controlled chaos." Donations are gathered, scanned and sorted by the Salvation Army. Rows and rows of boxes, stacked three high, are marked with the names and ages kids. Gifts that were bought for specific kids are placed in the boxes and then you go through to check that each kids has 3 presents, some clothes, shoes and a jacket. If you are missing anything you go to huge bins of presents sorted by gender and age and choose something (see Jed carefully rifling through) There are dozens of people milling everywhere carrying toys and books and games while muttering to themselves "12 year old boy, 8 year old girl, i need a Dora doll for the 5 year old..." and you hear things like "Are you going to take that Candyland? Has anyone seen a black Barbie? Are there helmets to go with these scooters?" It is like Christmas shopping, except fun. The only drag is trying to get the clothes. There is a corner where all the clothes are sorted; if you need clothes you write down a list of ages, item and sizes and turn it in. After someone has pulled the right clothes for you they call out your name. Unfortunately it took forever to get them. Some enterprising members of the group elected Will to pick up all of the clothes so he turned in slips for about 8 different people and then lurked around the clothing corner, waiting. Once your box was all done you signed off on it and moved to another. Here's Jami completing an order (and i just noticed that you can see half of Karen coming down the aisle as well) It was crazy and fun, as well as a chance to help those less fortunate than myself. I can't really afford to give stuff, so i like to give time instead. The event was from 6 to 9 with most people clearing out around 8:30ish. I started to leave around 9:15, but realized that the staff was pulling out more boxes of sorted toys to refill the bins for today's shift (it takes weeks to get everything done) so i stayed until 10:00 to help. I did get to see some pretty odd things. Diamond is a very popular name. Someone thinks it is appropriate to give a 3 year old a half-naked Barbie with a belly button tattoo. Someone actually named their 3 daughters Carey, Caren and Carol. There are teddy bears with an alarming amount of makeup and fake eyelashes that look like French prostitutes: Probably my favorite thing was a box that i started working on that had written on it "4 stuffed chickens." What? That's just not a phrase you'd ever expect to see anywhere. Lo and behold in the box i found Anybody need a bike?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Viva Capitalism!

As more and more people I know branch out into the world of Make It Yourself commerce it seems wise to add a new feature to my blog. To the right you will find a section called "Let's Go Shopping." It is pretty self-explanatory. Who knows where this could lead? Perhaps in the New Year there might even be a link for a store by a certain sparkle-pony prone crafter. Anything is possible in the Nikiverse.

Attention Birding Fanatics

All of the people I know have interesting talents and funny, hidden (or not-so-hidden) quirks. Take Jonah, for example; if you met him you might never guess that he is an expert bridge player or an avid birder. In fact, you might believe that he he would avoid nature at all costs, but no, he loves him some birds. In fact, he has recently (2 weeks ago; i've been sick) joined the growing trend of "make your own presents" thanks to Cafe Press. In a blog post cleverly titled Cheap Chachkis to Stuff the Stockings of Nature Nerds he introduced "Barely-marked up holiday gifts for bird nerds." Always one to support my friends, here is where you can find bird-themed gifts for the avian-freak in your life. Enjoy.

RVA ornaments 2

I bet you didn't believe me that felt was a hot, hot craft item right now. Last week I received my ornaments from the Red Velvet Art swap and ALL THREE were made of felt! They were, however, really different from each other. There was a sweet gingerbread man, a lovely "ugly doll" (the purple radio nose just makes me laugh) and a yummy donut (previously featured in an RVA tutorial here). My favorite thing about swaps is being inspired by the creativity of others. Thank you to the three women who sent part of themselves to me. Happy Holidays to you.

Christmas Angels

Last night i was recovered enough from the plague to do a little cleaning and Christmas decorating. I have A LOT of Christmas decorations and very little room, so i only put out a few different things each year. This is the year of the angels. When the household was dissolved and divvied-up last year I was quick to grab several decorations made by my mother in the late 60s - early 70s. First up is my door angel. One of many made as Christmas presents in 1968, this lovely burlap-backed beauty (that's a phrase i never thought i'd used in a non-sarcastic context) graced either the front door or the downstairs' wall during the season when i was growing up. She originally had 2 smaller matching angels that would hang on either side of her that had the family's name on them. I'm not sure how many sets my mom made (3-8 depending on who she sent them to), but i have always loved her face and gold-cord halo. Next, inside my front door, is the card angel. When it was time to start dividing Christmas decorations she was one thing i HAD to have. I have no idea exactly when or why my mom made her, but she has always been my favorite with her gentle expression, her crazy hair, her tiny bare feet and the gold trimmed dress that is actually pockets for Christmas cards. She was one of the only decorations that would go up every single year. Alas, she only has 3 cards in her pockets, people - get a move on! (kudos to Aunt Judy, Kaaren (check plus plus for handmade) and Dad) When i realized i was rocking a bit of a theme (can 2 things comprise a theme?) I pulled out the choir angels. I have no earthly clue about the genesis of these beauties. They have been around longer than me and are as kitsch as you can get. In the years they were put out in my past, they normally ended up in the bar downstairs (sigh... who doesn't miss that bar?!?) either hanging on the wall or sitting on the shelf over the fridge surrounded by white lights. Made from pudding boxes, plastic figures, glitter, "angel's hair" (whatever surely carcinogenic fiber that was) and a LOT of gold paint i can't explain why i love them so much. Maybe it is because of my love for music. Maybe it is because of my love for glitter. Maybe it is because things that are beautiful to a 4 year-old's eyes remain beautiful forever. Whatever it is, this is the first year they have been out in maybe 8 years or so, and I still love them, kitsch-factor and all. (sorry the pics are bad - my digital zoom and i need marriage counselling) Do you have any crazy, silly decorations you can't let go off and love despite the reality of them?

I told you so

I said i'd get sick. Oh, how i got sick. Cold/flu/infection of some sort. Fever. Mucus colors we won't go into. (how can anything biological be GREY?) I had to go buy MORE medication cause i ran out. Not only did I call out of work, i cancelled my favorite day of the month - Team Day. It was so bad that the CEO of the company sent me home on Friday. Over the weekend i did get some drugs and after some nonsense (allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics, but i'm fine) I'm feeling much better. The heat also went out in my apartment so i was freezing for part of the weekend, but that's better, too. All in all it has been a pretty awful time in the Nikiverse recently, but i am on the mend and back in the saddle. Watch for some updates during the day - i managed to do some decorating and received my RVA ornaments last week. Release the sparkle ponies!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Chanukah!

So this box has been sitting on my desk since last week Since LAST WEEK people! Do you have any idea how hard it was not to open it? I had to wait until today - you know patience is not my best asset. But i waited until after sundown (if you're gonna do it you may as well do it right) and found such an awesome, awesome present Yes, that IS a scarf knitted to look like police tape! Isn't it the coolest? Jonah's wife made it for me. The card says "(You are now an honorary Jew.) Kristie made this and I helped by keeping the cats away from it." I'm wearing it right now and feel like the best dressed honorary Jew in the world. Yippee! Thanks Jonah and Thanks Kristie!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pharmacy free-for-all

This year i decided to try a Flexible Spending Account; i figured that i would go to the doctor a few times and i am the queen of over the counter medication, so i might as well buy things with pre-tax dollars. Plus, there was a little FSA charge card - who could resist that? So i went with a low dollar amount and gave it a whirl. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time except that this year i was (knock on wood) unusually healthy. In fact I only had my yearly physical and bought cold medicine once. (double, triple knock on wood) This all means that i still had $179 in my account last week that would disappear today. I wasn't about to let that happen, so Wednesday night after seeing my trainer i want to Walgreens. Even though the money had already come out of my budget and i was trying to spend as much as possible, I was still compelled to buy the generic equivalents of most drugs - i mean why pay more for a brand name if the dosage is the same? Do you have any idea how hard it is to spend $179 on generic OTC meds and BandAids? Somehow i manged it, but i am flabbergasted by what i bought: flexible bandaids (30) knuckle and fingertip bandaids (20) bandaids with antibiotic pads (20) tough strips in kickass case for work (20) large comfort-flex bandaids (10) extra-large bandaids (10) generic advil (24) generic excederin (100) generic aleve (100) generic tylenol (1000) generic tylenol sinus (48) generic benadryl (48) generic benadryl sinus (40) Claritin (15) generic dayquil (40) generic nyquil (40) Theraflu cold & sore throat generic cloraseptic throat spray Vicks Vaporub Tums EX (192) generic airbourne (20) Bacitraycin ointment (that's an ugly word) Lanacane creme Sportscreme Carmex and a first aid kit for my car! Basically, if you aren't feeling well, i'm the woman you want to see. I mean, some of these medications i don't even take; i just wanted to have them in the house in case a guest needed them. The sick shelf in my hall closet is now so well stocked that i am going to have to get some more baskets and perhaps a mini-shelf to keep it all organized. Needless to say, i opted out of the FSA for next year. Of course, with the way things happen in the Nikiverse, that means i'll be deathly ill by next week!