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.

…..
Monday.

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

this and that

11 Guilty Pleasures

The other day I was in the craft store, looking at all of the autumny things (as craft stores always have things two months early for MAKING things), and discovered that the GOOD kind of candy corn was in stock. I promptly bought myself two bags. That got me thinking: I know there’s a contingency of Candy Corn Lovers and also of Candy Corn is TERRIBLE and Must Be Burned folks. I’m in the love it category… for the first bag. Then I’m done for the year. But I’ll admit that the first bag of candy corn of the year is the first of the following…. 11 of MY guilty pleasures.

  1. Candy Corn!
  2. Domino’s Pizza. This is another one where I know there are people who don’t like it (loudly) and they even had a whole ad campaign about IMPROVING THE RECIPE, but it’s always been one of my comfort foods. To me, it’s in its own category of pizza: there is GOOD pizza (like a really good New York slice) and then there’s Domino’s. It’s a different food and sometimes I crave it specifically. Give me another kind of pizza and it’s just not… right.
  3. Monster-based reality TV. I’m looking at you, Finding Bigfoot. But really, any kind of show where we’re SCUBA DIVING LOCH NESS to find Nessie, or CAMPING IN THE GRAVEYARD to find ghosts or SCALING THE HIMALAYAS to find a yeti and I’m in.
  4. Eating macaroni straight from the pan. I feel this needs no explanation. I even use the wooden spoon I used to stir in the cheese.
  5. Pressed penny machines. I know there’s no reason to feel guilty about this in particular, but I try to get them from everywhere I go.
  6. Hair extensions. Most people have never seen them. They only come out on rare occasions, usually involving some type of costume wearing. But sometimes I need a little pink or blue in my life and… well, it’s a way to not have them ALL the time and just when I feel like it.  I’m thinking of getting some platinum blonde ones, too.
  7. Geek chic. I got to the point a couple of years ago where I had entirely too many tshirts. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I gave a LOT of them away… but they accumulated. I mean, how cool is it to find a Doctor Who shirt?! But then suddenly you have four of them… and a couple of Harry Potter shirts and some My Little Pony (okay, only two, but I HAVE them), not to mention my team shirts… and I needed another outlet. So my new thing? Geeky jewelry. I have necklaces that are Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, I have My Little Pony earrings and a bracelet… subtle! And most people have no idea what it is. (By the way, this type of thing is ideal birthday gift fodder. Just saying.)
  8. Tea. This isn’t something I feel exactly guilty about. It’s more that I have SO MUCH TEA in the pantry all the time because I’m always wanting to try new kinds. And I really do drink it all. Really. But I’ve got more tea than the average person needs if I’m honest.
  9. Wendy’s french fries. This is another food-genre thing. Other fries just aren’t the same. But I will most definitely go to a Wendy’s and order a SALAD with a side of fries. What? I like their salads!
  10. Spiced Pumpkin candles from Yankee Candle. I always acquire a LOT of them when they go on clearance at the end of the season, and it is my FAVORITE scent, but then I never ever have time to burn them all before we move and EVERY SINGLE TIME I give them all away because I don’t want to pack up 30 candles that are half burned.
  11. Dragonvale. It’s a game on my iPad and I’m a little bit hooked on it. Only a little. If I can’t get wifi, I don’t really worry about it. But when I DO have wifi… I’m checking on my baby dragons. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes twice.

So that’s it. There are probably more if I sit here and think long enough, but eleven is really enough to be getting on with for now.

the funny stuff

Saturday Caturday: unicorn-cats… unicats?

Caspian the traumatized unicorn cat

Recently I picked up a product that I’d only seen online but found in a random little shop I was exploring… Inflatable unicorn horn FOR CATS. Because who doesn’t want a pet unicorn?

Leena the disgruntled unicorn

The horn had to be duct-taped twice, once for each cat to wear, because each one figured out how to hook a claw into it and pull it off of the head. They got a HUGE PILE of cat-cookies for this, dear reader, in case you are concerned for them.

With my pet unicorn-cat

This does lead me to wonder… is a unicorn-cat a unicat? A caticorn? I’m not sure, but either way it’s a really awesome little thing. For me, that is.

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.

the funny stuff, zoo stuff

Some funny things from the zoo

This weekend J and I went to the zoo with some friends from out of town. Since you’ve been inundated with enough animal and nature photos lately, here are some just fun (or funny) ones. Maybe I’m the only one entertained by them, but hey, that’s all that matters!

Zoo J in a keeper cut-out

OH NO, there’s a GIANT HAND coming out of that kid’s FACE! Maybe J should’ve looked at the front of this photo-op thing first…

Zoo, orangutan lounging

Chillin’ in the sun…

Zoo, monkey on a hippo

Dear Monkey: That thing you’re sitting on that you’re treating like a rock is not a rock. That thing is a HIPPO and they can be very BITEY.
(Mixed exhibit with monkeys and pygmy hippos made for some entertainment.)

Zoo group photo

The whole group of us!

the funny stuff

Advertising: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

Well, doing it badly, in any case.

I was going to write about our MUCH belated holiday party from this weekend today, but NO.

If you know me well, you know I don’t think much of most ads, especially when I can tell I am the target audience and feel that THEY are pandering to me. This is not one of those cases.

While watching a recorded TV show tonight (I don’t watch live TV other than sports if I can help it, mostly because of the aforementioned ad-induced-irritation), I happened to catch the last ten seconds of an ad at the end of a commercial break.

Of a woman leaning back into a pool.

AFTER TAKING STOOL SOFTENER.

Let this sink in for just a moment.

Are you with me yet?

…..

WHO LET THIS WOMAN IN THE POOL???

I had to go back and watch it again (twice) to make sure.

PRO TIP: If you’re going to ADVERTISE something like STOOL SOFTENER, maybe using a POOL isn’t the best IMAGE.

Just a thought.

Want to see for yourself? I couldn’t find the ad on a video streaming site to embed it here, but you can see it at the company’s website. Click the tab marked “Video” and watch. You’re welcome.

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, the funny stuff

Pop Quiz at the DMV

Today I went to get new license plates for my car. The old plates expired while the car was in storage, so when I got it back two weeks ago, I started the process of getting them. First I had to get it repaired; it needed a new belt and a new sensor, and that was a little expensive, but really not as bad as it could’ve been. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I went to an honest car repair place: they only charged me for work they actually did, so, for instance, one thing they did only took 20 minutes, therefore they only charged me 1/3 of their hourly rate for it. I appreciate things like that.

Next was the smog check and certification. Oh, California, and your eco-friendliness. I’d had the car smog checked once before in order to get military base stickers, but it had been too long ago to count toward the new license plates now, so I had to go back yesterday. I found a walk-in place about five minutes from home and was done in half an hour.

So then today at the DMV….

I’d made an appointment, for which I was very grateful as it meant I got to be in the very short line instead of the really long, walk-in line. When I got there, I hadn’t filled out all of my paperwork yet, but that was okay because they would inspect my car while I filled out the pages. I got all of that done, and got registered for new plates…. and then thought to ask a pertinent question:

“By chance, do I need to have a California driver’s license, too?”

The laws have recently (since I last moved) changed, so that military dependents must either be residents of their sponsor’s (so, J’s) home state, OR they have to update it every time they move. Apparently I now fall under the new law.

SURPRISE! I needed a new driver’s license.

The woman helping me was super nice, though; she handed me a new ticket, having put me into an open appointment slot, and I didn’t even wait three minutes to be called. Because I had a military ID, I didn’t need to go home for a birth certificate (which I haven’t quite located yet in the unpacking), and they moved me quickly through the process. They took my fingerprint and my signature and my money and my photo.

And THEN I found out I had to take a written test.

POP. QUIZ.

They asked if I wanted to study, but I decided to wing it. Thirty-six questions, of which I was allowed to miss up to six. Yikes.

The test was mostly logical stuff, but some of it was California-specific, and some of it required me to consider the physics of my car. But my favorite questions were the passive-aggressive ones:

Of the following, which is true about tail-gating (driving very close to the car ahead of you):
a) it makes other drivers frustrated and angry
b) it is safer because it keeps other drivers from “cutting you off”
c) it minimizes collisions 

Seriously. There were a couple of questions like that, mostly about driving too slow and creating hazards, and where to drive in relation to other cars (Beside them so the other drivers can see you?), and about merging.

Anyway, I passed. In fact, I only missed two– apparently it is illegal in the state of California to smoke in the car if there are any minors in the car with you. I don’t smoke so I wouldn’t know. And I missed a physics-related one. I think my favorite thing was that they just assumed I’d pass and took my photo and money first. Or maybe that’s how they force you to go through with it. No practice tests.

I also registered to vote.

So, I guess now I’m officially a California resident. Go me.

this and that

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. ~_^