Sunday, July 31, 2011

[Nostalgic Video of the Day]

Nickelodeon lovers of my generation and younger, if you don't remember this show (I do!), you may not be aware of the origin of the beloved green slime. If that's you, prepare to be educated.

Whatever you do, if someone asks you a question you lack the answer to, don't admit to it, as you'll see in the second clip.









I'm all for Teen Nick bringing back 90s Nickelodeon, but don't neglect the 80s (yes, I know this show started in the 70s in Canada, but it was on here in the 80s in Nickelodeon)!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

[Nostalgic Video of the Day]

I think it's time to add a new feature to the blog: the nostalgic video of the day! Okay, so it's probably not going to happen every day, such as when I'm out of town, but it does clear me to post more than one a week. Ha.

So, our first official video:



I've got a handful I'll post soon, so be on the lookout! And fair warning: I may not be able to resist posting several in one day. It's true.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

[Latest Masterpiece]

[First Sight in the Morning]

I woke up, barely on the edge of the bed, and felt a pair of doggie feet pressed into my back. When I sat up, this is the sight that greeted me, with Sassy's sleeping figure taking up 85% of the horizontal space at the head of the bed:



That might explain the crazy dreams I had last night...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

[Nineties Nostalgia]

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/arts/television/teennicks-90s-nostalgia-fest.html?_r=2

Oh, get excited, folks, our 90's shows are coming back! I know Clarissa Explains It All will be one of them (*clack of the ladder on the window sill* Hi, Sam. *guitar twang*), thanks to a FB announcement. I do wish it had a better time slot though... Midnight to four a.m.?! And please, don't forget about the shows that aired those first few years of Nickelodeon that were actually filmed in the 80s but set the whole early Nickelodeon standard, such as You Can't Do That On Television! Never heard of it? Well, where do you think the green slime came from?  And did anyone else get annoyed when Nick at Nite changed from true classic shows like Batman, Mr. Ed, Dobie Gillis, and others to shows that had  been on the air in the past ten years (even some that were still making new episodes)? That's how I got to know some of the classic Hollywood movie stars as a kid before I got interested in the movies--by watching these shows.

For those of you who think FB groups have no effect, here's proof that occasionally, the decision-makers (on TV, anyway) do pay attention to their demographics.  Now, let's see if we can convince them to dedicate a whole channel to 80's and 90's Nickelodeon. Let's do this!

And no, 27 is not too young to be nostalgic. I have friends with 10-year-old kids. If you're old enough to have a pre-teen, you're old enough to reminisce about the "good old days of television."

*Wanders off to find her She-Ra DVDs*

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

[You Didn't Hear That... Got It?!]



Quite possibly the funniest video I've seen this month.

[Fancy and Grumpy--99% Finished!]

Moved to http://www.brushstrokesbyniki.com/2011/07/fancy-and-grumpy-99-finished.html

[Off to a Splendid Start]

I seem to be channeling Professor Brainard today. In the three hours since my alarm went off this morning, I've been trying to set new records for absent-mindedness. First, while making my pancakes this morning, I turned on the vent, the overhead light, walked out of the room to wait for the skillet heat up, came back in, poured the batter, and wondered what was taking my pancake so long to set. I noticed no heat. Is my stove broken? No. I'm just an idiot and never actually turned the knob.

Sigh.

Then, right at 11, I'm walking through my house, looking everywhere for my black comfortable dress flats that I wore yesterday (and every day since buying them, almost). I found one of my brown flats, but the black ones are nowhere to be found by my ditzy self today. So, in desperation, I end up wearing my skyscraper platform heels. Sexy, yes, and comfortable for sitting and standing. However, despite parking as close to my classroom as possible, I ended up having to take a long way anyway when the classroom printer ran out of paper. Now my toes are trying to squeeze out the peephole. Oof!


ALDO - Ibanez (Black) - Footwear
Not identical, but the closest I can find online; the front half's strap design is different, meeting in an oval shape. Otherwise, pretty close.

Oh, and then someone asked me about a due date for this week's in-class work, and I looked and realized I'd posted last semester's assignment information on this semester's class Blackboard, and vice versa.

So, I thought it wise not to lecture today. I'm just turning them loose to work on their papers and writing exercises in class. I wouldn't want to give some new information today and end up having to rescind half of it tomorrow.

The nice thing about painting, which is my afternoon plan, is that there's not much I have to "remember." Thaaaank goodness!

[Midnight... not a sound from the pavement... but my speakers are a different story.]

So here it is, three minutes before midnight. I'm sipping on ginger-peppermint tea with local honey, getting ready to pour myself a quarter cup of aloe vera juice. I let my guard down and did not consistently drink my a.v. juice and tea, and of course, today, the ulcer pain kicked back in. Sigh. I do indeed have a bad habit of not sticking to a schedule when it's in my best interests to do so. And the ginger burns like pepper, even with the honey added, and I'm really not a pepper fan, so I do kind of dread drinking it, even though I feel it helping ease the stomachache almost as soon as I feel it hit my stomach.

Well, until my Benadryl kicks in (and seeing as how I started my day hacking, wheezing, and gagging thanks to my allergies, I'm still needing it), I'll just sit here, think, write, examine my painting for areas I'll tweak tomorrow (which I would've done today had I not been out getting my business license for five hours), and listen to my "Ethereal and Celtic Songs" playlist--LotR music, Celtic Woman, Emerald Isle Band, Josh Groban, Enya... no bagpipes, though.

I need to get an album of bagpipe music that isn't primarily military tattoos. I want an album that makes me feel like I'm on the shores of Loch Lomond listening to the pipes drift through the fog. I've been in a mood lately for the music that provokes that "queer ache" (a la Anne Shirley) or Lewis's "inconsolable longing." Have you read Surprised by Joy? Do you remember the bit where he talks about joy as that which we almost reach from time to time but cannot grasp on this side of heaven? When we get that feeling of, "Oh... that's... and it's gone!" Bittersweet. Yeah. That kind of music, where I can start to glimpse the mystic beauty of God, but I never see it all for the same reason that God wouldn't completely reveal Himself to Moses. My heart nearly bursts, and if I saw it more clearly it would, but oh! I wish I could all the same! My eyes shine, my heart swells, and then it hurts like hell because it's gone in a moment and never fully realized... Jars of Clay's Oh My God has that same effect, mixed with deep contemplation, made even moreso by the way the crescendo and climax of the song is never resolved. Yeah. It's true. I'm a music lover (of all sorts, except most country, but this type has a special place in my spiritual heart for that reason).

In an unrelated thought, the writers of Eureka and Warehouse 13 are mad geniuses. I just thought I'd throw that out there, after watching the new episodes tonight. I do love that they're on during the same evening now, and I'm finding that I'm really grateful for DVR, because I never remember when something is coming on, but my DVR catches it.

It's true. I've got entirely too many interests and passions to ever conquer one completely. It's the artistic version of ADD. This also explains the nature of this post... and why I never got around to talking about the experience of applying for my business license today and how I'm simultaneously relieved, excited, and terrified. That's also why I'm still up at 12:34, even though I meant to be in bed by midnight.

And I could end up rambling on and on; however, my Benadryl has finally started to work, so I can now breathe even as I start nodding off.

Friday, July 15, 2011

[Errant Tongue?]

A sure sign of being tuckered out!


[Late-Night Rambling]

Oh, what an afternoon! I completely meant to finish a focused blog entry I began this morning (in thought, a few days before) and make some progress on my painting. Instead, on my way home from work and grocery shopping, I felt my migraine ramp up the intensity. Within an hour of getting home and finishing lunch, I fell sound asleep for the next four hours... and no relief came. Sigh. I decided that, if I can't write or paint effectively, I needed to find something productive to do. So, here I am, in the wee hours of the morning, trying to ignore my headache, and putting DVR recordings on disc. Some I'm doing as a favor (dog advice, which I'll copy for myself), so it does feel productive.

Yeah... That's all I can articulate for now. Good night, all!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

[A Pair of Westies--Stage One]

[A Better Start to the Day]

Okay, it's not just me: http://bloggerindraft.blogspot.com/2011/07/bloggers-updated-interface-now.html.  I'll find out from my students today if theirs has changed yet.

A few thoughts, though... I have good eyes, but the font and color scheme are hard to read for an extended period of time and would be especially so if I had a migraine (I don't stop for migraines unless they're really hardcore). I think a helpful option would be to give users the option of a variety of color schemes for the dashboard page so that we can pick the one our eyes like most and that our monitors display best. It couldn't hurt, anyway, and judging by the comments in the above post, I'm not the only one blinded.

On the home front, outside of some discomfort in my neck and abdomen, and some ridiculous water retention (seriously--how else do you explain my gaining 10 pounds in two days, with no difference (at least, increase-wise) in diet), I did not wake up in pain this morning. Thank goodness. As long as my computer/internet stays online and the pain stays away, I should be able to get caught up on grading and start applying paint to my plotted-out canvas. With any luck, I'll finish this painting within the next two or three days, and then I'll be able to work on doing on of the current Sassy to add to my portfolio, assuming I don't get any orders in that time period. I'm also going to work on an art-release form for my clients to sign to give me permission to use photos of their paintings in my public portfolio (or to pay extra to keep it off... the reason being that as someone starting out, I need to build up my examples so potential clients can see what I'm capable of doing for them--right now, I mostly have older pieces from high school and my first year of college, and my abilities have expanded since then).

Alright... I have to leave soon, so I better wrap this up so I can get dressed and ready for work. Until next time, be it this afternoon or within the next couple of days!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

[NSFM--(Not Safe For Men)]

**Warning, Warning! Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! Menstruation post alert! Cranky moaning about cramps, migraines, and body aches on the horizon! Run for your life!**

Hopefully I've effectively managed to frighten off anyone weak-stomached about women's periods and unsympathetic about cramps, because I've got to rant, and I'm entirely too moody to cope with anyone offended with my blunt discussion about why my period is more annoying than normal.

Let's start with the weekend before last--the fourth of July holiday weekend. As many of you know/have probably assumed by now, I have undiagnosed IBS. I've had it all my life, and it's gotten worse with time--a fairly typical issue. Also fairly typical is the development or increase in food sensitivity. In my case, this time anyway, I've gradually become lactose intolerant, though up until recently, I could usually manage it with small amounts of dairy products at a time or doses of lactase to help me counter the effects. However, Friday night of the previously mentioned weekend, while visiting my parents, I had one scoop--one SMALL scoop I tell you!--of chocolate ice cream in the morning and then one more in the evening. An hour after said chocolatey delights, the stomach cramps began. I anticipated an uncomfortable and restless night of diarrhea (remember--you were warned), which had previously been the norm. Then, while showing Dad a video on my phone, I suddenly became intensely nauseated.

Let me be clear--I have a sensitive stomach, but outside of hospital situations and infections, I rarely throw up--at least since reaching my late teens. So this is no small thing for me. Now, ultimately, I never actually threw up that night, but I came close off and on (more on than off) until well into the wee morning hours when I took a second dose of Benadryl that thankfully overpowered the nausea sensation with enough drowsiness to knock me out. When I woke, the nausea was almost gone. Thank heavens. But out of all that came the realization that I could no longer consume any milk with lactose in it (Lactaid milk is fine, though), or milk products. It looks like I'll be shopping at MaMa Jean's a lot more to get my ice "cream" fix via coconut milk and soy milk ice cream (which, sadly, are far more expensive than traditional ice cream). I can vouch, by the way, for soy yogurt. It's got a good flavor that's almost identical to dairy yogurt. Still... more expensive. And I'm even more broke than normal. Sigh.

Fast forward to the end of the week. My stomach's still a little jumpy, and I notice I'm eating more than normal (and probably have been doing so for a month or two without realizing it, judging by my increasing self-criticism when I look in the mirror and see my clothes getting tighter) without realizing it. I have a sneaking suspicion, based on last spring, that there may be another ulcer making itself known. I'd noticed in the past that prior to feeling the pain, I'd been eating more often due to mistaking ulcer discomfort for hunger and its effectiveness in masking the pain by limiting stomach acid around the sores. Still, when the migraines start on Wednesday, I take Aleve, because I've got things to do and no time to hide from the light or noise. Then, Sunday and Monday (yesterday), on days four and five of migraines, despite taking Aleve on a full stomach, I end up with excruciating pain akin to the pain I feel (and can't get rid of with antacids) when I eat store-bought eggs (seriously). Yup, it's definitely another ulcer. Damn.

So, off to MaMa Jean's for aloe vera juice, ginger tea, and ginseng tea (so I can cut back on the caffeine--I'm not about to drop it altogether in the middle of the semester!) along with checking prices on lactose-free foods. The juice and tea start taking the edge off, but as they do, I notice another pain a little lower down.

Dammit... cramps! Oh, well... they're not as bad as normal this time. Good. And my migraine's still manageable. I can deal.

And now, this morning. I wake up, doubled over. I can't move my head left or right for the migraine pain and resulting stiff neck. Once again, I've got shooting pains up and down my right arm and particularly in my thumb (a new menstrual side effect from within the past two years).  At least the aloe takes care of the ulcer pain. But I'm determined to tough it out. In class, however, the pain gets worse. I half-lie to my students, attributing my paleness and strained voice to a worse-than-normal migraine, which is true but not the whole story. I'm definitely going to need something for my period. So, I go over to Walgreen's after class and pick up two bottles (yay! Sale! Buy one, get one half off!) of Excedrin Menstrual Relief quick release capsules. I dread the stomach pain, but at this point, it's more manageable than being on the verge of fainting and having to make excuses. Fifteen minutes after I take the dose, five minutes after getting home, into my 'jammies and bed, the pain is gone, and no stomach pain! I happily sleep the afternoon away until it wears off around 5:00.

So, that's the kind of week I'm having--not just unusually intense PMDD symptoms, but ulcer pain and migraines. And this second dose, while working, isn't working as well as the first. Dangit. Here's hoping tomorrow brings a natural easing of symptoms to a more tolerable level.

This, also, is why I've held off lending my thoughts to the recent discussion about gender that I've been reading in my RSS Feeds. I've got plenty to add, but I want to make sure snarky hormonal sarcasm doesn't contribute any more to my natural disdain for misogyny and notions of gender standards being "right." Oh, I've got thoughts, and I will share them, but give me a few days to make sure I share them right.

Over and out!

P.S. Has anyone noticed changes to the Blogger page and dashboard, or is this because I joined Google+? It looks nice, but it's going to take awhile to adjust.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

[Why Writing a Miscellaneous Blog is Being True to Me]

This afternoon, as usual, I had the Travel Channel on in the background. Anthony Bourdain’s show was featuring one of his food specials; in this case, it was food obsession. Three food bloggers took up a big chunk of this episode, and me being me, and me being a blogger for the past ten-plus years, I starting looking for applicable ideas. These are folks who, passionate about one thing in particular, devote their writing lives to this particular topic. They eat (literally), breathe, think, and live fine foods. They have focus, they have a set topic, and no one has to wonder what the general topic of each post will be—it’s going to be food, period.

Now, I’ve seen and read this idea many times over as I’ve looked for ways to give my blog some life and readership beyond my closest friends and family. After all, like many other writers and bloggers out there, I want this bit of focus in my life to go somewhere and be something just a little more than a personal diary that happens to be publicly accessible. And I know, from years of reading and observing, that the blogs that garner the most attention have a primary focus; their writers may periodically stray from the main theme, but on the whole, the readers have an idea early on about what they’re going to read when they see a new post. And goodness knows I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out which of my passions is my key passion, or my most verbose topic. I’ve temporarily tried out theme blogs elsewhere (I’m still working on my book blog, by the way, for those of you who subscribe to it… it’s just on hiatus until I get into a groove with my painting), and they’ve all eventually petered out. It’s not that I don’t care about that topic anymore, because I do. I just am not the most single-minded individual who’s ever waked the earth.

In fact, that’s my theme. It appears, despite all appearances, that there is a theme—it’s trying to take everything in and figure out the complexity that is my set of interests and passions. I love dogs and spend a lot of time thinking and writing about them (Sassy especially), but I also love classic cinema. I love faith, but I don’t want to talk about it all the time or hear about it all the time because, for me anyway, it loses its magnitude if it’s the only thing about which I think. In fact, on the dating site (yes, I know… but I thought I’d give it a try after 27 years of singleness) I use, I close out those match profiles of guys who only talk about how passionate about their faith. As I read through them, the thought goes through my mind that, I think that’s great, but I still know nothing about who you are or what you enjoy doing… and it’s a little intimidating if Jesus is all you ever think about, because I’d be afraid that my own faith wouldn’t be pious enough for your standards. It’s the same for me as a person. My faith is important to me, but it’s not all of me, and it’s not always a safe presentation—I’ll always be real rather than be “right,” and that can alienate a few people. I also teach and enjoy it (most days) and have a few things I’m always eager to discuss. But at the same time, I’m much more than a teacher—I’m also an artist. And a music-lover who once seriously wanted to become a vocalist. History fascinates me to no end. At the same time, though, I’m really into technology (to a point—and I’m not really a fan of Apple). I’m a book geek in the worst way (look out if you bring up Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, or J.R.R. Tolkien) but I also love film and television. Food and drink fascinate me as well—I’d love to do a bit of food blogging from time to time. I’m a memoirist; I’ve led an interesting life for someone who never went through too much of rebellious period and who hasn’t been out of Missouri except for a wedding in something like five or six years, even though I’d love to see the world—especially Europe and the UK. A travel blog! Wouldn’t that be great? But, I’m broke, barely scraping by, and I have a dog with separation anxiety who is too big to ride in the cabin of an airplane, so I’m still living vicariously through Samantha Brown, Tony Bourdain, Adam Richman, and Andrew Zimmern (to name a few). Then there’s psychology, a field I nearly went into before encountering the evil class that is statistics…

So that’s the kind of blog you’re dealing with here.  It’s a food-faith-travel-music-movie-television-art-education-literature-creative-writing-culture-progressive-thought-dog-humor-decorating-observation-ghosts-and-the-paranormal-and-probably-more-to-come-later blog.

Or, better yet, it’s a Niki Blog, and that means many deep passions rather than one focus. And that, essentially means that my readership is quickly narrowed down to friends and family who want to keep up with me and those few people who are simply drawn to what I say and/or how I say it.  To try to shape this into something else would be a betrayal of who I am and would be forced.

So, if you fall into a category of readers who find this fun and interesting, read on and comment from time to time. If only a few of those interest you, if you hang around long enough, there’ll be a post you like. If, however, you want a genre-blog, then I wish you peace as you look for a blog that interests you more. 

[Birthday Wishes]

Forty-five years ago today, after having nine miscarriages and after she spent nine months in bed struggling desperately to keep this baby, a young woman gave birth to a little girl, six pounds and six ounces. Her parents' hearts nearly burst with pride as they looked into the eyes of their daughter for the first time. A short time later, the woman's uterus ruptured, prompting a necessary hysterectomy. Little Michelle would be the only child.




In time, the baby would grow into a healthy child and teenager, charming many hearts with her lovely face and genuine smile. Like her mother, however, Michelle would grow up and have only one child as well (me), though for different reasons. Before her daughter turned three, Michelle was diagnosed with cancer of the spinal cord and spent the remaining seven years of her life as a quadriplegic who still managed to smile in spite of the circumstances. When she succumbed to a lung infection at the age of twenty-six, she left behind an enormous hole the lives of her parents and daughter. They would eventually move on, but the pain never completely dissipates from that kind of a loss. That's why a day that once brought great joy is now bittersweet.





Happy birthday, Mom. I miss you with all my heart and wish I could celebrate today with you here in person. I love you.