Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years Eve

Absent-minded Secretary is not feeling well today. And more than that she is irritated. This is the second New Years that I have been sick. I blame it fully on the Bush Administration and all conservative thinkers out there. I am not crazy, I have not let my cold-flu-whatever-ails me get to my brain... I have reason and logic and proof to back up my claim.

First of all, Utah has been unusually hit with the flu this year. "Utah is the only state that shows "widespread" influenza activity on the map updated weekly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." The media is recommending that people visit their doctors early when noticing symptoms to get prescription antiviral medications which have to be given within two days of the beginning of the symptoms, in order to work.

Unfortunately, doctors and pharmacists have been advised to only prescribe this medication to those with the worst symptoms, because the medication has to be kept in reserves for the bird flu. In describing his plan to prepare for bird flu, President Bush said, "We must protect the American people by stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs, and improve our ability to rapidly produce new vaccines against a pandemic strain." Stockpiling. What a great progressive idea towards prevention of an epidemic.

Yesterday, when I woke up with a sore throat and a general feeling of malaise, I knew that I needed to go down to the local pharmacy to get some oscillococcinum.

Oscillococcinum is a wonderful non-drug treatment for flu. And it doesn't interact with my other medications. My primary care physician is a D.O, a D.O is the only type of physician I will see. ("DOs are more likely to promote the body's own ability to heal itself through means as safe, non-intrusive and with a few side effects as possible."- The Osteopathic Homepage) Anyway, my doctor recommended that I take this for flu symptoms. He told me that the major difference between a flu and a cold would be a fever.

By two o'clock yesterday I had a fever. I took a late lunch, and went to the grocery store next to my office. No Oscillococcinum. I went to my regular pharmacy. No Oscillicoccinum. I asked the pharmacist if he had any in back stock. No. Would he be getting any today. No, and no eye contact. Okay. So, I run down to Rite Aid, because Rite Aid will have it no matter what... Right? On the shelves there is a big empty spot where it should be. I ask the clerk who is stocking shelves next to me and she tells me they are out, and then she tells me that they have a sale on it. I find this a strange order to be telling me, but I ask her if they are expecting any orders soon. She goes to check with the pharmacist. I follow her back. The pharmacist says that they will not be stocking the order when they get it. (I don't think that he noticed me standing there.) I ask him why. He gets all defensive and starts spouting rhetoric about National Defense, and Bird Flu, and Germ Warfare, and being Prepared Against Disasters Like Katrina. And then he has the gall to tell me that Oscilloccinum doesn't work anyway, that I shouldn't waste my money on it! that the only medication that will work for flu is Tamiflu, but he then goes on to say that local doctors won't prescribe it because of President Bush's order to stockpile!!!

Now, I thought that this order was for FEMA and other governmental agencies to be stockpiling the meds and supplies, not for local physicians and pharmacists. I understand that having local stockpiles will make distribution in an emergency easier... but won't limiting these resources during regular flu season create an preventable epidemic of the regular influenza??? And if Oscilloccinum doesn't work, how come four pharmacies in Utah County don't have it on their shelves??!!??

And I have to wonder, is it just stupid local Utah Mormon pharmacists and physicians who are taking this stockpile order too seriously because they are taking the tradition of food storage a little to far? I was in Oregon a week ago, and I saw Oscilloccinum on the shelves and considered buying there for my family who isn't aware of this wonder non-drug. Oregonian pharmacists don't seem to be stockpiling Oscilloccinum. Oh Oregon, land of the free and liberal, why did I ever leave you?

Anyway, on my way home from work last night, as I could feel myself getting worse, I stopped by the local Walgreen's, and yes, there wasn't any Oscilloccinum there... just another wide empty space on the shelf, but when I asked the pharmacist there if there were any alternatives he gave me something that he said was similar. It tastes awful, and so far it isn't working as quickly as my beloved Oscilloccinum, though, I do feel a little better than I did this morning.

Sorry, all. I was going to post a nice little list of stupid things that Bush & Co. have said throughout the year as a fitting way to say good-bye to 2005, I guess I can do that tomorrow.

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, December 30th

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

Basically, Bicarbonate of Soda, is Baking Soda. I knew that. But, according to the link, if you add Baking Soda to cocaine, you will get crack. I didn't know that.

Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

Because the most interesting celebration today is the Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, and I have been changing my mind every time I have pondered about blogging today. And now I realize that I am late to go home and meet the friends that I had planned to... and I haven't worked out what brilliant and quirky Enormous Change I am going to make.

After a quite emotional and dramatic day at work, I think that the change I will make is with my plans for the evening... and I am going to go home and go to bed... with ice packs over my eyes. Yes, this is how one parties on a Friday night when LDS, single and over 30 in Utah.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pepper Pot Day, St. Thomas a' Becket's Day, and another National Chocolate Day, December 29th

Pepper Pot Day

Apparently, Pepper Pot is the name of a traditional Philadelphian soup. The three recipes that I have found, are all very different, but have one thing in common. They all have meats I have never bought, and ingredients that I have never heard of. I think that I am fairly well educated in the culinary arts... but then to come across three recipes in a row with ingredients that I am unfamiliar with... shocking to my psyche. I am not sure when I will recover.

1) Recipe #1 Caribbean
Pepper Pot

2 chickens, cut up in pieces
(2-1/2 pounds each)
1 pig's foot
2 teaspoons salt
3 pounds pork tenderloin,
cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup cassareep
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 chile peppers, seeded, diced
1 2-inch piece stick cinnamon
4 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

(What the hell is cassareep, and does a pigs foot really add that much flavor?)

2) Recipe #2 Lynne's Pepper Pot Soup
1 lb. Ham hock
1 lb. Pumpkin or yellow squash (peel and chop)
1 lb. Calaloo (blended)
6-8 okras
1 large carrot (diced)
1 large cho-cho (choyote) chopped
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 lb. Flour - kneaded
2 lbs. Yellow yam
2 lbs. Cocoa
1 cup coconut milk
Secret Ingredient: (1 packet Cock Soup mix combined with a teaspoon of jerk sauce.)

(Now, what are calaloo, and cho-cho, and I am very afraid to ask what Cock Soup is? If it's chicken, just say Chicken Soup and Jerk Sauce. If Cock Soup is not Chicken soup...what is it? And, why does Cock need to combine with Jerk to create the third entity, the secret ingredient? Okay, that was too much fun :))

3)Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup Recipe

1-1/2 pounds honeycomb tripe
Sprinkles of salt for rubbing
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 whole onion, studded with 3 cloves
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup peeled, quartered and thinly sliced carrots
1 leek (about 1 cup), washed, sliced, including tender green part
1/2 cup diced green pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 small meaty veal knuckle
1 garlic clove, diced
2 to 3 teaspoons dried hot red chilies, crushed, or chili powder to taste
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 cups 1/2-inch-diced potatoes
1 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
1/3 cup butter for swirling into soup when served
1/2 cup snipped parsley for garnish

(Honeycomb Tripe, and a meaty veal knuckle. I don't really have those things in my freezer.)

I don't think that I will be making any Pepper Pot Soup for today. I have leftover Stroganoff... I'll just sprinkle some extra pepper on it and call it good.

As for St. Thomas a' Becket's Day, I don't have much to say... except he is part of the traditional celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The three websites I visited basically stated that EVERYONE knows what St. Thomas a' Becket did, so there was no reason to discuss it. Unfortunately, I don't know. I have a suspicion that he is an author. And probably also a martyr.

It's another National Chocolate Day today. So, if you missed it yesterday, or were ornery about it yesterday, like me, you will get a second chance to celebrate in full force. Here is a site where you can download M&M screensavers... so you will be surrounded in chocolate whenever you pause during the day. Just do it. You know you want to.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Card Playing Day, National Chocolate Day, The Holy Innocents' Day, December 28th

If you count from Christmas Eve, today is the Fifth Day of Christmas... does someone want to send a true love my way with five golden rings?

The more traditional way to count is from Christmas Day, so I guess I should just be looking for four calling birds. Hmmm, I don't really like birds-- in fact, I would like a pet bird less than a pet rodent. Except ferrets. I hate ferrets even more than housebirds. (Both of these dislikes arose from one unfortunate slumber party experience when I was sixteen.) The way my life is going right now, I will probably end up with the four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, as well as the partridge, all in my living room.

I know I sound bitter. I'm just suffering from the pressures of dealing with the loss of a cell phone and a car...yes, at the same time... but from two different circumstances. I feel like I have been shoved back into the Dark Ages. And it has become very difficult to arrange a tow without a cell phone.

Anyway, speaking of the Dark Ages... we have a very medieval religious holiday for today, The Holy Innocents' Day. This day is in remembrance of the baby boys that were massacred by Herod the King after he discovered that the wise men had deceived him. I find it very interesting that this day is celebrated before Epiphany, January 6th, the day that the wise men arrived to visit the Christ Child. (But, who am I to question the logic of the Catholic Church?) Anyway, by the early Christians, these children are considered the first Christian martyrs.

There are three things that make me cringe about this holy day:

1. It's regarded as The Most Unlucky Day of the Year. (If any more unlucky things happen to me this week... it will push me over the edge. Maybe I'll just stay in bed today.)

2. In England, until the 17th century, children were whipped in the morning to remind them of the "mournfulness" of the day. (Now, some children deserve this... ... You are right, of course you are right, I don't really believe in beating children into religious fervor.)

3. It is traditional to serve food red in color, to remind your guests of the blood of the martyrs. (Why, why, why, would anyone serve food hoping to remind their guests of the blood of slaughtered babies!?)

Anyway, I find it quite interesting that Card Playing Day is held on the unluckiest day of the year. I guess if you just play cards, without any of the traditional betting or other similar competitions, you won't have to worry about luck.

About National Chocolate Day... there are just so many Chocolate Days in the year...and this one isn't even chocolate covered anything! I hardly find this day worth commenting on.

But, I guess that if you eat chocolate and strawberries, while losing a card game, you will have today covered.

St. John the Evangelist's Day, Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day, National Fruitcake Day, December 27th

There are three very different things to do to celebrate December 27th:

1) Learn about St. John the Evangelist's Day,

2) Make Cut Out Snowflakes,

3) Make or eat Fruitcake.

St. John the Evangelist's Day

"A special reverence and interest is attached to St. John—'the disciple whom Jesus loved.' Through a misapprehension of the Saviour's words, a belief, we are informed, came to he entertained among the other apostles that this disciple should never die, and the notion was doubtless fostered by the circumstance, that John outlived all his brethren and coadjutors in the Christian ministry, and was indeed the only apostle who died' a natural death. He expired peacefully at Ephesus, it is stated, at the advanced age of ninety-four..."Chamber's Book of Days

I can't find any specific type of feast of celebration for St. John, unlike yesterday's Feast of Stephen. I did however discover that the Masons highly honor him.
"“Erected to God and dedicated to the Holy Saints John” – these are familiar words known to every Freemason. The “Holy Saints John” are, as we know, John the Baptist (also known as “St. John the Precursor”) and John the Evangelist sometimes known as “St. John the Divine”...Legend has set December 27th as the Evangelist's “birthday”. These two men were exact opposites in temperament: The Baptist was an extrovert and man of action, while the Evangelist was an introvert and a man of thought, meditation, and vision.

John the Evangelist was a Galilean, and the cousin of Jesus. In his early years, he was impulsive, impetuous, and vindictive as evidenced by the time he wanted to call down fire from Heaven. During that period of his life, the Christian Master called him and his brother, James, the “Sons of Thunder”. In his later years, his disposition mellowed, and he became known as the Disciple of Love or, in Masonic terminology, “Brotherly Love” ...St. John the Evangelist teaches us to subdue our passions, one of the first lessons every new Freemason learns in Lodge. When we examine the writings of St. John the Evangelist, we see a major transformation of a young man. He goes from being a hot-tempered young radical to one who exhibits peace in his old age. He goes from being intolerant of others to working with others by sharing his theology of a “better way of life”." St. John the Evangelist's Feast Day

2) Make Cut Out Snowflakes: While some may consider this cheating, there are snowflake patterns you can use, if you want your snowflakes to be symetrical.
12 Sided, 6 Sided, and Fan Folded.

3) National Fruitcake Day
"On National Fruitcake Day, those with a sweet tooth can celebrate by eating a slice or two. Otherwise, we suggest you use this day to give your fruitcake to someone....anyone."
My dad told me this year that he likes fruitcake, but only homemade fruitcake. I planned to make him one this year, but I didn't. Maybe today I will look up a few recipes... for next year. After all, what better day to plan for fruitcake next year!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day, Feast of St. Stephen, December 26th

Well, I know that yesterday I said Christmas was done. It's not. We have the Twelve Days of Christmas to get through.

Traditionally, the Twelve Days of Christmas is a gift giving time, beginning with Christmas Eve, ending with a religious celebration on the day of Epiphany, the traditional day that the Magi arrived and gave gifts to the Christ Child.

Some British and Germanic cultures combined the Twelve Days of Christmas with their already established festivals celebrating the changing of the year. These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year. Thus, Twelfth Night celebrations became very symbolic of the winter solstace. Many traditions, such as the yule log, bonfires, candles, and evergreen, marked the celebration of Twelfth Night.

When traditionally observed, Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last day of the Christmas season before Epiphany- January 6th, and often included feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations. Tradition says if you leave your Christmas decorations up after Twelfth night, you must leave them up all year long, or you will have very bad luck.

But, back to Boxing Day, and the Feast of St. Stephen. This is a day for giving food and alms to the poor. There are probably still Salvation Army bell ringers out. So if you are out doing your Christmas shopping, remember Good King Wenceslas who remembered the less fortunate on the Feast of Stephen.

I think that we should try to get U.S. Congress to make Boxing Day a national holiday... it's entirely unfair that the British should get this holiday, and we don't!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day, December 25th

Christmas... Whew. It's done. Santa was good to me this year. Now that I am back from visiting my family, I'm remembering how much I enjoy having a cuddly cat sleeping on my bed with me. But, all of my friends are either allergic, or they really, really dislike cats. I guess that I am not going to get a cat, or no-one will ever visit me.

Anyway, according to my baby brother, I too often focus on and remember random facts and folklore. Since he doesn't want to share, I will share here.

Santa Claus
The gift giving persona are different in various countries:
Spain and South America: The Three Kings visit on January 6th
Italy: La Befana (a kindly old witch)
England: Father Christmas
France: Pere Noel (Father Christmas)
Russia: In some parts - Babouschka (a grandmotherly figure)
Other parts it is Grandfather Frost.
Germany: Christkind (angelic messenger from Jesus)
She is a beautiful fair haired girl with a shining crown of candles.
Scandinavia: a variety of Christmas gnomes. One is called Julenisse
Holland: St Nicholas.

Other Facts
Some priests in Australia advise you to say "Happy Christmas", not "Merry Christmas", because Merry has connotations of getting drunk. One should say "Happy" instead.

In Germany on Christmas Eve, the rivers turn to wine, animals speak to each other, trees bear fruit, mountains open to reveal precious gems, and church bells can be heard ringing from the bottom of the sea. However, you must be pure of heart to witness this magic. But, both my brother and my dad never mentioned that these things happened during their Christmases in Germany.

Christmas Candles
Throughout medieval Europe, a very large candle, called the Christmas candle was burned until the Twelfth Night (January 5th), in remembrance of the arrival of the Wise Men to Bethlehem. In Victorian times, candles represented good will for those less fortunate and were placed in windows December 25 to January 6 to indicate welcome to any passerby needing shelter and food.

Some people believed the flames from the burning candles frightened away evil spirits during the darkest days of the year. The Norwegians believed that Christmas candles must not burn out on Christmas Eve or bad luck would plague the family. It was also believed that candles placed in windows guide the Christ Child as he wanders from house to house on Christmas Eve looking for a place to stay. Therefore, no visitor should be turned away on Christmas Eve.

Ever wonder why we kiss under the mistletoe? It goes back to Norse mythology. Baldur was the god of spring and beauty. He was the son of Frigga, the Norse goddess of love and marriage. Baldur was often disturbed by dreams that his life was in danger. To protect her son, Frigga went about the land demanding promises from all the other gods and all the natural elements such as, fire, water, air and earth not to harm her son. But, she considered the mistletoe plant too puny and insignificant to do her son harm.

Baldur had one enemy, the mischievous Loki. When Loki heard that the mistletoe was ignored by Frigga, he ordered a mistletoe dart shot into Baldur's heart, killing Baldur. Frigga was heart-broken. Her tears fell onto the mistletoe causing pearl-like berries. Because Frigga was well-liked among the gods, her son's life was restored by them. She was so delighted that she went about the land kissing everyone under the white berries of the mistletoe. She then declared that the mistletoe could never again be used as a weapon.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve, December 24th-- The First Day of Christmas

Christmas Eve is the first day of Christmas... and for my family the most fun. There are lots of traditions and legends associated with Christmas Eve. Some of my favorite are:

1. All animals can talk on Christmas Eve, but it is bad luck to test this tradition.
2. Light a candle on Christmas Eve and place it in your front window, and you will have an unexpected, but happy visitor.
3. To have good health throughout the next year, eat an apple on Christmas Eve.
4. If you eat a raw egg before eating anything else on Christmas morning, you will be able to carry heavy weights.
5. Place shoes side-by-side on Christmas Eve to prevent a quarreling family.
6. A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer.
7. From cock crow to daybreak on Christmas morning wicked elves roam about the land.

If you want to start a non-traditional 12 Days of Christmas gift list, check this site out: American Red Cross

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year. The longest night. The precise moment of the 2005 solstice will be December 21, 2005 at 1:35 P.M. EST. Facts about Solstice. This day is a turning point in the calendar of life. A beginning of a new year, a new season. A chance to look for spring, new crops, and the warmth of the summer sun. This day was celebrated by almost every ancient society and most of our Christmas traditions come from these celebrations of the sun. Mistletoe, yule logs, presents, evergreen.

To celebrate today, you could make a night sky mobile, take a quiz about Winter Solstice, learn about the plants associated with winter solstice, light a lantern and dance with the Secret Lantern Society
or you can a> sit in the dark then welcome the light.

What ever you do today... don't wake up your friends or neighbors at 3:45 a.m. because the sun will not be up... unless you live in Antartica.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

You've GOT to be Kidding

Okay, so I should be packing... but, I just got a text message from an ex-boyfriend. He directed me to this website called Fetusmart the "one-stop location for all your...fetussy needs." Apparently, I can adopt an internet fetus. I can choose from several different options... with hats... or different species or colors. I feel like someone should tell me what to think about this.

I adopted a cute lil' santa fetus
from Fetusmart! Hooray fetus!

I can't believe that I actually put that in my blog!!! There is much over-reacting going on here with girlie-squeally noises. Ewww, ewww, eeewwww! It says "Hooray fetus!" Eeeewwwww! It's a green fetus in a jar!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Look for an Evergreen Day, Go Carolling Day, December 19th

In case anyone forgot, it's almost Christmas. If you haven't put up a tree yet... Go get one. It's Evergreen Day. If you haven't listened to the radio at all since Halloween, and therefore haven't heard any Christmas music... Go grab a buddy and go sing a few Christmas songs at your neighbor's door. It's Go Carolling Day.

If you are like me, and amazed that you have made it through the day...accomplishing everything on your list... except one thing... oops, maybe two. I think you deserve a cookie. Even if you haven't packed yet. And you have to go to the airport in about seven hours. Okay, maybe I don't deserve a cookie.

Quote of the day:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
Douglas Adams--English humorist & science fiction novelist (1952 - 2001)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bake Cookies Day, December 18th

Wahoo!!! I have completed all of my Christmas shopping!!! And I am very impressed with myself because I was able to stick to a theme with every gift. Now the wrapping frenzy tonight... and then I will be able to have a bake off tomorrow. Well, if you can call one batch of cookies a bake off. Mmmm... frosted sugar cookies.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Underdog Day, National Maple Syrup Day, December 17th

Under Dog Day. National Maple Syrup Day. I guess we should be watching sporting events, cheering for the losing team, and eating pancakes with LOTS of Maple Syrup today. That's not really going to happen. Unless I have pancakes for dinner.

Some of the favorite meals of my childhood were when my mom made pancakes for dinner. I reveled in the topsy-turvyness of eating breakfast for dinner. It was my first experience with challenging social norms. As a child, eating breakfast for dinner was weird, special, important. I loved sitting at the table with my family, eating fresh blueberry pancakes, pancakes thick and lumpy with blueberries that popped and tingled in my mouth and sausage drizzled in the sweetness of syrup, knowing that my neighbors on either side were eating dry roast and overcooked broccoli.

Pancakes for dinner. Maybe. I have traveled into my childhood a few too many times this week. It might be dangerous for me to tiptoe down that road again. I might find myself in England, hiding in a wardrobe.

I have found a new favorite author. His name is J. Patrick Lewis. I read two of his books today, and purchased one. Apparently, he has over forty published. How have I missed him all these years? He is enchanting. I think that I am going to have to create an athenaeum in honor of his belles-lettres. I wonder how one goes about to create an athenaeum?

Words of the Day:

HIPPOGRIFF, n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, a one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises. (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary US author & satirist) (1842 - 1914)

PORTUGUESE, A species of geese indigenous to Portugal. They are mostly without feathers and imperfectly edible, even when stuffed with garlic. (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, US author & satirist)(1842 - 1914)

Quote of the Day:
In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. -- S. I. Hayakawa

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chocolate Covered Anything Day, December 16th

December 16th. Two Fridays 'till Christmas Eve. Panic! My shopping is only half done! I am finding some small comfort in the fact that it's Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Our one intern gave everyone in the office chocolate covered pretzels... Arrggh! I still haven't thought of what to do for office gifts.

Well, it is also Eat What You Want Day, and Man Will Never Fly Day. Now, I think that it will be fairly easy to find ways to celebrate the first two hallmarks of December 16th, but I find the third mildly distressing considering that I am about to get on a plane in four days.

But, well, I guess not that disturbed. I got a cool raffle gift at the work Christmas party today, and I'm easily distracted.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This Day in Simpsons' History- December 14th

Christmas Music Simpsons Style

'Tis the Fifteenth Season

First aired December 14, 2003

Homer is given a Joe DiMaggio rookie card by Mr. Burns (who has no idea how much it's worth), so he sells it for a lot of money. After spending most of it on himself, Homer comes to realize his greedy ways when he sees "A Christmas Carol" on TV. So he reverses course and starts to do favors for everyone he can, making Flanders jealous by becoming Springfield's new king of nice. He and Flanders then engage in a head-to-head "nice-off". Guest stars Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony.

I don't think this episode of the Simpsons is in the running for my favorite, in fact I know it's not. But, it was blog about this Day in Simpson History or National Bouillabaisse Day, and how much can you really say about Bouillabaisse. It is a seafood stew, made with saffron. Okay, we're done there.

I happen to have a respect for the Simpsons as a social commentary of American life. And I especially have a fondness for Simpsons Christmas and Halloween episodes.

I came across this article today:

"Unlike many shows on TV, The Simpsons works to encourage critique, demanding that viewers be active in their consumption. Without hesitation or apology, it ridicules the advertisements, slanted news stories, and inane talk shows that appear on their own beloved TV set. Other societal institutions are similarly targeted. The systems of law and justice, religion, the medical profession, the political structure, and the educational system all are revealed to be hollow and almost always, narrowly self-interested. Very little is sacred on The Simpsons. The ability of The Simpsons to entertain us while at the same time pointing out things that we might not otherwise see about ourselves, our beliefs, and our institutions, is surely a mark of quality."(The Simpsons as Quality Television
By Dan Korte)
To read the rest of the article see here.

So, anything that helps us to look outside of ourselves, question what is going on in the world, and see truth, real truth that comes from life, and not from the point of view of newscasters, has some merrit, even if it's the Simpsons. And the writers of the show throw in so many literary illusions that you have to be very well read to catch them all, but it's fun to try. But, I have to admit, especially to those out there who have, in the past, called me a literary snob, sometimes it's just plain fun to laugh at the silliness of the cartoons. :)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ice Cream and Violins Day, December 13th

Ice cream and Violins... brings back memories of summer socials in our favorite Hayley Mills movies. Not really the combinations one would think of in the mid of December. But, if you are getting bored with Christmas music, pop in a little Vivaldi (you know, the CD your mom made you buy for your little brother's wedding reception) and head on down to the nearest Ben & Jerry's.

Quotes of the Day:

Why do writers write? Because it isn't there. --Thomas Berger

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. --Dr. Seuss

Sunday, December 11, 2005

National Ding-a-Ling Day, December 12th

And we have another Monday in December. Another Monday to remind us of all the things that we have to get done before Christmas. Plus all the normal Monday stuff. My boss called me tonight to make sure that I was going to be at work tomorrow. That's not a good sign for my work load.

Anyway, tomorrow is National Ding-a-ling Day. It has been described as the day for the weirdos, losers, Sunday drivers, etc. I will leave it to your personal preference on how you want to celebrate this day. It could be as simple as going out and ringing a bell, or hosting your own Salvation Army KettleRing Your Bell Online if you want to put a positive spin on the day.

If you want to be a bit edgy, you could read a humorous story about a man named Fred Dingaling. (Warning, although this is a mild story, it isn't for children.) Or you could just get a group together to sing and ponder on the words of Chuck Berry's song "My Ding-A-Ling-A-Ling."

If you want to make this an introspective day, there are some options available. You could pledge not to let the ding-a-ling coworkers out there drive you crazy over the next year. Or set the goal to not let road rage over come you when driving alongside ding-a-ling drivers during our commutes.

Anyway, whatever you chose to do, have a happy Ding-A-Ling Day!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Day of the Horse, December 10th

Well, it's the weekend and fifteen days before Christmas. The Christmas shopping rush/crunch is on. I just got back... and am very sad to say that I STILL DON'T HAVE ANYTHING! During my shopping outings since Thanksgiving, I've bought wrapping paper, hot chocolate, and stuff to make cookies.

Anyway, if you, like me, are looking for something other than shopping to do today, go watch a horse movie to celebrate the Day of the Horse. I say watch a movie, because that seems to be the easiest thing to do without plans. If you want to devote your entire movie time to horses, I would recommend Black Beauty the 1994 version with one of my favorite actors, Sean Bean. While he's not really in the movie, he narrates the movie, giving us the opportunity to listen to his beautiful voice for a little over an hour.

If you just want a movie with horses instead of cars, try the new Pride and Prejudice 2005. I was a bit indifferent about seeing the new P&P movie because I thought that the A&E 1995 version was fine. I think that I was probably the only girl in Utah County that hadn't seen the new one until last night. I found it beautiful and poignant, on a completely different level than the 1995 version. I almost hate to say it, but Keira Knightly is a better Elizabeth than Jennifer Elhe, although I never knew there was anything lacking in Jennifer's performance until last night. Comparing the two, Knightly captures the loneliness that surrounds the time when people fall in love, whereas Elhe tends to have the air about her that she would be fine without Mr. Darcy, she could just continue with her life of walking and reading.

Anyway, if you haven't already, I would recommend the new P&P movie for Horse Day. Notice how the director uses distance throughout the movie. He even uses horses for this concept. There is a scene where Mr. Darcy rides a horse away from Lizzy when she is angry at him.

See, it's not so big of a stretch.

Friday, December 9, 2005

National Pastry Day, December 9th

Today is National Pastry Day. Although this is a celebration that I can really get behind, I have to ask, is this truly a day that must be celebrated in December? Don't we eat enough junk this month?

Regardless, if you live in Utah, I would highly recommend a trip the "La Baguette Bakery." They have the MOST wonderful almond thing-y. I highly recommend it, even though I can't remember the name of it. Everything else there also looks wonderful... but, I haven't really tried it. I'm quite attached to the almond thing-y. Anyway their information is: "La Baguette Bakery" 1442 East Draper Parkway, Draper, Utah (801)523-3747. I can't find an online menu or website...

If you absolutely must go someplace other than "La Baguette" for your pastry, but don't know where to go in the Utah-Salt Lake Valleys, try here. There isn't a pastry search, but I would try the "breakfast" or "coffeehouse" options. The Restaurant Roulette is also a fun option if you are looking for dinner plans tonight.

Now, if your pastry preferences usually run toward the convenience store variety... you could just celebrate Twinkies today. I would like to point out that this page decides that Twinkies are inorganic and 68% air. But, the Twinkie Haiku are worth 2 minutes of wasted time today. :)

Thursday, December 8, 2005

December 8th, Take It in the Ear Day

Well, according to several sources, I am finding that December 8th is Take It in the Ear Day. However, I am NOT finding an explaination for what Take It in the Ear Day means, or how we are supposed to celebrate it. Since it is December, it could mean that we take the occasional snowball thrown at us in the ear... one of my least favorite places for them to land. It could be a theoretical ear, and we are supposed to speak our minds to someone who deserves it today? Maybe we are just supposed to explore our ears, or our friends ears. I would not however, encourage wet willies today. It's too freaking cold in Utah for that; the spit might freeze inside. EEEWWW!!!!

Okay, since we cannot appropriately celebrate today's holiday, let's focus on confusing the people around us by using non-idomatic vocabulary.'s word of the day is: sylvan \SIL-vuhn\, adjective:
1. Of or pertaining to woods or forest regions.
2. Living or located in a wood or forest.
3. Abounding in forests or trees; wooded.

1. A fabled deity or spirit of the woods.
2. One that lives in or frequents the woods or forest; a rustic.

They probably picture it as a kind of modest conservatory, set in sylvan splendour in some charmingly landscaped garden.
--Sally Vincent, "Driven by daemons," Guardian, November 10, 2001

I like that word. It has such a poetic feeling. I am not sure how I am going to work it into my workday... but I will. :)

The Worthless Word of the Day is glisk

[origin unknown] chiefly Scots
1) a glimpse 2) a gleam or glimmer
3) a brief moment: instant

"...for I chanced to obtain a glisk of his visage,
as his fause-face slipped aside - that he was a
man of other features and complexion..."
- Walter Scott, Rob Roy (1817)

I love to have Scottish words to increase my vocabulary. I wish that I had the personality to say them with all the brammer of Mike Meyers. But, I am afraid that any true Scot would just look at me and say "I dunnae ken ya. Sounds like a seagull screchin on a wire." I'm afraid that the only thing that I inherited from my Scottish ancestors is the ability to make a really good shortbread.

Which reminds me... this week is Cookie Cutter Week, and Recipe Awareness for the Holidays Week. If the vocabulary challenge is too much for you today, go home and make some cookies after work tonight.

If that is still not your cup of tea... December is Read a New Book Month, Book List; Spiritual Literacy Month; National Tie Month (so let your sister buy you a new tie); National Stress-Free Family Holiday Month (anyone have any ideas for that one?); and Universal Human Rights Month

So, go out there and read-a-new-cookie-book-that-will-increase-your-spiritual-enlightenment-while-celebrating- your-rights-to-wear-your-stress-free-holiday-tie

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day

It's interesting what sticks in our childhood memories. In 1980, Jimmy Carter was president. I remember the Scholastic News ran an article about him and peanuts. The article told us to go home and tell our parents to vote. I remember having a conversation with my mom about Reagan and Carter. I remember being sad when Reagan won because I thought that we wouldn't have peanut-butter anymore. That year my teacher had our class sing a patriotic song every morning before we recited the pledge of allegiance. She would pound out a jovial tune on the piano as we sang in our six-year-old voices.

On December 7th, my teacher gave us a different morning presentation. She told of Pearl Harbor. She played us a record (yes, a blogger old enough to remember records) of Franklin D. Roosevelt making his "Day of Infamy" speech. I can still hear the scratches on the recording as I was cognizant of that voice and speech for the first time in my life. I remember that I was wearing a red corduroy jumper and brown shoes, and as I looked down at my braids I had two different colored rubber bands wrapped around the ends.

I remember looking at the United States flag hanging next to the chalkboard in the front of the classroom and thinking that the red in my dress matched the red on the stripes of the flag. I knew this morning was different. We didn't sing, after her presentation about Pearl Harbor, we placed our hands on our hearts and said the pledge and took our seats.

Do we even think about Pearl Harbor Day anymore? PearlHarbor

I wonder about Patriot's Day, the memorial day of September 11th. Forty years from now will Patriot's Day just be something celebrated in first grade classrooms?

I don't believe that we should remember these days to promote war, or to promote hate. We should remember these days to honor those who died... in defense of their country, or innocently as civilians. These are sacred days. Days of reflection. Days when the American conscious changed. We should remember them as such.

Today is also Letter Writing Day. If you would like to write to your elected officials here is a link link

If you want a reason to write to your elected officials check this out OreoCookiePresentation

Friday, December 2, 2005

First Post

Today is my first post, and I should probably explain a little about why I am here. I like to have a happy reason to get through every day. Some people have desk calendars with quirky thoughts or cartoons... I have a list of random holidays. Some days, when things are absolutely crazy at work, and work seems to be my sole function in life, I look over at my list and find some holiday to celebrate. Sometimes this means I have to do some research on my lunch break. Sometimes it means that I make my friends watch weird movies with me that night, or eat at random restaurants. Sometimes it means that I just smile, and have had a moment of miscellaneous merriment during my day.