Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Give 'Em the Old Razzle Zazzle

I've discovered something cool, and I'm sharing it with you for my own financial gain. (Hey, I'm honest.) There's a nifty site called Zazzle that lets you upload images to create T-shirts, posters, cards and whatnot. Yeah, I know. Sounds like CafePress, right? Not exactly. The cool thing about Zazzle is that if you as a buyer see an image that you like, but think it'd look better on a red shirt than a blue one, you get to customize it yourself. If you see a poster that would be perfect if only it were in a different size, you can make it a different size. That's pretty nifty.

I'm adding stuff to my Zazzle site as I type. If you want to see an image of mine on something, let me know.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Celebrity

My nephew has made it into the local paper yet again. (He would be the one on the left. The lefty.) (Woot!) No, nothing bad. (He's not like his father.) I never made it into the local news. I never went outside long enough. Well, except for that time I had my picture taken with Santa. That made it into the paper. I was like 10 months old and crying, so I'm pretty proud of that. I still have that reaction whenever I see Santa in the mall. I get all fidgety and my eyes start to tear. Of course, I get that way when I'm in crowds of more than two people I'm not related to, so it could be that as well. Nobody's offered me a grant to study it and figure it out, so it's going to remain a mystery until that happens.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Time and Tide, Death and The Other Thing

A little advice to those of you in the states who are thinking of moving to another state... move on December 31. That way, you'll never have to experience the joy that is the partial-year state tax return!

In any event, the taxes are done and Deb hasn't killed me. That's two wins for me! (The T-word causes much stress in our household, as you may imagine.) To celebrate the completion of all that paperwork, we're going to go out and buy this. (My wife is the coolest person in the known universe. End of story.) So... you may not hear from us for a while, as we'll be up to our sahasrāra chakra in another world.

Update: If anyone else is interested in downloading this image as a desktop image, go here. There are some others up there too. If you have any requests, let me know.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Forsooth! Mine Buckaroo Doth Vex Me, Y'all.

This weekend was spent in a state of temporal flux where time, sanity, and the elements collided to become all higgledy-piggledy. (That's a technical term, so I apologize if I lost anyone with that.) It started on Friday, when Deb and I went to get pizza fresh from Brooklyn. For those of you a tad bit shaky on geography, Brooklyn is a fair distance away from Tucson. Luckily for us, the Brooklyn Pizza Company is in Tucson, and they make honest to God real pizza! If you've never had pizza in the NYC/Long Island area then you've never had pizza. Sorry, but it's true. You've had a kitchen sponge with red stuff on it at best. We won't discuss worst.

On the way back from obtaining said real pizza, we got to see something that may just appear on an episode of Cops. Police choppers buzzing about overhead, sirens blaring, and a cop car stopped off to the side with its doors flung open and officers giving chase on foot. Pretty neat, but I wasn't paying too much attention. I had pizza and garlic knots to tend to, dammit!

Saturday found us hurtling back in time at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. I had never before attended such a thing, but as it was supposed to be a special Celtic weekend I was looking forward to it. The weather was great, we had discounted tickets... what more could you ask for?

In a word: entertainment.

The only things Celtic there were a couple of extremely pale people in kilts. This would normally be a novelty, if not for the myriad others in far more (unintentionally) alarming costumes. There were people from all over the country at this shindig. Most of them were fat. You need to understand... since moving to Arizona we've seen very few people of significant girth. (For my former co-workers out there, the term is "IRS fat".) Some people took great care to make their costumes, and they looked really good. Some people put on a dorky hat and called it a costume. Good for them. My biggest complaint with the whole thing was that we paid $18 each in order to have people beg at us and try and overcharge us for crap we didn't want. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it was that my ticket got me. Other than annoyed. But then, I can get that for free.

I will say that I did recieve my most unusual threat to date there. We were walking past one of the costumed flunkies, and said flunky was the one who said the threat to me. I was a bit annoyed at the place by this time, and my eye was bothering me, so I wasn't beaming with glee. He said: "If you're not smiling, I'm going to talk to you! This means you, man with the brown cowboy hat* and sunglasses!" Talk to me? Is that really the best you've got? A grown man with leather pants and a fake stuffed squirrel on his shoulder, and that's all you can give me? You need to work on your threats, Squire Zippy.

The following day, we went off to the Festival of the West. My eye was still bothering me, and was only half-open. It was also raining quite steadily. A hundred or so days without precipitation, and it rains on the day we're at an event. Most of the vendors closed shop, and there weren't really any shows going on. They still decided to charge us the full price for admission, though. How nice of them.

We did get to have a couple of brushes with greatness, though. For some strange reason, Ruth Buzzi was there. What she has to do with anything wild west-ish is beyond me, but she was there signing autographs and stuff. There were some others, but the biggie for us was Morgan Woodward. Why? Not because of his litany of western credits, but because he was both Dr. Simon Van Gelder and Captain Ron Tracey on the original Star Trek! How cool is that?

We left fairly early and headed back home. The rain got progressively worse, and for a while it was hailing. It's not often one sees frozen stuff on the ground in Arizona, so that was pretty interesting.

My apologies for not having pictures of any of this. My camera decided to have a breakdown and won't focus. Whee. Deb has some pics, though, so check her blog shortly for full-color madness.

* My "cowboy hat" doesn't look like a cowboy hat. I don't have a big belt buckle that says "Tex" or anything. It just wasn't a beret or Robin Hood pointy thing with a feather in it, so he called it a cowboy hat.

Friday, March 17, 2006

One Less Headache, One Product Plug

If you're like me, and I know I am, then drinking diet soda gives you a headache. By "headache" I mean "pain like a rusty red-hot railroad spike being driven into your head until it hits your eye". That being the case, I'm not one for drinking diet soda. This is somewhat problematic when I'm trying to lose weight, as I can easily drink 4 or 5 sodas at a sitting. (Last week Deb and I went out for lunch. The waitress brought me a pitcher of soda after I finished my second soda before the meal arrived. I finished the pitcher.) Drinking half of the recommended daily allotment of calories during one meal isn't particularly good.

"Try water", you say? "Try going to hell", I reply. I drink water in the summer and/or when we're out hiking. I need flavor with my food. And I can't drink any of those other lovely diet drinks, because they all have NutraSweet and give me a bloody great stabbing headache.

Until now.

The fine folks at Coca-Cola came up with a diet soda sweetened with Splenda. So I tried some. (I prefer Pepsi over Coke, but I prefer weighing less too... so what the hell.) It didn't give me a headache. Not even a small one. That's very cool! And do you know what's even better? This Splenda stuff has all manner of controversy surrounding it. One thing I just finished reading called it a "mild mutagen"! That's awesome! I hope I mutate big, sharp spikes on my shoulders. That way, people would get the hell out of my way when I'm walking. If they don't, they get impaled. "Oh, sorry! Couldn't help it. I'm a victim of a mutagen." Maybe I could mutate some sort of camouflage ability. Then I could sneak up on people and scare the hell out of them. So many mutation ideas are running through my brain... I'm like Marvel in the 90s.

In any event, I'm starting to switch over to my mutating soda. It tastes decidedly different than "real" soda, so it's not a smooth transition. But, if diet crap makes you want to tear off the top of your own head so you can release the demons, you might want to give this stuff a try. And hey, with the added bonus of possible mutation, how can you turn it down?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lakes and Canyons and Deer, Oh My!

If you're like I was, your mental image of Arizona was primarily based upon Road Runner cartoons. (What can I say... I was a sheltered child.) We spent the last couple days visiting with our friends who live about two hours south of us. If you think of Arizona as nothing but desert, you're sadly mistaken. The picture on the left was taken at Parker Lake, which is part of the Coronado National Memorial. (That sounds like a building, but it's really land.) It was a very blustery day, so the lake was choppy. I had one light jacket on, and felt like an idiot for not bringing something more substantial to wear. How cold was it? On the way back from the lake it started to rain. The rain tapered off, and turned to something we haven't seen in quite a while: snow! Not much, but it was certainly odd to see snow in southern Arizona in March!

We also visited the Ramsey Canyon Preserve. (Which sounds like a cousin of marmalade, but is really a big ol' park.) We took many, many more pictures than I could possibly post here. (Well, I could post them, but my dial-up family would never be able to see them.) A recent prevailing thought for me whenever I go outside is that we live in a postcard. Everywhere you look, there's something to make you say "Wow!" and mean it with all its exclamatory brevity.

Trees such as this Arizona sycamore just reinforce the feeling that we're not just in another state, but in another world. I mean, this is the kind of a tree you'd expect to meet in a fantasy story instead of on a hike. The twisted branches put so many story ideas in my head that I just have to stop and stare at the tree and try to sort them all out.

We also had some unexpected company along the way. (No, not rattlesnakes, bears, or mountain lions.) Two groups of deer (scientifically known as "deerses") were foraging along a couple trails. They were wary of us, but not afraid of us, which led to some surprisingly close shots. (Camera shots, that is. To any hunters who are reading this: stop whatever it is you are doing and go to directly to Hell. Thanks!) They still have their winter coat, and since it snowed a little the previous day they certainly needed it. In fact, my handy-dandy ForecastFox has informed me that there's an actual Winter Storm Watch in effect for Tucson for the weekend! Neat!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I Can Use "Pariah" In A Sentence

Have you heard about the guy whose job is being threatened because he advertises the fact that he's an English-speaking American? This infuriates me. You may think me a racist or a bigot or whatever for being pissed off about it, but I really don't care. Have you seen commercials for lawyers or doctors or whatever, and at the end they proudly proclaim "Se Habla Espanol"? Nobody rails against those businesses. They are applauded for their efforts in "reaching out". I realize that the U.S. does not have an official language. (I don't like it, but I know that's the way it is.) It is, however, the language that has been predominantly used in this country for 200+ years. I would think that would give it some extra clout, but instead it makes English a pariah. More concessions are made for people who do not speak it than those who do, and many of those who do speak it don't understand it enough to spell or use it correctly. (See also: the mind-numbing prevalence of using apostrophe S to denote a plural rather than possessive.)

The day I'm put in charge of everything, I'm going to mandate an English test. If you pass it, you get to eat. If you fail, you don't eat again until you pass. Don't worry about all the dead bodies, as they'll be cleaned up by my army of flying robotic electro-death monkeys.