All posts by Adrienne

Happy New Year! Time to look back on what we’ve accomplished.

Happy new year! It’s that time again–I’ve been asked by anyone and everyone what my resolutions for the year are, what I’m going to change, what are my plans. The thing is, I gave up making resolutions forever ago. I guess I figured that if I wanted to change something so badly, I may as well start the moment I thought of it, rather than wait for an arbitrary day (and invariably make it worse dreading the day I was to start). So instead of making resolutions, I take the new year as a time to reflect on my life goals, and see what I’ve accomplished. (Oh, and print out awesome pictures of my friends and family from the year to decorate my office :).

Back in 1996 I started a life goals list–a list that I update whenever I come up with a new goal, and a list that I go over every year to see what I’ve done. I never remove a goal, even if plans change. I like knowing what I once wanted; it keeps me in touch with my past. So, without further adeu, here is my newly updated goal list!

Adrienne’s Life Goals (List started December, 1996 and updated each year since then) I’ve bolded the ones that I accomplished since I last updated the list in 2006.

1. Rollerblade in every major city in the world (Don’t know if I want to do this one any more or not. I’m really not all that into rollerblading. Biking might be a more feasible option).
2. Win a Nobel Prize
3. Study insects in the Australian Canopy (I used to get a magazine as a kid that advertised scientist-led trips in the back. One was a trip to the Australian Rainforest where you’d get to help survey the insects. They said you’d probably find several new species. I have to get there).
4. Become fluent in Spanish (took it in high school, remember little)
5. Be written about in some major tabloid
6. Make a major discovery in cancer research
7. Breed some sort of animal (I finished this one in 1998–I bred crane flies, beetles, crickets, and whatever else my boss brought in for a year)
8. Get married and raise a family (Part one–done 9/3/00! Part two–um, read my other blogs. I’m thinking of redefining “family” in my head.)
9. Get a PhD in Entomology (Getting close now!)
10. Make a major entomological discovery (I’m really not sure what counts as “major.” I guess I’ll figure that out as I go along)
11. Become a college professor
12. Ear $20,000 a year with my harp (selling it doesn’t count)
13. Read the entire works of Shakespeare (did I mention I’m really into Shakespeare?)
14. Learn to ride a bike well (I’ve decided the tandem doesn’t count, but is a hell of a lot less scary than riding alone)
15. Study insects in Madagascar (the first day of my high school freshman geography class the teacher gave us the coordinates for Madagascar. I’ve wanted to go ever since)
16. Visit Kangaroo Island
17. Become the president of something major
18. Be able to give my Alma Mater something big, and have something on campus named after me
19. Rollerblade 10 miles (so, I didn’t have a bike as a kid. I taught myself to rollerblade instead. Don’t do it so much anymore, but for awhile there it was my only means of transportation)
20. Become fluent in sign language
21. Take a major biking or blading trip
22. Become very physically fit
23. Graduate from any higher education institution with a 3.0 or higher (I only got a 2.5 in undergraduate school…but I did have a 3.2 in my major courses. That counts, right? Finished my Master’s with a 3.46, currently have a 4.0)
24. Work at the Smithsonian
25. Lear how to spell “Smithsonian” (Done! 1996. Have I mentioned I’m dyslexic? Oh, man, in 5th grade we had spelling tests every week, and my teacher made anyone who failed go to detention after school on Fridays and copy the dictionary. I got through “C” by the end of the year. She was nice enough not to make me go right before Christmas break and the last week of school. After my year she stopped using that as a punishment for bad spelling. I am a liberator of 5th graders!)
26. Live to be 100 (This one will take me awhile)
27. Own a motorcycle (Done! 1999. It got stolen, but who’s counting?)
28. Fall in love (Done! Valentine’s Day, 1997. Can you guess who?)
29. Write a book (I’m writing a lab book now, so maybe this will be done by next year)
30. Visit Canada (Done! 2005. Our anniversary. We took a ferry from Washington)
31. Take a cruise
32. Become the best in Entomology
33. Be rich enough to buy my parents a cabin or car (Part of this list was written when I was a starving student. I mean, really starving…like ducking the landlord, saving up for Taco Bell starving. I lived on popcorn and oatmeal for most of a year. I was super thin)
34. Own a home in Australia
35. Travel the world
36. Own a large house with my husband (I also wrote a good portion of this list right when I met Dean, so “husband” and “love” are mentioned a bunch) (Done! 7/2008:  4 bedrooms is large, right?)
37. Have a large wedding (Done! 9/3/00)
38. Tour Iceland
39. Visit Greenland (Notice I don’t want to tour Greenland)
40. Know a song on the harp by every major composer (As soon as I define what a “major” composer is, I’ll get started on this one)
41. Meet someone famous (so, who’s gonna be famous so I can check this off? I’ve met a bunch of famous forensic entomologists, but I’m not counting them for some reason.)
42. Begin an Art, science and cultural center
43. Weigh 120-135 as long as it’s healthy (it stopped being healthy a while ago–right around the infertility time)
44. Create a cross stitch tapestry (Working on it!)
45. Learn to draw (Done! Spring 2000. I’m no Ivan, but it’s good enough for government work)
46. Learn to tango (Done! Summer 2000. I hated it)
47. Get a degree in something totally unrelated (Done! June, 2007. I have a degree in Emergency Prehospital Care. If you’re dying, call me! I’ll tell you to go to the hospital)
48. Own a company (I’ve owned small things, but I’m not counting this until it becomes profitable)
49. Maintain a very large garden
50. Arrange a musical festival
51. Go on an African safari
52. Be someone’s inspiration
53. Stay in the best hotels in the world
54. Backpack across America
55. Sponsor a Shakespeare festival
56. Throw at least 1 major formal party
57. Tour England
58. Visit every major museum in the world
59. Love wine (Done! I have no idea when this happened exactly….)
60. Become adept at herbal studies
61. Study at least 3 religions other than Methodist (Done! Mormonism, Judaism and Jehovah’s Witness. I ended up with a boyfriend in each religion, which really made the study easy. Mormons wear sacred underwear. Don’t tell them you know!)
62. Watch or be in every Shakespeare play
63. Organize 5 missions (So I grew up in a Methodist church, and Methodists are really into volunteering. All through high school I went on youth missions organized by the church–I’ve been to Mexico 12 or 13 times to work on churches and houses, I went to Yuma, Arizona several times and worked on the Indian reservation there, and I helped organize a huge mission to Alaska, but I couldn’t go. This is the one thing I miss about not going to church anymore. My old church went to Mississippi last spring to rebuild houses destroyed in hurricane Katrina. I wish I could’ve gone)
64. Study scarab beetles (they’re shiny!)
65. Visit Egypt
66. Never have to worry about money (once again, I was a starving student at this point….)
67. Become adept at rock climbing
68. Visit every state in the union (I’m working on it!)
69. Visit Easter Island
70. Perform in a large theater (Done! Christmas 1997 and 1998. I was part of a Christmas show playing in LA. I played the harp–3500 seats in that theater)
71. Visit Morocco (Ah…here comes my travel list….)
72. Visit Sri Lanka
73. Visit the Philippines (Earl? When we going?)
74. Visit Norway
75. Study cancer (When I add to my list each year, I sometimes don’t go back and review everything first, so there are a few duplicates. Apparently I really want to do these things)
76. Visit France
77. Visit the Eiffel Tower (just in case I was gonna miss it while in France….)
78. Visit the Statue of Liberty again (I saw it when my class went there in Jr. High, but I was a bit boy crazy and didn’t really care about the big green woman)
79. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa
80. Stay in a small Russian town
81. Go to a health spa (Done! I now do this as regularly as possible)
82. Win a major contest
83. Become a photographer (I don’t think I have much of an eye, but I can try)
84. Visit Dublin
85. Become monetarily comfortable (still hungry!)
86. Own a store
87. Learn to fence (Done! 2004. Hated it!)
88. Learn a martial arts (Done! 2004, black belt in kenjo ki karate–better known as kickboxing)
89. Visit a homeless family
90. Learn massage
91. Write a major research paper (Done! June 2007. It’s going to publication this year W00t!!)
92. Work in a vineyard (Done! Spring 1997, Cal Poly SLO. 1 year. It was fun)
93. Witness a controlled burn (Done! Summer 1998. We had to do several controlled burns in the orchard that summer)
94. Save an insect species
95. Discover an insect species (I like me some insect species)
96. Biologically solve a pest problem (I haven’t decided if I want to do this on a grand scale or not…if not, then done! I’ll leave it unmarked for now, though)
97. Read Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hans Christian Andersen series, The Metamorphasis, The Fountainhead, It, The Lord of the Rings, and a book by Chaucer. (Some of these are done. The hardest so far is The Lord of the Rings. How do people get through this?!?)
98. Fall asleep in a hammock overlooking a beautiful beach and sea under a full moon (Aw! Aren’t I romantic?)
99. Learn to horseback (Done! Did you know that Dean’s grandfather raises horses?)
100. Take a trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
101. Be interviewed by the press (Done! 2005 FFAS conference. CNN interviewed me about entomology)
102. Go to England to see the Shakespeare Festival
103. Help to solve a crime (Done! I’m a forensic entomologist!)
104. Learn to belly dance (I keep meaning to do this one. Someone help!)
105. Discover the purpose of an insect and use those facts to save it from extinction
106. Write out the entire rocky scrip, block it and use it to get a show started (This is half done–I have the script.)
107. Plan an orchard
108. Read the Bible (This may end up harder than finishing Lord of the Rings)
109. Read the Book of Mormon (And this will be harder than the Bible)
110. Read the entire works of Edgar Allen Poe
111. Build my own harp (You can get kits for not that much and build your own lap harp. Want!)
112. Visit all the National Parks
113. Live in France
114. Design and build a custom lab for my work (Kinda done! I designed the lab I’ll be working in this spring. Does that count? If so, Done!)
115. Have a maid or cleaning service (I don’t do windows! Or any other cleaning, for that matter)
116. Visit all the amusement parks in the U.S.
117. Design a set (Done! Fall 1997. I designed the sets for a performance of Hamlet)
118. Be a main part in a show
119. Picnic on top of a mountain (Wouldn’t this be fun? Hint!)
120. Ride the trolly in San Francisco (Done! Summer 1998)
121. Try Sushi (Done! And I never looked back)
122. See 100 Rocky Horror Picture Shows (I’m at 41)
123. Plan a very romantic trip somewhere and take it with someone I love (Done! We went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon)
124. Help someone in need (I don’t think I’ll ever mark this one off, no matter how many times I do it)
125. Buy my own car (We’ve been given our last several, so I haven’t really had the chance yet. Not that I’m complaining…we’ll happily take anyone’s car off their hands! It’s what we do!)
126. Visit Alaska
127. Be loved by someone I’m not related to (Done!)
128. Don’t die lonely
129. Retire
130. Fall asleep in someone’s arms (Done!)
131. Have my own CD
132. Pass Music Theory 1 (Done! I got a B! Stupid class)
133. Figure out how to raise Jerusalem Crickets (Done! Those bastards are a pain in the ass to raise. And they bite super hard!)
134. Finance my education (Done! That was hard, and now I’m in debt forever, but done!)
135. Create a large folder of research on raising insects
136. Have something published (Done! July 2008, my very first article. Ask me and I’ll let you read it!)
138. Turn my car into a work of art (Done! You should have seen it….)
139. Get an A in Beekeeping (Done! Easiest A ever. I like bees)
140. Manage my own beehive (Just might happen soon…I have plans)
141. Have a webpage (Done! Ah, remember the early days of the web when webpages were novel and only geeks had them?)
142. Get into grad school (Done! For years and years!)
143. Learn to sew (Done! July 2008. I learned, now I just have to get good at it)
144. Finish the Chaos book (It’s a book about Chaos theory. I really only started reading it because I was dating this super cute math major who told me it was good. It’s sitting on the shelf with a 10 year old bookmark in it. I’ll get back to it eventually. I’ll probably have to start from the beginning, though. That’s gonna suck)
145. Create at least one of my clothing designs (So I took this design class for my minor–I had to design clothes. I based all of them on insects)
146. Get an award from a scientific association
147. Get certified in some aspect of entomology
148. Present an original paper at a scientific meeting (Done! June 2008. Presented “Seasonal Distribution and Abundance of Forensically Important Flies in Santa Clara County. It was well received)
149. Get my masters (Done! June 2007)
150. Save 1 million dollars
151. Buy a house (Done! July 2008, and it’s beautiful. Come and visit! We have cookies)
152. Visit every state in the nation (See what I mean about duplicates?)
153. Start a consulting business (Plans, again. Plans.)
154. Read every book in the library (Wanna watch? Or help? Join me!)
155. Visit every country in the world
156. Learn to ride a motorcycle (Yep, this is gonna be done this year. Someone teach me, please!)
157. Climb a mountain
158. Start a journal (Done! 2006. I now have blogs instead)
159. Volunteer somewhere
160. Write a book (I must really want to write that damn book!)
161. Be on tv
163. Create an intricate treasure hunt
164. See a musical on Broadway
165. Be self employed with an actual income
166. Own a cabin
167. Plant 100 trees
168. Read 1000 books
169. See an iceberg
170. Get rid of that dead place inside of me (Done! 2007 or 2008. Ask me about it sometime, if you really want to know)
171. Ride a snowmobile
172. Take a speed reading course (I gotta get through a lot of books, you see….)
173. Learn to surf
174. Walk across a swingy suspension bridge
175. Arrange a harp song
176. Learn Latin
177. Visit Walden pond (Then talk about it all snooty like)
178. Create a hedge maze (How cool is my house gonna be?!?)
179. Be a groomsman (You see, I’ve been every part of a wedding–Bride, bridesmaid, acolyte, harpist, flower girl, officiant, guest on the bride’s side, guest on the groom’s side, but I’ve never been a groomsman. That would complete my takeover of all things wedding!)
180. Have a grand library (With a fireplace and leather chairs and a secret door) (I’m so close!)
181. Have a cabin on a lake
182. Take a gondola ride (Hey! Another great date idea!)
183. Hold a hawk
184. Rehabilitate a wild animal
185. Fire a sniper rifle
186. Fire an automatic weapon
187. Fly first class across the ocean
188. Go hot air ballooning
189. Stay on a houseboat
190. Go hang gliding (But not by myself–with a trained professional so I won’t die. I want to live to be 100, remember?)
191. Do that thing with the parachute hanging off a boat (Doesn’t that sound like fun!?!)
192. visit the Bermuda Triangle (And not get lost)
193. Put $500 a month in my IRA (Up to $350 a month, as of now. See…I’m well on my way to saving 1 million!)
194. Go see the Ice Hotel (I love the Discovery Channel)
195. See Grand Central Station
196. Drive across America, coast to coast
197. Climb the highest mountain in California
198. Renovate a house
199. Cross the Panama Canal
200. Finish the world’s largest crossword puzzle (Don’t really know if I want to do this one any more, but there you are)
201. Go a month without TV (Done! 2008. I was super busy, and TV is the first to go)
202. Buy some aboriginal art in Australia (I blame Chris and Yanira for this–stupid HDTV showing Australia and stuff!)
203. Be married for 60 years (at least!)
204. Make a quilt
205. Go white water rafting
206. Own a sports car (A green RX-7)
207. Buy a house in Costa Rica (Love it there!)
208. Bike 1000 miles in a year
209. Create the perfect, craveable Thanksgiving dinner (I think I’m close! I shall see)
210. Ride the orient express
211. Stay in a haunted hotel
212. Be under 30% body fat
213. Be nominated for a teaching award (Done! Fall, 2008, distinguished teaching award at Texas A&M)
214. Visit the poles (The South and North poles you dirty minded people!)
215. Go sailing
216. Go on an Alaskan cruise
217. Attend a movie premiere
218. Spend over 2 weeks at a nice hotel just enjoying the grounds (I got this idea from reading The Shining. Maybe that’s where I got the haunted hotel idea, too)
219. Attend the Rockettes Christmas Show (I hear this is great!)
220. Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico (you know, after they figure out all the drug killings and kidnappings. Still wanna live to 100)
221. Adopt a toddler or baby (Decided this year we will not adopt. Gonna leave this one on the list just to remember, though)
222. Visit the Louvre (I wonder if that’s even close to how it’s spelled)
223. Kiss Dean in Paris
224. Do a food tour of the USA: Pizza in Chicago, Blue Crabs in Maryland, Cheese Steak in Philly, and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t come up with yet)
225. Learn how to write my name in Japanese
226. Celebrate Christmas in New York and London
227. Air Boat the Everglades
228. Pay off my student loans ($32,000 and counting….)
229. Become known for great Thanksgivings
230. Have an art show (Maggot art, baby!)
231. Live in the mountains
232. Take a trip in a motor home
233. See the great barrier reef (But there’s no need to scuba dive…I’m morally against going anywhere I have to take my own oxygen. We need it to survive, people!)
234. Create a secret garden (I love that book! And play! And movie!)
235.Drink mint julep in the French Quarter
236.Enter a cooking contest
237. Have a pool
238. Put all my photos/mementos in scrapbooks (Working on it! It’s very well organized at the moment)
239. See all the movies on AFI’s top 100 list (30 down, 70 to go)
240. Visit Alcatraz
241. Try real absinthe (Done! 2007. It tastes like licorice, and has no hallucinogenic effects)
242. volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank
243. Look good in a 2 piece
244. Have $100,000 in my IRA
245. Paint a really big painting
246. Get certified with a handgun
247.Ride all the rollercoasters in the US (30 down, 602 to go!)
248. Work at Quantico
249. Get 5 articles published
250. Go back to London, at least once
251. Have a real office that I don’t have to move out of every semester
252. Pass my quals (really nervous about these)
253. Write my lab manual
254. Own some art by someone famous
255. Become a consultant (a final duplicate!)

Well, that’s it for now. Several done these past two years, which rules, and several new goals added. What are your goals? Happy new year!

All-you-can-eat may just cause obesity

Where do the grants for this come from? It has been recently reported that people who eat out often, especially at buffets or in cafeterias, and then don’t get enough exercise get fat.

The findings revealed that respondents who ate out often, especially at buffets, cafeterias and fast food restaurants, were more likely to be obese.



Kid's meals unhealthy. Wait, what?

So, just in case you thought the mini cheeseburger, small fries and a coke (with a toy!) constituted health food for your little one, scientists have decided to set you straight:

Only 3 percent of kids’ meals served at fast-food restaurants met federal dietary guidelines in the first study to examine the nutrient quality of such meals in a major U.S. metropolitan market.

Crazy talk!


Email Forward Question Answers

I have several friends who have not yet grown out of the email forward stage, and I’m conintually getting these questionarre type things (much like the ones that were so popular for a while on MySpace), and since I have a moral obligation to stop retarded email forwards at all costs, I’ve decided to post my answers here and simply send them the link. I will do my part to better this world! As I get more questions, I’ll put more answers.

Forward #1:

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends . Okay, here’s what you’re supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!!

Just copy (not forward) this entire email and paste into a new e-mail that you can send. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you……Tis the Season to be NICE!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, although my aunt just taught me to sew cloth bags. One of these days I’ll make a bunch of those.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, totally.

3. When do you put up the tree? The day after Thanksgiving is Christmas Tree day!

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year’s day. Last year’s tree shouldn’t be up during this year–that’s just rude to this year’s tree!

5. Do you like eggnog? Meh. People keep telling me that’s just because I haven’t had good eggnog. I suppose then they should be giving me the good stuff, now shouldn’t they?
6. Favorite gift received as a child? That’s really hard to say. I got a pet tarantula one year, which ruled; I also got a brown pound puppy at one point, a huge bunch of glow in the dark stars (ruled!), a home planetarium thingy, a chemistry set, and a microscope (and the microscope had a projector on it so I could show my parents things for HOURS!). Recently, I got the very first Newberry Award Winning book. Woooo!
7. Hardest person to buy for? Hmmm…it changes every year. It matters if I happen across the perfect gift or not.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Once again, it matters if I happen across the perfect gift or not.

9. Do you have a nativity scene ? Nah. My mom collects them, so she has more than enough for everyone else in the family.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards ? Mail. I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting mail (it’s like a mini surprise Christmas every day! Except Sundays. Sundays kinda suck like that), so I insist on sending out physical cards so I can give that happy to other people, too.

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Um, can’t really think of one. I love presents, so anything in a festive box rules.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It’s a tie between White Christmas and A Christmas Story.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas ? January. Sometimes before. I have a closet of gifts that I collect throughout the year. I usually am done by October.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present ? Yep. Just because it wasn’t perfect for me (or I already had one) doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for someone else. I highly encourage present recycling.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Finnan haddie!!! Best food in existence–smoked white fish drenched in butter and served with little potatoes and fresh fruit. I dream about it all year.

16. Lights on the tree? Oh, a rediculous amount of lights. I’ve found that an overly-lighted tree is an amazing site to behold.

17. Favorite Christmas song ? The Christmas Song

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel. 🙁

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I haven’t found the perfect thing, so nothing at the moment.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas pajamas get opened on Christmas Eve, and then the rest of the presents on Christmas morning. That has to be the greatest day EVER!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? All the manufactured stress that my mom inflicts. That’s why I hate traveling.

23 Favorite for Christmas dinner ? Cold Finnan Haddie.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Oh, I’ve got a list!

Forward #2
Here is a fun and quick way to stay in touch.  Let’s see how many I get back…

A) Four places that I go to over and over

1)  The Lab
2) Home
3) Square 1
4) The Fox

B)  Four people who e-mail me (regularly):

1) Mom
2) Dean
3) Jeff
4) Facebook

C) Four of my favorite places to eat:

1) Square 1
2) A really good sushi joint
3) Home
4) In N Out

D) Four places I would rather be right now:

1)  at home
2) at Disneyland
3)at a bookstore
4)at a good friend’s house

E) Four TV shows I watch:

2) Anything Reality
3) 90210
4)Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Forward #3:

A getting to know you questionnaire

…but are ya brave enough to answer the questions?

1. Tell me something obvious about you: I have strawberry blonde hair

2. Tell me something about you that many don’t know: I’m deathly afraid of making phone calls, but I force myself to on a regular basis.

3. What is your biggest fear? Just giving up because I’m afraid; not doing everything I can to get what I want.

4. Do you normally go the safe route or take the short cut? Depends. I like short cuts, but sometimes the safe route is best.

5. Name one thing you want that you can’t buy with money. The career I want.

6. What is your most treasured possession? My harp.

7. What is the one thing you hate most about yourself that you do often? I get sloppy with my stuff, and make a mess (just like mom!)

8. Tell me something sexually about you that I don’t know. I like B&D (can you guess if I’m a top or a bottom?)

9. Tell me something sexually about you that everyone knows: I really, really like sex.

10. What is your favorite lie to tell? Sorry I missed your call! My phone was in the car.
11. Name something you’ve done once that you can’t wait to do again: Gone to London
12. Are you the jealous type? I can be, it depends on my mood.

13. What is the one person, place or thing you can’t say no to? Disneyland.

14. What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you? Bought me a harp.

15. If you could do something crazy right now, what would it be? Walk right out of my parent’s house and never come back.

16. When was the last time you cried? A week or so ago.

17. When was the last time you felt so good that nothing else mattered? Last week, when it snowed.

18. Do you feel comfortable in public with no shirt on? Matters the circumstances.

19. Name something embarrassing you did while being drunk. I do so many embarrassing things while NOT drunk, the drunken me is down right polite.

20. If you answered this questionaire, who else would you like to see answer it? I don’t really care.
21. If you lied on any of the questions, which ones and why? None

Foward #4

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate, with Godiva white and dark chocolate liquor, vanilla, marshmallows, cinnamon, orange liquor, and a candy cane.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Wrapped of course! One of the best parts of Christmas is seeing a wrapped gift with your name on it, and not being able to open it until Christmas morning.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Colored. I love the sparkles!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

No, but only because I don’t know where to get it easily. I’d love to have it everywhere. So much kissing!

5. When do you put your decorations up?

Day after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Finnan Haddie.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

Waiting breathlessly in the bedroom doorway until 8 am, because we weren’t allowed out until then.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

Don’t really remember.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Christmas pajamas.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

I start by wrapping the trunk with lights, then I wrap each branch with lights, then I put the shiny Christmas balls inside the tree so they reflect the lights, then I put the fun Christmas ornaments on the outside of the tree.

11. Snow: love it or hate it?

Love it! I don’t get to see it all that often, is why.

12. Can you ice skate?

Yes. It’s like slippery roller blading.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

I haven’t had all my Christmases yet, so how am I to know what my favorite gift is?

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree with friends and family and just relaxing. It makes my tummy happy.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Pumpkin pie

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree.

17. What tops your tree?


18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Giving. I love the hunt for the perfect gift, then watching someone I love open it. It makes me so very happy!

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

A Christmas Song and Silver Bells

20. Candy canes:

Love them, but they always taste best fresh off the Christmas tree.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?

A Christmas Story and White christmas

22. What do you leave for Santa?


Forward #5

1. Do you love Christmas, or just pretend to? I absolutely, totally, and completely love it, more than any other time of year.
2. Now that you know better, what do you say to sweet little kids who look at you with their wide, expectant eyes and ask you if Santa Claus is real? I say “of course!”
3. There will, at some point within the next six weeks, be an item in the news about a council or other government body “banning” some traditional Christmas item such as a nativity play, overtly religious carol or a dogmatic clergyman for suggesting that Christmas is a Christian festival, since this might cause offence to people who aren’t Christians. Do you care? Nope.
4. Would you work on Christmas day for double pay? No way.
5. What’s so special about turkeys? Aren’t they just fat, tasteless chickens? Have you had my turkey? (That’s what she said!)
6. Has the mere fact that the goose is getting fat ever specifically led you to put a penny in the hat of an old man? Nope. Do that all year anyhow.
7. Is anything more sinister than a merry gentleman at rest? Yes. An angry mother when you have to work during Christmas vacation.
8. (Brits) Do you feel incomplete if you don’t watch or listen to the Queen on Christmas Day? Not Brit.
9. (Americans) Do you feel incomplete without the Queen to give you your annual dose of platitudinous moral and spiritual guidance? (Ooo, vocabulary’s coming back, must be the rump steak I had for breakfast). Nope.
10. “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. But since the life expectancy of the dog is 12 – 18 years, unless you’re buying a dog for your Granddad (and don’t do that, he wants socks) this almost certainly is not the case. Who can we sue for deceiving us? PETA
11. In Australia, Christmas is in summer. Should this be allowed? Why not?
12. Will you be going to church on Christmas Day voluntarily? Nope.
13. Will you be doing anything on Christmas Day voluntarily? Eat and open presents.
14. It’s Boxing Day, 3pm. You’re in the lounge with your Grandma. Everyone else is washing up, or drunk. Are you old enough now to pretend to be asleep so you don’t have to listen to her blab on and on about how all she got for Christmas when she was your age was an orange and a punch in the face? Yes. And I’m probably drunk.
15. “Christmas has become too commercialised”. At what point was it just commercialised enough? I love Christmas just the way it is.
16. Given absolute power over an entire nation, how would you have Christmas celebrated? With friends and family, and no one telling me that I’m doing it wrong, or someone else is doing it wrong.

Head Banging Raises Risk for Head and Neck Injury. And for Stupid Science.

Apparently wildly swinging your head to a fast beat can cause injury. Who knew? (You know, other than all the head bangers in the world who wake up with a sore neck the next day. Other than them). Apparently scientists felt the need to take some money and study this:

The researchers attended hard rock and heavy metal concerts including Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row, and identified that the up-down style was the most common head banging technique. They constructed a theoretical head banging model of this popular style to examine the effect the range of head and neck motion has on injury severity. A focus group of ten musicians was used to calculate the average tempo of their favourite head banging songs.

The authors found that there is an increasing risk of neck injury beginning at tempos of 130 beats per minute related to the range of motion in the head banging style.

Oh, the humanity.


I made a Zombie movie!

Well, ok, I was in sort of a zombie movie–you see, the entomology department at TAMU wanted a promotional video, and asked the on-campus film department to make it. They thought “hey, we could make a normal video, or we could make a zombie film!” So they did. I got an email sometime in August asking me if I wanted to be in the film, and if so, so please wear my steel toe boots. Intriguing! Anyhow, here’s the final result, cheesy lines, bad acting and all. Enjoy!

What a great Thanksgiving Day!

Ah, one of the best days of the year! Since we had such a good time (and since so many of our friends and family are far away) I thought I’d post our day here, with all the great pictures we took. Enjoy!

So the day got started rather early, as we still had a bunch of cooking to do. Actually, the day got started on Tuesday, when I was prepping for International Day of Baking Goodness (IDBG). Let me tell you, I don’t like mornings in the least, but there are 3 days of the year I happily get up during single digits: Disneyland Day, Christmas Day, and International Day of Baking Goodness. I had 13 things on the list to make this year, including prepping for Thanksgiving. So I began my prep on Tuesday, got up at 7:30 to cook on Wednesday (official IDBG) and only got through a few things. Ben, I miss you! We got through way more when you were in the kitchen with me.

Thanksgiving day also started rather early, what with all the cooking we had to do.

Morning in camo
Morning in camo

This is the morning cooking. Notice the pink camo. We live here now!

Dean flipping the turkey for me. It was 20 pounds!
Dean flipping the turkey for me. It was 20 pounds!
Yummy, yummy turkey. Raw, yes, but yumminess is immanent!
Yummy, yummy turkey. Raw, yes, but yumminess is immanent!

This is what we were doing so early in the morning. But don’t worry–it turned out most wonderful!

Oh, the lovely. It tasted so good!
Oh, the lovely. It tasted so good!

Here it is completely cooked along with the stuffing prep:

Crispy goodness
Crispy goodness
Slicing and Dicing
Slicing and Dicing
Thanksgiving stirfry
Thanksgiving stirfry

Then came time for pie! We used fresh pumpkin this year–those pumpkins are a bitch to get into at times. Dean had to break out the had saw when my sad little bread knife didn’t make a dent.

Fresh pumpkin puree
Fresh pumpkin puree
Nope, didn't work. Pumpkins are tough!
Nope, didn
Take that pumpkin!
Take that pumpkin!

The table is set, guests arrive, let’s eat!

My full plate of food.
My full plate of food.
View of the table from my seat.
View of the table from my seat.
Some IDBG results
Some IDBG results
Dean carves the turkey
Dean carves the turkey
Happier Martin
Happier Martin
Some afterdinner drinks
Some afterdinner drinks
Happy Paula
Happy Paula
Movie time! Thanks Ry!
Movie time! Thanks Ry!
Adie, Martin and Clay
Adie, Martin and Clay

And that was basically the night. Good times with good friends and some good food. Loved it! We missed everyone who couldn’t be with us, and we hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!


Yep, I watch TV online. Seriously!

Look, I might be watching TV!
Look, I might be watching TV!

So, I’ve had this conversation many times in the last month:

Them, walking into my house: “Hey, your living room doesn’t have a TV. Where’s your TV?”

Me: “In the guest room. We don’t use it much–we canceled cable two years ago.”

Them: “Wha…?!? But then how do you watch (insert random tv show here).”

I then go into a brief explanation of how to watch TV online, and it’s super awesome because I can see whatever I want whenever I want, and I can watch in every room in the house. Neat and fun for me!

Anyhow, the inevitable next question is “Where?” and that takes a heck of a lot longer to answer, so I’ve been telling people I’d write a blog about it. Now that I’ve told a bunch of people that, though, I sure as hell better write a blog about it, now shouldn’t I? Here I go!

Yep, I watch TV exclusively online (even when someone is actually watching TV on an actual TV–that way I don’t have to watch baseball or something stupid. I’m so sneaky!) How do I do it? Sheer force of will! And I’ve spent a lot of time looking for all the shows I want to watch. Here’s the list of places I watch, along with the good and bad points of each:

Like most network sites, this has both full episodes and clips. I hate just watching clips, so if you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’ll see a list of full episodes.

ABC likes to bill itself as the first network to offer full episodes online. They have a special episode player, but I’ve found the player is kind of sketchy on my Mac. It works just fine on Vista, though, so as long as you have a PC this will work just fine.

ABC Family
Different from ABC, this has shows for tweens, I think. I don’t care, I love Gilmore Girls. This is another site that has both clips and full episodes, so you have to make sure you click on the full episodes.

Adult Swim
They’ve got a bunch of stuff on here, including Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Venture Brothers (Go team venture!), Frisky Dingo, and Metalocalypse. There’s a bunch of others that I don’t really watch, but may start. Oh, and Ben! They have Boondocks!

Alloy TV
This is getting a lot of press lately since it just signed Whitney Port (of “The Hills” and “The City” fame) to star in its newest scripted series. They only have a few show up now, but I’m thinking this may be the wave of the future. I’ll see if I can’t get into it!
So this is one of those iffy ones–the sites above all have commercials that are incorporated into the show. This site searches a bunch of different sites that stream video and lists the particular shows. These don’t have commercials, which is usually a sign that it’s not so legal. That and the fact that sometimes a link is down with a “copyright take down” notice. But whatever. I can usually find any show I want on here, though, and that rules. Just don’t click “yes” on any pop ups–that’ll install something stupid on your computer.
Amazon has just come up with a video on demand service that allows you to download various shows and movies for a small fee (or free for some of them! At the moment you can watch the Walking Dead for free!). You can also sign up for season passes and pre-order shows and movies. There are also some rumors about a ad-driven service that Amazon may offer to its Amazon Prime members, but there’s nothing substantive about that information yet.

America’s Test Kitchen
This is EASILY my favorite cooking show…who knew I could watch episodes online?!? Best day!  They’ve got 10 full seasons of the show up, without commercial breaks. I could spend days watching this, I tell you!

Blip TV
During the writer’s strike, a bunch of actors started doing online work (that was part of the reason for the strike, after all). This site is part of that movement, and has a bunch of original programming.

Bravo TV
Oh, Bravo. When will companies learn that being bitchy about content just makes me not want to watch it? Bravo currently has 5 episodes (count them, 5!) from their shows up. Sigh. Here I am, wanting to support their advertisers, but they just won’t let me! Maybe they’ll get better.

Cast TV
There are sites like this popping up everywhere at the moment! This is another site that trolls tv streaming pages and collects the videos. What’s new about this one, is it includes things like Amazon TV, where you can pay to download episodes. It has a lot of free content as well, but if you want to keep a copy of an especially good episode, you could find where to get it here, legally.

The network site has a lot of clips, but only a few full episodes, but they tend to be the newest or most popular episodes. Besides, CBS makes their shows available to other sites like or YouTube, so I reward them by going to their site and clicking on ad links and such. They’re shows include NCIS (usually the last two or three episodes), Jericho, The Unit, CSI (and all the spin offs–just don’t let me catch you watching CSI Miami! That show blows goats), The Mentalist (a sad rip off of Psych, I think. Watch the original instead), The Price is Right, and several soaps. They also have short clips from all their shows, but I only like to watch full episodes, so I won’t list them here.

Chiller TV
This is a site that rotates horror tv shows, movies, and web-exclusive content including the Eyegore Awards. They don’t have a stable list of things, but it’s fun to check back and see what’s up.

Country Music Television
CMT has turned to a lot of reality shows, and most of them are available here. You can watch Hulk Hogan’s Championship Wrestling, My Big Redneck Wedding 2, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team 3 (Yep, I’ve watched all three seasons. What?), Gone Country 2, Outsiders Inn, Redneck Dreams (this sounds intriguing…), Made in America, Mobile Home Disaster, Trick My Truck, The Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search (this isn’t such a good show, and I keep trying to like it. Just fair warning), and I Want to Look Like a High School Cheerleader Again.

Rachel Maddow
MSNBC has a lot of content online, but I only like watching the Rachel Maddow show.  The new episodes are usually up by 8 pm every evening, and you can watch the whole show or just certain portions.

Crackle TV
Sony Pictures owns this site, and is currently trying turn this into something cool. At the moment it has some stuff on it, but they’re trying to get more classic TV episodes and movies soon. Keep checking back if you don’t see anything you like.

The CW
This is a pretty good site for watching TV, and they have a good number of shows. The only problem is they put up shows a few days after they air, so you have to be careful if you don’t want to be spoiled. But not really that big of a deal. Besides, new 90210! Also: Stylista (it’s a pretty good reality show about people trying to work at some magazine), the new 90210, Gossip Girl, Privileged, One Tree Hilll, America’s Next Top Model, Smallville, Supernatural, Everybody Hates Chris, The Game, Easy Money, Valentine, The Harms Way, 4Real, and Reaper.

Discover, TLC, Animal Planet
These three are together because the networks are owned by the same group and all three share a full episode player. They have a pretty good list of shows, but they all have an expiration date.

DIY Network
I found this through HGTV, and just spent an evening watching Sweat Equity. There are a bunch of full episodes on this page, and they seem to be rotating all the time.

This is a site powered by SciFi that does reviews on tech products and whatnot. They have some good episodes, and keep them all archived.

This is a fan driven site where people upload various episodes. It’s not my first stop to try and find something to watch, but it does have a lot of video, so I tend to just browse here when I’m bored.

Fine Living Network
While this doesn’t have all their shows (Mom just told me about a Martha Stewart one that I want to see. Maybe this will be put up soon). At them moment, FLN has Any Given Latitude, Travel in High Definition, We Live Here, What’s Your Time Worth, Real Estate Confidential, Shopping With Chefs, All-Girl Getaways, Cool Kids’ Parties, Great Cocktails, and Fine Living Specials.

I think Fox is one of the better sites on which to watch episodes. They seem to have a bunch of stuff up, and I haven’t noticed any expiration dates yet. They also have clips up, but, like I said, I don’t watch them. They are currently playing American Dad, America’s Most Wanted, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, Bones, Cops, Family Guy, Fringe, Hell’s Kitchen, Hole in the Wall (a funny concept, but a boring show to watch for too long), House, King of the Hill, Kitchen Nightmares, MADtv, The Moment of Truth, Prison Break, The Simpsons, TalkShow with Spike Feresten, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, ’til Death

I don’t think all of their shows are up, but most of them are, which makes all the difference. Right now, they play It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy, Testees, and 30 Days

GAC (Great American Country)
You can watch new country music videos here. Of course, you can do that at Launchcast (which is Yahoo’s music site) too.

Gossip Girl
For those of you who want to catch up on Gossip Girl, this site streams all the episodes from all the seasons from a variety of sites. Some get take down notices, but I’ve been able to watch most of the seasons so far without any trouble. The newest episodes are on CW, which has a much better quality.

HGTV is also a great place for watching shows. They don’t have all their content, but what they do have is good quality and never expires. I caught up on a lot of different shows. They currently have: Color Splash, Curb Appeal, Design Star (all 3 seasons), Designed to Sell, Gardening by the Yard, Ground Breakers, HGTV Dream Home, Hidden Potential, House Hunters, House Hunters Int’l, My First Place, My House is Worth What?, Miles of Style, National Open House, Over Your Head, Property Virgins, Red Hot and Green, Rate My Space, Sleep on It, Spice Up My Kitchen, Summer Showdown, and The Stagers

Hulu is the (in my opinion) the end-all-be-all of TV sites. They have contracts with many of the major networks, which means episodes are uploaded quickly and are of great quality. They also have movies and clips from a bunch of different shows. What I really like about them is you can list the shows and filter by full episode, have an alphabetical list of all the shows, have a list by most recently added, or search for anything you like. It’s a very easy site to use and watch, and it’s the first one I turn to every day.

Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is noted for it’s collection of old websites, and now has begun to collect moving images, including movies, television shows, commercials, and propaganda films. Joy!

Joost really wants to be like Hulu, but just fell short. I think they tried to focus on the social networking aspect of TV watching–you can create a profile and share your favorite videos with your friends, which would be a nice thing to do…that is, if the rest of Joost was any good. The biggest problem I have is there’s no way to filter by full episode, so if I want to find a full episode of any show I have to manually go though all their listings and find the one that has the right length. Their search function is sketchy as well, and only sometimes pulls up what I want to see. I think they put so much effort into the MySpace-esque aspect of the site that all the rest fell by the wayside. Perhaps if they had made it a good TV site first and a friend site second things would have worked. I keep it on my list in hopes that it will get better, because I’d really like to share good shows with other TV lovers (Earl!). Leave it off your list for now, though, unless you want to take hours finding something to watch. If so, add me as your friend and tell me what you find!

L Studio
Once again, this is a place where actors could go to do independent projects. Lisa Kudrow just launched a series on here that is pretty good. The site is all original content, and a lot of it is very engaging.



This has a limited number of full episodes and movies to offer, but it’s better than nothing at times. Besides, it has a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Neat!

Most all of MTV’s shows are online now, and put up pretty much right when the shows air live. Sometimes their player is a bit sketchy–for a few weeks there it kept trying to install cookies on my computer, but eventually that went away. Never let these sites install anything! Stupid sites. They’ve also recently started taking down episodes until after the season is over. So annoying! Maybe I’ll start downloading the shows out of spite.

My Easy TV
I really haven’t explored this very much, but it looks like a pretty comprehensive list of online TV resources. I’ll have to spend a few hours and see how it all works eventually, but I’m looking forward to doing that.

Most of NBC’s stuff is on Hulu, which is where I tend to watch it, but sometimes they have exclusive stuff on their own site. I check it every once in a while just to make sure I’m not missing anything.

ON Networks
This is an original programming site that includes a show by Amy Pohler of Saturday Night Live fame. They’re getting more and more content, so I think I’ll have to make them one of my regular stops.

From what I can tell, they have most PBS shows in full length up. They are working on getting all content up, but the site is still in beta. I’m expecting that they will have a really great site soon. I’ve spent a few days catching up on NOVA, so I haven’t watched much else, but I will very, very soon. Go public television!

Project Free TV
This looks a lot like or one of those others, and they seem to have most of the shows I can’t find on Hulu. Yay!

Reality TV Fan
I’ve noticed that some reality shows aren’t up online (it was really hard to find Project Runway there for awhile) and this site captures and posts them the same night they are broadcast. The shows are broken up into 10 minute clips, though, so that can be a bit tedious for general watching. I like the site, though, and I’m able to watch all the best reality shows right on time. This is my second stop after Hulu.

The Research Channel
This is pre-taped lectures on various subjects. You can watch the lectures, or just listen to the audio. Some pretty interesting stuff here!

I just found this online-only tv station while surfing my RSS feeds. They have the normal jumble of “what’s new/cool/funny/embarrassing online!” type of content, but also specialize in original shows that are only streamed through the site. I’m starting to follow more and more of these types of shows, and this looks like a great place.

Sci Fi
Not all their shows are up here, but there are a few good ones, and every once in a while they’ll feature a fantastically bad movie. That’s always good for a laugh. They are currently playing Santuary, Ghost Hunters, Scare Tactics, Destination Truth, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, and Ghost Hunters International.

Not much here yet, but it promises to get better. At the moment they’re playing Kojak, Miami Vice (yep, that one), and Simon & Simon.

This site is a lot like Hulu (my current fave), and offers a nice selection of TV and film.

This was big news when it came out, and it is as awesome as it sounds. Everything’s there! Never miss an episode! Wooo!

Spike TV
About half of their network content is up on the website, but it’s pretty good quality. As soon you click to the page an ad starts playing all loud, though, which is super annoying. At the moment, they have full episodes of 1000 Ways to Die, DEA, Factory, Game Trailers TV, I Bet You Will, Manswers, Murder, Pros vs. Joes, and Real Vice Cps Uncut.

I dunno–they say they have full episodes up, but they way they have them broken up is weird. I’m hoping they get it turned around soon, although I must admit I’m not missing much. They don’t have too many good things up that I can’t get elsewhere: 10 Items or Less, Frank TV, The Bill Engvall Show, My Boys, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Seinfeld, Just Shoot Me, Married with Children, and Blue Collar Comedy: the Next Generation.

This only has a few shows up, but may add more. At the moment, they have Raising the Bar, Charmed, and Angel, as well as Full-Length Movies.

TV Land

With new original programming and a larger line up of ” classic” shows (i.e. shows from the 80s), TV land has become a force to be reckoned with.

TV Underground
This is another amalgamation site that has a lot of different shows. I include it on my list because it has a bunch of the British shows I can’t seem to find anywhere else. Be careful, though…some of the shows come with a pop up that will install crap on your computer.

This network only has 5 shows up, and they’re all the first season (Starter Wife, Dr. Steve-O, Burn Notice, Psych, and Monk). I’m pretty sure you can also get all of them on Hulu, but whatever. Reward the network!

I haven’t explored this one much, but it seems like they just have the latest episodes of some of their shows, along with clips from others. If I ever get into these shows, I’ll have to find them on another source probably. This is a good way to find out what shows are out there, though.

Yahoo TV
There are a lot of full episodes on Yahoo, but there seems to be nothing unique about this site versus all the others. You might find something you like here, though.

Well, that’s it (so far). I left off some of the networks that I just don’t care fore (Nick and TV land spring to mind) but if you like those, I think they show full episodes. If you know of any I left off my list, let me know!

Update: So I’ve found some more places to watch–as I find more and more I’ll add them to the bottom here.

Quicksilver Screen
Found this one when I was looking for a place to watch Trailer Park Boys online. They seem to have a bunch of things listed, including movies, which is always a nice source to have.

Fear Net
Just found this one. It specializes in horror stuff, and you can watch lots of clips and trailers, as well as full episodes of some sort of horror genre show,. They also have a few free movies (including Leprechaun 5: In the Hood. Oh yes, they made that) all of which look B-tastic and horrible. I’ll happily watch! Well, I’ll happily watch with the lights on, in the middle of the day, and then sleep with my headphones playing Disney music, but whatever.
Apparently CBS has owned the rights to for awhile, and now they’re finally doing something with it. They are attempting to rival by making deals with several pay networks (HBO, Showtime, etc) for their shows, and using to post many CBS shows, as well. Given that CBS is notorious for not putting their stuff up online, I’m rather excited by the prospect. At the moment, it just seems to be an amalgamation of clips and episodes, with no real way to sort them effectively (I’m very fond of Hulu’s “new video” sort in the full episodes group. That way I can find the newest episodes, which I know are full episodes. This doesn’t do that yet). They aren’t going to be fully opperational for a bit, though, so maybe it’ll get better.

Snag Films
This is a free documentary site–they have small and big budget things (such as Super Size Me) all streaming, for free. W00t!

France 24
A 24 hour world news site, which covers everything from politics to science from an international standpoint.

Asian Horror Movies
Just found this site, and it’s exactly like the title says–a long list of Asian horror movies. If you’re into that, this is the place for you! (I’m looking at you, Ivan!)

Crunchy Roll
This is a great site for Anime, if you’re into it (or want to get into it).  I may try one of these days…who knows?

Academic Earth
Free video lectures on a variety of subjects, from many prestigious universities. Awesome!

Classic Cinema Online
This site has lots of old movies, and uses the time of year to feature several centered around a theme. I can’t wait until Christmas to see what old-timey Christmas movies I can discover!

Effin Funny
I just found this site by following the epic Felicia Day on Twitter. This has original comic content, and hosts episodes of The Guild! (Fabulous if you know anyone who plays online games). Gonna have to spend an evening catching up on these new finds.

Whose Line Is It Anyway
This is a site with all of the Whose line episodes, USA and British, for free with no pop ups. Thanks whomever did that !!

Current TV

This is a good SciFi page–lots of interesting original programming, and it looks like you can watch most of it online. Hurray!



Because Dean’s been gone, and I’ve done some stuff…

So since sweetie left for the longest business trip EVER, I’ve been keeping myself busy doing things around the house. I want him to know about it, so I’m posting some photos for him. Read on!

First off, it looks like we have raccoons or something coming into the garage. I found these stashed behind the fridge. I gave what was left of them to Tasha and Dovie. They thought it was the best day ever, what with having two cookies and all.

I started pulling up the small ponds in the backyard, and found this pair beneith some of the stones. Tasha was facinated. I had to wash her mouth out 4 times after she tried to eat the toads. The toads are fine. Stupid dog.

I also found this ant colony. Tasha was also interested in these, but she learned much faster to leave the fire ants alone.

Then the ice maker acted up. I learned that the mechanism that magically runs the ice maker can suck in things from the freezer. Here is the ice maker eating a bag of old feathers I was keeping for my Acarology class. Old feathers make gross ice.

Mao did not want me to read. He’s beginning to put up with the cuddle game quite a bit more. He’ll learn eventually! DJ hasn’t changed much–he’s still annoying as ever at 2 in the morning. Although he is loving the one-person-in-the-bed thing…he doesn’t get kicked at night, and he gets to choose between sleeping at the foot of the bed or taking over a pillow. I also watched him pet-block Mao this morning–DJ was purring next to me, and saw Mao get off the cat tree and jump to the bed for some lovin’. DJ was having none of it, and pounced Mao in mid air, knocked him off the bed, then came back for more cuddles. What a Darth Quarcog move!

Anyhow, back to the outside. I took several days, and many gallons of sweat, to clear out some brush:

Oh, and one of the succulents is blooming!

I’ve repurposed the pavers used for the ponds into edging for our flower beds. I like how it looks…and it was free! That makes it look even better.

I did attempt the horrid task of taking up the fugly linoleum in the solarium, but that didn’t last long. I got two tiles kinda up, then gave up and had some chocolate milk. The milk was good.

Finally, I made the long, long drive to Ikea, and bought beautiful bookshelves for my library. I love my library! Here it is:

I moved my harp to the living room where the cuddle chair used to be:

So, that’s it! That’s what I’ve done for the past 3 weeks while Dean’s been gone. Well, that and run a crap-ton of research, get some fly colonies started, write a few presentations, teach, get my dissertation committee together, go to class, do my homework, and take a few midterms. You know, all that boring stuff. Sweetie comes home on Friday! Woot!

A house infested with fleas! What to do?

My friend Jory is having problems with a flea infestation in his new house. Here’s what he has to say:

So, I moved into a new place a week ago Sunday. The woman there before me got two kittens about 3 weeks before she moved out. And there are friggin’ fleas.

So far, I’ve tried the following:

* I bombed the place with foggers TWICE. Within 20 minutes, the fleas were jumping around in the kitchen again!

* I put flea powder on the carpets

* I had the carpets steam-cleaned

* I have put diatomaceus earth around the kitchen and other places I’ve seen the fleas.

* I’ve got a flea collar in the vacuum and have been vacuuming about 6 times each day. (Pretty much every time I need to walk into a room or leave it again.)

I’m not even sure where the hell the fleas are coming from anymore, but it seems to me they’re living in the kitchen, which doesn’t even make sense. The kitchen has a linoleum/vinyl floor. The edges curl up to the kitchen cabinets, so I’m theorizing that they’re living/laying eggs under the lino, which is protecting them from the foggers and allows them to jump out moments later and appear under the kitchen cabinets from seemingly nowhere.

What do you think? Ever heard of fleas living under lino?

Thanks for your help!


Ah, the never ending battle against blood sucking insects. Fleas have got to be some of the most annoying, because they seemingly appear out of nowhere and last for ages! Well, onto the questions.

First off, a little bit about fleas. Fleas are a wingless, blood sucking insect that feed on animals (and therefore humans). There are good number of different flea species, but the most common flea causing problems in a household is the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis.  The good news with this flea is that it doesn’t transmit plague (unlike the rat flea which spreads bubonic plague). Since I don’t have a specimen to identify, I’m going to assume that Jory has C. felis.  The bad news is it is still a blood sucker, and therefore still really annoying to anyone unlucky enough to get infested.

Most fleas spend their time on animals, blood feeding for several days or until they are groomed or knocked off. The cat flea doesn’t infest humans (i.e., doesn’t stay on humans for long periods) but can and will bite humans for a blood meal. Flea bites present as small, round, red marks, usually on the ankles or lower legs. People who are sensitive may see raised bumps and experience intense itching and rashes. Sever allergic reactions take approximately 12-24 hours to develop, and can last over 7 days. In the case of a bad reaction, a topical antihistamine cream, and an oral antihistamine may be used to treat the symptoms.

Fleas have a relatively simple life cycle, which makes interrupting said life cycle easy. The female flea must take a blood meal in order to produce eggs. She then lays her eggs within 2 days of her first blood meal. The eggs are found in pet bedding, carpet, upholstery–that sort of place. The eggs are tiny (1/50th of an inch), white, and generally round. They are rather delicate, and can be dried out by many products. A single female flea can lay up to 27 eggs per day for around 9 days.

The female flea also excretes what she doesn’t use of the blood meal as feces, often termed “flea dirt” which serves as food for her young. The feces looks just like dirt, and can most easily be seen in the fur of infested animals. FYI–if you were to place this dirt in water, it would rehydrate and turn the water bright red. Science is fun AND interesting!

The eggs hatch between 2 days and 2 weeks after being laid (depending on temperature–optimum temperature for this species seems to be between 80 and 90 F, with a relative humidity of 70%. They will hatch at lower and higher temperatures, just not as quickly or readily. They don’t seem to hatch below 50 F) into a small, worm-like larvae. These larvae are the most vulnerable stage. The larvae live in the carpet, bedding, or upholstery, feeding on flea feces in those same areas. The larvae go through several stages, or instars, in this form, and stay as larvae for as few as 6 days, to well beyond 2 weeks, once again depending on temperature.

Once the larvae have finished their instars, they begin to collect debris in their immediate area–things like hair, dust, dirt, fibers, etc. They use these debris and a silky material produced by their saliva to construct a hard casing around their entire body. This casing is almost impossible to see, because it is to completely camouflaged with its surroundings. The flea undergoes a complete metamorphosis inside the casing, where it breaks down its body into its basic components and reforms it into the adult flea form. This stage is very hardy–it can take a lot of stress and abuse without dying. In fact, most insects use the pupal form to survive adverse conditions, such as winter or drought. Fleas are no exception, and it is very, very hard to kill the pupal stage.

Pupae take between 7 and 10 days to emerge into adults. However, if conditions are adverse, they newly formed flea may stay in the pupal casing until it is all but guaranteed a blood meal after emergence. This is why an empty home can suddenly have a flea infestation right after you move in. Fleas can stay dormant in the pupal stage for months at a time, waiting to sense a blood meal. Vibrations caused by walking and moving appear to trigger the dormant insects into emerging all at the same time. Fun for all involved!

Newly emerged adults must have a blood meal to survive. They will attach to any animal that happens to be in the area, feed, mate, and repeat the cycle.

So, in an indoor habitat, let’s assume that the average temperature is 75 F most of the time. This would put the life cycle at 1 week for the egg stage, 10 days for the larvae, and 10 days for the pupae (approximately). That’s about 27 days for a flea to go from egg to adult. Assuming Jory moved into his home and didn’t notice any adult fleas when he went to look at the place, then all the fleas he’s dealing with now were in the earlier stages of development–egg, larvae, or pupae. So what should he do?

Provided you don’t have a pet that is re-infesting the house, fleas are rather easy to control. The simplest thing to do is vacuum. A recent study showed that vacuuming up any stage other than pupae kills the flea (so eggs, larvae, and adults are all killed by the vacuum) so the first step to control is to vacuum any and all areas that are infested. Make sure you include upholstery, beneath furniture, and along edges. Jory mentioned that he thought there may be some fleas beneath the linoleum. Remember that all an immature flea needs to survive is flea dirt, so it’s very possible for fleas to live in all kinds of habitats. Vacuum wherever fleas are suspected.

Flea bombs are a way to quickly kill adult fleas, but they present their problems. They must be used in a tightly closed area, and are designed for specific square footage. If you attempt to use a bomb incorrectly, it will not kill the adults at all. Secondly, there are really only a few pesticides licensed for indoor use. Fleas have this annoying ability to evolve, and the more they are exposed to a pesticide, the more likely they will become immune from it. Jory has tried the flea bombs, and says they fleas come jumping out right afterwards. This tells me they have been exposed before, and are now immune to whatever is in the bomb. I suggest finding another type of bomb with a different pesticide in it, or simply physically remove the fleas with a vacuum.

Diatomaceous earth is a great way to kill eggs and larvae. The fossilized diatoms act as razor blades, cutting the integument of the fleas to ribbons, and causing the fleas to dehydrate or bleed to death. This doesn’t work as well on adults, but works a bit. Spread the DE around any areas where fleas are found, wait a bit, then vacuum it up.

The biggest thing to do is wait. Remember the life cycle–you can easily kill the eggs and larvae, but the pupae are a pain. You may have to wait them out for up to 2 weeks. Vacuum at least twice a day, wash bedding, and clean upholstery, and within a month you should have interrupted the life cycle. Good luck!

Update: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about outdoor habitats, so I thought I’d add what I do whenever I move to a new place.

I have dogs and cats. These dogs and cats love going outside and bringing back whatever critters they find (the least of which is fleas!). Fleas are often found in the yard, especially in areas where an animal sleeps on a regular basis. This is a very common place to find flea larvae, in fact. As your pet sleeps outside, he will allow the adult fleas to drop flea dirt into the soil, and feed the flea larvae. If you don’t treat the outdoors as well as the indoors, you will end up reinfesting your house every time your pet walks outside.

When I move into a new place with a yard, the very first thing I do is treat the yard. Since I have pets and a garden, I HATE using chemical sprays outdoors (besides, I don’t want to kill off the fireflies and other awesome things I have back there!). So, I instead rely on flea nematodes–a microscopic worm-like organism that feeds on the flea larvae and lives in the soil. I buy mine from Amazon, and sprinkle the entire back yard, focusing on the areas where my dogs and cats sleep.

Now, keep in mind that this is a long-term treatment, and won’t completely eliminate the fleas in your yard right away. Instead, the nematodes will reproduce from year-to-year, providing long-term control. Bonus: these nematodes also feed on other undesirable plant pests like plant-eating beetles and some flies. Excellent!

Once you have treated the entire back yard, you can keep an eye out for where your animals sleep. After my pets have settled on an area, I buy another box of nematodes and heavily treat the preferred areas. I repeat this step every two years or so (depending on the flea infestation I notice each spring and summer). I tend to have no fleas in the back yard by the end of year three, and only have to spot check every once in a while. Good luck again!

Update 2015:
For those of you who don’t know, I live in Texas. Over the past few months we’ve been having epic rain storms, and the moisture, coupled with the warm weather, has been a boon for fleas around here. We’ve also had an influx of stray cats and other warm-blooded animals trying to get out of the rain, which means our domestic animals have been fighting a flea epidemic the like of which I haven’t seen in a long time.

This epidemic prompted me to start looking for new flea treatments. You see, with my normal maintenance, we haven’t had to deal with a bad flea season in a long time. This one took me by surprise! Luckily, in the years since I’ve had to do emergency flea treatments, there have been some new developments in the flea control market.

The one that I found that has worked the absolute best is Nitenpyram, sold under the brand name CapStar, or its generic name CapGuard. The chemical binds to the neural system of insects, and causes death within a few minutes or so. It comes in pill form, which is administered to cats and dogs over a certain body weight. The chemical is ingested by ectoparasites (like fleas) through blood feeding, and the fleas die 30 minutes after the animal takes the pill.

I was a little skeptical about this treatment, but I must say it worked beautifully. One of our cats was especially heavily infested (he’s awfully friendly with the neighborhood cats), and he spent about an hour scratching and running around as the fleas began to die off. They didn’t go quietly–I could see the suckers running around his fur, and I can only imagine how much that itched! By about 2 hours post pill, however, he was completely flea free for the first time in two months.

This pill is supposed to continue to kill off fleas for about 48 hours before the chemical is completely eliminated from the animal’s system, so it needs to be used in conjunction with a repellent (like Advantage or Frontline) to ensure the fleas don’t reinfest. It’s a great way to remove the fleas from animals, though, so you can get that population knocked down!