september 2006

So I didn't end up going to work at all yesterday after coming down with a nasty flu-like bug that apparently took out several other people in the office (there's one member of our IT staff who NEVER misses a day, and it got him too). It seems like mostly a 24 hour thing, so hopefull I'll be able to enjoy today, my day off, a bit, but I have a feeling I'm going to spend most of it the way I spent yesterday: sleeping and hoping that I feel better when I wake up.

I don't usually post on holidays, but I just read this story about Steve Irwin's (aka the Crocodile Hunter) tragic death while filming a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef. I think we all knew it had to end this way for him eventually, but it's still really fucking sad.

One of our cats has a cold right now, and he's got this very bad habit of jumping up on the couch or the desk or wherever you're sitting, looking you straight in the eye, and sneezing all over you. I don't think he's doing it on purpose—he's very affectionate, he's can be a little clueless, and he's usually hanging around us if he's not in his sleeping spot on the bed—but it stopped being funny after the first couple of times. Well, at least it's not funny when he does it to me anymore—I guess it's still pretty funny when he does it to someone else.

Office retreat today. Can you hear the excitement in my voice?

The retreat wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it also wasn't as productive as it could have been. It was supposed to be just for our office, but we're so high profile on campus these days that once the deans and other higher ups found out we were doing it, several of them volunteered to come speak, and, well, you can't say no to the people who decide what your budget's going to be.

There are rumors of a follow up retreat later this year that truly will be just our office, but there are also rumors that it will be on the weekend. And overnight. With shared hotel rooms. <shudder>

When we had talked about taking a special trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this year, we had originally talked about taking a cruise, which is what we did on our honeymoon. But when we started to look around at cruises for the summer, we started to see that we could go for longer and get a much better cabin if we could just wait until the fall, when the prices dropped significantly. That's when we came up with the plan to take a few days to drive to Niagara on our actual anniversary and save our big trip for later.

Well, we finally got around to making a decision a couple of weeks ago, and we're going to take a 10 day cruise that departs at the end of this month. One of the big motivators for the particular cruise we chose was that it actually departs from Baltimore, so there's no flying or driving involved—Dodd will drop us off at the port on our departure date and pick us up when we come back.

Even though I've only done it once before, cruising is probably my favorite way to travel—you unpack once, and every day or so you get dropped off at a new city for the day, where you can explore and see the sights but you don't have to worry about packing and upacking and checking in and checking out. At the end of the day, you go back to your room, and while you're sleeping, you get moved to a new city.

As a coincidence, it happens to stop at all of the ports we stopped at on our original cruise, which was a short 4 day cruise out of Miami that stopped at Key West and Cozumel. This cruise stops at those two destinations, but also visits Miami, Costa Maya, and Port Canaveral, along with 3 days at sea.

I've been feeling pretty unsettled this summer even though our trip to Niagara was the only significant travel that we've done, and if this were any other kind of trip, I think I'd be getting a little stressed out thinking about having to leave in 3 weeks. But this should be very relaxing, and since we're aboard a ship where you have to pay extra for an internet connection and we won't be bringing a laptop anyway, there is zero chance that I'm going to think about work for the week and a half we're aboard the ship.

We still have some shopping and packing to do, and we have to decide if there are any add-on packages that we want to do (on our honeymoon, we visited the Mayan ruins at Tuluum, which were really cool), but since the ship is so close to us, there's not really a whole lot that we have to stress about in terms of planning. The next couple of weeks are going to be a hard slog, because there's always a ton to do this time of year as we're entering a new applicant cycle, but knowing that it's all going to disappear for 10 days at the end of the month certainly helps keep my mood positive.


A woman in our office gave birth yesterday. I don't think I'd be too psyched about having my birthday on September 11...

I now own both seasons of the American version of the Office on DVD, and there are new episodes coming when the third season starts next week. Life is good.

I keep on waiting to get tired of Survivor, but I still watch, season after season. Admittedly, the quality of each season depends primarily on the casting, and it's been a while since I could remember a contestant more than a few months after the end of their show (Rupert is probably the one that sticks out for me, and he's one of the most popular contestants ever).

But the normally stolid Survivor (relative to its reality show peers, of course) should get off to its most interesting start in years with the introduction of ethnicity-based teams, a move controversial enough to keep many of their most loyal commercial sponsors away from the show. It seems doomed to end in disaster, but it might be fun watching a show that is usually robotically professional deal with the fallout from a serious miscalculation.

I haven't played much of anything besides World of Warcraft since I got the game nearly two years ago, but that new Lego Star Wars game is going to be pretty hard to skip.

Let's see, at least four hours of meetings scheduled for today, along with at least a couple of hours of prep for the meetings. So when is it I'm supposed to get actual work done again?

Time once again to review the more interesting searches that brought people to this site last month:

project ape coin

I think I actually have one of these somewhere, but I can't take a picture of it for you because I have no idea where to start looking for it. Project A.P.E. was an alternative marketing scheme for Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes that tapped into the then-nascent sport of geocaching, in which people hide caches of trinkets or little keepsakes, record the GPS coordinates, and then post the coordinates to a geocaching web site. Other geocachers use the coordinates and hand-held GPS units to discover the hidden cache, and then leave a note in the logbook and take one of the objects in the cache while replacing it with one that they've brought.

This is the Project A.P.E. cache that I found, and here's my original entry about it; it was placed in a public park in Maryland about a half hour from where I was working at the time, and I took a half-day to go and find it. I was one of the first three people who arrived on the scene, and although I didn't find it (which meant that I didn't get to keep the main prize, an actual prop from the movie), I did take away a Project A.P.E. coin and a couple of postcards and other promo items from the film.

overdose on lemonhead candy

Bah. I'd rather have heroin and Fruity Pebbles.

r.e.m. up masterpiece

I don't think most R.E.M. fans would put those words together in the same sentence.

what is the song that big boi performs on chappelle

"Rooster", from the Speakerboxx/The Love Below album.

rem member names

I don't usually like to answer two questions about the same subject, but for some reason there were a TON of R.E.M. searches this month, so it's only fair that they get two slots here. The names: Berry Buck Mills Stipe. Bill Berry (drums), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bass), and Michael Stipe (vocals).

does anyone lose a finger in the movie rushmore?

No, but in director Wes Anderson's follow-up to Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Gwyneth Paltrow's character, Margot, accidentally chops off one her fingers when she locates her real parents (she was adopted by the Tenenbaums) and goes to visit them. That's probably what you're thinking of.

purchase agressive rooster

I think you need some help, sir.

skip mobs to domo

Can't be done.

maybe thomas wolfe was wrong maybe you can go home again

He wasn't. You can't.

how soon after brain surgery can you travel by plane

This is really something you should be discussing with the doctor who's going to perform said surgery instead of searching the internet, don't you think?

how to murder neighbor's tree

I don't think most people would call killing a tree "murder". What has this tree ever done to you, anyway?

weinermobile travel schedule

I couldn't find a schedule, but here's a page where you can apply to be one of the Wienermobile drivers (i.e., a Hotdogger). Oh, and it's spelled "Wienermobile"; your spelling would be pronounced "Whinermobile".

relaxing specimens before taxidermy

Ummm...specimens don't need to be relaxed before taxidermy. They need to be dead.

what is the intellectual process needed for reading a script?

Based on most of the movies coming out of Hollywood these days, it's extremely generous of you to characterize the random firings of neurons in the brain of a studio exec as an "intellectual process".

merriweather post pavillion - is the lawn seating assigned?

Nope. Come early, bring a blanket, and set up anywhere you like. Great way to see a concert on a warm summer night.

carrie dodd nude

In my world, these are three words that should never, ever be in the same sentence, much less appear sequentially (Carrie and Dodd are the names of two of my siblings). However, after doing a bit of searching myself, I'm guessing that the person who entered this search phrase was seeking nude photos of professional beach volleyball player Carrie Dodd. That's not nearly as disturbing as what popped into my head when I first saw this search phrase, but either way, you're not going to find what you're looking for here.

It's official: the Mets have clinched the NL East, meaning that the Braves' string of 14 straight division titles has come to an end. What's worse is that they have no shot at a wildcard playoff slot, and they're even going to be lucky to finish with a .500 record. Sad.

Bill Clinton was on The Daily Show earlier this week, and although I certainly had issues with some of his policies, the contrast between him and Bush almost indescribable. In ten minutes on a fake news show, Clinton said more insightful, compassionate, visionary things than I've heard in the last five years from our current president.

Whatever his faults, it's clear that Clinton is an incredibly intelligent and engaged person who really cares about trying to make the world a better place. The current resident of the White House doesn't have any of those qualities, and unless the Dems can take back at least one house of Congress in the November elections and turn him into a true lame duck, then we're in for two more years of the same disastrous policies that have eroded the middle class, reduced our civil liberties, and made us a laughingstock on the world stage.

New Office tonight. I think I'm looking forward to this episode even more than I'm looking forward to the new episodes of Lost.

I'm feeling re-engaged with work these days—we just finished a bunch of summer projects that are really going to help the office this cycle, and the stuff I'll personally be working on for the next couple of months is pretty interesting (and then it will be time for the read season, when I can essentially take a two month break from my normal responsibilities and focus on reading applications).

But just about everyone else in my office seems to have lost their minds—the amount of drama, incompetence, poor management, and lack of communication that I've had to deal with over the last couple of weeks is mind-numbing, and it has prevented me from getting as much of my real work done before we leave on our cruise as I had hoped. I've been looking forward to this trip for a while—extended time away from the office is never a bad thing—but I'm also hoping that while I'm gone, people will remember to start taking their sanity pills again and we can get back to actually doing our jobs by the time I return.

Semi-spoilers ahead, so if you are an Office addict who for some reason hasn't watched your Tivo'd season premiere yet, you'd best steer clear.

The new season of The Office got off to a bit of a rough start—I'd say that, quality-wise, it was about on par with last season's weakest episodes (whereas last year's debut was one of the better episodes of the season)—but I think they can rebound pretty quickly. They were introducing a new location, giving us a bunch of new characters, resolving last year's cliffhanger, and trying to give us a regular episode's storyline all at once. It was a bit too much to swallow, and it was one of the rare times that the oddball antics of the cast drifted from understated weirdness into fake-feeling zaniness.

It's a big risk separating Pam and Jim—their chemistry is one of the things that grounds the show, and the tension between them is something that many shows would have milked for years before bringing it to any kind of fruition or termination. Given that Pam is not only not married to Roy, but isn't even engaged to him anymore, there's obviously a chance for Jim and Pam to pick up again sometime in the future, but it's hard to believe that there's anything that would bring Jim back to Scranton. The only possibility I see that would be realistic is if they copied the second season of the British version and merged both branch offices, but that might be a few too many characters to deal with.

So it was disappointing, but everyone's allowed an off-night now and then. I'm so in love with this show, that it's going to be hard for them to lessen my affection without a string of five or six terrible episodes in a row, and given the talent of the people involved with the show, I have a hard time believing that's possible.

I've always had a bad habit of watching shows or movies I'm not really interested in if they were shot in a location that I know in real life. As I was growing up, Wilmington was becoming more and more of a hot spot for moviemaking (the local factoid is that the city has been the third most active filming location in the US for the past decade or more, behind only Los Angeles and New York, but I can't formally substantiate that figure; still, they shoot a ton of movies and television shows there). I remember having to stop on the highway once while they shot a scene at a fake gas station outside of town for Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive, and so now whenever I see that horrible movie in the channel listings, I have to pause for a moment to see if I recognize anything.

Similarly, there's a scene from the Julia Roberts feature Sleeping With the Enemy that was shot one night outside my father's house; I remember standing outside with the rest of my family as the filmmakers started up the artificial rain and thunder and lightning and used crisscrossing motorboats to create waves for a storm scene, and I must also pause to check for that scene if I see this movie flashing by on the schedule.

And last but not least, there's the all-but-unwatchable Dawson's Creek, which was filmed in Wilmington for its entire run. It's in syndication now, and they shot all over the city, so I can't help watching for a few minutes, especially if it's an outdoors/exterior shot, because more than likely I'll recognize the location.

The most recent show in this vein isn't shot in Wilmington, but in Baltimore: the Food Network's Ace of Cakes follows baker Duff Goldman, who runs Charm City Cakes. I'm not only interested in watching this because I like to see them visit Baltimore locations I'm very familiar with, but also because there is no address listed for the bakery on their web site and I'm always trying to catch a glimpse of the cross streets so I can pinpoint the location,

As it turns out, I don't really need to watch for that reason anymore: while I was walking to a meeting just off campus to talk about our new building with the architects and interior designers, I found myself staring right at the bakery. It's less than two blocks from campus, and I swear it wasn't there when I went to a meeting at the same location earlier this summer (although it must have been there, right?). That's the charming but kinda sad thing about Baltimore, really: there are all these cool things hiding around the next corner. It's just too bad no one seems to know about them, not even the people who live here.

It doesn't really feel like we're leaving in three days, and I think that's partly because I have so much to do between now and then, both at work and getting packed, etc., that I don't have time to do much of anything but focus on getting through my list of tasks. Somehow it will all get done and 72 hours from now we'll be sitting on our balcony, listening to the sea, and not thinking for one second about all the stuff we'll be stressing about for the next couple of days.

I still have so much to do...
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