joanna irl

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.

joanna irl

Cupcakes for One: revisited!

cupcake with frosting

So if you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago I made a batch of cupcakes and then froze (almost) all of them to see how well they’d hold up in long-term storage, as such. I remember our frozen wedding cake being extremely edible (though all of the frosting shlumped off like a wet towel… which didn’t make it taste bad, so still a win in my book) and I decided to test out individual cupcakes. My recipe for just six is nice, but I can’t (or shouldn’t) eat all six in one sitting, so it’d be nice if I found an effective way to make a dozen and then have them for weeks without them going bad.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have occasionally had a cupcake. There are four left, and I intend to save them another week or so, but I thought I’d share my preliminary findings, for what they are worth to you, gentle reader, in your own quest for CUPCAKE.

cupcake, unwrapped!

Now, I am aware that these aren’t the very best photos of cupcakes EVER, but that’s because I peeled the wrapper partway off before I remembered to photograph it. That’s why they look a little lopsided. I assure you that they came out of the freezer in perfect, unfrosted condition. WAIT. I still have FOUR in the freezer!

cupcake, plain

There you go. That’s what they look like when they come out of the freezer. I take one out as I sit down to dinner, along with the cup of frosting I’ve got in the fridge, and let it come to room temperature. Then I put “fresh” frosting on the cupcake and voilà!


Cupcake BIG BITE

It’s a very successful way to have a cupcake handy when I really need one. Sometimes you just need a cupcake, y’know?

the geek life

Wisdom from The Doctor

Impossible Astronaut Day was the 23rd. I kept finding these weird marks on my arm, but the only thing I heard was silence…

Impossible astronaut day

Here are eleven things I have learned from The Doctor:

The least important things sometimes, my dear boy, lead to the greatest discoveries.
1st Doctor

Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority.
2nd Doctor

A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.
3rd Doctor

There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t act a little childish sometimes.
4th Doctor

You may disguise your features but you can never disguise your intent.
5th Doctor

What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?
6th Doctor

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way.
7th Doctor

I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.
8th Doctor

The past is another country. 1987’s just the Isle of Wight.
9th Doctor

Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.
10th Doctor

My experience is that there is, you know, surprisingly, always hope.
11th Doctor

joanna irl

Just another cat video: Caspian chasing his tail

Yeah, I know the internet doesn’t NEED another cat video, but surely the internet WANTS another cat video, right?

Caspian does this ALL THE TIME and no one ever gets to see, even when I try to cleverly flip a video-chat camera around. Tuesday I finally caught him on camera, so here you go. He’s been doing this his whole life, but now there are wood floors which make for better SPINNING.

joanna irl

I got nothin’.

blog post.

((That is the lovely contribution from J, when I told him I couldn’t think of anything to write today. THANKS, HONEY.))

But really, I got nothin’.

I liked this week’s episode of Doctor Who. It had a “classic Who” feel to it. Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow? I mean, I kind of want to complain about the leaf being such a big deal and then POOF it’s gone. Hope that wasn’t a super spoiler, sweetie.

And that’s it. More tomorrow, I’m sure. Or this will get edited before it publishes. If you see this, then know that I still had nothing interesting to say in the morning. Cheerio!

joanna irl

A couple of random photos from my new camera

I got a new point and shoot camera for Christmas (sometimes it’s nice to just have one with you, so you don’t have to lug around a full size camera bag; this one fits nicely in my purse!), and pulled a few photos off of it. First, seeing The Hobbit in 3D with my sister:

J and E see The Hobbit movie

We were both a little excited..

The next one is of a really good Mexican dinner I had the other night. If you come to visit me, I’ll take you to this place.

Mexican food

And lastly, Caspian has been very whiny lately, and I haven’t been able to figure out why. He stands over my shoulder, or at my feet, or wherever and yells nonstop. Finally he leaped onto the back of my desk chair and clung there, and I realized at least one of the things he wanted: he likes to “koala” on the chair while I type (hang onto the chair back, while I sit backwards in the desk chair, so he’s kind of in my lap and watching the computer screen). So here he is. ^_^

Caspian koala cat

Happy kitty. Of course, it makes it hard to type… which is why you should appreciate these posts all the more because half of the time they are written around the cat. ~_^

joanna irl

Things for which my sister is too tall.

Luau pics003

Over the last couple of months that I’ve been visiting my family (it’s been an extended visit, what can I say?), I’ve discovered a growing list of things for which my sister is too tall. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Disney World (starting with the tram from the parking lot, and including many of rides)
  • the tables at the tavern at Colonial Williamsburg
  • the tables at Friendly’s
  • the doorways at the Casemate Museum at Fort Monroe
  • hotel ceilings, in general
  • shirts
  • knee-high boots (which come up to her mid-calf)
  • cars
  • IMAX theaters

It’s okay, though. We make a perfect team. You see, there’s a long list of things for which I am too short. Most of them involve me, y’know, REACHING things.

joanna irl

Important Life Lesson: Use Caution with Dehydrated Foods

Thing I learned tonight:

No matter how tempting it may seem, it is NOT, in fact, a good idea to try and eat a spoonful of dehydrated* potato flakes. Even if you just want to see what they taste like. Even if it’s not an entire spoonful. They stick to the roof of your mouth. For a really long time. And then you have to drink lots of water and they get stickier and more like paper mache until you can finally swallow them.

This is all, ahem, theoretical, mind you.

And when I shared my, uhm, DISCOVERY with J, he so helpfully asked, “What, you had to learn your lesson about dehydrated foods AGAIN?”

I have no response for that. Mostly because I have previously gotten sick off of dehydrated apples (did you know they put SEVEN apples in a bag? And that they’re super easy to eat, like potato chips, until they rehydrate in your stomach and then you have SEVEN whole apples inside of you? Just a TINY bit uncomfortable…). Twice.


*Look, sometimes I just don’t feel like boiling and mashing potatoes. This is easier. Plus you can use them when you’re out of bread crumbs and you want to fry something. Seriously.

the geek life

At the Mad Hatter Tea

Mad Hatter tea group shot

I finally got my photos edited and uploaded from the Mad Hatter tea party last weekend. You can see them at my photo blog, though I’ll post a couple of favorites here.

Mad Hatter tea table

Many of the photos are either of me or of my friend’s daughter, mostly because I didn’t take many photos of the actual drinking-tea part of it (though I should have, I suppose) and because the daughter wanted to take pictures, so I attached the camera to her (don’t want anything breaking), showed her how to take photos, and then let her tell me how to pose. She took some pretty random shots (of grass, sky, my stomach, her own feet…) but some of them came out really well. I have shared those, too. She did keep having me put my hands out in an odd little way, though.

Mad Hatter tea photo bomb

After the tea party, she borrowed my top hat and played tightrope walker, so there are photos of that, too. Generally the pictures are of our costumes and then me playing with poses and such. You’ve been warned.

Mad Hatter tea tree portrait

The tea party was a fun idea, though. I think next time we should invite more people, and maybe do the sort of thing where you can only eat one type of thing at a time and have a timer that goes off at random intervals to have us change seats. That could be fun. Also it would give me an excuse to wear my hat again. Or another one. I like hats.

Mad Hatter tea flowers and teapot

joanna irl

Alrighty Then: pop culture references that… don’t.

Recently I’ve started paying attention to various ways our everyday language is strange (being in a place where people commonly don’t quite understand one another even though we can all speak “English” does that to you). Our use of expressions and idioms, for instance, must confuse some people not from the US to no end. I give you: “That joke kills me!” as an example. It’s extreme sounding if you don’t know that it’s meant as a metaphor.

I’m not talking about accents, either, though I will say it took me a minute to tell the nice Australian gentleman at the zoo yesterday where to find the “taoy-gahrs” that were enjoying the rain as large, stripey cats who like getting wet do. Once I realized he wasn’t talking about a type of turtle, it helped a lot.

Back to my point, though. One of the things I’ve noticed lately is how many pop culture references we make every day and it got me wondering: How many things do we say all the time without even thinking about its original reference point?

Example: today I used the phrase “Alrighty then!” and then had to stop and think because it struck me that I was quoting something but couldn’t think what. It didn’t matter because it’s become a common expression and no one finds it strange, nor do they find it funny because unless you ask someone to really think about it, they won’t come to the realization that I’ve just quoted Ace Ventura any faster than I did. I mean, that movie is old by pop culture’s standards. A lot of people haven’t seen it. And there are people like me who haven’t seen it (or haven’t seen the whole thing) and know it best because of its being referenced in pop culture.

There are a lot of phrases we use that are from movies, TV shows, music, and what have you for which I’m sure the vast majority of people don’t even know the original things being referenced. There are also things where I’m guessing the reference is better known than the original thing itself.

Other examples:

  • “Wink wink, nudge nudge” is used to humorously make someone aware that you’re hinting at something. It comes from Monty Python (as a huge number of our pop cultural references do) and an innuendo-laden sketch from Flying Circus.
  • “Beam me up, Scotty” is maybe one of the more famous examples of this; though most people know it’s a Star Trek reference, most people don’t know it wasn’t actually said in the original series. Although for knowing that, I might be one of the people being targeted by this (often making-fun-of-geeky-people) phrase.
  • The Ninja Turtles are, of course, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Rafael. They are all famous Renaissance artists, but my guess is that most (I’m being optimistic and giving people credit for knowing Michelangelo and possibly da Vinci, if they realize that it’s that Leonardo) folks think of the Ninja Turtles first.
  • “Drinking the Koolaid” is another one that gets used, usually to mean that you’ve bought into an idea. I doubt many people in my generation or younger know it’s referring to the cult leader who got his followers to drink a flavored something and commit mass suicide, which was essentially mass murder. Not a good reference, though it has now become so commonplace that the dark edge has been removed from the expression itself. Reading about what happened is, of course, still horrifying.
  • Just the other day I said, “What we’ve got is a failure to communicate,” and received a blank look from someone. I think people still use and get this one, but it’s definitely not a younger-generation expression.

There are, of course, others, but you get my point. Some are even better known than the things they themselves were referencing.

How many things do we say every day that make no sense out of our cultural context, and how many more don’t mean the same thing any more? Expressions and slang are always evolving our language, and have been since the roots of English began over a thousand years ago. It’s interesting to see it happening in the here and now, though, and not just in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (which starts the shift from Old to Middle English).

Yeah, I’m a nerd.