Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Which brings me to November, National Novel Writing Month. Or, NaNoWriMo, 30 Days of Literary Abandon. I’ve signed up and I’m gonna do it. I have a good idea and I’m totally gonna do it!!!

I am so excited about this because I can throw myself into this project and write a 50,000 word novel in one month! Of course, I will have my final project and final exam to do for class, so that’s not ideal, but I know I will pull that off just fine.

Good luck to everyone involved...

Airbrush makeup

I want this. I wonder if it would cover up my little red raspberry? I hate my raspberry!!!


Life is too short to spend time learning things that as an adult, bore you to tears and most likely won't have much personal value in the long run. I really believe that!

I am not sure why according to several people who I believe are usually right, I "should" take mind-numbing classes in a field that I find intolerable and that has very little bearing on my actual life when what I want to spend my time learning about is sewing and writing and home improvement. This time, I disagree with them all.

Three courses into a certification program for construction project management, and with three more weeks left in this semester's Scheduling Construction Projects course, I have come to the conclusion that I could give a shit about concrete and rebar and building envelopes and MEP crap. I still find the idea of construction interesting and I won't be able to pass a construction site without stopping and peering at it for a while, but this coursework has been taking up too much of the free time I work so hard for, and I'm unwilling to spend many more hours learning about it from the ground up (literally).

Without a construction background and having never been a tradesperson, I really feel that it's almost pointless to take courses in construction project management. I do love having learned about critical path method, but come on. Once you get CPM, you get it -- and these classes are not part of the critical path of my life plan. Sorry, Northeastern. You'll be seeing a lot less of me. I've given the topic a chance, and with four classes to go to complete the cert, it seems like a dark and dreary, long and weary road to travel just to end up with a certificate that I won't want to use in the workplace. My mom explained that it may be the instructors that could be making the topics so dry (she may have a point there) but if I can't get an AutoCAD class soon (which was the whole point of starting this program, and which I still have not been able to take) I'm going to let it languish for as long as possible without taking another.

There. Decision made! What's next?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

25 hours in Chicago

I stayed at the Palmer House Hilton and it was freaking amazing. I had a huge room on the 20th floor (there were only 25 floors, I think) with a king-sized bed and the best sheets ever, with a fluffy down blanket and five down pillows. Also, a cream and black bolster pillow and two square European pillows in very pretty, silky, spring green cases with some kind of black design. I rarely sleep in king-sized beds, and I really like them, mostly because I feel like I’m on an island. I like not being able to reach the edges! And the colors were right up my alley – spring green and cream and red and black, with modern-y and Art Deco-type furnishings, except for the (non-working) marble fireplace.

Other touches:
  • Granite countertops on the tv stand/bureau thing and on the bathroom vanity
  • Marble floors in the bathroom and a pretty basin sink
  • One of those ohmigod-is-that-monstrosity-my-face magnifying mirrors where I did my makeup and boy, did it end up looking good!
  • Excellent bathroom lighting
  • A large full-length mirror on the bathroom door
  • Way too many towels and washcloths, and within easy reach in case I felt the need to use three towels, three washcloths and two face cloths. (I guess it makes sense for a couple.)
  • A rain shower head, which was the source of much relaxation
  • A waffle-weave robe in the large, proper closet (three people could have fit in there, easily – or four friends – or four friends and someone else sitting on the enormous safe that was also housed there. I can’t imagine what people would put in such a big safe. Maybe a laptop? It stood about 2’H x 1.5’D x 1.5’W, I guess. Maybe bigger.)
  • Several Dasani coins for the water machine.
  • For washing, the hotel provided Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries.
This was all lovely, but I did notice some reddish hairs on the bathroom floor, which I removed by dampening a few tissues and swiping the marble.

I decided to eat dinner in the very comfortable bar instead of the pricier restaurant, surprisingly full of drunken 20-year-olds. I enjoyed a cheeseburger with a tasty, crunchy pickle, and truffled chips. This was when I learned that I don’t like truffle oil, or truffle dust, or the flavor of truffles much at all. It just tasted like dirt. Funky dirt. Complex, funky dirt. I had to try quite a few to make sure I didn’t like them, though. The flavor was interesting, and fleeting; I can’t describe it and I definitely would sample it again. I was a little disappointed, because I thought I was going to like it, and I wanted to. But I just didn’t. With it, I had some kind of pomegranatini with orange and vodka. It was delicious. Then I had a scrumptious crème brulée with fresh berries stuck directly to the caramel. It was sooooo goooood.

The next day I had planned on a restaurant breakfast but that never materialized (the bed was just so comfy). So I had a rice krispie treat from Starbucks. Then things were so busy at the trade show that I forgot to eat lunch (which never happens) and nothing caught my eye in all of O’Hare as I searched for dinner and so I was forced to buy a small bag of chocolate covered cashews and eat them on the plane. They were delicious. I also bought some cheese popcorn for myself and a crazy mix of cheese/caramel popcorn for Vitamin N at her request.

But the best part of the city was the buildings. They were so pretty! And the building materials were of high quality. My sister laughed and laughed when I told her the city was glittery, and she gigglingly asked me how long it had been since I had been in a proper urban city. I was so ashamed to say it had been way too long. Anyway, from what I saw, the city was not dirty, although it was quite windy (naturally) and the elevated trains were super loud. But it was not loud in my hotel room on the other side of the building. In fact, it was so quiet and heat was pouring out of both huge registers that I turned it off completely and pushed both enormous casement windows open as far as they could go, which was really quite far indeed. (If I’d wanted to kill myself, it would have been pretty easy.) I closed the blackout drapes but kept the ends open so I could catch the breezes, and the city sounds were so soothing that I fell asleep in no time.

The worst part was the traffic. It was redonkulous. But interestingly, whereas in NY the honking can be deafening, I noticed very little of it in Chicago, which made sitting in traffic much more bearable. Also, when entering the highway, cars do so on the left, instead of the right. I thought that was kind of funny.

The only bad part was that for some reason there was a problem with me not being registered for the show. I spent an hour arguing with the ISSA people and finally someone from the booth came to rescue me. How annoying!

Anyway, Chi-town was great. I can't believe it's already been almost a week. Isn't it crazy how fast time passes sometimes?

Monday, October 12, 2009

ISSA 2009

So I shouldn’t have worried. Activeion was easily the best product at the Chicago show. Where else can you find a chemical-free, easy-to-use, backed-by-science, earth-friendly, not-scarily-industrial-looking cleaning tool at a reasonable price? The more I think about it, the more ideas I have, and so in my head, the cost per use has been drastically diminishing. So it really is worth the cost of the bottle. Anyway, here are more tips about how to use it.

First of all, I found out that you don’t only need to use microfiber towels. I had been using it with paper towels when all my micros were dirty, but since I misplaced the Activeion directions I guess I forgot to mention the towel thing in the other reviews. So, just use kitchen towels or bath towels or paper towels if you must. I still use micros when I can because they feel smart and scientific and are very effective, after all.

And speaking of microfiber, use it on your sofa! It works on carpeting and clothes (I’ve tried natural fibers as well as synthetic) and on other material as well, like upholstery (my sofa is microfiber). Butchie got hold of a puffy Cheeto when my back was turned and decided to enjoy it on the sofa, where it left a greasy dark stain. I squirted and patted with a clean ordinary towel and the grease was gone.

Hand-washing. Just squirt and rub, and you’ve effectively killed the germs on your hands. If you want to sanitize, dry off with a clean towel as I mentioned, per instructions. To just clean them you wouldn’t need to dry them off. (Kids’ hands too. Line them up on the way inside, and you can save your house from some extra germs! And they can use the same towel. How cool is that!?)

And hey, if it can hand-wash, if can foot wash, too. I fortunately don’t have athlete’s foot so unfortunately I can’t run this experiment, but why wouldn’t it work? At the very least, you would have extremely clean feet. Regarding other body parts… hey, I’m not about to go there.

Inside garbage cans. Yuck! We all know what a job this can be, but at least with this tool it takes a lot less time.

On the glamorous side, clean your jewelry with it. I have done my diamond jewelry and colored stones, and they look great.

For kids’ plastic toys, especially after a playdate. In my defense, I don’t have kids, so it took a little longer for me to “figure” this one out. But the last time Niecey and Neph came up, they were entranced by the unit… and the glowing LED light only made it more fun. They actually became somewhat grabby, wanting to do both the squirting and the wiping of tables and counters. Cleaning really is fun with this thing! So why not remind them that toys can be cleaned too?

All in all, I had a great time at the trade show. I was thrilled that sooo many people who already owned the unit came by just to say hi and trill about it. I thought that was awesome. It's also worth noting that the team happens to be very cool. And guess what! Activeion was awarded “Best Customer Service” by show attendees. That’s like winning “Miss Congeniality”, but much better. And I am very proud to say I was one of the buzzmakers. I loved it and I had a blast and I wish I could have stayed there longer. Another time, maybe...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

500 Pencils

500pencils, by Social Designer

The perfect gift, because of the organic process in which recipients choose the pencils as they are attracted to the colors -- over a long period of time. Genius!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One more thing...

...before I call it a night. Tomorrow I fly out to the ISSA trade show in Chicago to join Activeion and a few other people they asked to work the booth on Thursday. I must admit I'm a little nervous, but "little risk, little reward" I guess.

I hope it will be fun. This sure will be an adventure...

The scales

Some of you have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while (thank you for the cattle prodding – oops! I mean, gentle prodding), so I apologize for not providing fodder for new Clever Cat daydreams recently. Between the article writing I was doing to buy myself those items, the homework for class, the High Holy Days, some semblance of a non-virtual social life, and general happenings, I haven’t had the time to post as much as I want to. In fact, that’s one of my goals for this new year – balancing my life! In the horoscope, October is Libra (the scales) and what better time to figure it all out than now?

For example, I can see that I will probably have issues with sitting in the future. So to counter that and stay loose, I will have to at least walk or do some core-related physical activity. Also, writing makes me feel good and it is clear that I can at least earn some play money with my skills, but I do not want to neglect my creative writing side, either. So I have to work that into the mix. Of course, a social life is needed, and a strong family bond is tops. Then there is my day job, which is a big part of my life. (But not too big.) There are lots of other things to try to fit in, but the big one is… me!

I plan to treat myself nicely and love myself for who I am, have fun and actually enjoy life. Also, I will try not to get worked up about things I cannot control.

Even though these statements are hokey and cliché, we only live once, number one; and number two, you can’t take anything with you... you know, when you die. So I am going to continue my way of living – by following my heart, for work and for love and for everything else, too. And I will earn myself nice things, and buy them and use them without feeling guilty. And, and this is a really big one… I will NOT do anything I don’t want to do. This may take some getting used to, but I deserve it. And so do you. Are you with me?

Buttering me up

Yesterday I toyed with the idea of seeing Laurie again that night instead of waiting until Friday – with the trade show coming up and long bouts of sitting ahead of me on the flights, I wanted to be as straight as possible. So in the morning I applied one of those wraparound air-activated eight-hour heating pads that a neighbor had given me the night before. But that was far too hot, so I had to stop using it after about four hours. It burned crop circles into my back! Plus, I was a little worried because my neck kept slipping from the right position to the wrong one and back to the right one. I was afraid my head was going to roll right off my body! But it turns out it’s a good thing – it’s figuring out the right place to be, on its own.

And so my neck felt better but not quite right, and my back was much better but nowhere near right, so at 4:00 I called to see if she could take me. And she could! I arrived after treating myself to a wedge of my second favorite cheese, Jarlsberg (first favorite is Gouda) as a comfort food, and she put me into Stimu-land. She used a different bench this time… one that lowered me from a vertical mummy position to the perfect please-fix-me position, except that I had to scoot forward about a foot to put my head in the right location (what can I say? I’m short.)

Anyway, after the stimulus, she started on the massage. The machine is very powerful, and she usually does it around my shoulders and mid-back because of my neck. It can tenderize the toughest of muscles. But this time she ran it over my shoulder, mid-back, lower back (just a little) and my booty. My right side felt different than my left. So I figured the pain stemmed from the right. It turns out there is actually a muscle there! I felt it being kneaded and cajoled to relax. And so I turned to jello.

Then she told me to breathe in, breathe out, and then… Crack! CRAAAACK! Holy crap! It was amazing! (She told me that when she first saw me that was what she was working up to, but that I would have run screaming from the room if she tried it that first time. And you know something? She was right.) But we weren’t finished. She arranged me on my side in order to adjust my lower back, and that was a little awkward (like I was going to roll off the table – she warned me it would feel this way), but after a little crack, it was done. I'm almost to the maintenance phase! And I am so amazed that this is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. I also like the holistic approach of chiropractics in general.

And great news! I asked about dancing, since I really miss it and she said to try it gently, and if things didn’t go well we could figure out how best to approach it.

Plus, today Vitamin N brought me a back pillow to borrow while in the office. Yay! I’m finally feeling good!

Beatles Rock Band and other new toys

Saturday I cleaned my house and barely sat at all, and my back only bothered me about half as much as the day before. It only started hurting badly when I went out to dinner with close friends to Texas Roadhouse and had to sit on a wooden bench (I stuffed my jeans jacket behind me for some support). Dinner was good, and sitting on my comfy red sofa playing Beatles Rock Band (yes, I did get it after all!) was a lot of fun. You should get it. I need to get another remote, though, for extra peeps. I was even able to lend my Bed Buddy to a pained buddy of my own, so it is sure is getting used (but not abused. That would just be gross.)

And Sunday was good too! I slept late (with my Beddy Buddy on my Hurty Backy), did some homework for class (Scheduling Construction Projects, whoopie), no articles (oh well) and played a little with my awesome new laptop and wonderful digital camera! I am sooo proud of me for earning extra money through writing that I could buy myself these gifties. I know I have been talking about getting them forever, but I guess I can shut up about them now. Or maybe not. Tee hee.

I’m all set with toys for the time being, though. So the new 32 GB iPod Touch (aw yeah, I will be able to afford it, heh heh heh) will be a birthday present to myself when the time rolls around.

Bed Buddy

I ended up going to Walmart (for the first time in, like, four years) since it was the closest cheapo store to the chiro office, and walked around like an old lady to the pharmacy section, where I located microwaveable heating pads, because the jerry-rigged packing tape one was not gonna do it for me. I was pleased to see the selection, until I realized that the ones I wanted were all on the lowest shelf! Goddamn Walmart. I would like to know the name of the joker who decided to place the heating pads them there, so I can kick him (or her. Neither stupidity nor obnoxiousness are exclusive) when my back improves. Jackass.

Anyway, I tried lifting them with my foot, but that didn’t work. I had to ask some older man to get one for me (not one of my prouder moments, but pain can make you do things, I guess). He was accommodating but confused – on another day, I would have helped him with the heavier ones! The shuffling around did actually help though, and although my lower back still felt huge and like it had been repeatedly smashed with rocks and then sliced with burning nails, the pain had lessened approximately equal extremely bad menstrual back cramps… so at least I understood that kind of pain and knew how to treat it.

Anyway, the one I bought (for $9.83 – “rollback”, I guess) was named “Bed Buddy.” I had doubts, but it’s really good. Kinda funny, though – it’s long and can wrap around or fold, but it has these huge blue handles made from I dunno, safety ropes? I would have thought they would not be microwaveable, but I must be wrong. (My dad had a length of this in a bright Wonder Woman yellow, and me and my sister would use it as our golden lasso of truth in dress-up or other games.) Anyway, it works really well, and holds heat for longer than I thought it would. Except since I had to apply it to my back, and since it had no closure, and since I was sitting back, the heat wasn't going all the way to my sides. So I ran a scarf though the handles and tied it in the middle. It looked… interesting, kind of like some Eastern European peasant costume – the Bed Buddy was wide, and the scarf was thin, so it had a somewhat fun cummerbund shape to it. I was not exactly a glamour puss that night, but it worked, and that’s what mattered.

Crinkles and crackles

I did something to my back this past Thursday when I was getting up from my office desk chair and my lower back started to kill. KILL! I could barely lean forward without pain while sitting or standing, I couldn’t lean back farther than a few inches, I couldn’t sit straight, and just plain sitting for more than ten minutes was really painful. Using the bathroom was no picnic either. So while I was at the office, I used an air-activated heating pad I had bought for my neck which evidently was a cheap one because there wasn’t enough sticky stuff on it and in order to have it not slip around I had to use the closest tape at hand, which was… wait for it…packing tape. So I sounded like I was smuggling candy in my back pockets for most of the day. That was fun! Sigh…

Between that and the waiting two weeks for my chiropractor to return from vacation and the numbness and tingling on my left side that resulted from my last adjustment (apparently it’s a good thing and it means my nerves and muscles are closer to being straightened out and in the right places) I was not a happy camper. So I was thrilled when the next day came and I saw her again (she is a genius, by the way – Laurie MacKinnon in Haverhill). She took one look at me and got me on the stimulus machine right away. What this machine does is overstimulate the muscle in question thereby fatiguing it so it releases. After some follow-up massage she snaps your neck or back or both, back into place. Or, closer to being back into place. She pooked a bone in my back into the right place with her hands (the first time I was so nervous that I was sweating and sniveling so she used a mechanism that looked like a very thick, very short iv needle without the needle) and that felt great (or more accurately, that took away the pain). She said there would be more, but not today. She suggested seeing how I felt on Monday.

But then I had to get up from the bench and I couldn’t. Although my neck felt great, my lower back was so inflamed and sore and unable to bend that I was stuck! I was on my stomach and had to ever so gently maneuver myself perpendicularly to the bench, then bend my knees and slide off the bench. I was on my knees and relieved, but then I had to get up. Remember that commercial? “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”? Just like that. She pushed some button and the bench lifted me up, and then I was only halfway hunched, but I then had to get on my back on the evil bench. At this point I was giggling because it was so absurd. And it’s a good thing, otherwise I would have cried from exhaustion and the feeling of uselessness that had come over me.

I was holding onto the bench for dear life and then she lowered it and I let go and it felt like it was three feet away, even though it was probably only six inches. I managed to lay down and my back already felt slightly better. Then she adjusted my neck with her hands and it was awesome. (This was the first time she used her hands to fix my neck, too. I got a nice loud cr-rack!) And then I had to get up from the bench. Again. Cripes criminy. If it had been a movie, I would have been hysterical.

This was not an easy appointment, but I was sooo grateful. She had been helping me the whole time of course, and she said, Ok, now I need you to apply lots of heat to your back, maybe take an OTC pain reliever, and WALK AROUND. Walk to your car and walk around your house and that will help. DO IT! (She didn’t actually shout, but at that point my senses were so heightened that it felt like I could actually see the words coming toward me. Sheesh. That day was the first, and absolute last, day I take a muscle relaxant at the office.)

Anyway, I walked. (If she told me that hanging upside down with a bag on my head with bow ties at my ankles while listening to Yanni would make me feel better, I would do that, too.) And it did feel better. I even bought a special thing to help me!