november 2004

Another big year for trick or treaters in our neighborhood, although we didn't quite break the hundred mark with 97. Here were our pumpkins, carved just yesterday afternoon before the costumed kiddies started to arrive:

This will come as a shock to those of you who know me, but it was actually Julie who carved the alien. The little blob in the center of mine is supposed to be an owl on a tree, but after a couple of hours, tha part of the pumpkin started to collapse inward and the glare from the candle flame distorts it even more.

Out of all of the costumes, there were probably the best, more because they were homemade than because they were anything totally original:

We had tons of store-bought ones this year, and a huge number of kids who were probably a little too old to be trick or treating and who also weren't wearing any recognizable costume. Oh well. We had plenty of candy, so it didn't really matter (in fact, we'll probably be eating the tootsie rolls until next year). Now I've got to start getting prepped for Thanksgiving, which we'll be hosting again this year.

There's a little baptist church up the road from us with a sign out front that always has an obnoxious saying on it implying that us unwashed heathen who don't attend that particular church are headed straight to hell just as soon as god gets around to killing us. But last night on the way home from class, I took note of this week's message, and for the first time ever I completely agreed with it: Vote.

Still waiting...

This sucks. The only positive things I can say about this election are 1) the voter turnout was huge, which means that a lot of people from both parties really cared about the outcome; 2) the winner won both the popular and the electoral college vote, so there are no questions of legitimacy; and 3) the Bushies seem to have won it fair and square this time. But I don't understand how so many people could ignore Bush's record and give him four more years to wreak havoc.

I really need a weekend off, but it's not going to happen this weekend. Tomorrow I have to get a haircut (I get very anxious about getting haircuts; they never cut it short enough and I hate arguing about it) and Sunday I'm taking Dodd to the Ravens game against Cleveland for his birthday. I know, I know, it's tough having to spend my Sunday at a football game, but it's a night game, which means we'll probably start heading down there around 5 or so, and it won't be over until midnight or later, after which I have to drop Dodd off at his apartment before driving home myself. So I don't expect to get a whole lot of sleep Sunday night, and then I have class on Monday night after a full day of work.

Still, the game should be fun. I don't think Dodd has ever been to an NFL game, and I've only been to a Redskins exhibition game. I'm not as big a fan of football as Dodd is, but I'm really excited about seeing the spectacle of the whole thing. Plus, I really need a big game from Jamal to have a chance at repeating as champ in my fantasy league this year.

Okay: the election wrap-up. This will likely be my last post about politics for a while; I just need some time to decompress from this whole election cycle. I'm sure that as the Bushies' agenda for the next four years starts to take shape, I'll start to re-engage and write commentary about it, but right now I just need to unplug and pretend like the world of politics doesn't exist for a couple of months.

First off, the electoral college has got to go. We probably won't see any movement on this issue because the electoral college and the popular vote were in agreement again this time, but the fact is that we were dangerously close to repeating the disaster from 2000 where the winner of the popular vote did not win the electoral college (and therefore the presidency). You might think it strange that, as a Kerry supporter, I would be advocating this because Kerry's margin in the electoral college was a lot closer than in the popular vote, but 1) as much as I dislike Bush, I can put my partisanship aside when it comes to common-sense issues of basic fairness and 2) if the election had been decided by the popular vote alone, I don't think it would have been nearly as close as it was, and in fact Kerry may have won handily.

Think about it: the reason for the huge voter turnout this year was because of all the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, and those were focused on swing states that went mostly to Bush (especially the heavily populated ones like Florida and Ohio). If the election were decided by popular vote, the parties (especially the democrats) would be likely to change their strategies to focus on GOTV efforts in densely populated urban areas that they were likely to win rather than campaigning only in a dozen or so undecided swing states. So instead of visiting Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota a million times in the three months leading up to the election while ignoring the much more populous states of Illinois, New York, and California (all of which vote overwhelmingly in favor of the dems and which contain five or six of the most densely populated cities in the country), Kerry would have been able to spend some time drumming up support and encouraging a GOTV effort that could have had a huge impact on his popular vote total. The republicans wouldn't be able to ignore these areas either, because even though they know that the democrats are likely going to win two thirds of the vote, there's the potential that they could win an even higher percentage if the republicans don't mount some kind of counterattack. And it would actually make it worthwhile for the democrats to spend time in Texas; they still couldn't take the state, but they could certainly add to their popular vote bottom like by focusing on the urban areas of the state. Overall, moving to a popular vote system would mean that the candidates would be forced to spend time explaining themselves to the areas of the country with the largest population density in order to get the most bang for their buck, rather than being allowed to ignore these constituencies and focus on a few hotly contested midwest states with an exaggerated level of importance under the current winner-take-all electoral system.

Second, it was really encouraging to see all those people out voting, even if a lot of them voted for the wrong guy and they were voting based on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the misguided belief that Bush's pre-emptive policies has made us safer (when in fact it has likely led to a severe compromise in our national security that we'll be feeling the effects of for decades to come) rather than looking at the big picture and considering issues like the lies that led to the Iraq war and the poor planning that has resulted in the current quagmire over there, our out-of-control spending, and the corporate giveaways that are widening the gap between the ultra-rich and everyone else. This was the depressing part: that Karl Rove's strategy of using wedge issues and fear of terrorism to distract from the failings of the Bush administration actually worked, which means that they'll use the same strategy again in 2008 when they recruit Jeb to continue the Bush dynasty (or should we call it a monarchy?).

And I really thought that the 11 gay marriage bans on the ballot in various states would be hard fought in only half of the states and would pass in only half of those, but all 11 passed resoundingly. I don't know if people were misled as to what these initiatives were really all about (especially the one in Ohio, which bans all civil unions and any attempt to approximate marriage with other legal agreements between two unmarried partners), or if the generous, live-and-let-live spirit of freedom that is what I identify most strongly with our American character has been squashed by the fear-mongering and hateful rhetoric of the past four years, but I couldn't have been more shocked by the result of these initiatives. It really feels like we're one step away from reinstitutionalizing segregation, except this time the rallying cry for conservatives is separate but unequal (and I really have to wonder how Cheney feels about all this, given his daughter's well-known sexual preference and his clear love for her). I think the gay marriage issue should be purely a religious issue, and that therefore the government should have no involvement with it. Each church should decide within itself whether it wants to sanctify unions between individuals no matter what their gender, or whether they only wish to recognize unions between a man and a woman; the government should step back and say that legally, marriages are partnerships between two consenting adults (don't get me started on all that crap that the religious alarmists use to argue against gay legal commitments, like people marrying animals or polygamy being made legal; if there's a worse example of idiotic hyperbole used to sway people in this election, I haven't heard it, and it would be ridiculously easy to exclude this stuff from a legal definition of marriage). It's unbelievable to me how many Americans seem to believe that they have the moral superiority to tell other people how to live their lives, and I really fear for what this means for the future of any part of the bill of rights that doesn't concern gun ownership.

I guess that's what is most depressing about this election outcome: it's not just that Bush won despite his nightmarish economic policies, his warmongering crusades fueled by his religious beliefs, and his selling out of future generations to endear himself to his corporate masters today, it's that it's clear that many of the optimistic beliefs I held about my fellow citizens were just wrong. I can't believe that they're all stupid, uniformed, and easily manipulated by fear (although I think Rove did an excellent job of getting those folks to the polls for Bush); there must be a significant portion of those who voted for Bush who I would consider to be intelligent, rational human beings, but who, for reasons completely beyond my grasp, honestly think that Bush is the better man for the job despite his record, or who want to see his ultra-conservative social agenda become a reality.

Personally, this prospect terrifies me, although I consider myself to be a social and economic conservative in many ways (in that I'm a strong believer in fiscal responsibility and I think the government should have very limited involvement in legislating morality; both of these ideals used to be planks in the Republican platform, but they seem to have gone by the wayside under the neocon agenda of the Bush administration). I think we're in for a real bumpy ride for the next four years (or at least the next two; despite the across-the-board wins for the Republicans in 2004, I still hold out hope that people could come to their senses by the midterm elections and give control of the House and Senate back to the Dems), because now Bush believes he has been given a true mandate as a result of the popular vote win (especially after he also believed he had a mandate even though he lost the popular vote in 2000). I just hope the damage he does over the next four years won't take ten times as long to undo.

It has been a long time—almost four years—but I've finally managed to work a new computer into our budget after letting Julie buy a new fence this summer. I went for a dual 1.8 GHz G5 with 1 gig of RAM, a 250 gig hard drive, and a speedy little video card from ATI. It's been so long since I've had a machine that can run anything decent (my current dual 450 MHz G4 is fast enough to run OS X, but just barely, and the video card certainly isn't capable of running any graphics-intensive game released in the last couple of years) that I've all but given up on my inner geek. But now that this new machine is on the way, I've set up a wireless network in the house, re-subscribed to MacAddict after more than a year layoff, and started reading the Mac rumor and news sites again. It's going to be so nice to have a machine that's actually relevant again.

It's Dodd's 25th birthday today—happy birthday, Dodd, even though you don't read this site—so for his gift I took him to the Ravens game against Cleveland this past Sunday. I got lucky with the tickets—my friend Steve from work has four tickets that he shares with his brother Tom, and they usually bring the wives or the kids with them, but when I asked him about the tickets for this game a few weeks ago, Steve was able to give me both his extra ticket and Tom's because the game was on a Sunday night and the game would end too late for their family members to go with them. So I happily took them off his hands and made plans for Dodd and me to meet up with him a few hours before the game so we could ride down with him and avoid the nightmare of having to look for parking.

I picked up Dodd around 5:00 on Sunday afternoon, and we met up with Steve in Hampden a little while later. It took a little more than half an hour to get down to their lot near the stadium, but by 6 or so they had assembled their tailgating kit and Tom was busy heating the pot of chili and grilling marinated peppers, onions, chicken, and beef for fajitas. Steve and Tom also had plenty of beer, but Dodd had brought along a small cooler of Yeungling, so he and I started with that. Before too long, cousins, uncles, and friends of Steve started to show up, and we all just stood around for a couple of hours, talking, drinking beer, eating fajitas and chili, and watching the assembled masses set off illegal fireworks in the parking lot. It was truly great; I almost felt like a real football fan. But since Dodd and I were the only people in a three mile radius without an official Ravens jersey on, I did feel a little bit conspicuous; I guess next time I'll have to blow $300 so I can fit in a little better.

Around 7:30 or so, I got a call from Fool saying she had just gotten off the light rail, so Dodd and I left the tailgating party to see if we could meet up with her for a few minutes. It took longer than I thought to get to the light rail bridge, and she was gone by the time we arrived, but no matter—the bridge was directly across from our section anyway. Dodd and I lingered outside for a few minutes, watching the drunken tailgaters wander under the highway bridge to pee before staggering back to their parties.

We probably got to our seats around 8 or so, half an hour before game time. Steve's seats are in section 113, which is behind the endzone on the side where the marching band sits (we were about three rows behind the band), and we had a great view of all the pre-game activities. Steve and Tom joined us right before kickoff where we got to witness Cleveland receiving the ball...and running it back for a touchdown. Damn it.

But after that initial disastrous play, the Ravens fought back hard, holding the Browns to only one additional field goal in the first half and taking the lead 12-10 on four field goals just as time expired in the second quarter. During the half, we met up with my coworker Mark and his roommate Mike and tried to buy some beer, but for some reason they turned off the taps early that night and we were sent back to our seats empty-handed.

The second half was amazing. After letting the Browns take the lead 13-12 on another field goal, the Ravens blocked a later field goal attempt to give the offense the ball on the 9 yard line; from there, it was just a matter of giving the ball to Jamal and letting him ram it down their throats for the Ravens' first touchdown of the game. They went for two points and got it, putting them up by a touchdown (20-13) in the closing minutes of the game. But with less than a minute left on the clock, the Browns offense had pushed within range of the Ravens endzone and were threatening to tie up the game and go to overtime. They tried a short pass over the middle, which their receiver missed...but not Ed Reed. He came out of nowhere, zipped around the right side past the opposing players and took off like a shot for the opposite endzone, scoring a touchdown on an NFL record-setting 106 yard interception return. It was fucking awesome.

Dodd and I both had a really great time, and we're hoping that we might be able to squeeze in one or two more games this season with Steve and Tom. Hell, if Dodd stays in town long enough, we might just have to pony up for the PSLs and get our own season tickets.

So. I was going to finish up with Tori's postcards last month, but for some reason I never got around to it. This is the second-to-last one, the final one from europe, and the only one she actually bought in Ireland.

And by this I mean I want to remove your eyes
from your head and implant them in mine

The text:

Here's your fucking postcard from Ireland. Now quit yer bitchin'. Love, Tori.

Tori's most recent postcard, sent from Iowa after her birthday in September:

I beg to differ

The text:

Look! It's the front of the birthday card I got from Mom! Only she doesn't remember that she gave me the same one a few years ago! Isn't that exciting? I think so!—Tori

Speaking of Tori, she is planning to stay with us for a few days around Thanksgiving, driving up with dad and Rachel on Tuesday and staying until Sunday. Last week, we received this missive from her in the mail last week, addressed, for some strange reason, to Julie only:

It has come to my attention that I may or may not be coming to your house for the festival o'eating that is Thanksgiving. If I am to be present, you will be required to observe the following rules:

  1. There shall be no consumption of animal carcasses. I think we would all prefer Tofurkey instead.

  2. If you are to make the potatoes, do not forget to add milk. They also need butter, salt, and possibly sour cream. Then mash with the hand mixer. Try not to ruin them.

  3. I think everyone loves desserts. At least 4 or 5 various sweetened and/or pastry-like treats will be necessary. I am not fond of pumpkin pie, so you can shove it. It will not count as a dessert.

  4. Under no circumstances will I be lodging at Dodd's apartment.

  5. I will need to sleep in the guest bedroom so I can watch TV FOREVER. IT would also be nice if the GameCube was hooked up down there in case I get bored. Your father [meaning Julie's father] will be allowed to sleep on the couch since he is old. Your mother can sleep on the floor. Neither of them are allowed to snore.

  6. I do not want cat hair all over my clothes. Before my arrival, please shave all of your cats, or inform them that they are not allowed to touch me. If you decide to shave them, please dispose of all the hair in a sanitary manner so that I will never have to see it.

  7. I will be eating all of your food, especially cereals and leftover, half-stale special Cheetos. Please make sure you have plenty of these items on hand.

I think it would be in your best interest to follow these guidelines so we all can have a lovely, hair free Eating Festival that will be remembered fondly by all. If anything goes wrong I may have to publicly berate you for not signing me up for the ab-toning class which was, according to the girl sitting behind me in Sociology, "like, so easy because you get 3 absences and it's not like you're on a team or anything, so you don't even have to improve." WOW. Three absences? But I guess you just didn't care enough about me to let me take a non-team sport for college credit, did you?

Please shave the cats. Love, Tori


Lest you think my sister is some sort of deranged nightmare of a houseguest, you should probably have a look at the note I left for her when she came to stay with us a couple of summers ago, which this letter is obviously a response to (at least I hope it is).

And for the record:

  1. There will be no Tofurkey present at my Thanksgiving feast. If you bring any, it will be destroyed immediately.

  2. I have not yet decided whether mashed potatoes will be on the menu. However, if they are, they will contain milk, butter, salt, pepper, sour cream, and maybe a little dill. But it's entirely possible that I will decided to make roasted red potatoes with rosemary instead.

  3. I'm not making any desserts, so you better hope your mother brings a bunch. Pumpkin pie will count as a dessert; however, you may still reach your sweets quotient by substituting Julie's sweet potato casserole, which will quite likely contain more sugar than any of the desserts.

  4. Agreed. No staying with Dodd. Unless you misbehave.

  5. You're actually going to be sleepinng on the utility room floor, and you will be responsible for scooping the cat litter once a day. We thought about letting you sleep on the foldout couch downstairs, but we decided it would just be better for everyone if we kept you in a room we could lock from the outside. There will be no TV for you, and the GameCube will be relocated to my study, where it will remain inaccessible to everyone but me.

  6. Cat hair is a fact of life in our house, so just deal. If we find evidence of shaving during your visit, we're going to let Dodd cut your hair.

  7. Your provisions will be stored in the utility room with your cot. It will include an assortment of jerky, dried fruits (mostly prunes), and some canned vegetables of questionable vintage. All other food will be kept upstairs in locked cabinets and pantries to which everyone except you will be issued a key.

It should be a fun Thanksgiving.

If I have to read one more article or see one more interview with Tom Wolfe where he calls the foul language of today's youth the "fuck patois", I swear I'm going to fucking kill him.

Grrr. I ordered my new G5 eleven days ago from Apple, and they told me at the time of my order that it would ship in 3-5 business days. A couple of days later, they revised this to 11.16, 7 business days after I placed my order. And guess what? It's now 11.17 and it still hasn't shipped, nor have they bothered to update my estimated ship date on the order status page. Add in the 7-10 days they estimate for shipping time from California, and it could easily be December before I have my new machine. I'm starting to remember how annoying Apple can be with their seemingly perpetual product shortages.

Happy birthday, mom. Phone call tonight. Gift soon.

Double grrr. Yesterday Apple updated my estimated ship date to 11.24, with no courtesy email explaining the further delay. And since their last estimated ship date didn't seem to mean anything, I don't really trust that this one will, either. If they keep this up, I'll be lucky to have my new G5 by Christmas.

I finally got around to watching all of the original Star Wars movies from the new DVD set. I haven't seen these movies at all since their re-release in the theaters back in the late 90s (aside from the occasional airing of the first movie on TBS), and it was really great to see them given the pristine digital treatment that they deserve. It also helped me appreciate the new movies (Episodes I and II) more—for instance, it's apparent that Lucas has always been terrible with dialogue, especially romantic dialogue, and it makes his writing sins in Episodes I and II seem a little less outrageous (although he still should have hired some real writers to come in and polish everything for him). Also, the lightsaber battles in the first three movies pale in comparison to the ones in the most recent movies; it made me appreciate the brilliance of the Darth Maul battle at the end of Episode I so much that I'm actually pining to watch that movie again.

The whole time I was watching them, however, I got this nagging feeling of unease—there were times when it felt like something had been cut, or something extra had been added, or some key element had been altered so that it was no longer what it once was. And I'm not talking about the obvious changes, like added new vehicles and creatures and stuff like that (like the travesty of Greedo shooting at Han before Han kills him); I was getting this feeling while watching scenes that I know were from the original release. I don't know if that was because it had been so long since I had seen them that I had just forgotten some stuff, or if there really were significant changes that had been made, or if they were just cleaned up so much that it gave them a different feel, but it was definitely unsettling. My unease seemed to lessen as the trilogy proceeded, although I'm not sure why—maybe the later films were more in accord with Lucas' vision as his budgets and special effects abilities expanded.

The worst change, which is know is not just my imagination because I confirmed it on disgruntled fan message boards, was in the Empire Strikes Back, right after Luke and R2 land on Dagobah and R2 almost gets eaten by a swamp creature. He disappears under the murk, and a few seconds later comes hurtling out of the water over Luke's head. Luke's comment while getting him cleaned up: "You're lucky you don't taste very good." That's one of my favorite lines in any of the Star Wars movies, but for some reason in these special edition DVDs, Lucas used an alternate take that had Luke saying, "You were lucky to get out of there." Blech. What's worse, the scuttlebut on the internet is that Lucas discarded the better line because it was ad-libbed by Mark Hamill on the set, and using the other line was a way of restoring his original script. Of course, one of the other best lines in the series, also from Empire, where Leia says "I love you" to Han just before he's going to be frozen in carbonite and he responds, "I know," was also ad-libbed by Harrison Ford after innumberable takes where he stuck to Lucas' original line, "I love you , too." You know what, George? Maybe you should let your actors ad-lib a little more.

All in all, the movies were transferred beautifully to DVD, although sometimes it was so crisp that I could see the separation between the actors and the matte, and the laser blasts occasionally looked really fake. And I wish that Lucas had bothered to include cleaned up versions of the original edits of the movies; those are the ones I watched dozens of times as a kid, and it would be nice to have access to them (and I'm not a total fanboy purist—I really like some of the additions to the Special Edition versions of the original trilogy). The set is obviously worth the money (they cost less than the freaking first season of the O.C., which we got on the first day of release to feed my wife's unnatural obsession with that show); for the most part, it easily lives up to the expectations put on it as the most highly anticipated DVD release ever.

I can't believe it's already the Friday before Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I get the bird and the ingredients to try out a couple of new dishes to see who makes the cut as an addition to the feast this year, Sunday I buy the rest of my ingredients and go see Alisa perform, Monday we finish cleaning the house, Tuesday the family arrives, Wednesday I go in for half a day and pretend to work, and Thursday I get up at 5 a.m. to start the brining process, aiming to get the bird in the oven around 11 a.m. and serve it sometime between 3 and 4. I was exhausted last year after spending all day in the kitchen, but I was also really happy with how everything turned out. In addition to the folks we had last year (Julie's parents and my parents and my brother Dodd), we'll also be joined this year by my sister Tori and our friend Alisa, whose family is in Texas. I'm feeling a lot more confident about everything based on my success last year, but it's still a lot of stuff to manage. I'm looking forward to trying to top last year.

This weekend wasn't too busy, but it wasn't especially restful, either. Saturday was spent preparing my menu for Thanksgiving, typing up my ingredients list, and heading to the grocery store to pick it all up, including the turkey. Here's my menu for this year, which repeats a lot of the menu from last year: green bean casserole, stuffing, rolls, squash casserole, collards, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, and of course, the bird, which I will brine for six hours before roasting in the oven. Julie's mom is also going to make some sort of marinated vegetable salad, and I'm hoping Rachel will bring two or three desserts; otherwise, we'll have to run out and get one or two from the store the day before (or maybe I'll let Tori make her banana pudding with nilla wafers the day before so she'll be more inclined to stay out of my kitchen on Thanksgiving).

Sunday we went to church in the morning, and then in the afternoon we went to a recital being giving in honor of St. Cecelia by our friends Alisa and Julie. I forgot to call Dodd about it (he knows Alisa pretty well, too), but he showed up anyway, which both surprised and pleased me. After the performance, which was beautiful—Alisa is a mezzo-soprano and Julie is a soprano, and they sang a mix of early music and 20th century compositions, accompanied by an organ that imitated the organs from the 1500s, which were pitched lower than today's organs—we went out to dinner at a place in Towson called Paolo's. We were joined by Julie's husband Fred, a friend of theirs named Laurie (I think) and Laurie's husband, whose name I have completely forgotten. The food was pretty good, but by the time we left, around 7:30, it felt more like 10:30, and we still had to get back home and finish some chores to prepare for the guests who will be arriving on Tuesday.

There won't be many people in the office this week, and I've wrapped up most of my pressing tasks, so it's going to be really hard to motivate myself to put in a full day's work. Hell, if it wasn't for class tonight (which I still need to write my response paper for), I'm not even sure if I would go in.

The Washington Nationals? Ugh. Instant annoying nickname: the Nats (or more likely, the Gnats, as they're not likely to be competitive any time soon). And their signage looks like one of those ultra-cheesy corporate logos they slap all over the All-Star game and the World Series. Not that I'm not excited to have National League baseball in close proximity, but let's hope the new owners group reconsiders the name.

My computer finally shipped, although it won't show up in the FedEx tracking system until later today. Now I've just got to hope that as a reward for my patience, the shipping gods will see fit to deliver it on Tuesday, as my presence is required in the office every other day next week.

Family's here now. No more posts for a few days.

Thanksgiving went pretty well this year. In addition to everyone from last year—my brother Dodd, Julie's parents, and my parents—Julie and I also played host to my sister Tori (who was in Austria last year) and our friend Alisa, who lives in Texas and wasn't able to go home for the holidays. I prepared pretty much the same menu as last year—roasted turkey that was brined for six hours before cooking, green bean casserole, sweet potato cassrole, stuffing, rolls, squash casserole, collards, and cranberry sauce—and I tried to add mashed potatoes, but something went wrong and I had way too much liquid (even though I used more potatoes than my recipe called for). I also made the gravy from scratch this year using the turkey drippings, red wine, and chicken broth.

I felt like I had things a lot more under control this year; I was actually able to relax, have a couple of beers, and socialize for a bit after getting the turkey in the oven. I still had to start working again about an hour and a half before we ate in order to get all the side dishes ready, but I felt much more prepared and a lot less stressed about the turkey. I think it turned out as well as it did last year, but honestly, just like last year, I was so exhausted by the time we ate that I barely remember anything.

For dessert, Rachel made a pumpkin cheesecake, Julie's mom made an apple cake, Tori made banana pudding with nilla wafers and also some sort of chocolate cake saturated with sweetened condensed milk and covered with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and little bits of heath bar, and Dodd brought a pumpkin pie from the grocery store. It was way, way too much dessert—we still have a ton leftover—but with Tori around, it's always better to have too much than too little. We also have a good amount of turkey left even though the whole family had it for dinner on Friday night. We'll probably have it for dinner again tonight and maybe tomorrow, and that should about take care of it.

On Friday it's our family tradition to go to a movie together, but all the theaters around here are in malls, and none of us really wanted to battle the crowds on Black Friday, so instead we met one of Rachel's relatives in Rockville for lunch and then Tori and I went shopping in Hampden (didn't buy anything, but saw a bunch of great stuff in Atomic Books) while dad and Rachel went with Dodd to see his apartment. Julie and her parents went to Frederick for the afternoon, and then we all met back at the house around 6 to have dinner and watch our newly acquired Elf DVD, which only Julie and I had seen in theater. Our living room isn't really designed to seat 8 adults, but we managed somehow.

The parents left on Saturday morning, so we had one last meal together at a brunch place in Columbia near my parents' hotel. We also, at Rachel's insistence, got a stranger to take our family Christmas card photo in the parking lot in front of an evergreen tree. After both sets of parents got on the road, Dodd went back to his place and we took Tori back to ours (she stayed on our fold-out couch downstairs all week). We had vague plans to do something that afternoon, but instead we all took naps and goofed around. Dodd came back over for dinner, and we ordered out thai and watched the latest Harry Potter on DVD, which neither Tori nor Dodd had seen yet. We watched some other stuff stored on the ReplayTV until around 11, when Tori needed to get to bed so she could get some sleep before her flight on Sunday.

Sunday morning we dropped Tori off at BWI around 7:45, and then Julie and I went back home and took naps for a couple of hours. The rest of the day was spent catching up on housework, paying bills, checking email, and just generally settling back into our routine. I've gotten better about having people in the house, and I really do enjoy cooking for Thanksgiving (if they let me do it again next year, I think I'm going to ditch one of the casseroles and the collards and make corn pudding and roasted asparagus instead), but it is so nice to have our house back again. I could really use another couple of days off to recover, but it's back to work today. Still, it's only three more weeks til I get another couple of weeks off for Christmas and New Year's. It shouldn't be too bad.

Just three questions for you today:
  1. When did it become socially acceptable to spit in public?

  2. Are Julie and I the only people in the American workforce who don't view sick days as another form of vacation days?

  3. Where the fuck is my computer?
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