Friday, February 29, 2008

February 29th

Happy Leap Day, everybody! RIBBIT!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Enormous pteranadons nesting in Howard County

Driving by our school this afternoon we saw this: What could possibly squash a heavy metal mailbox DOWN without breaking the post? A car crash would have destroyed it or at least have bent the pole. A baseball bat would have bashed it IN. A meteor would have left scorch marks. There is only one logical conclusion...

Oh so random

Francie has declared that it is to be Random List Month. She has already composed a list of random lists she might (but probably won't) write during this month. I am personally looking forward to "creative things to do with overripe bananas." In the spirit of the thing i offer a response to her final suggestion "the middle names of my five closest friends" though i could never pick 5, so here you go: Middle Names of 15 People I Dearly Love (in no particular order) Marie, Collette, Matthew, Michael, Duaine, Wright, David, Linn, Lynn, Rachel, Bryan, Marvin, Kenneth, Hillel, Ann Despair not if you didn't make the list; i realized that i don't know the middle names of some people i dearly love. crap. I'll have to work on that this weekend. And now for my very own completely random list: 10 Orange Things I love, Despite Hating the Color Orange tigers, orange gummi anything, pumpkins, tiger lilies, honeybell tangerines, Tigger stripey orange tabbies, sunset over the Gulf fresh squeezed orange juice, mango curry chicken

Monday, February 25, 2008

Operators are standing by...

Saturday a group of people from work manned the phones at our local public television station (MPT) during the fund drive. We were involved with some of the premium thank you gifts being offered during the program "Journey of Man." I've done it before and it is kinda fun. Wearing the headset, however, is less fun than you would think. I donned it at first, but took it off after my coworker (the Senior Director of Development, BTW) took this pic. Wow. That is a big picture of my head. Not to fear; even without the headset, the phones were big fun because they were all RED. This morning i manned the phones for my local public radio fund drive. It appears to be Fund Drive Week here in Baltimore. Support your local media!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter and Summer

Wednesday night it snowed a little bit – big, dry flakes falling from the sky. It was the type of snow which fell down in humongous clumps drifting down so lazily that you could watch its progress from sky to ground. The storm was brief and nothing stuck to the streets, but when i got home the bushes were covered. The snow had piled up like powder, too hot to melt. Have you ever seen snow so perfect that it looked fake? When the porch light hit it, the snow twinkled like it was made of crystals. I took pictures, hoping that even though it was dark outside the camera flash would capture the same effect. The next day i got back to the office from my shows to find flower arrangements leftover from some event or another in the hallway. They were huge and kinda overbearing with branches and peacock feathers, but i pulled out some lilies and roses to make a bouquet. Flower arranging is one of my little-known, seldom-used talents. I was one lily short of true balance, but beggars can't be choosers and it still came out well especially with the green beads i used in the bottom. (don't even ask why i would have multiple strands of green beads at my desk) All of the blooms were bright yellow and made a bundle of sunshine. Obviously pictures had to be taken. As i was taking the pictures off of the camera today i was struck by how the images were in stark contrast to each other – snow and sun, cold and hot, winter and summer. Taken less than 24 hours apart they are beautiful in totally different ways; it makes me smile at everyday miracles. Keep your eyes open people!

Monday, February 18, 2008

For Erin

Okay, okay... i'll post it already! Apperantly Erin does not think that i have suffered enough public humiliation yet for my idiotic cryo burn last week (one end was worse than i thought and blistered bad; the rest is healing nicely, thanks for asking). That afternoon she took a picture of me expressing how i felt about the whole thing. I had decided not to post it for obvious (when you see it) reasons. But to complete my penance for being an idiot and to get Erin off of my back, here ya go: I especially like the monkey behind me who appears to be judging me. sigh

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nikis in the Mist

Oh, the often surrealism of my life. Last week i walked onto a stage that was decorated with flowers taller than me. You know it was from some play or something, but you can't help but wonder What set could these possibly have dressed? Of course I took a picture, but my camera battery must have been low cause it is oddly blurry on the edges and off-color (i mean pinkish, not dirty). I was going to throw it away when Erin saw it on the computer and said, "What is that?!? Nikis in the mist?" teehee...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

(ps - its also congenital heart defect awareness day - how apt is that?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pimento Cheese

I was at the grocery store salad bar; you know how i love a good salad bar. This one is in the Shopper's Food Warehouse by work. It isn't super-duper, but it is certainly acceptable and sometimes has odd offerings, like sushi. (who would eat sushi form a grocery store salad bar?) Up by the pudding, past the jello there was a pan of lumpy, orange stuff. I poked at it a bit with the spoon and suddenly thought This is pimento cheese! Who would ever think to put pimento cheese on a salad bar? Why is there pimento cheese in Baltimore? Who would make pimento cheese in the winter? I mean it was a fast and furious flurry of thoughts. I ended up gettting some and it was delicious. As i was enjoying its pimento cheesiness at home i got to thinking about memory food - you know, those foods that are so closely related to events in your past that the smell, taste or even the mere mention of them are forever linked together. I am amazed at our capacity for detailed sense memory. For those of you who may not know - and i'm betting there a lot of you - pimento cheese is a thick spread normally made into sandwiches that consists of (big shocker) minced cheese, pimentos and a binding agent of some sort (mayo or dressing or such). The only place i ever really had pimento cheese was at my Grandma Craig's house. When i was a kid i would spend part of the summer in Ohio, splitting my time between my 2 sets of grandparents and Rickki. Often it would be planned that i was at the Craig house (obviously my mom's parents) for the Craig or Noble (Grandma's family) Reunion. Grandma and I would make pimento cheese, banana bread, and some type of "experiment" recipe (i remember the year of crazy jello molds with cottge cheese (better than it sounds - it would have to be, huh?) decorated with grape clusters and the chocolate stained glass cookies made with colored mini-marshmallows) to take to the events. Her pimento cheese was legendary and much requested. I associate pimento cheese with learning to cook at my Grandma's, the Midwest, long summer days, watching Great-Uncle Jimmy (i'm not even sure whose uncle he was) whittle intricate faces from lifeless chunks of wood, playing Trivial Pursuit with realtives i only saw once a year and who didn't know that this 11 year-old was gonna kick their butts, trying to figure out how i was related to so-and-so, and it being hot, hot, hot. Every memory, every sensation of those summers came to me as i ate. I also remembered that i inherited my Grandma's meat grinder. [You see, the key to good pimento cheese is that you have to use a meat grinder to mince the hard cheese into submission. Oh, and you have to use jarred, whole pimentos - have you ever even seen whole pimentos?] This meat grinder is ancient - my mom remebers her mother using it in their kitchen when she (mom) was a little girl. It is metal and ridiculously heavy. I have only ever used it twice - both times to make pimento cheese. Now i really want to dig it out of the box it's in and crank out some pimento cheese; maybe when spring comes. What food triggers a flood of memories for you?

Monday, February 11, 2008


Have you ever made a choice that was so brainless, so ridiculous, so counter-intuative that as you were making it, the little objective observer living in your brain (everybody has one of those, it's not just me, right?) is screaming NOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo... but it is too late to stop? Welcome, friends, to another episode of Poor Decision Theatre; I'm your host, Niki the Idiot. First, some character background and situation set-up : I have been the trainer at work since 1996 (that's 11 YEARS, people). When i first got the job one of my first tasks was to redesign the safety training for the team. I pride us on having the most in-depth, most thorough, most excrutiatingly detailed safety training of any program at work. It takes 2 days to do my safety training. There are videos. There are quizzes. There is CYA paperwork. It seems nearly endless, especially if you are the one conducting the training for the billionth time. In reality I would guess that I have performed this training, ohhhhhhhhh, about 60 times. There is an entire section on the proper use and handling of liquid nitrogen. Now LN2 is not particularly dangerous, but it is 323 degrees below zero Fahrenheit so you want to be careful. At the very end of the safety training on LN2 I always say, "if your clothes get soaked in liquid nitrogen, nonchalantley hold the fabric away from your skin and it will warm up to a safe temperature pretty quickly. Make sure you keep it off of your skin because it will instantly burn you. If you are wearing something that you can't get away from your skin, find a way to calmly get off of stage to someplace where the kids can't see you and drop trou. I can't imagine a situation where you would need this information, but anything can happen and you should be prepared." Next, to set the scene : Today we were in a middle school performing 5 classroom programs on cryogenics for 8th graders; i was going to do shows 1, 2 and 5 while team member Lindsey was to do 3 and 4. After lunch we were preparing for the fourth show, Lindsey up front and me in the back when the class started arriving. The kids coming in were... ummmmmm... rambunctious would be a polite way to put it. As the teacher gave them a smack-down, Lindsey gave me the "this crowd is alarming; will you do this show and i'll do the next one" look (yep; there is a look for that) so i switched positions with her real quick and started the show. It was very cold in the room so I was wearing the fleece that is part of my uniform. I never perform in my fleece; never. Now, for the action : After about 10-15 minutes I had the kids under control and rolling with the lesson. Things were going quite well and even the initial brats were on-board with the cool LN2 (pun completely intended). As I was doing an experiment where i show the 5th property of a cryogenic liquid ("rapid compression" BTW) by forcing balloons into a beaker without popping them, I drenched the left wrist of my fleece in LN2. It was completely frozen and the kids whose attention i just won were instantly distracted by it. The correct way for the scene to end : I hold the sleeve away from my arm to let it warm up and then continue with the experiment. I could even turn it into a teaching moment by pointing out to the kids what has happened. The very, very worse possible course of action : Push up the sleeve to hide the frozen part from the audience in an attempt to continue forward, thereby bringing the liquid nitrogen soaked fabric into closer contact with unprotected skin. guess which i picked. In the heat of the moment i totally blew it. After 11 YEARS of describing a situation that i have never seen happen, it happened and I screwed it up. Instantly, I could feel the skin frying, burning from the extreme cold. With no reference to it at all, i shook down the sleeve and did the experiment one-handed as the sleeve warmed up. With my arm burning and the fleece rubbing against it I had over 30 more minutes to go in the lesson . Amazingly, the show went really well; the class that started so rough and tumble really got their act together, were completely engaged and had a great time. I credit the adrenelaine coursing through my system. denoument : As the audience left and the kids for the 5th show started to come in I ran to the back of the room, ripping off my fleece (goggles flying from my face - i bet it was pretty funny to watch) to expose a long white welt surrounded by bright red agitated skin. After many hijinks (involving a faculty room, the school nurse, and our first aid kit, that were so comical you would think i was making it up) I managed to get burn creme on it and settle myself down for the rest of the last show. No kid or teacher saw my wound and even my 2 team mates didn't know exactly what had happened until we were packing. Hours later, the welt has settled into a nice red surface burn; it seems to only be in superficial tissue and i'm hoping that it won't even blister. But it is pretty big. If you're wondering if a 5 inch first degree cryo burn hurts - yes. Yes it does. But not quite so much as my pride. morale of today's episode : Do what the trainer TELLS you to do, especially if you ARE the dang trainer. The girl knows what she's talking about, for goodness sakes!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Part-time Job

Oh money... you maybe the root of all evil, but you do put gas in my car. I have started working a part-time job. Where? you ask. At my place of full-time employment. I have been working in the lobby on Friday nights for a while, but now i will be selling tickets every other Sunday. And President's Day. And maybe Tuesday nights. And maybe i'll cover some lunches. And maybe when the managers are desperate. Today i worked "will call" where people pick up internet and phone tickets and where all of the crazy special cases go. Then i worked the "audio tour" sales desk (technically i am still working it; we're between ticket times). It has been either incredibly boring (now) or crazy hectic (earlier). I get paid either way, but i really prefer super busy, myself. Earlier this week i learned the basics of running an IMAX projector. At this point i only need to learn how to run the planetarium and open the safe in the cash room and i will be able to take over! Muahahahahahahah... oops, was that out loud?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Happy Blogiversary

YIPPEE! Happy Blogiversary to me. I can hardly believe that my first post was a year ago. Funny how time flies. For Christmas, Mel and Mike gave me a book of the first (nearly) year of The Nikiverse. In retrospect it doesn't seem like much happened in 2007 (compared to other years), but reading it all at once reminds me that a lot did. I have really enjoyed capturing the quirkiness of my life and sharing it with those i love. Thanks for visiting and thanks for being my friends.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to my bestest friend, Rickki and her husband, Scott. They have been married for FIFTEEN years, which seems amazing to me since Rickki and I appear to only be 15 years old when we are together. Guess eloping with that guy you met on Prodigy worked out pretty well for you, huh? Congratulations, my dear. (hope you found a sitter for Z)

Monday, February 4, 2008

What is that SMELL?

I was away on business last week. When i opened my car after coming home it smelled like rancid feet. Great googley-moogley it stank. What is that smell? I spotted my forgotten lunchbox. Carefully i opened it - empty; no smell. There were some trash bags on the floor - empty; no smell. I remebered that it had rained with my window opened a crack. I checked the upholstery - no mildew; no smell. I checked all the way under the seats to see if the was an errant banana peel - nope; no smell. I checked the glove box for nesting mice (a problem we have been having with work vehicles) - nope; no smell. I checked the trunk for dead hobos (don't ask) - nope; no smell. Nothing IN the car smells, but the inside of the car smells! I left the windows open this weekend, but the smell was back this morning. UGH!