Sunday, April 16, 2006

Computer problems, The Jane Austen Book Club and other stuff

The computer problems are over (for now). Hooray for being married to a geek! I finally started reading The Jane Austen Book Club, which I bought about a year and a half ago and put down because I was feeling too delicate to get emotionally involved in anything but myself. Here's an excerpt about Allegra, one of the characters who kept an ant farm as a child:
I made tiny newspapers of ant events, stamp-sized papers at first, then a bit bigger, too big for ants, it distressed me, but I couldn't fit the stories otherwise and I wanted real stories not just lines of something that looked like writing. Anyway, imagine how small an ant paper would really be. Even a stamp would have been like a basketball court.

I imagined political upheavals, plots and coups d'etat, and I reported on them. I think I may have been reading a biography of Mary Queen of Scots at the time....

...Anyway, there was this short news day for the ants. I'd run out of political plots, or I was bored with them. So I got a glass of water and I created a flood. The ants scrambled for safety, swimming for their lives. I was kind of ashamed, but it made good copy. I told myself I was bringing excitement into their usual humdrum. The next day, I dropped a rock on them. It was a meteorite from outer space. They gathered around it and ran up and over it; obviously they didn't know what to do. It prompted three letters to the editor. Eventually I torched them. I was always way too interested in matches. Things got a little out of hand and the fire spread from the anthill into the garden. Only a little, not as bad as that sounds. Diego came and stamped it out, and I remember crying and trying to get him to stop, because he was stepping on my ants.
I can't speak for the second half of the book yet, but I can recommend the first. I should caution, it's a bit of a chick book.

Emma turned five this week and lost her second tooth just two nights before. It's been a week of magic--the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, the birthday troll. "No, Dad!" she said. "There's no such thing as an Birthday troll!"

We had her birthday party at home, per her request. I would have much rather celebrated at one of the ubiquitous retail birthday venues where they are staffed with teens who either lead them in games or let them loose on giant balloon houses, but she did not want to duplicate or triplicate her classmates, so with no knowledge of how to throw a birthday party for ten little girls, I asked around.

"You need to add some games," said my friend Laura. "You'd be surprised at how fast you can finish pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and then have nothing to do." So I added Duck, Duck, Goose and a fishing game in our blow-up pool (which was wildly popular it turned out), to our list which already included Poor Kitty, Musical Chairs and making bracelets out of green elastic and Fruit Loops, but on game day, we still ended up with about 35 extra minutes in the two-hour party.

Messes were made, feelings were hurt, battles were fought and won and otherwise tons of pandemonium, but I think all in all most of the girls had a good time.
Lessons:
  • Children will not mind you.
  • When told a certain game is about to begin, some children will say, "I don't want to play." And they won't.
  • Children will not mind you.
  • Do not offer children choices in beverages or foods.
  • Two hours is too long for a 5-year birthday party.
  • Children will not mind you.
They also started diving into present opening while I was in the other room looking for a piece of paper to write down what came from who. I'll have to ask the moms at pre-school what their daughters brought, making me 15% less perfect in their eyes.


INDC Bill has more thoughts on that angry Left Finkel article. In the comments he has this to say,

I have no illusions about a cadre on the right not being as nutty as the woman described in the piece; but the common leftie blog discourse described in the piece is not some rational reaction to the right; not some evil metamorphosis of a previously benevolent left, brought about by those super-mean Republicans.

And for some reason, in the blogosphere, it seems like the popular lefty blogs really do own about 70% of the real estate in Crazy Town. (the borders of "Crazy Town" usually marked by foamy swearing) I don't have an answer as to why ...

To which I respond,

Yeah, I felt the same way. I don't remember a time when the left lacked an angry fringe side; I wish he'd have put a quote in for Gingrich, to remind us what he said was so hurtful.

I don't really trust Finkel, though. He did a piece on Tom Delay's Texas that really ticked me off a few years ago, basically profiling a family man who loved his truck, his family and Jesus, in that order (with Hooters coming in a close fourth) according to Finkel.

Finkel sure likes to make cartoons out of people. Although, this woman's words speak volumes, I'm sure she has to let go her anger, at least for bathroom breaks.

And now back to some chocolate eggs and my book. Happy Easter!

Oh, no -- wait! I have been writing a little bit. Here's my latest blurb about The Olive Garden. Laugh if you must!

In the national Italian-restaurant conversation, love for The Olive Garden is the love that dare not speak its name. Last night, I had the Ravioli di Portabella--or is it Portobelli in Italian? I’m not sure. It’s a very decent pasta dish in a pink sauce. My husband tried their new Chicken Caprese, a grilled chicken served on a bed of pasta with basil and tomato. I thought it was tasty too, though he prefers the Chicken Castellena.

The thing about this chain restaurant, which sets it above the others, is its interior design. You are not seated in a huge barn-like structure only to have everyone’s conversation amplified from four walls and a ceiling -- and therefore picking up only fifty percent of your dining companion’s conversation. The place is seemingly constructed of several different rooms, so you have the auditory illusion of dining with only four or five other tables. I always want to compliment the architects and designers on that every time we eat there.

One of the great things about living in the Bible belt is that no matter how long the wait for a table, there are always a few seats at the bar to relax over a glass of wine or tea as your taste requires.

I have never found the service to be lacking and as everyone who enters Flower Mound is issued two children at the border, it is a child-friendly restaurant, complete with extra olives in the salad.

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