Oct 31, 2005

Monster of a bed

Posted by Mary |

Nancy came over and helped Tom and I build a bed in our cabin yesterday. Not just any bed, mind you, but a giant, hulking, massive, behemoth of a bed. It's for a queen mattress, so it's about 5 feet wide, but we attached the platform directly to the walls, so it's about 9 feet long.

Underneath the bed, we installed two shelves on the long wall, and Tom put up two dowels on the short sides to serve as a closet. This would so much more sense with pictures, but you know I'm not that far advanced in my technology. Shit, I still use an outhouse for the love of Pete! And you want me to get a digital camera? OK, we'll compromise: I'll take some pictures tonight and get them developed soon.

Today we pick up some carpeting remnants and the refrigerator, plus finish moving stuff out of Tom's apartment (or our city place, as I like to think of it. Goodbye, toilet! Goodbye, shower!). Our tenuous link to free carpeting has disappeared, as the bank seems to have foreclosed on the house which contains said carpet. So we buy!

Oct 30, 2005

Heard in the bedroom

Posted by Mary |

It's heterosexual, it's just complicated.
-Tom, explaining why it was not gay
for both of us to be in drag for Halloween

I'm freaking out

Posted by Mary |

I've been tense and irritable lately. I thought it was just some sort of female hormone thing, but Tom finally called me out on it the other day: I'm worried about moving in with him. It's true: when I think about living with him, fear clenches my gut. What will happen when I need my alone time? How will I handle having to sleep with him every night? Is he going to mention it every time I bring home new clothing? Am I going to have to start being tidier?

Don't get me wrong: I love Tom with all of my heart. I don't think anyone else could be more right for me. Especially since he's been putting up with my freaking out over this. I can get a little...snappish when I'm upset. I'm just scared because I've never lived with someone before, and it feels like this is a big step toward commitment with a capital "C." Which is weird because I don't think I'm scared of the commitment to Tom, just of the commitment in general.

It doesn't help that we have to get everything out of his apartment by tomorrow and the cabin isn't quite ready yet. It still needs a few things. Like flooring, a refrigerator and lighting. All in due time, I guess, but I'm not paying rent on it until I can actually move in.

And to top it all off, I can't even call my sister to express my panic because she went to New Hampshire for the week. I need someone to talk me off this ledge!!

Oct 27, 2005

The heat is on...

Posted by Mary |

Now I'll have that song stuck in my head for a while. My point was that the heat is hooked up and on in the cabin. Last night Phillip and James hooked up the TOYO, and it is running just fine, though it does need one new chimney pipe.

As a thank-you, I invited Phillip to stay for dinner. I'm not sure what he was expecting, but he seemed quite pleased. I served a mixed lettuce salad with roasted pears, blue cheese, toasted pecans and a raspberry balsamic dressing. The main course was a lasagna of portobello mushrooms, mashed potatoes and goat cheese with a basil-scallion sauce. For dessert, I made a hazelnut-pear torte with vanilla bean ice cream. Yeah, I posted that just to make you hungry.

Now that the cabin has heat, we can get ready for flooring. Don is busy putting in new flooring over at Aliy Zirkle's kennel, but hopefully he'll be able to work on it this weekend. Nancy and Jay will be helping us build the loft bed on Sunday. At this rate, our housewarming party may not be premature after all.

Oct 26, 2005

Underwear update

Posted by Mary |

Today is the day I officially broke out the long underwear. It's actually not that cold - about 20 degrees F - but I think it's time. For that matter, it may be time to give up the illusion of moving into the cabin anytime soon. I should probably dig my winter coats out of storage and start wearing them.

Oct 24, 2005

Rhythm of the North

Posted by Mary |

I am a creature guided by Circadian rhythms. Even more annoying, I am a morning person. Not one of those people who wakes up early, has a cup of coffee and then faces the day. No, I like to bound out of bed (when not snuggling with Tom, the ultimate de-motivator). I'm bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, chipper and LOUD. Statistics show that people want to strangle me in the morning a full 57% more than they want to strangle me in the afternoon. But dammit, I like the mornings! Which brings me to my problem: Alaska sucks.

I find it increasingly hard to get up early and face the day when the sun won't show up until, say, 9 a.m. Actually, I'm not even sure what time the sun is rising lately because I work two stories underground at the university library in the morning. As a result, my body gets confused every winter and I don't know when to wake up. I moved here in January 2003, which was a shock to my system. In January, the sun isn't up until around 10:30. Even worse than the sun coming up late is that it then has the nerve to set in the early afternoon. If it isn't difficult enough getting up in the pitch dark, you then have to try to stay awake at 8 p.m. when it's already been dark out for several hours.

Fortunately, Alaska has a good way of keeping you awake in the winter, and that's the cold. You don't think the cold can wake you up? Try going to the outhouse at -30 degrees F. And that's on a warm day. You'll be singing the praises of blue foam on when it's -50 degrees F. (Yes, I am going to keep writing the temperatures in AP style, because I'm a dork precise.)

However, before you go thinking Alaska is a horrible place, here's a list of why I stay here each winter:

  • Aurora borealis Known as the northern lights. They're there in the summer, too, but you can't see them. Because it never gets dark.
  • Cross country skiing I don't know why I never tried skiing before I moved here, but it's great to throw on a pair of skis and take off into the darkness after dinner. This year will be even better, because the new cabin was built near over the top of the ski trails.
  • Sauna It's just not as much fun in the summer.
  • Mushing Totally not a plug for the magazine. I may not mush, but I like being able to watch the races.
  • Moose They're around in the summer, but hunger drives them closer to us in the winter.
  • Chena Hot Springs Like the moose, Chena is also there in the summer. But so are 276,982 tourists, which makes for a mighty crowded lake. In the winter, all you have to worry about are Japanese couples fornicating.
  • Bragging rights Hey, I don't see you peeing in an outhouse at -50 degrees F.

Besides, summer will come back eventually.

Oct 18, 2005

Don't visit French prostitutes

Posted by Mary |

Sex worker Camille Cabral, representing French prostitutes, poses next to a European Union flag after a press conference organised by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE), at the European Parliament in Brussels, October 17, 2005. The ICRSE wants to end the criminalization of the sex industry and give prostitutes the same social rights as other workers.

For the love of God, this woman's face should be enough to convince men to get their sex the old-fashioned way. With alcohol and lies.

Oct 13, 2005

New look...again

Posted by Mary |

Maybe this one will take.

Oct 12, 2005

Stop the jinsanity

Posted by Mary |

Arkansas Mother Gives Birth To 16th Child

By MELISSA NELSON, Associated Press Writer
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Michelle Duggar just delivered her 16th child, and she's already thinking about doing it again.
Johannah Faith Duggar was born at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and weighed 7 pounds, 6.5 ounces.
The baby's father, Jim Bob Duggar, a former state representative, said Wednesday that mother and child were doing well.
He said Johannah's birth was especially exciting because it was the first time in eight years the family has had a girl.
Jim Bob Duggar, 40, said he and Michelle, 39, want more children.
"We both just love children and we consider each a blessing from the Lord. I have asked Michelle if she wants more and she said yes, if the Lord wants to give us some she will accept them," he said.
The Discovery Health Channel filmed Johannah's birth and plans to air a show about the family of 18 next May.
The Learning Channel is doing another show about the family's construction project, a 7,000-square foot house that should be finished before Christmas. The home, which the family has been building for two years, will have nine bathrooms, dormitory-style bedrooms for the girls and boys, a commercial kitchen, four washing machines and four dryers.
Jim Bob Duggar, who sells real estate, previously lost his bid for the U.S. Senate. He said he expects to run for the state Senate next year but isn't ready to make a formal announcement.
Michelle Duggar had her first child at age 21, four years after the couple married.
Their children include two sets of twins, and each child has a name beginning with the letter "J": Joshua, 17; John David, 15; Janna, 15; Jill, 14; Jessa, 12; Jinger, 11; Joseph, 10; Josiah, 9; Joy-Anna, 8; Jeremiah, 6; Jedidiah, 6; Jason, 5; James, 4; Justin, 2; and Jackson Levi, 1.

You know, I'm going to leave the whole "J" name thing alone. Jedidiah. Dammit! I tried.... I'm also going to try to mention that it takes a man named Jim Bob to believe that it's perfectly natural for his wife to breed this much.

No, my main beef with this story, with this family, is that they're really screwing up the whole "zero population growth" thing. I mean, it's all well and good for me to say I'm not going to have any kids. I'm not adding to this world's population issues. But when Ms. Prolific Uterus here says maybe 16 isn't enough, it really stymies my efforts, and leaves me no choice but to go out and kill 16 people. Possibly 17, depending on how fast Jim Bob can impregnate her again.

Oct 11, 2005

Bombing the hell out of those blue bastards

Posted by Mary |

UNICEF Bombs Smurfs to Highlight Plight

By HELENA SPONGENBERG, Associated Press Writer
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Smurfette is left for dead. Baby Smurf is left crying and orphaned as the Smurf's village is carpet bombed by warplanes - a horrific scene and imagery not normally associated with the lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters.
These are the scenes being shown as part of a new UNICEF ad-campaign on Belgian television.
"It's working. We are getting a lot of reactions and people are logging on to our Web site," UNICEF Belgium spokesman Philippe Henon said Tuesday.
The Belgian office of the U.N. children's fund said it has decided to use the creations of late Belgian artist Peyo to shock a complacent public into backing its fund-raising efforts for ex-child soldiers in Africa.
The 20-second video commercial clip now being shown on Belgian TV aims to show that war can happen in the most innocent of places, Henon said.
"We get reactions from all over the place," said Henon. "People are shocked and want to know the reasons behind this cartoon image."
The appeal is meant to raise money for UNICEF projects in Burundi, Congo and Sudan, Henon said. However, due to its graphic and disturbing scenes, this cartoon is not for everyone. The advertisement is aimed at an adult audience and is only shown after 9 p.m. to avoid upsetting young Smurfs fans.
The video is peacefully introduced by birds, butterflies and happy Smurfs playing and singing their theme song when suddenly out of the sky, bombs rain down onto their forest village, scattering Papa Smurf and the rest as their houses are set ablaze.
The bombs kill Smurfette leaving Baby Smurf orphaned and crying at the edge of a crater in the last scene of the video and finishing of with the text "don't let war destroy the children's world."
It calls on viewers to donate.
UNICEF traditionally uses real life images of playing and laughing children but decided to change it for something that would shock people, Henon said.
"We wanted to have lasting effect of our campaign, because we felt that in comparison to previous campaigns, the public is not easily motivated to do things for humanitarian causes and certainly not when it involved Africa or children in war," he said.
Henon added that UNICEF would never cross the line and film real-life war scenes in its appeals.
The UNICEF campaign was launched Friday with the Smurf TV spot and will last until April.
"We see so many images that we don't really react anymore," said Julie Lamoureux, account director at Publicis, an advertising agency that drew up the campaign for UNICEF Belgium. "In 35 seconds we wanted to show adults how awful war is by reaching them within their memories of childhood."
The Smurf ad will be followed by similar ad in November to promote UNICEF's "let children live in peace" campaign.
French children's program Martine and the children's song "Au Clair de la Lune" will be presented with changed lyrics.

This is sick and wrong on many counts.
* First, stop dropping bombs on my childhood memories/stoned adult pleasures alone.
* Second, Baby Smurf wasn't orphaned by this attack. As you'll recall, he/she was a foundling. And I see there's no mention of the Smurflings.
* Third, when did UNICEF hire Gargamel as their advertising director? It's the only explanation for this sick, sick campaign.

Oct 10, 2005

Here's to you, Dillon

Posted by Mary |

In honor of your nuptials, I have changed the color of my text. Maybe now you can read it. Or maybe you should've just figured out what was wrong with your computer, as every other computer didn't seem to have a problem with it.

And in honor of your special day, I give you a very special blog quote:

Let's get married; I'm getting cold.
-Eva, hoping Dillon will let her
back in the cabin if she joins
her life to his for all eternity

Oct 9, 2005

Heard in the kitchen

Posted by Mary |

Sometimes all you have to do is be there.
-Savage, on spending time with women
and the chance of having sex with them

Oct 6, 2005

Progress made in a crazy world

Posted by Mary |

I know I haven't been posting much lately, so here's a little look at why I've been so busy:

Sept. 24-26
Tundra Caravan workshop with Aziza; hafla Saturday night
Sept. 27
Chena Hot Springs with Aziza (never pass up a chance to lounge around a hot springs rock lake with an amazing bellydancer)
Sept. 28-29
Rehearsals for Fleur du Mal burlesque show
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Sold-out performances for Fleur du Mal at the Point After. We had to take out all the tables and we still turned people away at the door!!!
Oct. 2
Photo shoot for new Tundra Caravan troupe photos.

On top of all that, I was sick the week leading up to the workshop, and we've still been working on the cabin. The drywall is all up, mudded and taped. We started painting this week and have a first coat on everything except the ceiling. Tom now admits that all of my color choices were great, but he still won't agree to my fabric choice for curtains.

Is this fabulous or what? He says it's too dark and brown. Pshaw.

For a color update, here's what we've got so far:

Arctic entry inside and out is Sonata, a light blue. Sonata also graces the triangle of wall above the kitchen.

Downstairs is Day Spa, which is supposed to be a very light blue. It's pretty much just white. Boo!!

The bedroom is Mystic River. From my experience growing up near the Mystic river, this should be a muddy brown. But it's a lavender/purple.

The bedroom ceiling will be Enlightenment, a creamy pale yellow. The other ceilings will be plain white.

The loft bed, ladder, arctic entry door and anything else I can think of will be Plum Raisin, a dark reddish brown.

You know what would be even better than these descriptions? Pictures. Which I will get done and up here ASAP.

I do hate the throw around quotes from Blue Oyster Cult, but:
History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man
This story, to be fair, has nothing to do with Godzilla. But I predict that things will go awry due to a wacky series of events. The virus will be released upon the world, and Freddie, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy will have to hop into the Mystery Machine and investigate. Eventually it will turn out that old Mr. McGrady just released the virus in order to scare away the real estate developers who want to buy his farm and build a WalMart. And he would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.

Researchers Reconstruct 1918 Flu Virus

ATLANTA - Scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918, the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed.
Why did they do it? Researchers say it may help them better understand — and develop defenses against — the threat of a future worldwide epidemic from bird flu.
Like the 1918 virus, the current avian flu in Southeast Asia occurs naturally in birds. In 1918, the virus mutated, infected people and then spread among them. So far, the current Asian virus has killed at least 65 people but has rarely spread person-to-person.
But viruses mutate rapidly and it could soon develop infectious properties like those seen in the 1918 bug, said Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
"The effort to understand what happened in 1918 has taken on a new urgency," said Taubenberger, who led the gene-sequencing team.
The public health risk of resurrecting the virus is minimal, U.S. health officials said. People around the world developed immunity to the deadly 1918 virus after the pandemic, and a certain degree of immunity is believed to persist today. Also, in previous research, scientists concluded that modern antiviral medicines are effective against Spanish flu-like viruses.
The virus recreation, announced Wednesday, is detailed in the journal Science. The completion of that gene sequencing was announced in the journal Nature.
The virus was made from scratch, but based on a blueprint from Alaska.
Taubenberger's team sequenced genome information recovered from a female flu victim buried in the Alaskan permafrost in 1918. Then, they shared the data with researchers at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Using a technique called reverse genetics, the Mount Sinai researchers used the genetic coding to create microscopic, virus-like strings of genes, called plasmids.
The plasmids then were sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where they were inserted into human kidney cells for the final step in the virus reconstruction.
"Once you get the plasmids inside the cell, the virus assembles itself," said Terrence Tumpey, the CDC research scientist who assembled the virus. "It only takes a couple of days."
About 10 vials of virus were created, each containing about 10 million infectious virus particles, Tumpey said in an interview with The Associated Press. More may be created, he said, to accommodate researchers' future needs.
The virus particles are being stored at the CDC, and there are no plans to send samples off campus, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, the agency's director.
However, the genetic information sequenced by Taubenberger is being placed in GenBank, a public genetic sequence database operated by the National Institutes of Health.
Scientists need access to the research as they try to develop vaccines and antiviral medications against potential future pandemic agents, said Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science.
"We carefully considered the implications of publishing this research and concluded that the knowledge we're gaining to potentially protect public health far outweighs the risk of working
with the virus," Kennedy said.
The Spanish flu of 1918 was a terrible pandemic. In a few months, it killed more people than any other illness in recorded world history — an estimated 20 million to 50 million worldwide,
including roughly 550,000 in the United States.
In severe cases, victims' lungs filled with fluid and they essentially drowned in a disease process that took less than a week. It was known for being particularly dangerous to young adults, a group usually less susceptible to flu complications than younger and older people.
A flu virus has eight gene segments. Taubenberger and other researchers previously had published the sequences of five of them, but they accounted for less than half of the virus's total
sequence. The new work completes it.
The three new segments appear to be crucial in explaining how the bird-based virus became adapted to humans, Taubenberger said.
Tumpey also confirmed the 1918 virus's avian-like characteristics by injecting it in fertilized bird eggs. It killed the eggs, just like the Asian bird flu does. Other modern-day flu strains that are
human-based don't kill fertilized bird eggs, he noted.
The researchers also refined their focus on one gene, the HA gene, that encodes the hemagglutinin surface protein that help the virus attach to cells and multiply. The 1918 virus is deadly with the HA gene, but when the gene was replaced, it was not virulent, Tumpey said.
The virus's genetic properties may explain why it was able to settle deeper in the lungs than most current flu strains, causing the drowning condition, he said.
Virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo called the work important.
"We need to understand why this virus was so pathogenic," he said.
He also noted that Tumpey's work had to go through a variety of scientific reviews and approvals — a process Tumpey said took about three years.
"If there was any concern about safety, the experiment would not have been approved," Kawaoka said.