Nothing Pink Can Stay

I’m loving the exotic hair color, but what I’m not loving is how fast it fades. Three weeks in, and the bright pink made it to a salmon-ish color, thanks to the pink fading and revealing the orange undertones of my bleached hair. I used the second half of the tube of magenta and left it on for a good two hours, so I’m freshly fluorescent again. I’m thinking once this pink fades, I’ll make my way to purple, then from there to blue. I figure as my dark roots grow out, I’ll want a darker color on top so it isn’t that drastic of a difference.

Before and after:

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

This should get me through to Arizona; then I’ll go purple after we move.

Speaking of the move, we’re packing and cleaning a little bit every day. Sometimes, we have helpers.

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

We have everything booked, from cat airfares (they’ll ride in the cabin, under the seats in front of us, as our carry-ons) to the moving cube for our stuff, to moving dudes on both ends. I feel as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.

We’ve culled a lot of stuff out — a lot of clothes and kitchen stuff went to Goodwill, and we donated lots of books to the library. I still kept tons, of course. Here’s a peek at the paperbacks I’ve kept. You can tell some of them are older and crustier than others.

Beat-up paperback books.

Beat-up paperback books.

Some of them, the pages aren’t even stuck to the spine anymore. And yet I can’t get rid of them! Though they are a challenge to read.

We had a credit left at a place up in Winter Park called The Wine Room — they have hundreds of wines in the Enomatic wine dispenser machines. So we cruised up there and had ourselves a few tastes, and found a couple of new wines we really liked.

Enomatic wine machines.

Enomatic wine machines.

Although some of the descriptions didn’t sound all that appetizing:

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Somehow, “crushed rock, loamy earth, and asphalt” aren’t the flavors I’m usually looking for in a wine. We decided to pass on sampling this one. I like my wines mild, and a little sweet. Found a couple of Rieslings to get a full bottle of, once we’ve moved. (There are a lot of things that are being put on hold right now, and added to the “once we’ve moved” list. The less stuff I have to pack and have transported, the better.)

We cruised out to IKEA locally here, to decide which bed frame we want to get once we land in Arizona. It’s pretty much going to be [1] get the apartment keys; [2] set up the cats in a closed-off area with litter box, food, and water; and [3] go to IKEA to get a bed. We’re getting the Sultan Hanestad mattress, which is the newer version of our old Sultan Huglo which I love.

While we were there, I saw these light fixtures. Does anyone out there like them? They look kind of like wadded up tissues to me.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

Eh, maybe if you had the right other decor in your house. Though I can’t imagine what that decor would be.

Last but not least, I finally found a place that serves gluten-free fish and chips. And it was right in my backyard the entire time! A place called Cookes of Dublin, in Downtown Disney, makes all of their fried stuff (fish, shrimp, onion rings, even mozzarella sticks) fresh to order, so you can get it in the gluten-free batter and fried up in a separate dedicated gluten-free fryer.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

I haven’t had fish and chips in years. And it was great!! Plus, they mix a little bit of chopped parsley in with the gluten-free batter, so you always know for sure that you got the right stuff. We’ll probably have to stop by one more time before we leave the area, because who knows when we’ll find GF fried fish again?

So, that’s where we’re at. Busting ass and stressing out, but soon we’ll be rid of Florida for good, and launched on a new and exciting adventure!

Tiny lenses … for my phone

(Title sung to the tune of “Tiny Bubbles,” which is totally stuck in my head right now.)

So while reading an article on BoingBoing the the other day, I experienced that thing where you go from not knowing an item exists to wanting it desperately, all in a span of 30 seconds. The item in question: a set of tiny clip-on lenses for your cell phone.

Tiny lens clipped onto my phone

Immediately, I dashed over to Amazon. The author of the BoingBoing piece had ordered his set for about three bucks, but they took a month to arrive from China. Since we’re moving in a little over a month, and I felt the need for immediate gratification, I spent twice as much and bought a six dollar set with Prime shipping.

(Here is the set I bought; looks like they aren’t available on Prime anymore. But if you search for “clip on cell phone lenses,” there are a gajillion choices available, some Prime.)

Tiny cell phone clip-on lens set

The set comes with three lens options: fish eye, macro, and wide angle. And it’s a little confusing at first, because in order to use the wide angle feature, you have to have the macro and wide angle lenses attached to each other. Somehow they work together to create magic. Many reviews on many different options on Amazon have complaints that people only received two lenses, but they didn’t realize that two of the three arrive attached as a unit.

They even include little lens caps (although the back side is still open to the elements) and a carrying bag (which I had to re-sew along the bottom, as the stitching wasn’t that great).

So, onward to testing! Above, you can see the fish eye lens attached to my phone. Apparently, you can put these on over a case, but I put them straight onto my phone (yes, my phone itself is that strange orange color). The hardest part is getting them centered over your camera’s lens, but you can put just the clip part on by itself, center it, then screw on the tiny lens you want to use.

Macro shot of fish-eye lens

First, let’s talk about the macro lens. At first, I thought it wasn’t working right, but I figured out that you have to get REALLY close to things. If it’s blurry, you’re still too far away. You gotta get right up in your subject’s grill.

Closer.

CLOSER.

macro lens: shift key

THIS CLOSE.

Seriously, you gotta get close. It’s almost like a tiny microscope that clips onto your phone. I took a picture of the wrinkly old-lady skin on the back of my hand, but I’ll save you all from that. I don’t even want to see it, so I can’t imagine you’d want to.

Here’s where I move on to the wide-angle lens, and tell you that I don’t really have any good shots with it.

Cheddar in the wide-angle lens

Of course, this is a good shot, because it’s of a sweet baby kitty. But generally speaking, it doesn’t seem like using the wide angle lens is all that different from taking regular pictures. Maybe my phone already takes pretty wide angles? At any rate, it doesn’t seem to give me much extra space along the sides, but it does warp the image a bit, giving it a rounded look, as you can see from the pattern of our living room rug.

I’ll experiment more with it — maybe there’s something I’m missing here.

Anyhoo, onward to the fish eye lens! A negative Amazon review of this one cracked me up — someone complained that it left “a black rectangle around the outside.” Because, I guess, they expected their image files to come out round.

Trouble in the fish eye

A couple of issues with the fish eye lens: the blue color of the lenses I chose, and difficulty focusing.

I found that in most of my fish-eye pictures, especially ones in bright light, there was a ring of blue around the outside, since that’s the color I bought the lenses in. So if you want an all-black ring around your pictures, I’d advise getting a set of these in black. I didn’t even think about the possibility that they’d capture a wee bit of the edge of the lens.

Not the best focus job in the world.

The second part is the focus. Sometimes I was able to get things to focus really well, and other times, no matter what I tried, things came out kind of blurry. I’m not sure if this is a case of unsteady hands, or a smudge on the lens (the little bag they came with doubles as a cleaning cloth, which is handy, but I felt like I was constantly having to wipe these lenses for smudges and fingerprints while we were outside).

Other shots, though, came out relatively crisp and sharp:

Our beloved Tower, for the last time before we move.

Or, at least, sharp in the center of the picture. I expect things to get a little blurry around the outside, due to the warped nature of the whole thing. But it was hard most of the time to get things in sharp focus in the very middle of the shot.

The fish eye will definitely merit a lot more experimenting, with close-up and distance stuff, as well as low light versus bright light. I don’t think the blurriness problem is necessarily an issue with the lens itself, since I did get a couple of shots that were on the sharper side — I think it’s a matter of learning how to use it correctly.

So, overall: fun and cheap! The macro is the best of the bunch so far. They also make other lenses, like a hilarious tiny telephoto lens. And you can find an option where you stick a magnetic ring around your phone’s camera, then just attach the lenses via magnet, instead of with a clip.

Cheddar in the wide angle

The end of the mouse is in sight.

I’m at the two-weeks-left point of my job, and boy howdy am I ready to be done. I really like the job, don’t get me wrong, but I’m holding off on doing so many things right now. One thing I’ll say, I don’t know if I’ll ever find a cooler job — I’ve listened to so much music that I broke my headphones.

Thank goodness for duct tape.

Thank goodness for duct tape. No point in getting a new pair, since I’ll only be there a short while longer.

One of the things I’m holding off on is coloring my hair. Disney has a set of appearance guidelines called “The Disney Look,” and one of the points is to have hair in a “natural” shade. I miss the crazy colors I used to be able to do! So the day after I no longer work there, I’ll be bleaching, then coloring my hair with this stuff:

MAGENTA!

I’m most likely also going to give myself an undercut, because, why not?

We have our move date set; on September 9th, we’ll be flying ourselves and the cats out to Arizona. Where they apparently don’t have things like this in the grocery stores:

A Wal-Mart in Florida.

I’m looking forward to a time when I find this kind of thing weird and cool again, instead of just looking at it and thinking, Eh, that’s totally normal.

In other news, there are a couple of new bouncing baby books in the Meyer household! Scott’s fourth book, Master of Formalities, came out on July 7th (on Kindle; the paper version and audio book will be released on July 28th). It’s completely different from his other three books, and the quickie descriptions is “Downton Abbey set in the Dune universe.” I loved it, but then again, I’m probably a biased reader.

Scott's books: 4 so far!

You can check out Master of Formalities over at Amazon: USA, UK, Canada. You can also see all of his books at his Amazon author pages on the USA and UK sites. (His Magic 2.0 books are all on sale right now for $2.00 each on the Kindle, so there’s that, too!)

But wait, there’s more! I also had a book come out this month: Unsung Villains, which is the sequel to my first book, We Could Be Villains. Now I have a matched pair! I have some thoughts about the third in the series, but right now I’m thinking about writing something else before I move on to book 3. And of course, all writing is going to wait until after we’ve moved across the country.

Valentine & Hart, Books 1 & 2

Note: These copies are test proofs, so the actual covers aren’t as dark. Pertinent links: Unsung Villains is available on Kindle and paper at Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

And to celebrate, right now (through July 21st), my first book, We Could Be Villains, is on sale for 99¢ in the US Kindle store, and 99p in the UK Kindle store.

I hope to get back to this blog and write a lot more, once I don’t have a day job anymore. After we move I’ll be putting myself through online school for graphic design, and I’ll probably have a lot of fun projects and things to share. Plus, I’ll have much more available time, since I won’t be away from home for 9 hours every day.

One last snappie before I sign off:

SO CLOSE.

SO. DARNED. CLOSE.

Photodump: 2015 so far, and things to come

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry, any of those who are following the minutiae of my life! Things have been very busy of late, and they’re only going to get busier very soon.

Back in February, we took a trip out to Phoenix, Arizona. We went for a couple of reasons: first, all of my immediate family has migrated there from Seattle, so we were able to visit my parents, as well as my brother and his family.

tiki gods and lemons

My parents have a thriving lemon tree in their backyard, with a few friends keeping it company. The bulk of the landscaping is pale gravel, which I really dig. Lawns are not my thing.

The other reason we went there was to scope the place out. We’ve been here in Florida for over 8 years now, and it still doesn’t feel like home. We have no urge whatsoever to buy a house here and settle down. As soon as we went back west, where the time zones run later and the TV stations all start with the letter K, it felt right again. We went into a Safeway grocery store, and I almost cried with joy.

SO, we’re moving to Phoenix in September. We’ll be able to find a place to live starting about 60 days out, and are currently planning other aspects of the move. (Current plan: ABF U-Pack ReloCube for our stuff, transport company to take the Fiat over, and we’ll fly out nonstop with the cats.)

We’ve started into doing things here for the last time. Scott’s brother came out to visit this month, so we went on our last trip to the Universal parks.

really, Universal?

I went as ready as I thought I could be. They always make you put your purse in a locker, so I wore shorts with deep pockets, put my phone, wallet and keys in those, and even brought safety pins to pin my pockets closed to keep my stuff safe. And YET! Now on a few rides, Universal doesn’t allow you to take any of that stuff on the rides — you have to go through metal detectors, and if you’re carrying any personal belongings, you STILL have to go put them in a locker.

That trip to Universal also taught me that my equilibrium has become so bad with age, I can’t really do the big roller coasters anymore. I’ll stick with Disney-grade rides from now on. (And when we’re in Phoenix, we’ll be a 5-hour drive to Disneyland. Which thrills me more than I can say. It’s still a way better park than any of the ones we have here in Florida.)

Brother-in-law brought my birthday card, which had been mailed a month before, but met with some peril on the way:

birthday card

Ouch. The machine did a near-perfect job of tearing off the name and address, while leaving the envelope sealed. It’s impressive, in a way. Though it looks like someone gave it an F grade.

After Universal, we went to the Magic Kingdom with brother-in-law. Everything there was much more my speed. One nice thing about both Universal and Disney is that they have some decent gluten-free options in the restaurants. At Universal, many of their burgers can be put on a gluten-free bun (they still haven’t quite perfected the texture, but they do the job of holding the fillings in just fine). At Disney, I got the GF chicken strips, which are not only good, but I think they’re better than the regular ones.

Disney gluten-free chicken strips

Let’s see, what else is going on? I’m currently working on the 4th draft of my next book (beta reader feedback is coming in these days, and I’m making edits based on their comments/suggestions/critiques).

The cats are lovely, as always:

Cheddar and Trouble and a box

We have a large cardboard box in our living room, because Cheddar just adores it. Sometimes she’s inside it, but most of the time she lays on top of it. Trouble isn’t as thrilled with the box, but then again, she’s a crotchety old 17-year-old. She’s seen it all, man.

Oh, and we had a great celebrity encounter recently, when our friends Jen and John from Cake Wrecks took us along to see the Mythbusters Live show, where we also got a backstage meet-and-greet with Jamie and Adam.

Mythbusters!

The show was a fascinating thing: a weird hybrid of comedy, science demonstrations, Q&As, and more.

So that’s what’s going on these days! If you’re wondering what I’ll be doing for a job, after we move I’ll be taking a few months to do a few things: I’m going to put myself through an online certificate program for graphic design, since my knowledge is mostly self-taught and mostly at least 5 years old at this point. I’m going to get Scott’s social media sites whipped into shape (we could do so much more with his Facebook and Twitter accounts). And by that point, my 2nd book should be out, and I’ll be able to start on my 3rd. Which I believe will be in a different universe completely.

Photodump: The Tail End of 2013

Well well well, if it isn’t 2014. I haven’t dumped photos for quite some time, so here are some things that I saw in the tail end of 2013.

turkey cake

My cube neighbor at work has a late November birthday, and 2013 was one of the years where that birthday fell on Thanksgiving day. So I tried my hand at making a cake with marshmallow fondant. I’d made it once before, but several years ago. (Overall, I judge it as pretty easy, but really time-consuming. And really delicious.) I was going to make the turkey golden-brown cooked color, but as I added the food coloring bit by bit, I came out with this flesh-tone before I got to brown, and figured I’d stick with it. Because it has more … character.

Scott's warty foot

Scott had some plantar warts. The podiatrist put acid on them, repeatedly. The entire affair was fascinating. The best part was when he’d go in two weeks after the acid treatment, and they’d carve away all of the dead skin, then sand him down with a Dremel tool. To celebrate the final acid treatment (which happened a few weeks ago), we’re going for pedicures. I will try to convince him to go for nail polish, but I will most likely fail.

Holiday Doodles art

My little Holiday Doodles continue to be a delightful project. My phone is chock full of pictures of the drawings, because it’s easier to take pictures than to try to use our printer/scanner. Half the time, it won’t connect wirelessly. Then half of the time it does connect, the scanner doesn’t want to work. I don’t know if we’ve EVER had a printer that’s worked seamlessly; for some reason, they’re always twitchy and buggy for us.

The Doodles also premiered on GoComics this last month, which is totally awesome. I’m tickled to be a part of the same family as Dilbert, Garfield, and Basic Instructions.

Queen of Cakes

I’ve also been dabbling into other artsy projects. I got a box of blank playing cards, and a package of fine-point Sharpies; here’s the “Queen of Cakes” card I made for my friend Jen.

Personalized plates

I’ve started playing a little game, in which I give backstories to people with personalized license plates. For example, here’s TOY LNDR. Lots of options when you throw in vowels, but I think he’s a Toy Lender. He owns a small company that will rent you whatever toy you desire, rare or common, from Tickle Me Elmo to Tomagotchi to the Barbie Dream House, so for an hour or two you can enjoy a return to your childhood.

Yesterday on my way to work, I was behind WAGG1R1 for a short while. It felt like she probably meant “Wag Girl”, and is probably just a huge fan of dogs. I, however, took the double use of the number 1s to both be analogues for the letter I. She is, then, The Great Waggiri, a world-famous magician with a dog-specific act.

naptime cats

Our new cat, Cheddar (ooh, I should do a post introducing her) is getting along quite well with Trouble. They’re not snuggle buddies, but they are usually within a few feet of each other when they’re lounging around. They definitely both like naps, and were patiently waiting for me to get my butt into bed on this particular lazy afternoon. (They also like to wake us up at 5 or 6 in the morning, so they’re totally to blame for the need for an afternoon nap.)

Scott would like me to point out here that HE’S THERE, NAPPING. One Scott, no waiting. Curl right up. And yet they’re both waiting for me. Poor guy.

Edward James Olmos

Last but not least, I love where I work. It’s not every workplace where Edward James Olmos (who I’m convinced is one of the nicest guys on the planet) stops by your office holiday potluck.

Photodump: I’m a huge blog slacker

I’ve been a huge blog slacker of late. I have craft projects to document, books to review, products to endorse … perhaps it’s just that I have too many choices, so I don’t know what to write about next. So I’ll dive back in with the easiest possible thing — catching up on my photodumps.

First off, I finally bit the bullet and got some Skele-Toes. Yes, they’re the weird shoes with toes. And I have to say, I could walk FOREVER in these things. They’re the most comfortable athletic shoes I’ve ever owned. I even got a second pair in black. If you’ve ever been intrigued at all by these, but were put off by their price tag, see if you have a Finish Line store near you — they’re clearing these shoes out for $29. I went to their site the other day to get a second pair in pink, to put away in cold storage for when these wear out, but they’re out of my size. Oh well, I’ll have to care well for the ones I have.

I did try on the Vibrams Five Fingers before I got these. Thing is, I like how the Skele-Toes put the two smallest toes together in their own pocket. For me, both of those toes were too stupid to easily make it into their own individual homes.

Oh, and also, I got some of the super-thin athletic socks to wear with these. Though you could go barefoot in them too.

We visited the Orlando Mini Maker Faire, where we saw lots of fun doodads and gewgaws. The local R2 builders’ group had many of their models out on display. I was especially taken by the bronzey guy in the middle here. He had a whiff of the steampunk to him.

Disney opened up a brand new resort! The Art of Animation resort is mostly family suites, and a step above the regular value resorts. Cast members got a chance to tour the grounds and look inside some of the rooms, and I have to say, it’s really nice. We’ve only ever stayed at the value resorts ourselves, and this was a definite step up.

We figured that we could see the grounds anytime, but this “open mouse” would be our only chance to really scout out the rooms. I’m glad we went — when else would I be able to get a panorama shot of the gigantic Nemo pool with only Scott in the frame?

I got some lightweight pajama pants for summer. They had the Muppets on clearance at Old Navy, so how could I not? I took this picture because of the freakish Kermit/Piggy hybrid face in the center, but I didn’t notice until uploading the picture that the left-hand side has a really weird phallic Piggy-nose thing going on. Or is it just me seeing that?

I’ve missed the Cash & Carry terribly — we have Costco and Sam’s Club and such here, but there wasn’t a convenient restaurant supply store … until now! We just got a shiny new GFS Marketplace, and it’s everything that Cash & Carry was. But cleaner and more brightly lit.

I didn’t purchase a bottle of liquid fake butter, sadly. But I did get a box of frozen gyros meat slices. And a huge pillow pack of pepperoni. And several pounds of saltwater taffy for my candy bucket at work.

I’ve really missed those frozen gyros meat slices. Mmmmm.

On the deliciousness front, one of my lemon trees turned out to be a lime tree. I finally picked the fruit to check it out, since it was taking FOREVER to turn yellow. Yeah, the joke was on me. So since I have no idea what kind of limes they are (the tree is labeled “Meyer lemon”), I call them mothereffing limes. Though I’m less ladylike about it.

Anyhoo, the mothereffing lime is flowering again, and creating new leaves like crazy. The Eureka lemon tree appears to actually be a genuine lemon tree, and it has two lemons growing on it. It’s also going crazy with the new leaves.

The cats are doing well. We were having some flea problems, but Advantage appears to have them under control. We tried Frontline, but apparently Frontline is pretty much useless in our area — the fleas are all adapted to it.

Commie is loafish as ever, and Trouble could stare for hours at the most beautiful cat in the world.

I’m still playing Draw Something, but I’ll admit, I have so many games going that I don’t play them all as often as I’d like. I nibble away at them when I can. I’ve started trying to draw everything in under a minute, since part of the game is having to watch the other person’s drawing being created in real-time. And there’s nothing that makes me more insane than watching a drawing happening, guessing all the while, for five minutes or more, only to have the person finally draw the actual guessable item almost as an afterthought at the very end.

I try to get the guessable part in there in under 30 seconds, then save the fine details for last.

I realized as I put my stuff down on my desk the other day, I tend toward hot pink a lot.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just an observation.

Last but not least, I’m running Ice Cream Sandwich on my phone, courtesy of CyanogenMod 9. It’s super-sleek and fast, and the ICS camera is even better than the stock Samsung camera I loved so much.

All right, now that I’ve emptied the photodump tank, I can move on to various other things waiting in the blog queue.

Photodump: Concert, Ukes, Lemon Trees, and Special Robotic Guests

Busy times lately. I’m pleased to say that my cool temp job, which was supposed to end at the beginning of February but got extended, is turning into my cool for-realsies job. A full-time position opened up in the department, and they offered it to me. So as of this week, I’m now an officially official member of the Disney Creative Entertainment office & technical staff. Yay!

What else has been going on, you may ask? Well, we attended a concert:

Our chums Paul and Storm came to town. Wonderful guys, both. I don’t know what it is about internet celebrity people of Roughly Our Age, but so far every one of them I’ve met has been lovely.

I re-strung my best and my cheapest ukuleles. The best got a new set of Aquilas, including the low-G string. The cheapest got fishing line. For realsies. As an experiment, I strung it with pieces of 25-pound, 40-pound, 50-pound, and 60-pound test. Being me, I got the cheapest fishing line I could find: $2.50 for each spool. It doesn’t sound too awful!

It’s my understanding that some of the really good quality strings are, actually, high-quality fishing line. But we’re talking fishing line that’s $20 per package. I’d have to re-string really frequently to make it cost-effective over the $10 I spend on a pack of high-quality strings.

And when changing, it was totally obvious that I needed to swap out these strings. These are both low-G metal-wound strings. The bottom is the old one, the top is the shiny new one.

Unfortunately, now I have to deal with stretching out the new strings. Which means re-tuning over and over and over. Right now, they don’t even stay in tune through an entire song. But they’ll stretch and settle in soon enough.

I put a new battery in my electronic tuner, since I’ll be using it a lot. Did you know that IKEA now carries size 2032 batteries? Those flat round ones, about the size of a quarter, that seem to be in EVERY little gadget? $1.99 for an eight-pack, which was the highlight find of my most recent IKEA trip.

I don’t know if the Swedish yellow pea would have been a highlight. Just the name gave us the giggles.

I also transplanted my two little lemon trees into bigger pots. They’re both flowering like crazy right now, and the Meyer lemon is still working on a few fruit that it started back in the fall. They stopped growing for a month or so, during the colder times, but they’re totally getting bigger again. Hopefully the Eureka will also bear fruit, now that it’s in its first flowering.

The cats remain grand, as usual. They’re both on my desk right now as I type, trying to duke it out for the coveted spot in front of the keyboard. Which means I may soon have to wrangle my arms up over the top of one of them to type. They’ve been very civil to each other today, including a cheek-to-cheek nap.

To close, things are good. Especially my job, in which things like this happen:

Photodump: Fruits, Legumes, and Abbreviated Musical Acts

My little lemon trees appear to have made it through the winter. They both dropped a LOT of leaves when the weather got colder, and I worried that they would both kick the bucket.

You can see the general leaflessness of the Eureka lemon, but a couple of weeks ago I noticed that it was starting to bud like crazy. And those buds are now getting ginormous. Within the next week or so, that sucker will be flowering.

The lemons that were growing on the Meyer lemon tree stopped getting any larger for a while, but they seem to be on the grow again. The Meyer is also budding up, but not as violently as the Eureka. It still has probably a dozen lemons in the works, with the largest ones about the size of a small lime. We’ll see if they continue their journey now that they’ve had a little winter nap.

The other night we attended an awesome concert — They Might Be Giants, with Jonathan Coulton as the opening act. Coulton played the electric guitar (as opposed to the acoustic performance two years ago [and I’m amazed that it’s been two years since JoCo visited]), and he was accompanied by a bass player and drummer. A small band, but a band nonetheless. His performance was awesome, as always, and he played many a good song, but it was too darned short.

We hadn’t seen TMBG for years; certainly not since we moved to Florida. They gave a great show, and did some fascinating bits with knit puppets. And we got to see what was probably one of the last public performances of “Marty Beller Mask” ever.

Paul and Storm are also visiting our town this coming Friday. I may have to venture downtown to see them.

I changed the strings on my second-best ukulele, and it sounds much brighter. I think I’ve had this thing for three or four years now, so it was about time for a string change. I’ve special ordered strings for my first-best uke, so I can get the low-g string instead of the high-g. Those should come in later this week. Then I’ll put the used first-best strings on my third-best, littlest uke. Yes, I have three ukuleles. And like cats, I’d have more if I was allowed.

Finally, in the category of tasty things, I made some roasted garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, if you prefer to call them that). I started with the Alton Brown base, then fiddled with the recipe. I ended up soaking the dry beans for at least 16 hours (overnight), then roasting at 375° for about 45 minutes (stirring them around every 15). Instead of his oil-vinegar-spice mix, I just used coconut oil and salt.

With the coconut oil, they smell like movie theater popcorn while they’re cooking. When they’re done, they have the texture of corn nuts, but a flavor similar to roasted pumpkin seeds. Me likey!

Photodump: Fireworks, Clothes, and Chicken Granules

It’s been an adventure-filled week, and I still haven’t done my baking yet. That’ll be this evening.

We went out to Epcot on Wednesday night with some friends; it’s always nice to hit the theme parks in December to see the decorations, and we hadn’t seen the seasonal add-on fireworks at the end of the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show.

First, I played around with some new camera apps for my phone. This is from the HDR app, and the water of the fountain came out creepy cool. You can see Scott peeking in on the side. I like this HDR app, and may actually upgrade to the paid version eventually. It’s “HDR Camera” in the Android Market.

We got a nice lagoon-side spot to watch the fireworks, although from over in France where we were, there was an island blocking the big globe. That’s OK, I’m not a fan of the globe parts anyway.

The extra fireworks on the end were so over-the-top, I giggled like an idiot all through them. Also, you can see a lot of ducks over in our corner of the lagoon, hanging out as far away from the fireworks as they can. Over on my Flickr, you can see I have a history when it comes to fireworks and ducks.

It was a gorgeous night, and there was a HUGE half-moon hanging low over the Mexico pavilion as we left. I know it doesn’t look all that huge in this picture, but isn’t that how it always is? Also, I love that we have flowers blooming in December here in Florida.

Onward! I went to Old Navy to consider their sweaters again. Once again I tried on some of the ladies’ sweaters, and once again I ended up buying a boys’ XL instead. They’re just so much softer! I don’t get why ladies’ sweaters have to be so coarse and stiff.

I sure am glad I carried my stuff to the fitting room in a neat stack. The girl took everything from me and piled it elegantly in the corner.

I also looked at sweaters at the Target. In the adult section, as well as in girls’ and boys’.

I think they forgot to include something on this particular label. Or perhaps they couldn’t think up any actual features of this tee.

I also found something delicious at the Target.

Don’t knock the chicken granules until you try the chicken granules! I took this jar full of delicious to work, where it’s nice to have a hot cup of broth in a freezing-cold office. It tastes just like the broth that I used to get out of a machine at the high school where my mom worked, back in the ’80s. The cups had poker hands on them. Ah, memories.

Yes, that’s an electric stapler. This office is classy.

I’m going to miss this job when it’s over. There are only three weeks left of my temporary assignment. Although there’s always a chance my temp spot will be extended, I haven’t heard anything to that extent yet.

So here’s to you, cube 226A! My festive lights, fez lamp, various other crap and I will savor you for the next fortnight and a half.

Photodump: A Quite Busy October

It’s been a busy little month at the House of Meyer. We took our first ever cruise near the beginning of the month, which was awesome. But then we also had visitors come to us!

Scott’s mom and younger brother came to town for a few days, so we showed them a good time. That good time included visiting Disney parks:

I took this with a HDR camera app for my phone. The results aren’t as good as real HDR work, but it still comes out pretty cool. The colors seem more vivid, and everything is super-sharp.

I was also able to take the four of us on a surprise voyage — a fireworks-watching cruise out on the lake in front of the Magic Kingdom. I, a person who never wins anything, won it! It’s part of the “magic backstage” program, which provides nice little thank-yous for cast members. We set sail from the Contemporary Resort.

The weather was a bit drizzly, and there were a lot of pesky bugs down at the Contemporary marina, so the pool wasn’t being used by any people. Good thing, because a dozen or so ducks made it their home base.

We headed out on the water, and we were given drinks and snacks.

Neither Scott nor his Mickey-shaped “crispy cereal bar” are actually that creepy.

The fireworks show wasn’t the usual Wishes, but a special Halloween presentation. Awesome as always.

Our little boat had the soundtrack piped in. It was a load of fun!

At one point in our Disney-goings, we went to a cast-specific store. It used to be just merchandise, but now they have a section where you can shop from a limited selection of groceries. The prices were great! I just don’t need a restaurant-sized can of marinara sauce. But I did get some produce, because the Granny Smiths looked excellent.

And indeed they were. Fresh and tart, as opposed to a lot of the cold-storage stuff the groceries have at this time of year.

You know what else is delicious?

IKEA chocolate. I’ve never been much of a dark chocolate person (really, the bulk of my experience has been the miniature Hershey’s Special Dark bars that come in the Xmas assortment), but I’ve heard that it’s good for you, so I tried out IKEA’s Choklad Mörk. And it’s surprisingly tasty!

Also apparently delicious: grass.

I planted a little patch of grass for the cats to enjoy, since their main outdoorsy time is on our 2nd floor deck. So far Commie is still scared to come out on the deck, but shy Trouble loves it. And she loves to eat her greens. It’s surprising how fast this Bermuda grass grows.

My lemon trees are doing well as well. The Eureka still hasn’t bloomed, but the Meyer went through a lovely bloom (and those flowers smelled fantastic). I’ve been warned to not expect lemons right off the bat, but it sure looks like I have almost a dozen little guys growing. They’re tiny so far, but making nice progress.

They’re just adorable!

Now that I’ve sidetracked like crazy, back to the visiting Meyers. We also went to Sea World! It was my first time, but everyone else had already been a couple of years ago. Still, we three young’uns got to ride Manta for the first time together.

I really loved that coaster. You kind of dangle downward on your belly, so there’s none of that bashing and smashing of my head like I get from a lot of looping coasters. Compared to Manta, the old Kraken coaster was painful and kind of boring.

Had a surprisingly good gluten-free meal (roasted chicken) there, and I was also impressed at the upkeep of the park. Everything was neatly maintained, freshly painted, and very clean. I went in with Unversal-level expectations, so Sea World kind of blew me away.

Except the penguin exhibit was kind of eerie. They just stood around in groups, staring at each other. (This is another picture from the HDR app.)

All in all, it’s been a great fun month!

I’ll leave you with this warning sign that appeared one day at a busy intersection in our neigborhood. Simple, but a message that motorcyclists would love more drivers to keep in mind.