Friday, January 30, 2009


Now we have insulation and electricity. Today they are putting up drywall. Why do they call it drywall? I've never heard of anyone installing wetwall.

So far, working at home while they do this work doesn't have the problems that I anticipated. I have done a few phone interviews and it hasn't been too noisy. I am afraid to ask if somehow they haven't gotten to the really noisy part; let's just hope for the best.

However, it does have other problems. Why are people asking me about light fixtures before I am even showered and dressed? I don't care about the light fixtures that much even when I am awake. In related news, why do I have to pick out a storm door? Why is there even more than one kind? And why is there a link on the website that says 'caring for your door'? My approach to the doors in my life is that I open them to walk through and close them behind, and that is it. I'll be damned if I am going to "care for" a door.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taking advantage

The guy in charge of the kitchen just called me downstairs to ask a question, and I find Lilly sitting on the kitchen table (which is, of course, in the living room) and he's giving her a neck rub. Argh. Way to reinforce my dog for something she shouldn't do. But she is just so good at getting what she wants, how can I blame him?

Both dogs, even Rose, seem to think that he should pet them when he comes into our part of house. I guess it's good that they're not finding the process too stressful, huh?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stuff you don't want to know

Apparently my house is made of cinderblocks and boards, like a dorm room bookshelf. I guess I should be glad it's not plastic milk crates instead.

It was also discovered that some of the pipes were all corroded and needed to be replaced to the tune of several hundred more dollars. But that's better than having them spring a leak later inside the walls of a brand new kitchen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All partied out

Lilly on her tenth birthday (this past Thursday).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Afternoon of destruction

This is what it looked like in the middle of the day yesterday. They clean up so nicely at the end of each day that I have to sneak in while they're working to take a really impressive picture of the mess.

Right now there's a sound like an elephant trumpeting coming from down there. I think I am going to try not to think about it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change we can cook in - eventually, anyway

Change is coming... to my kitchen. In the form of men with tools making scary noises downstairs. They've put up curtains so we can't watch the details of the operation, which is probably just as well.

(Picture here.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

High expectations

They are putting Barack Obama on the Metro farecards. You know, where they usually have a picture of a panda.

Seriously: Barack Obama is the new panda. Now I'm really worried about the standard that he's going to have to meet. Or maybe it means that people will think he can do no wrong?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Never thought I would live to see the day

And I thought that Tuesday was just the inauguration of the first black president.

WASHINGTON, Associated Press – To Conrad Harrell of port-a-potty toilet supplier Don's Johns, Tuesday's inauguration of Barack Obama will be historic, but not in the way you might think.

"This is the largest temporary restroom event in the history of the United States," he said.

Truly, I am proud to be an American and a sometime writer for the organization that produced that bit of reporting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To err is human

Today, for a second, I thought I'd lost a Panamanian golden frog at the Reptile House. It's hard to explain what a sickening feeling that is. Fortunately, it was just hiding on the side under the lip of a jar, no doubt laughing at me, but I actually ought to thank it for reminding me to have a sense of perspective.

A couple months ago I got the name of something slightly wrong in a story, and they had to run a correction, and it was a huge mortifying deal that made me and everyone look bad, and I was miserable and felt like a huge idiot, etc. It is important to remember at a moment like that - at least, in the work I do now, I can't kill anything. The worst mistake I can make is still really no big deal in comparison.

I used to think of something similar when I taught linguistics. One of the good things about my field, instead of teaching, say, medicine, or how to build bridges, was this: when a linguistic theory fails catastrophically, no blood is shed. I could be sure that none of my students was ever going to accidentally kill anyone using the material I had taught them.

Well, unless someone died of boredom, of course.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And just in case there aren't enough animal magazine articles...

I have a very pretty article in the magazine that the zoo puts out. That link is to the web version but it's still pretty nice-looking.

Since I mostly have written for newspapers and the web, and before that, boring old black and white academic journals, I am still easily fooled into thinking I sound more brilliant on shiny paper surrounded by color pictures.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My generation ascends to some kind of power or other

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut, according to the Internet

A high school classmate of mine was just nominated to be solicitor general. Of course, this might be more frightening if I had a real clue what the solicitor general does.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Household Hint for Mammals

I took a sweater out of the dryer and it was still covered with the animal hair I'd been trying to get off of it by washing it. I had a sudden inspiration and returned it to the dryer with one of those fabric-softener sheets that I never use. It came out completely furless!

Does everyone but me already know this? It was a sweater made out of some kind of acrylic, I don't know if this will work for all kinds of fabric, but I am certainly going to try it.

Of course, after I wore it for ten minutes it was covered with hair again. But hey, it was a beautiful ten minutes.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Chocolate galore!

Just started writing about even more kinds of junk food at Snackerrific's sister site, Candy Addict.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy-ish new year

These are the two mystical forces that I believe in: the placebo effect, and the power of lowered expectations.

So, in the spirit of the latter, here's to hoping that this year doesn't get a whole lot worse than it is right now.