Slight sarcasm, this and that

Good Intentions

day planners

All my good intentions live in a beautiful, make-from-recycled-paper day planner. Several, if I’m honest. I have such high hopes for every new year, and I go out and buy a lovely floral planner (you can see the two from last year above) and I carefully copy over all of the birthdays, anniversaries, and other events I want to remember from the previous year.

And every year, without fail, I’m done writing things in it by July. Sometimes I don’t even make it through May. For some reason, those summer months just don’t seem conducive to me planning things. I’m always forgetting commitments (or birthdays) or any number of things that would probably be found in a planner, but for whatever reason, I mentally can’t continue after that. It’s like my brain says “GREAT JOB being so ORGANIZED for SO MANY MONTHS we’re taking a break now until next January GOOD LUCK” and then I’m left on my own for autumn.

Maybe it’s an old, ingrained routine from my school days. Maybe it’s that come the end of May I’m ready to check out of schedules and have some adventures. Or maybe it’s just that my attention span for a project is only about five months. (Then again, I’ve had this blog thing for years so maybe not?)

I’ve found a really good use of my old, half-used planners, though. They make FANTASTIC notebooks where I can keep track of things like groceries, or phone calls I need to make, or blog entries I want to write, all scrawled across the blank squares with bold permanent marker…

day planner, writing

So I guess I’m using them for planning things after all. I’m just doing it outside of all the little boxes.

As usual.

Slight sarcasm, the funny stuff

Toiletgeddon 2012, or I Got My Parents a New Bathroom for Christmas. (The exploding toilet saga.)

Throwback Thursday! Exactly a year ago TODAY, I got my parents the MOST EXPENSIVE CHRISTMAS GIFT they will EVER get from me: a fully remodeled house! How did I do it? By exploding the upstairs toilet, of course! Read more… ^_^

Joanna Volavka

So here we are. It is December 5 and I finally have a story for you. I’ve already told it partly on twitter, but feel that it should be EXPLAINED. Here it is, as I wrote it, commentary added as needed.


3:28pm: Twitter I just got attacked by a TOILET.
3:40pm: Seriously, there is an INCH of water on the floor. I had to grab the rug and RUN.
3:42pm: And THEN I had to barricade the door with towels to save the hall carpet and THEN I had to run for rubber boots and wade back in.
3:42pm: Because SOMEONE had to shut off the water.
3:42pm: I deserve a metal. Seriously.

And here is where we take our first commentary break. Seriously, after I flushed it, the toilet started filling (it’s old, so this wasn’t entirely surprising) and then… then it DIDN’T STOP. It just kept…

View original post 785 more words

Slight sarcasm

Monday and I have food in the house again.

So, yesterday I watched the Twelfth Doctor reveal and then went about my day, which mostly consisted of running errands because I was out of EVERYTHING.


When I told a friend that, and got back: “Oh, so you’re living on bread and water?” I said, “Nope, I’m out of bread.”

And that’s just what happens sometimes during deployment. I was down to a box of macaroni and two cans of soup, both of which I’m saving for when I’m sick, assuming I’ll get sick sometime in the next six months. I know it’s going to happen. Probably around some holiday or another. Anyway, I’ve digressed…

So I was not only out of food for me, I was out of food for the kitties. I should qualify this and say I had ONE more can of wet cat food, and a little kibble left, but I woke up yesterday morning to SIMULTANEOUS cat puking: one on each side of the bed. They both lost their suppers, so I can only assume the food is bad and I tossed the very last can I had. I was also out of cat litter (NOT a good state in which to find yourself), razor blades, and filters for my water pitcher. My list was short-ish, but kind of ridiculous:

Razor blades
Water filters
Cat food (both)

So yeah. I was so out of stuff, I literally wrote “Fruit” and “Vegetables” on my list and called it a day. Go me.

Slight sarcasm, the funny stuff

North Dakota Conspiracy, Revisited

In a strange and yet kind of AWESOME turn of events, my blog now appears only SECOND to Wikipedia when you search “North Dakota conspiracy” in Google. Seriously, go try it.

I noticed because my blog host tells me what search terms people use to find the blog, and there have been consistent (if in low frequency) hits on this post I wrote almost two years ago in which I posit my personal conspiracy theory, namely that I don’t believe in North Dakota.

For years now (at least a decade) I have been telling anyone and everyone that North Dakota is just a government conspiracy to house giant secret military bases, probably to protect us from Canada. And people keep insisting that they know people from North Dakota, to which I reply “THEY’RE JUST IN ON IT! DON’T TRUST THEM!”

Personal conspiracy theories are important. Much like Shakespeare, sometimes you need them at parties.

What? Don’t tell me you’ve NEVER been to a party where someone has a Shakespeare-related problem or where someone can’t quite remember the correct quotation? Am I the only person who can’t leave a “To be or not to be” just hanging there, unfinished?

Anyway, you never know when you’re going to need a good conspiracy theory in the course of a conversation, and North Dakota fits the bill.

Incidentally, I have found that I am not the only one. Just keep digging through that Google search, and you’ll find things like this


DISCLAIMER: Believe me, this post and the original North Dakota post (and a good number of other things on this blog) were written in satire…. and yet people keep coming here. I love the internet.

Joanna problems, national parking, Slight sarcasm, Travel

Well, I SAID I wanted to see the Sonoran Desert.

So here’s the thing.

I’ve been trying to go to as many national parks (or historic sites, as the case may be) this year as possible. I’m excited about my passport stampbook (as I’ve previously posted) and especially since we now live in the half of the country with all of the huge natural areas, I want to see them!

One of the exhibits I’ve always loved at the North Carolina Zoo is their Sonora Desert dome, so when I noticed on my newly-acquired roadmap of Arizona that the interstate went THROUGH it, I couldn’t resist! On the way home from the Casa Grande ruins, we looked it up on our GPS and found a place labeled “Sonoran Desert National Monument.” That sounded promising, so we programmed it to take us there.

And we started driving.

And driving.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert sign

See that? PROOF we were in the RIGHT AREA.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert road

We took a couple of smaller roads, then wound up on a two lane highway going straight across the Sonoran Desert, generally back in the direction of I-8, which we would pick up on the other side after stopping at the monument. The desert was fascinating, with far more plant-life that I expected in a desert, and we drove between two long mountain reaches, watching for wildlife (though we never saw any) and grateful for the full tank of gas and water bottles.

It was interesting, too, that there weren’t many cars. Most of the “scenic” stops were closed for the season, but that didn’t bother us because we planned to stop at the monument.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert wide

At this point I want to note that there are not that many photos from this drive. That’s because I kept expecting to, y’know, GET to something. These photos of cacti?? Actually from BEFORE we got into the national monument area.

After a while, we reached the point where the GPS told us to turn and drive 11 miles to the monument. We slowed down to make the turn…

…and then stopped. We were facing a sandy track that crossed some railroad tracks that ran parallel to the two lane highway. On the near side of them was a VERY large sign that said: “DO NOT ENTER.” Oh, and some WILD COTTON BUSHES.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert wild cotton

I looked again at the GPS. We’d followed the directions correctly. But then I noticed that the 11 mile “drive” was supposed to take over an hour… across sand… And we realized then that the “Monument” was probably the DESERT ITSELF.

THANKS, GPS. We were now in the MIDDLE of the Sonoran Desert. Well, about 11 miles from the middle, as far as I can tell.

Arizona, Sonoran Desert cacti

To be fair, I DID say I wanted to properly SEE the desert, and not just drive past it on the interstate. And boy howdy, I SAW that desert.

We checked our map and discovered we were closer to I-8 if we kept going forward rather than backtracking, so that’s what we did.

I guess some monuments are bigger than others. I’m still bummed I didn’t get a stamp for it, though.

Joanna problems, Slight sarcasm, zoo stuff

Life Lessons from the Zoo

I realized today that I have learned several important Life Lessons from my time spent at various zoo and animal-related places. Here are some of them.

  • Easy humor is not the same as smart humor and usually not clever or original. Put some thought into it. (Just today I got the oh-so-clever line, “And what kind of wild animal are you?” Thanks, funny guy. Because I haven’t heard that in, oh, two days.)
  • People all think they know what’s best, and will tell you so at any opportunity, especially when they don’t understand the reasoning behind the thing they’re being asked to do.
  • “Having fun at work” means all sorts of different things. I think I’m the type of person who views “high productivity” as more fun that “sitting around” and that’s good to know.
  • “High productivity” doesn’t equate to overwhelming paperwork. Being outside and having a lot to do is better than being inside and having a lot to do.
  • If it doesn’t have a tail, it’s not a monkey, even if it has a monkey kind of shape. This is true for other things; calling something a name doesn’t make it the thing you are calling it.
  • Every day there is the same exact mess to deal with, and the work will never be done, but that doesn’t make the work less worthwhile.
  • Things are not always what they seem; a bucket might indicate it’s “feeding time” but it might also contain tools, paint, fill-dirt, or yes, even poop. Don’t assume, just ask.
  • Tourists always wear bad shoes, whether it’s hiking in high heels or the chunky sandals that are unnecessary for paved, flat sidewalks.
  • Act like you are supposed to be there and chances are no one will question you.
  • Make eye contact and smile and people will tell you their life stories– they want someone to listen, even if you’re trying really hard to get your chores done.
  • Weeds always grow back, unless you take them out at the root. Find the root and chances are you can fix the problem once and for all.
  • Admitting when you don’t know how to do something isn’t a weakness; it’s a chance to learn how to do something new.
  • Using the tools you’re given correctly makes all the difference in the world; no matter how many times you swing a pick-ax, if you don’t hold it the right way it won’t make a dent.
  • You have to wade through (and shovel out) a lot of crap in order to earn the reward in the end, but it’s worth it. It is absolutely worth it.


Joanna problems, Slight sarcasm

Bookshelf Shopping: Take 1

Actual Conversation I just had with Furniture Store Employee:

I went into a few furniture stores today to look at bookshelves. I’ve reached the point where I can no longer squeeze all of my books onto the shelves that survived the move– two broke, and I gave away enough books at the time to be okay with that, but now I’ve acquired enough books that I really do need another shelf. So today I went around to start pricing them, just to get an idea what type of investment it might be; I don’t want to buy something else that will break easily. 

After pricing bookshelves at a few places, I decided that I needed to find out what a “real” furniture store charges for them so I’d have some basis of comparison. I really prefer to buy “real” things (i.e. real wood) and only need something small to medium-sized.

Walking through the store demonstrated that “leather” sofas just aren’t the quality they once were, and that most furniture all looks the same. When I finally reached the back, they only had two bookshelves for sale, both of them $400 and both of them pressed board with laminant on them.

Do people not read anymore? I guess not. I’ve had a hard time finding shelves everywhere, but no trouble finding TV stands. Le sigh.

As I was running my hand over the shelf (checking quality, which was, as I said, poor), an employee walked up to me and asked if I was finding everything okay. (Why is this the phrase people use? Why not, “Can I help you with anything?”)

Me: Well, I’m looking for bookshelves, but these are laminant and $400. That seems like a lot.
Employee: That’s because those are real wood veneer.
Me: Veneer? So still basically a laminant. And for $400, way overpriced.

She got extremely huffy and walked away without saying another word. No one else asked me how I was finding things the rest of the time I was in the store.

Real wood veneer. *sigh*

movie reviews, Slight sarcasm

Review of War of the Worlds, or…

Little Girl Shrieks for Two Hours and Does Nothing Else.

So tonight I saw War of the Worlds with some friends (it was DVRed) and while I appreciated the HG Wells source and his wonderful ideas about alien invasion, I didn’t quite get some of the character bits.

For instance, the main characters in the story are a dad named Ray (Tom Cruise) and his two kids– a teenage boy and a 10 year old girl. Ray spends the entire movie covering the little girl’s eyes because when she can actually see what’s happening around her, she shrieks. This seems to be her entire purpose.

Cue Imagination…

Director: Okay, small blonde child, on the count of three, scream really loud!
Little Girl: Do you want me to run around? Act like I’m hiding? Cover my face? Hit something?
Director: No, just scream your head off so that all of the aliens everywhere can hear you. That’s what all little girls do, right?

Imagination exits, stage left.

Seriously. The child spent about half of the movie holding stock still and shrieking for about 2 second intervals. Never longer, never shorter, and never with any running or defending herself involved. She spent the whole time being hauled around by either her brother or her dad. What purpose do you serve, little girl??

Other things that make no sense include people in mass migration groups walking toward cities…. where the aliens are waiting (in the cities) to wipe out people, which is more easily accomplished by these people being in large groups. Why does no one just hide out in the country somewhere?

And, of course, the dad and the kids reunite after being separated and manage to find their mom and their grandparents in a house that’s still standing when 95% of the population is dead and about that many houses are decimated. Of course.


Maybe I’ll go see the Smurfs this week. I’m sure it’ll make more sense than this.

Slight sarcasm, the funny stuff

The North Dakota Conspiracy

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. Of why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings!”

If you have ever been on a road trip with me, or otherwise confined with me for any length of time whatsoever, I’m sure you’ve at some point heard me say that I don’t believe in North Dakota.

North Dakota is not a real state. It’s a government conspiracy, and exists to house military bases in order to protect us from Canada. Canada is secretly a huge threat; the friendly nature of Canadians is just a front. They will smile at you until you don’t suspect a thing!

Anyway, I’ve been pointing out for years just how far the conspiracy goes; North Dakota is carved into monuments, has a star on the flag, even has its own state quarter with all the rest. But that’s what they want you to see. All of the “Look at that lovely state, North Dakota!” is only there to distract you from the truth that North Dakota is fake.

Don’t get me wrong, there is real land up there. And Fargo’s a real place. I’ve been. I cuddled baby goats there at the Red River Zoo.

But for some reason the highways all run along the borders of the state, and there aren’t any major cities or towns that aren’t along the edges. The entire middle is just a vast area of farms. With silos. You know, the sort that can easily conceal secret military arsenals.

Farm? Or military base?

Almost everyone you meet from North Dakota is either in the military or their spouse or parent is in the military. Occasionally you will meet farmers from North Dakota, but don’t let them fool you. They’re all part of the cover-up.

The most telling thing of all? Look up North Dakota‘s history. (<—There are four links there, by the way.)

Nothing important ever happens.


The “important events” that have happened since North Dakota “became a state” all happened in South Dakota. Seriously.

For years, people have laughed at me, assumed I was being ridiculous, and dismissed my theory…

..but today I found out that I am right. North Dakota is not a real state, and I have a historian (and also a congressional bill) on my side!

See? I was right.

Seven years later: An update

It’s interesting to me that this silly little blog post has continued to be my biggest draw, traffic-wise. It was written to be entirely tongue-in-cheek, and yet (as you can tell if you skim the comments below), it doesn’t seem to be taken that way. But let me emphasize: this was a joke, and is accompanied by photos of my visit to North Dakota. It is meant to satirize conspiracy theories, which I enjoy but are nearly all pieces of absurd fiction.

I have now closed comments.

If you want to know more about me, why not check out some of my other blog posts? 🙂

And if you’re into sci-fi and time travel, why not check out my YA book, Threadwalkers?

Joanna problems, Slight sarcasm

Priorities are everything

Priorities are everything… and it seems that (according to my bedside table, at least) I have very specific ones. This morning when I woke up (slept from 5 to 8), I found the following:

1 glass of water
1 bag of crackers
1 container of TUMs
1 Surefire flashlight (thanks, J!)
1 emergency lamp
3 (THREE!!) lighters (for my vast candle collection, of course)

and ZERO candles.

One wonders what I thought I’d do with the lighters at 4am when I guess I put them there.

What does this say about me?

I would like to add that the cats were locked in the room with me, along with my new camera and my giant teddy bear. Y’know, just in case. Heh.