Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

I haven't mentioned the K-word in a long time. You don't hear the word Katrina too often in New Orleans anymore. The vocabulary has changed. Most people break down time into "before the storm" or "after the storm." There's no need to specify which storm. Around here, it's THE storm.

The reason Halloween brings up thoughts of the storm is that tonight's trick-or-treating is a measure of where we stand. For as long as I can remember, my mother has kept track of how many trick-or-treaters visit each year. Before the storm, we usually had about 80 kids come to get candy. Last year after the storm, we had maybe 25 or 30 trick-or-treaters. Our lowest number in the history of mom's candy census.

This year we didn't know what to expect. We took bets. My mom guessed 40 would come. I guessed 80. My dad went for 100. Tonight the neighborhood was crawling with children, their parents, and their Maw-Maw's. My dad won the bet after 100+ kids (and one candy-lovin Maw-Maw) came to the front door. We almost ran out of candy and spider rings. That's never happened before.

After the storm, there's a feeling of gratitude for the small things that return to normal. Tonight we were grateful to see all the kids, even the double-dippers who took two candy bars instead of just one.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Today I was fooled into looking at a spam email. It had the aura of spam, even before it was opened, but sometimes it is just so hard to resist looking. This message pretended to be an invitation to an upcoming event. Once open, it turned out to be one of those money scams that Nigerian businessmen are so fond of proposing.

What was special about this piece of spam is the particularly impressive run-on sentence Mr. Rangel used to establish his trustworthiness before asking for money laundering help.

"I just resigned my job as a research scientist for ARINI(Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland(www.arini.ac.uk)) but I still work as a freelance consultant for the instistute which gives me very much time to do my own work which is basically being a freelance researcher who could be employed by research institutes to do research projects anywhere in the world."

In the spirit of NaBloPoMo's goal of getting people commenting, you are invited to make a comment and try your hand at writing an even more impressive run-on sentence. To pay homage to Mr. Rangel, please include a word of your choice (i.e. the word "research" or some variation thereof (researcher, researching...)) in your sentence a minimum of five times. Bad spelling and grammar is incouraged. Malaprops urn bonus points.

The best run-on gets a prize. I don't know what the prize is.

Deadline for the Run-on-O-Rama is November 7th.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Today marks four straight days of posts. "Connect four!" Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm in training.

A few days ago, Shokufeh mentioned the inauguration of an event to be known as NaBloPoMo. It's a kind of off-shoot to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

For NaBloPoMo, the general idea is that participant bloggers promise to post everyday in the month of November. Blog readers are encouraged to "delurk" and post at least one comment each day.

So, it's a few days early yet, but I've been trying to improve my posting consistency. So far so good, even if yesterday's mosquito scorecard was rather content poor.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Final Score

Mosquitoes: 1 Jennifer: 2

Friday, October 27, 2006


I must kill it.

There has been an explosion in the population of mosquitoes. Maybe it's all the rain. Or maybe the recent fluctuations in temperature have driven them indoors. For the past three hours there has been a mosquito plaguing me inside our house. It hasn't bitten, it just does loud buzzing flybys.

Earlier this week there was a mosquito that kept me awake for a couple of hours, long after I wished to be asleep. It's an effective form of torture.

Exhausted, I was just falling off into dreams when the buzzing hit my ear. Couldn't find the mosquito anywhere once the lights were on. I tried to get back to sleep, again entering dreamland when the little monster reappeared in my ear. For the next two hours the mosquito would come back every twenty minutes or so.

The popcorn textured wall and ceiling surfaces of houses built in the 70's are unfortunate for many reasons, but my biggest complaint is the bumpy surface's ability to camouflage a buzzing enemy.

The other night I think I finally managed to kill the mosquito in the dark, clapping sleepily above my head the last time I heard it buzz. Never found the body, but there was a little wing next to my pillow when I woke up.

Normally I'm not a killer.

I leave stinging caterpillars alone. I once caught a problem mouse and put it outside in the woods. Same thing with a snake that wandered into the kitchen. Giant huntsman spiders can cohabitate as long as they don't get too friendly. Jumping spiders are welcome to get a lot closer. Roaches... have to go outside but don't get squished. A little passive poison perhaps (though I feel bad about it). But no mosquito's. If they could just keep out of my ears they would live. Don't cross me when I'm trying to sleep.

The one that's flying around right now moves in zigzags. It's a good adaptation for eluding a smashing pair of hands. My hands actually hurt from all the unsuccessful smashing they are doing. Evil little mosquito.

I am going to get you.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

stuff + cats = awesome

There have been a lot of things to write about lately - the trip to Austin, the Louisiana prison rodeo, and the men tunneling under our house (not convicts). All those are posts I have written in my head but they have not yet escaped out through the fingers to the keyboard.

However, I do feel compelled to get the fingers moving in order to share a website that Brie passed on one evening in Austin. We were looking through books in a store and a book with pictures of stuff on cats got me laughing. Snorting with laughter.

Brie said, "You know, that's a website." No, I didn't.

Now I can laugh-snort in the privacy of home. You can too... if stuff on cats is your kind of thing.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Joy of Art

When I was a kid, I used to amuse myself for hours playing with books with detailed drawings of towns and busy streets. I don't remember the content of a single Richard Scary book but I can remember disappearing into the images and imagining what shops the mouse family were going to enter and what they would say to the nearby worm or pig children.

Once upon a time, traveling by train from Mumbai to Delhi, there was a British woman, Nic, in the berth below mine who shared a love of paintings that could be disappeared into. I don't remember how we figured that out, it might have been in a store, searching through stacks of Rajasthani miniature paintings.

This week I've spent a lot of time looking at the website of Paolo, an Italian artist. We met years ago in Mexico but I didn't had a chance to see his art until now.

There is something about his paintings that is magic. The colors... the twisting of the lines... I fall into the images and stay there. It's a good place to be.

Grazie, Paolo.