Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain/Obama Debate Liveblogging

7:44 Got a pizza on the coffee table. Need some wine. Need to turn on the TV. Stanley's on his way home from happy hour. Apparently our friend Jorge* (pronounced "George") will be joining us as well. Yay. Debate party.
7:53 Got the wine. Still need to turn on the TV. Stanley still not home.
7:56 TV on. Plenty of channels to choose from. Hopefully it won't matter which channel. I just can't stand it when the commentators take over. Still no Stanley.
7:58 Wine poured. Here we go.
8:00 I'm nervous.
8:03 So nice to see them shake hands.
8:04 Eisenhower. Drink.
8:07 Jorge showed up with no Stanley.
8:08 They both sound cogent. (Late edit: I mean McCain and Obama. Not Stanley and Jorge.)
8:12 McCain jokes about his own age. Kudos to McCain. Drink.
8:14 Please say "fundamental" again.
8:15 Stanley showed up at 8:11.
8:16 Someone tell McCain that his VP nominee loves earmarks.
8:17 "To fill up on this gas that is killing them." Sounds odd.
8:20 Lehrer is like a marriage counselor.
8:21 "My friends"! Drink.
8:21 We should model ourselves after IRELAND?
8:23 Obama's quick.
8:25 I'm glad Obama is getting into detail about why he voted things down, annoyed by McCain's giggling.
8:30 The Little Combat Ship that Couldn't.
8:31 Obama called McCain "Tom". As in "Uncle Tom"?
8:32 Hmmmm. Spending freeze. Everything gets funded but defense. So no more education?
8:35 Obama took McCain's "who I'm fighting for" line.
8:37 Now he called him Jim. ???
8:40 Just say we won in Iraq and bring the troops home.
8:41 Pouring more wine. "Pizza Vino" 2004 California Cabernet. $2.99
8:48 Great discussion about Iraq. So nice to hear them talking at length about it. I'm not being sarcastic.
8:51 Stanley and Jorge are discussing the pros and cons of enlisting in the military.
8:53 I'm still worried about McCain's idea of freezing all spending except the military. What about science? How about welfare? What about disability payments?
8:56 Remember? Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb bomb Iran.
8:57 He also supported the War of 1812.
8:59 Real person example. Drink.
9:00 McCain thought bubble: "Damn. He has a bracelet from a military mom, too."
9:03 I want Lehrer to ask, "How can the U.S. win back our good standing in the world?"
9:06 "Iranically".
9:07 This wine is actually pretty good.
9:08 I think he mispronounced Ahmanijihad (sp?).
9:09 Nixon. Drink. (Probably others previously as well.)
9:10 Tea with Mahmoud.
9:12 That's below the belt. McCain just sort of fogged up on the whole Spain/Venezuela confusion. It's a common mistake.
9:13 Reagan. Drink.
9:15 My friend. Drink.
9:16 The polls. The checks. 2008 in review.
9:23 It's like the whole world is at war. We should call it World War I.
9:26 He almost called him "Genital Joe Lieberman"
9:26 I like the split-screen when they are both talking. Helps me follow what both of them are saying.
9:27 I'm sad that it's almost over. I'm not ready for the spin machine.
9:29 Could everyone please check their suitcases for nuclear weapons.
9:29 Yes! Our standing in the world! Glad he brought that up. Thank you. The rest of the world is important. What they think is important. Thank you.
9:30 I'm tired of McCain's condescending references to Obama's supposed lack of understanding.
9:31 "Look". Third time I've heard it. Drink three times.
9:33 Imagine if someone tuned in just as Obama said "I've got post-traumatic stress disorder and yet I can't get treatment."
9:34 McCain. Comparing. Obama. To. Bush.
9:35 Yay. A 72-year-old who doesn't need on-the-job training. What a time saver.
9:36 McCain mentions his time in prison. Drink. But only half a sip; he barely mentioned it, on his way to talking about something else.
9:37 Debate over. Obama won.
9:38 Spin cycle.
9:39 Don't let them tell you what happened.
9:40 I'm watching ABC and they just showed the 6 people that are going to weigh in, then went to commercial. It's going to be crazy.
9:48 Have a good night.

* Name changed.

I'm Going to Try Liveblogging for Tonight's Debate

As you may be aware, John McCain and Barack Obama will be debating tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific time. Just now I had a frivolous idea: I'm going to post my thoughts on the debate while I'm watching, and update the entry with each new post. I've seen other bloggers do this for events such as this. So I'm going to give it a shot.

Speaking of shots, I did a google search for McCain/Obama debate drinking games, and the following is an amalgamation of the best rules I found, and maybe a few of my own if I think of them while I'm writing. We don't plan to attend a debate party, but I may have a glass of wine or two, so I might as well play a drinking game.

Drink once each time:

1. Either candidate uses the word "change".
a. If Obama says it, before you drink, switch which hand you're holding your drink in.
b. If McCain says it, don't switch hands. Easy way to remember: McCain, more of the same.
2. McCain says "My friends".
3. Obama says "Look." (This really annoys me. But it effectively gets your attention and makes you put aside what he just said, and get ready to listen to what he's about to say. But it's still annoying.)
4. McCain uses the phrase his people coached him to repeat over and over. It may take a few minutes to figure it out, but it will happen.
5. Someone refers to McCain's heroism.
6. Someone says "Let me finish." Actually, if this happens, you must finish your drink.
7. Someone uses the word "bailout".
8. Someone either hints at or makes direct reference to McCain's age.
9. Someone refers to a past president other than Bush.
10. Someone uses a real person as an example, e.g., Molly Smith works 3 jobs so she can afford to pay for nursing home care for her blind grandmother and her grandmother's twin sister who is also blind.

Okay I need to get home so I can cook dinner, but first I want to practice the liveblogging. Here goes.

5:52 I'm looking out the window.
5:53 I think I'll have to post more recent thoughts on top so I don't have to scroll.
5:53 (still) I'm clicking "publish" after each line, in case you're wondering.
5:54 Yeah this might work.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I don't have much time, because Stanley is on his way home, and he's had a tough week so he would like to have a martini waiting for him when he gets home, but I wanted to let you know about a feature I have added to the blog that is going to free up a lot of your time. I know you spend hours hitting the "reload" button on my blog to see if I've posted something. If you enter your e-mail address in the box on the right, you'll get a message in your inbox when I post something. If I post more than once in a day, you will only get one message for that day. If I don't post that day, you won't get a message. I haven't tested it out but it should work.

Something exciting happened to me today. Basil*, my best, closest, most inseparable, friend from kindergarten through 8th grade, whom I had not had contact with since age 15, which makes 21 years, despite several attempts to find her on the Internets, SENT ME A MESSAGE ON FACEBOOK! She wasn't sure if it was me. I'm so glad she tried anyway. Here is her message, with some details changed:
"My name is Basil Halifax Tuesday and I am sorry to bother you, but I am looking for an old classmate of mine. Her name is Hazel Grant. When I typed in the name your name n pic came up. We attended ________ school together from kindergarten - 8th grade. If this is you I would love to hear from you. If this is not you very sorry to have bothered you.

Thanks, Basil"

I am so fricking excited. I can't wait to find out how her life turned out. I had sort of given up on ever getting in touch with her again.

So should I reply? Just kidding! I replied. Haven't heard back yet. It looks like she's new to Facebook so I hope she gets my reply.

It's martini time! Let me know if you have issues with the e-mail notify thing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stupid Hurricane

I've been preoccupied with thoughts of Ike. I'm sad that so many towns along the coast are destroyed, and people are waiting for help. I'm wondering what it is like to be living in a huge city with not much food or water, no power, no going out after dark, and the possibility of things staying that way for weeks. I'm worried about all my friends and family in Texas, reading whatever news I can find, which seems like not much, considering the scope of the problem, and dealing with bad memories of Allison in 2001 and Katrina in 2005. I'm feeling guilty that I get to continue on with life as usual.

Stanley's parents live in eastern Texas. Stanley's dad called us as the storm came through to ask us to check and see where the eye was at the time, since they had no power and hence no Internets. It turned out the eye was directly over them. Fabulous. While I was talking to him, suggesting we get off the phone to free up the airwaves for emergency calls, he started screaming something about a tree, and then the phone went dead. That was troubling. But I talked to him later and it turned out it was the neighbor's tree, and everyone was okay.

I thought he would appreciate an image of the hurricane as it passed over their house (see photo), and he did, a lot. He's one of those dads that goes crazy for things like that. There's no telling how long it will take to get power back up where they live, so they drove to Dallas to live with Stanley's sister for a while.

I hope it's not weeks until things get back to normal. I hope to get updates from people who live in Houston. Hey maybe they can blog about it, if they aren't too busy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beer Cuts Cake

Yay, my first free weekend in a while. I hope to do a lot of laundry and work in the yard. Stanley is brewing beer tomorrow: a Toasted Oat Cream Ale. Finally, a breakfast beer. I haven't decided whether to be involved in this batch. On one hand, it's fun to help and nice to feel entitled to some beer. On the other hand, I'm not really into beer. On the other hand, Toasted Oat Cream Ale sounds wonderful. Toast. Oats. Cream. Ale. Mmmmmm.

My sister Jasmine* came to visit last weekend. It was a good time. We did the farmer's market, cooked up some fabulous meals, went to the biggest neighborhood yard sale this side of the Mississippi: truly phenomenal, covering blocks and blocks, every other house participating. We also made stepping stones out of poured concrete. It worked out pretty well, I think.

Hey. Funny story. Remember when Jasmine came to visit in May of '07 and cut her finger really bad with a bread knife while slicing a ciabatta bun? I do. I blogged about it. Here's the photo.

Well. Despite the fact that her finger is still scarred and somewhat painful from that incident, serving as a reminder to be careful with sharp objects while visiting Hazel, Jasmine unfortunately cut herself with the kitchen shears.

She wasn't very happy about it. It bled pretty badly, but fortunately this time it didn't hurt as much.

Poor Jasmine.

Okay so I guess that wasn't a very funny story.

Thanks Matt for trying out the cake and posting a comment about it. We tried it, too, and had the same results: a spongy browny. Not that great, but if you really want chocolate cake fast, it might do. I probably won't make it again, because I found it nearly impossible to clean the nuked cake batter out of the coffee mugs. 3 scrubbings and twice through the dishwasher, and it's still there.

Good luck to you Texans tonight! I'm thinking about you and wishing there were some way I could help (on top of sending money to the Red Cross). I'll be hungry for news on how things went so if you can let me know, and aren't too busy, please get in touch.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I got this recipe in an e-mail from my sister Jasmine*, and I have to share it with you. My comments are in italics.


4 tablespoons flour (that's plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa This is the only ingredient I don't already have.
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) Jasmine contends this is not optional and should be dark chocolate.
A small splash of vanilla
1 coffee mug (probably fairly good sized!)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave ("my" mug? you mean "mug" as in "face"?) and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Okay, I will try to contain myself. Get it? Contain myself? Ha h ah aha ha. I'm punny. Allow to cool a little (that's the difficult part), and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT! (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous). It is not possible for me to feel more virtuous than I already do.

Okay it's me again. I think when I make this I will either make it for two people and pour half the batter into a second mug, or make a half recipe. The "one egg" makes halving the recipe difficult, so I will either throw the whole egg in or use applesauce instead.

I'm a little concerned that the cake might stick to the mug, making it difficult to "tip out onto a plate", but it's worth trying, although not really necessary, and actually kind of a pain since it doubles the dishes you have to wash.

I fully intend to add frosting. I mean, come on.

I normally like to have already tried a recipe or completed some of whatever it is I'm blogging about, but this just seemed too good to keep to myself.

Speaking of cake, I just remembered a blog about cakes brought to my attention last week by my friend Erin*, which I really enjoyed. Click here. The latest post on that blog (as of this writing) is a video about cake which isn't as good as the previous entries (in my opinion) so you can probably skip the video if you are in a hurry. Not that it's bad. It's kind of cute.

While on that blog I clicked a link to another blog about unnecessary quotation marks, which I also enjoyed more than I might have expected to enjoy a blog about punctuation. Click here.

There is a slight chill in the air today. Well, it's 70, but it's cooler than it has been in weeks. The timing is perfect because I was only recently starting to look forward to sweater weather, and wishing we could have a fire in the fireplace. And Christmas is coming, people!! Christmas!!!! You know, Santa Claus, and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe, and presents for pretty girls????

Gotta clean the house. Jasmine is coming tomorrow!!

*Name changed, hopefully in ways that please the named. If not, feel free to change them to something else.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nobody's Home

I submitted photos of the mystery bug to for an id request. I had done this about a year ago for what I learned was a globular springtail. Actually, millions of globular springtails, at our campsite. They were very very small, and didn't bite, and stayed on the ground, so they didn't annoy us nearly as much as the thousands of ticks. But look at me, digressing.

Click here to go to the page on the site where my id request is granted. Scroll down the page for the response.

Hannah, hello and thanks for the comment! I'm pleased you considered using my image for your lecture. Did anyone know what it was?

On another topic, I decided not to go to the RNC convention after all. No reason. Stupid anarchists. When did they get organized? I would like to have a word with their leader.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I'm happy to announce that the deck is finished, except for staining which will happen in October, and accessorizing with planters and what-not. We added railings to the sides and stairs. I'm using we in the marriage-as-a-parnership way, since I didn't do much to help except offer my opinion. I highly recommend this method of helping. It's pretty easy. Our friend Jorge* (pronounced "George") helped Stanley both Saturday and Sunday. It took longer than they expected.

Here we are enjoying the finished deck for the first time.

In this photo, Jorge demonstrates the most important use of the railing.

In other news, today is the last day of the Minnesota State Fair. I've been to it three times in the last couple of weeks. I want to go again but you have to draw the line somewhere. I'm going to miss it when it's gone. The entrance is only two blocks away and I like to sit outside and listen to the music from the grandstand, and smell the roasted corn. For some reason, out of all the food they serve there, the roasted corn fragrance is what reaches us. We're also lucky to be able to see the nightly fireworks from our back yard. They go off about 10:30 p.m. It's nice when you happen to be sitting outside, but when you are inside trying to sleep, or on the sofa with a cat on your lab, it can be distressing.

Speaking of corn, thanks to Colossal Waste of Birdseed '08, we have corn growing in the front yard.

But back to the fair. Some of my favorite memories of the fair, in photos.

The goats.

Wishing Al Franken good luck in his campaign for U.S. Senate.

The butterfly house.

I like most insects but butterflies are near the top of the list. For $3.00 we got to stand in a hot, steamy room filled with confused butterflies. They got to choose between landing on blossom-filled trees, the floor, or people. This one chose my face. I was flattered, but annoyed because I was in the middle of a conversation, and so of course the conversation had to stop.

Speaking of insects, look at the somewhat horrible creature I found in the back yard today, clinging to a hosta blossom.

To get the full effect, click on the image. Definitely one of the ugliest insects I've seen. He's fat and about an inch long. Some kind of locust or something. I'm pretty sure he came up out of the ground, in part because he had dirt all over him, and in part because a couple of weeks ago while I was digging dirt up so I could lay bricks, I dug up something that looked a lot like him.

My sister Jasmine* is coming to visit in 3 days and I'm pretty excited about it. I plan to put her to work.

*Names changed.