Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Gone


Let me just say that the older I get, the quicker time seems to fly.  I point this out today because I can’t believe the first month of 2013 is over already.  Seriously.  Wasn’t Memorial Day just last month?  Didn’t we celebrate Independence Day last week, and Christmas just yesterday?  If you put me under oath, I’d swear to it.  And, yet, here it is, January 31. Cuh-ray-zee. 

Anyway, the end of the month also brings us to the close of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  Assuming I hit publish on this thing before the stroke of midnight, I’m giving myself a passing grade, as I will end the month with 31 posts, one for every day of the month. 


Now, besides daily posting, the other part of the challenge is a more social aspect: share your posts on Facebook/Twitter, and make the rounds of other UBC participants, visiting some blogs.  I have to say, while I started off just fine with that, I’ve not done so well with it in the past week, since school started.  I’m giving myself a B- for that part. 

This is the third time I’ve participated in this quarterly challenge, with varying degrees of success.  The first time was the best in terms of my overall participation, but I’ve enjoyed it each time.  There are a wide variety of blogs in the challenge, most of them sites I would never run across in my normal routine.  It’s interesting to me to see the way different people approach their blogging, and the things others like to write about.  It’s good to step out of your comfort zone from time to time, I think.

If you’re following my Weight Loss Wednesday posts, then you also know that today is the end of the Planks-a-Lot challenge, too.  I’m giving myself a big fat D for that one.  Probably it should be an F, but I’m cutting myself a little slack just for improvement shown.  The goal was to be able to hold a plank for 2:30 by today; my best day so far was only half that.  Still, the first one I did at the start of the month was barely ten seconds, so I’ve come quite a ways.  Wendy is continuing the challenge into February (and adding squats, OMG!), so I’m going to keep trying. 

So, two challenges this month—neither of them over the top winners, but both of them pretty good.  I think I can live with that.  Besides time moving so quickly, that’s one of the other things that comes with old age:  learning to recognize and celebrate even the small successes, because those are the ones that keep us moving forward.

What successes have you celebrated this month?


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday, January 30


Well, might as well get the not-so-great news out of the way up front:  no weight loss this week.  Of course, looking at my activity for the week, it really isn’t surprising.  Also, one of the things I realized in the final few months of last year was that it’s really easy to eat a bunch of crap when I’m going to school, and that has proven to hold true the past week or so that classes have been in session again.  I’ve got to give some serious thought to how to conveniently eat without eating convenience food.

I did try my first kettle bell workout this week, and thought it might kill me!  Honestly, I was surprised, as on the surface, it seems like a pretty simple workout, but it was more of a strain than I anticipated, even for just a short beginner session.  I think once a week for a while will be plenty for that.  And, I forgot to do my plank yesterday.  I think I’m going to continue the challenge into next month, so I guess I better get my act together about that.

And, a quick word about FitDesk, since it was my primary activity this past week.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a little stationary bike that has a handy deskish block of foam on the handlebars so that you can do some multi-tasking rather than just sit on your butt and do nothing.  I bought it last semester when I realized my naturally sedentary proclivities were going to be exacerbated by the need to sit for long stretches of time while studying.  This way, I can read or work on my computer and still get in at least a little bit of movement.  Now, I will say that the desk is not entirely sufficient for much of my work—it’s not really big enough to conveniently hold both a textbook and a notebook—but Brian says he can make a better work surface for me.  He’s already made a different seat for the thing, as it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  Pretty soon, it’ll be perfect, and I’ll be able to spend even more time on it.  Of course, it’s very low energy, truly more for keeping up minor activity, not so much for working up a real burn.  That’s more of the problem this week—not enough high-energy, high-calorie burning workouts.  And, even with the FitDesk, there still wasn’t enough basic activity, as evidenced by my low step count.  Only 69,403, down even from last week.  Yeah, it’s no wonder no pounds dropped off this time around.  I am going to do better this week, though I’m giving myself an uphill climb, since I started with a rest day for today, and won’t even hit 5K steps.  I had lots of reading to do before class tonight. 

And, speaking of today, I should point out that I changed the start/end days of my weekly tracking calendar.  Last week, I ran Thurs-Wed, but then the day wasn’t finished before I posted, so I decided I’d rearrange and run Wed-Tues; that’s how it will be listed going forward.





Wed 1:15 47 minutes, Leslie Sansone 18,005
Thurs :35 36 minutes, FitDesk 13,232
Fri :43 Rest Day 1,565
Sat 1:10
(This was supposed to be rest day of plank challenge, but since I missed a day last week, I’m making up.)
43 minutes, kettle bell, floor stretching, glider 7,511
Sun :27 1 hour 11 minutes FitDesk. 7,600
Mon :45 1 hour 41 minutes FitDesk 7,971
Tues N/A 45 minutes FitDesk 13,519


And that’s a wrap for this week’s Weight Loss Wednesday.  It’s onward and upward (or, downward, hopefully) from here.

weight loss wednesday 1-23-13





Image courtesy of africa at

A Tuesday Tradition


The thing about Tube Day Tuesday is, well, it’s on Tuesday.  Not that that’s a problem, of course, it’s just that many Tuesdays include an airing of my oft-talked about White Collar, which puts it at the top of my brain for wanting to talk about it again.  Tonight, for instance, I’ve watched the most recent episode twice.  You might say I’m a bit addicted.  Still, tonight, I’m going to chat with you a little bit about another Tuesday show, one that I’ve been watching for many years now, NCIS


First, let me say that when the show premiered almost ten years ago, it was called Navy NCIS, which I always thought was goofy, considering the N stands for “naval”.  Navy Naval Criminal Investigative Service?  Really?  I’m glad they got that taken care of pretty quickly.

Anyway, as you might guess from the acronym, it’s a show about Navy cops.  Well, civilian Navy cops.  They investigate crimes (usually murder; it is TV after all) having to do with the Navy and Marines.  You know, dead sailors, murderous Marines, what-have-you.

While it’s a big agency, the show is all about one group of investigators, headed up by Leroy Jethro Gibbs.  Gibbs is played by Mark Harmon, who I’ve watched in a lot of stuff over the years, but remember earliest from a TV film called The Deliberate Stranger.  He played Ted Bundy, and I always thought he was the perfect combination of charming and creepy.  He was in a lot of stuff before that, including St. Elsewhere, which I watched sporadically, but somehow creepy Bundy is where he made his mark with me.  I also really enjoyed his series, Reasonable Doubts.

Gibbs is a pretty straight-forward, by-the-book kind of guy, but he’s carrying around some baggage having to do with the murder of his wife and daughter.  He also has a bunch of rules, things like “never apologize”, “never go anywhere without a knife”, and, “never, ever involve a lawyer”.  If you break a rule, you’re almost certainly going to be on the receiving end of a glacier Gibbs stare, but you’re also likely to earn a head slap.  Though, for the most part, those slaps are given to Tony DiNozzo, and not just for breaking the rules.

Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is the senior investigator of Gibbs’ group of three, but that doesn’t stop him from being a little immature from time to time.  Early on, he was a pretty blatant skirt chaser (though he’s toned that down as he’s grown up), and he’s quick with a wise remark, but his most quirky thing is his love of movies.  He watches them, owns them, quotes them, learns from them.  Did I say quirky?  Actually, that all seems pretty reasonable to me.

The other investigators are Tim McGee (Sean Murray) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo).  McGee started life on the show as the new guy—“probie”, as Tony likes to call him—and the resident geek, but he grows into a capable and effective agent.  Ziva comes from Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.  You have to admit, that’s sort of a nice twist, what with her working with our feds and all.  In the truest form of ensemble shows, it’s a cohesive group of friends close enough to be family.  They might bicker amongst themselves, but there’s no doubt they’d do anything for each other.  And all three of the investigators are completely dedicated to their boss, even if he does whack them on the head from time to time.

Like most cop shows, you need some fringe people rounding out the investigations, and they need to have their own slightly out of the ordinary styles.  Enter Abby Sciuto, freaky Goth chick who also happens to be a forensic analyst, and Dr. Donald (Ducky) Mallard, the philosophical medical examiner who likes to talk to his corpses.  I know I talked once before about Ducky and the man who portrays him, David McCallum, but I’ll say again that I used to love him in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  And Abby is brought to perfectly charming life by Pauley Perrette; she’s great as the slightly off-kilter comic relief.

I’d tell you to tune in to NCIS for its astounding storytelling, intricate plot twists, and diabolical cases, but that’s just not the way it is.  I mean, don’t get me wrong; it’s a well-written show, the storylines are entertaining, and they’ve gotten into some story arcs over the years that have been both intriguing and heart-wrenching. 

But the true strength of this show is in the people on the screen—the characters, and the performers who make them real.  They make you care about what happens, to them, and to the rest of the story.  They’re honorable, duty-driven people, so you want them to see justice done.  They’re friends, family, lovers (McGee and Abby had a relationship for a while, and Tony and Ziva have the whole will they/won’t they thing going on), so you love to see how they relate to each other.  We meet the team’s biological families, and we revel in finding out more tidbits about how they came to be who they are today.  We share car drives, elevator rides, and stakeouts and peel away a few more layers of personality.  It’s fun.  It’s been ten years, and these people have become the viewers’ friends as well as each others’, but we never forget that we still don’t know everything about them.

So, in a nutshell, if you’re looking for a traditional procedural to add to your viewing lineup, of if you just want to get to know some interesting characters, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Remembering the Days


memory 1-28-13


  Major historical events play tricks on the mind.  It’s hard sometimes to remember how it actually was rather than how it’s been played and replayed in the media.  It’s kind of weird sometimes.  But that doesn’t really keep us from remembering.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at

If you discount the memorable assassinations that took place in the sixties—all in my true childhood, before I reached the age of six—the first major event in my lifetime was probably the whole Watergate scandal leading to the resignation of President Nixon.  But, really, the only thing I remember about that entire fiasco is that people were always talking about it.  The news, my parents, really, all the grown-ups.  I wasn’t quite eleven by the time Nixon left office, and it’s when I learned the word impeach.  Though, at the time, I misunderstood what was happening and thought he was leaving office because he had officially been impeached.

The first event I remember more clearly was the Iran hostage affair.  Sometimes it makes me feel old that I remember a time when there wasn’t a Nightline program, and when all it did was cover the hostage situation.  Still, though I was certainly old enough to understand more fully, I have never been a particularly engaged person when it comes to current events; they tend to be sort of peripheral for me.  I was in high school when all of this happened, and I clearly remember the day the hostages were released and they made an announcement over the PA system when they crossed into friendly skies, and again (the next day? two days later?) when they landed back in the U.S.  But the weird memory thing is that my mind pictures me in my middle school when I heard that announcement.  I’m not sure why, and I sometimes wonder if maybe I was visiting my old school for some reason that day, but I have no specific memory of that, so I think it’s probably just faulty recollection.

Then there was President Reagan’s attempted assassination, though I remember it with what they like to call “flashbulb memory”.  I was having lunch with my mom that day; she’d picked me up from school for a girls’ afternoon break, and I was planning on returning for the final hour of class.  We were going to make a quick stop by my grandmother’s house for something and were driving down her street when we heard the news on the radio.  My mom decided I could skip the last of the school day and we watched the news coverage for the rest of the afternoon.  I remember she was convinced that Reagan was going to die, as she said the earliest reports of the Kennedy assassination had also been only about a “shooting” and an emergency trip to the hospital.  Thankfully, she was wrong about that, but I don’t have too many other memories of the event.

Which brings us to the event that happened 27 years ago today, the loss of the shuttle Challenger.  I was working at our local Orange Julius at the time, and a manager from the jewelry store walked across the mall to ask if we’d “heard about the shuttle”.  I knew it was launching, knew that Christa McAuliffe was onboard, but beyond that, didn’t know much about it.  He was the one who broke the news to us.  It’s kind of weird, in today’s world of instant information, to think about how things were then and howImage courtesy Wikipedia Commons delayed information could be.  I’d guess it was at least an hour before we got the news, unthinkable today, with Twitter and Facebook and news alerts delivered to our phones.  For an hour or so, my co-worker and I tried to get news from the radio and took turns walking across the mall to the jeweler, where they had a TV in the back room, but, finally, I made a quick run home (about a five minute drive) to pick up my own portable television so we could keep tabs on what was going on.  Not that there was really anything to keep tabs on, of course—it was going to be months before the world would know about faulty O rings and the flawed decision-making processes at NASA that caused the tragedy.  Still, it is in moments like those that we seem to find some measure of comfort in simply listening to people talk about things.  I’ve never understood that, but I know it to be true.  I remember going home that day and continuing to watch the coverage on CNN, a channel that was not one of my favorites, but I was glad to have it that day.  As an aside, I know intellectually that we had cable at the time of Reagan’s shooting, but I have absolutely no memory of watching CNN that day.  Because it was too new to us? Or because we were just still more comfortable with the networks?  Who knows, but whatever it was seems to have shifted in the intervening five years.

And, just to close the circle on the technology of of historic events, years later, I was again working when our first African-American president was sworn into office.  We had many televisions in our center, but they were always silent, so I was sitting at my desk, watching it on the computer so that I could hear the audio.  And, my team was being inundated with calls from customers who were unable to watch on their phones because so many people were trying to do the same thing, the network simply couldn’t keep up. (Heck, even was having some difficulty.)

But, whatever the event, and however it was communicated to me, these moments are fixed firmly in my mind, even if they are skewed, or maybe even simply misremembered entirely.  They’re not only part of my nation’s history, but part of my history, and they make up part of who I am. 

What are your memories of the major moments of history?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snapshot Sunday #24


Good evening, everyone; I hope you all had a pleasant weekend.  Mine went along pretty smoothly, and I even got a pretty decent night’s sleep last night.  Nine hours, and only one crazy dream awakening. (Homicidal Sheldon Cooper, anyone?)  But I’m still gonna try for a sleep-in tomorrow; twelve straight hours sounds pretty darn good.

And so that I may get that long night of sleep started soon, let’s see what this week’s photo prompts were all about.  Thanks to Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim for the ideas every day.

20.  something you saw


  Prompt:  Something you saw.  Brian and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to take in the sunshine.  I like seeing the moon in the daylight, especially when it’s hiding in the branches of semi-creepy trees.



21.  What You Do


  Prompt:  What you do.  First, let me say that something I’ve discovered over the past year is how much I dislike the question, “what do you do?”.  As a non-working person, I’m never quite sure how to answer.  But, that aside, one of the things I’m trying to do regularly these days is exercise.  On this particular day, it was Wii boxing.







22.  Corner


  Prompt:  Corner.  A bracket on one of my photo shelves.



23.  Electric


  Prompt:  Electric.  Inside my toaster.












24.  Stripes


  Prompt:  Stripes.  Our old-school speakers have a decorative faceplate.





25.  Landscape


  Prompt:  Landscape.  Well, see, I was sitting at the computer, with the day well over, when I realized I hadn’t remembered to take my daily picture yet.  Can’t get the more traditional landscape photo in the dark, but I can snap a pic of a document layout option.  It’s all about finding a way to make the prompt work, right?

26.  Together


  Prompt:  Together.  Does anything go together better than brownies and milk?  I think not.








I notice that almost all of my pictures lately are just the normal things I see around my house.  I need to start being more aware when I’m out and about so I can branch out a little bit.

All righty, then, I think that’s it for this week.  I’m off to bed, and wish you all sweet dreams and a wonderful new week.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Six Word Balance


Studying lots, but some fun, too.

studying 1-26-13

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at



Linking up over at Show My Face for Six Word Saturday.  Play along, and share your six words for today.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five Questions, Weather and Snakes


Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.  The heat pump repair folks called at 7:52 this morning, so there went the sleeping in I was so excited about yesterday.  There’s always tomorrow, I suppose, though we’ve got some things to do, so maybe not.  But Monday, Brian will be back at work, and I don’t have class until 5:30, so there’s always hope.

On the upside, I did make some progress toward my reading list, and as soon as I answer these questions, I’m going to tackle a case brief or two.  The more I get done this weekend, the more likely it is I actually get to sleep in Monday.  So let’s see what Mama M. has in store this week.

five question friday


1. Do you embrace or dread snow/cold weather days?

The weather itself?  Dread it.  The occasional days off that might occur because of the weather? I’m usually down with that.

2. Which game show or reality show could you totally win?

Hah.  I’m the furthest thing from a shoo-in on any of them.  And the reality shows are absolutely out; I’d be the first person voted off the island.  Trust.  I suppose I’d have a reasonably decent chance of making money on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, though it’s unlikely I have the nerves to make it all the way.

3. What is your preferred climate?

Ever been to San Diego?  I’m not much of a big city girl, but I could totally force myself to retire there.  Well, except for all the money I don’t have, of course.  Anyway, average temperatures of about 70°, never too hot, never too cold, and significantly more sunshine than rain?  Yeah, I could get used to that.

4. What do you buy every time you walk into the grocery store, no matter what?

There is nothing that I always buy, though I often pick up a pack of gum while I’m there.

5. If you see a spider/bug in the house, are you brave enough to kill it, or do you call for your hubby?

Well, if he’s in the same room, my preference is definitely to let him handle it.  But, for the most part, I can deal with it if I have to.  Though one night I did run across a snake in the bathroom.  I woke him up for that one.

What about you?  Feel free to leave your answers in the comments. 

Wishing a happy weekend to you all.

Aye, There’s the Rub


Image courtesy of debspoons at

  I have a plan:  I’m sleeping in tomorrow.  You know, it’s been almost a year since I’ve had a job that kept me up all hours working crazy shifts, but it seems to be a habit that I can’t break.  And, as I may have mentioned in the past, I’m one of those folks who needs lots of sleep.  About nine hours is my requirement, though even without a job to wake me, there are lots of times I don’t get that much sleep, and eventually it catches up with me. 

  That is especially true this week, though it’s not so much lack of sleep this time around, as a lack of restful sleep.  It started Monday when I went to bed (too late) and had a bit of difficulty falling asleep.  My brain was buzzing like crazy with all sorts of thoughts about the new semester, and once I did fall asleep, I tossed and turned until the alarm finally went off about half an hour later.  At least, that’s the way it felt when I woke up after that restless night.

That’s not all that unusual really, though; happens to me often if I’m worried about oversleeping, which I was a little bit that night, so I didn’t worry about it too much.  But it happened again Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I’m hoping to break the cycle tonight.

But the most troublesome part is the dreams.  I’m not even sure what all they’ve been about, but I know that they’ve been pretty weird, and contributed to my sleeplessness.  There have been family gatherings in strange environments, aliens, gun runners (or maybe drug dealers; it’s unclear, but some sort of sleazy criminal type), burglars, school buildings, jam-packed highways, barking dogs.  Basically, a jumble of incoherent images and events that fade quicker than I can wipe the sleep from my eyes and begin the day.  All I know for sure is that I wake—whether it be in the morning or still in the dead of night—with a tingling feeling of unease that doesn’t go away easily.  I don’t like that at all.

Out of idle curiosity, I ran some of those images through an online dream interpreter.  Though I’m not sure I believe in such things entirely, I can’t say I was too surprised to see that most of the things I looked up pointed to some sort of chaos going on in the waking world.  This week has certainly felt a little chaotic, trying to settle in to a new semester and all.  But now that all but one of my classes have held their first meeting, I’ve got a clearer idea of what is in store for the semester, and I’ve allowed myself a little bit of time to panic as I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, I’m hoping that things will begin to settle down now.  And I’m hoping that my sleep will reflect that—soon. 

So, tonight, I’m going to bed and I’m not even going to set my alarm.  I’m hoping there will be no tossing and turning, and if there is, I’m hoping that I will reach eventually reach the point of such exhaustion that a deep sleep will be able to envelop me.  Because, as I said, I’m sleeping in tomorrow.

For sleep, riches and health to be truly enjoyed, they must be interrupted.” ~Jean Paul

Do you ever have strange dreams that disturb your sleep?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday, January 23


Hey, there; it’s time for the first regular check in here at Weight Loss Wednesday.  However, it occurred to me that I haven’t really listed any of my regular goals.  Well, other than the weight loss itself, I mean.  Anyway, let me rectify that oversight now. 

For the moment, my specific plans are focused solely on activity.  Sure, I am beginning to be more aware of what I eat, as that’s obviously a huge component of weight, but right now I think I need to take one step at a time.  So, I have some fairly simple goals for the moment:

  • One daily plank, in conjunction with the #planksalot challenge
  • Minimum four workouts weekly, minimum 30 minutes each (I hope to do six days, but I’m leaving my official goal at four for now.)
  • 100,000 steps weekly

Oh, and, of course, the weight.  Friends and I have started making our plans for a gathering in California this June; I’d like to drop at least 20 pounds by then.

Okay, so how did last week look?







55 minutes, Richard Simmons and Leslie Sansone




25 minutes Leslie Sansone




1 hour 3 minutes Wii boxing & Wii fit, 7 minutes floor stretching




Neighborhood walk, approx 2 miles




1 hour 6 minutes, Wii Boxing



Forgot Sad smile

Rest Day




47 minutes, Leslie Sansone

11279 (+, day not yet ended)


Total steps this week:  88,640.  This is Thurs-Wed, so today obviously isn’t over yet.  But, I’m just as obviously not going to rack up another twelve thousand-ish steps before midnight, so I won’t meet that goal this week. 

Weight: Dropped one pound and one overall inch.

Overall: Met my workout goal, but not step count goal and did not plank every day.  Not too bad, but I can do better.  Onward to next week.

weight loss wednesday 1-23-13







Image courtesy of africa at

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Classes Resume, and So Does White Collar


It’s the first day of the spring semester, and I have to say that I’m already re-thinking the wisdom of carrying 18 hours.  Three of my six classes met today, and there is a lot of reading and writing.  In those classes alone, I count 25 separate legal-type papers (case briefs, complaints, memorandums, etc.) that have to be completed.  That’s not counting the associated reading to go with those assignments, random quizzes, or the six exams.  And that’s half my classes.  Yes, seriously re-thinking.

I’m trying not to panic just yet, as I know that I’m just incredibly tired right now.  Not only did I not go to bed early enough last night, but due to the start of the semester, student groups had membership tables set up in the student center this morning, so I had to leave home about 9:00am this morning.  I strolled back in the door here at home about 9:00pm.  Long first day.  Back in my working days, twelve or fourteen hour days were routine, but it’s a routine I’ve been out of for quite a while now, and I am beat.

On the upside, though, as I was driving home, I got an alert from a TV app thawhite collar returnst a new episode of White Collar would be starting soon.  That made me very happy.  Not that I had forgotten the season premiere; I’ve been counting the days for . . . well, a long time.  But, what somehow had not dawned on me was that the time slot has changed.  See, last season, it was on at eight, so I was always in class when it aired, and I had resigned myself to another whole semester of DVR time delay viewing.  I was so, so happy to realize I’d be able to watch live!

I would give you at least a brief review, but the truth is my exhaustion prevented me from fully enjoying it, so it wouldn’t be fair to try to give much of a recounting.  I will say that there were some nice moments that even got through the haze in my brain, and I’m looking forward to re-watching it, probably Friday (my free day).  But, exhausted or not, I’m glad it’s finally returned.  I go into withdrawal when I have to go too long without Peter and Neal.

One last very brief—and unrelated—television note:  Last night was the premiere of The Following with Kevin Bacon.   Again, no real review, because I didn’t get to watch it until late last night (one of the reasons I didn’t get enough sleep), and I was multi-tasking during the viewing, getting some last minute things ready for today.  In other words, it was not getting close to my full attention.  However, I’ll say that it does look very interesting, and I’ll be tuning in for more (as well as re-watching this episode again).  And it wasn’t as creepy as I feared it might be, though it was more gruesome than I was hoping it would be.  We’ll see if that’s a fair trade-off.  But, I’ll also say that I was hoping it would be more gripping—like something that grabbed my attention so fully, I wouldn’t even be able to think about multi-tasking while it was on.  Sort of like season one of 24, or something.  I’m sad to report it wasn’t that.  We’ll see how it develops.

And that’s it for tonight, dear folks.  I am going to hit publish and then hit the hay. 

Then and Now




A right delayed is a right denied.

     ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”   ~President Barack Obama

Honestly, I don’t have any profound ideas to add to the words these gentlemen had to say.  My only thought is that while we obviously have come far in the days the separate these men, it’s clear that we have so much further to go.  We still have not created full equality for the specific group of people Dr. King fought and died for, and, as the President’s words state, they are not the only group still fighting. 

It is important to me that no future generations of Americans live with inequality as the norm, that it’s nothing but a bad memory by the time I have grandchildren.  And while it seems almost insurmountable now, it’s really easier than we might believe.  All it will take is for each and every one of us to believe now that we really are all created equally, and to teach our children to believe that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should know no bounds.  Once we truly believe this, there will be no more rights denied, and this journey will finally be complete.

I hope that you will join me. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Snapshot Sunday #23


I’m getting a late start on things today.  Technically, it’s already tomorrow, which proves that my whole plan of getting to bed earlier this week is completely jacked up.  But in the interest of not being awake any longer than necessary, let’s get to the pictures. 

As always, daily photo prompts are provided by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim.

13.  Circle


  Prompt:  Circle.  The business end of my hair dryer.  I have to say, this looked a lot cooler in person than it did on the camera!





14.  Something Yellow


  Prompt:  Something yellow.  A bright spot in a festive bouquet.









15.  An Ordinary Moment


  Prompt:  An ordinary moment.  Doesn’t get much more ordinary than this: staring at a blank screen and pondering today’s blog topic.








16.  Two Things


  Prompt:  Two things.  The two halves of my breakfast grapefruit.  mmm.



17.  Ready


  Prompt:  Ready.  My stack of textbooks, ready and waiting for the upcoming semester.







18.  Shadow


  Prompt:  Shadow.  The crafty trees I made for Christmas are still displayed in my house, as I haven’t quite determined what to do with them.  I kept lighting them up for quite a while, because they make really good night lights in the very dark room they’re in.  But, turned off, they make spooky shadows.






19.  Delicious

Prompt:  Delicious.  We took sandwiches to the duck pond yesterday to enjoy a simple picnic in the sunshine.  Most people don’t think a ham and cheese sandwich is all that spectacular, but I think Mr. Goodcents’ bread is delicious.  Incidentally, Brian was afraid I was taking a picture of my food to post on Facebook or Twitter; he was glad to know it was the prompt of the day!

Don’t forget; you can join in the photo a day challenge, too.  It’s fun, and gives you a reason to look at things a little differently than you ordinarily might.  Can’t go wrong with that. 

If you’re partaking of the holiday off tomorrow, enjoy your extra day.  Either way, wishing you all a good week ahead.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Six Word Outing


Beautiful afternoon at the duck pond.






Linking up with Cate for Six Word Saturday.   Also, in case you’re keeping track, it’s day 19 of the UBC; rolling right along.

Which six words tell the story of your day?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Questions, Five Things on an Island


Good evening, friends.  I’m entering in to my last “free” weekend for a while, as classes begin again next Tuesday.  On the upside, Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be beautiful, so I hope to get outside to do a little walking.  Maybe I’ll even see if we can grab some sandwiches and sit in a park somewhere for a while.  Then Monday is supposed to be cold again, so maybe that final day of freedom will be the perfect opportunity to see a movie or something.  Then it’s back to the grindstone.

But all of that is days from now; for now, it’s time for Five Question Friday.

five question friday

1. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, which 5 books, movies, people and foods would you take along?

Wow.   That’s a really hard question.  Let’s start with the people, which might be the easiest, but it still awfully hard.  See, the problem with people is that they tend to come in groups, so someone that I might want to take along might only want to come along if they could bring someone of their own.  That could be an issue if their someone wasn’t going to be in my five.  See how that works?  But, in an attempt to reconcile that just a bit, I would choose my most immediate family: husband, son, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.  (But don’t get me started on the reality of how such a thing would leave Granny unattended.)

Now, the even harder ones.  Let’s see . . .


  1. Some sort of really excellent encyclopedia
  2. Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  3. A Separate Peace
  4. The Stand (I think; something by Stephen King)
  5. Winnie the Pooh


  1. E.T.
  2. Star Wars
  3. The Rock (Or maybe Con Air)
  4. The Negotiator
  5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Foods.  This one’s tricky.  Are we to assume an unlimited, imperishable supply?  Or that we only get whatever we stuffed in our duffle bag, and when it’s gone (either consumed or spoiled), it’s gone?  What the heck, I’m doing the answering, so I’ll say it’s the former.  And what about combo items?  Like, I would gladly take tacos if that was one item, but not if it was four.  Okay, I’ll try and just use individual items.

  1. Eggs
  2. Longhorn cheese
  3. Bacon
  4. Bread
  5. Green grapes (Or maybe watermelon; it’s a real toss-up.)

2. What is your thought on year round school?

Not having a school-aged child any longer, I don’t really think about it much, and I’m not even sure exactly how it’s set up.  My instinct is that kids need a break from the normal routine of school, but it could be that multiple smaller breaks instead of one long summer break could work as well.  Though it gets really hot around here in the summertime, and I’m pretty sure that’s not very conducive to learning.

3. What is your most embarrassing potty story? (Can't be one of your kids' potty stories either!)

Well, we’ve all walked into the wrong public bathroom at some point, right?  I’m not sure that I really have a particularly embarrassing potty story other than that.  To be completely frank, though, that’s exactly the answer you’d get even if I did have a story, because it sounds a lot nicer than, “It’s none of your business!”

4. What's the temperature where you are?

Right this very minute?  It’s 45° outside, 67° here in my living room.  But like I said, it’s supposed to be really nice tomorrow; expecting 65°.

5. Are you a winter/spring/fall/summer person?

Spring, for sure.  Like most folks, I don’t like extremes, and as mentioned earlier, our summers can be pretty extreme.  I don’t care for cold at all, so winter’s out.  Fall is okay temperature-wise, but we don’t get really pretty leaves or anything, so that leaves spring.  Nice temperatures, sunshine, flowers blooming and butterflies all around.  Just about perfect.  (For the record, around these parts, it’s typically about two weeks long!)

And that, dear friends, wraps up another round of 5QF.  As always, feel free to share your answers in comments, or do your own blog post and pop on over to My Little Life and link up.

And, whatever your plans are for the weekend, enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kids Do the Darndest Things


A little over three hundred years ago today, Benjamin Franklin was born.  Politician, author, diplomat—he wore a lot of hats.  And, of course, inventor is added to that list, too.  He gets credit for bifocals, flexible catheters, long-arm reaching poles (which probably have a real name, but I don’t know what it is), even the first map of the Gulf Stream.  The list could go on and on.  He was a man of ideas; he had a knack for recognizing a void and finding a way to fill it. 


inventor 1-17-13

Image courtesy of 89studio at

Franklin doesn’t get a national holiday or anything, not even National Inventors’ Day, which is celebrated on the birthday of Thomas Edison.  However, his special day does get to be the basis of K.I.D.—Kid Inventors’ Day.  The honor arises because one of Franklin’s many creations was swim fins, which he invented when he was only 11. 

And he’s not the only precocious youngster to grace the world with new ideas.  Television, ear muffs, and ice pops were apparently all brought to us by pre-adults.  I’m not sure whether to be impressed or suddenly feel that my childhood was horribly misspent. 

What about you?  Ever have any grand ideas that could change the world?

Weight Loss Wednesday—The Beginning

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the first installment of a new weekly topic here at Idle Chatter.  As you have likely deduced from the title, it has to do with weight loss, namely, mine.  I’m hoping to add an extra layer of accountability to my currently flagging efforts, and this seemed like a good way to do that.

Before we get started, let me give you a little bit of background on me.  I have considered myself overweight my entire life.  Now, let me say that I’ve never consciously felt demeaned or pigeon-holed by the constantly perfect female bodies that populate the public face of our society.  However, I can now look back objectively at photos of younger me and realize that I was not quite as horrific as I always imagined myself to be, so it is possible my expectations were unrealistic.  Not that I have ever been a perfectly fit specimen, mind you, but I would gladly trade my 25 year old body for the one that almost-50 year old me now inhabits.  But now I’ve got a more realistic picture of my weight, and I know for really and truly that something needs to be done about it.  

That reality sank in for me in the spring of 2010, when I saw a snapshot of myself taken at my former place of business.  I wish so badly that I had a copy of that picture, but I think I must’ve left it behind on my work computer the day I was unceremoniously asked to leave.  Too bad, because the photo was a galvanizing moment, bridging the gap between believing I was too fat and knowing it.  Let’s put it this way: had I been trying to button my pants in that snapshot, it would’ve looked a lot like this.

overweight 1-1613
 So, I did what any self-respecting yo-yo dieter would do: I lost about ten pounds and called it good.  But then, months later, toward the end of the year, I ran across that photo again, and come January of 2011, I was determined to get myself smaller, and thereby healthier.  That was the first New Year’s resolution I ever managed to stick with all year.

                 Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn at

When I began my weight loss journey two years ago, I had a goal of losing a total of 80 pounds; by December of ‘11, I had dropped 55 of them and was on a roll.  I was exercising regularly, eating more sensibly, and feeling better than I had in years.  Of course, the pounds were dropping really slowly by that point, but that was okay; I was determined, and I was working a successful plan. 

Then, in March of 2012, the rug was pulled out from under me when I was fired from my job of twelve and a half years.  I didn’t lose too much weight after that.  Oh, maybe a pound here or there, but nothing too drastic.   I lost a total of 62.5 pounds before I allowed myself to give up.   At first, I was determined not to let my job loss ruin my plan, and I maintained my weight for a little while, but by June it started inching back up slowly, and by October, it was out of control.  Really, I can trace back to the exact moment in my fruitless job search when I gave up entirely; the moment when I felt like it was all just pointless.  But I know now that wasn’t a real reason, it was just an excuse to get lazy again.

So, at the beginning of this year, I began my journey again, and now I need to lose 52 pounds.  It makes me sick with myself that 35 of those pounds have come off once already and now I have to do it again, but I just keep reminding myself that I know how to make it happen.  I’ve done it before, and I will do it again.  Does it seem harder this time around?  Without question.  But I am determined.  I know how much better I felt thirty pounds ago, and I can imagine how much better I’ll feel fifty pounds from now.

So, my goal with this weekly entry, is to report my workouts from the week before, hoping, as I said, that the need to report to the world every Wednesday will help me stay focused on what I know needs to be done.  I’m not following something pre-planned like Insanity or P90X or anything like that.  I’ve got some DVDs that I work out to, an exercise bike and an exerglider as my primary pieces of equipment.  Plus, an iPod full of good dance music when I really just want to move.  I am hoping to replace the glider with a treadmill sometime soon, but what I have now served me well before, so I know it can again.

Also, this month, I am participating in a daily plank challenge with a fellow UBC participant, Wendy, over at One Tough Mother Runner.  The idea there is to do one plank each day, increasing your time throughout the month.  I’d been doing pretty well at first, increasing from barely 15 seconds the first time I tried (not quite two weeks ago) up to 48 yesterday.  Sadly, today was a backsliding day, and I only managed 31.  I think I might try it again before I hit the sack, but if that’s all I can do today, I’ll just get up and do it again tomorrow.

So, that’s my story.  I hope you guys don’t mind serving as my virtual accountability partners each week; I know that I appreciate it.  Also, I’ve read other blogs where folks are doing similar posts periodically, and I know that it always helps me a little to know I’m not the only one struggling, so maybe some of you can get some of that benefit from me, as well.  I’d like that.  And, please, if you’re on a similar journey and would like to share your triumphs and tribulations, tell me about it.  Leave a comment, or drop me an email, whichever you prefer.  Like I said, I like to know I’m not alone.

Are there any big changes you’re determined to make?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mid-Season Musings


Remote 1-15-13


It’s getting to be the time of year the television industry refers to as mid-season.  Some shows are reaching their final moments as networks make decisions to continue or cancel, some new shows are about to make their grand premiere, and favorites are coming back from winter breaks.  I thought I’d take this chance to review my fall lineup picks and see how they’re faring in my household up to this point. 

First, what was I looking forward to that didn’t quite live up?

Made In Jersey—As previously mentioned, this show was cancelled after only a couple of episodes, though it seems CBS is determined to use up whatever episodes were in the can, as they pop up in strange timeslots from time to time.  It was okay, but nothing to write home about, and I wasn’t surprised to see it gone.

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at

Partners—I was glad for the opportunity to see David Krumholz on TV again, but this show was just too over the top to be funny.  The characters were outlandish caricatures, and the writing wasn’t good enough to overcome that for me.  And I’m apparently not the only one dissatisfied, as it was cancelled in November.

Revolution—The post-technology survivalist show looked like an interesting premise, but I was underwhelmed with the pilot episode.  The final few moments had a slight twist I wasn’t expecting, and I thought I’d tune in again and give it another chance, but I was wrong.  I haven’t seen it since.  It doesn’t return until March, so I’m sort of glad I’m not waiting impatiently for the story to continue.

Vegas—Cops and robbers in olden days of Las Vegas.  I can’t really say I don’t like it, because I haven’t actually watched it yet.  All twelve episodes are still stored on my DVR, and I keep telling myself I’m going to give it a try, but . . .

That’s not a very good percentage I’ve got going on this year, as there were only seven new shows I was planning on adding to my viewing, and four of them are out of the running already.  Of the other three, two are still hanging in, but a little weak.

Go On—Comedy with Matthew Perry.  It’s not great, and I left it behind for a few weeks, but then I picked it up again.  It does make me laugh, but its really good moments are buried pretty deep inside the crappy ones.

Chicago Fire—As you might imagine, the life and times of a group of firefighters in Chicago.  It’s actually not too bad, but it just feels like it hasn’t quite jelled yet.  Plus, it’s already starting to feel a bit like a soap opera sometimes, which I could live without.  I’m going to keep watching for now, but it needs to kick it in to gear.

And the final new program of the year?  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a winner.

Elementary—Modern day retelling of Sherlock Holmes, far better than I anticipated, even with a female Watson.  And, if you can believe the advertising, it’s the “number one new show”, so that’s something.

Next week will bring the debut of a mid-season series premiere that I’m looking forward to:  The Following.  It stars Kevin Bacon, and he’s kind of cool, plus it looks intriguing and exciting, with just a touch of creepiness.  I’m hoping not too creepy, because I don’t really go in for too much of that stuff.  But it is about tracking down a serial killer who’s got some sort of cult following; seems the creep factor could be kind of high, but as long as it stays on about the level of Criminal Minds, I’ll be fine.

Most important of all, it is also just about time for my favorite USA Network shows to return.  Suits will resume its season this Thursday, Necessary Roughness next Wednesday, and Psych late in February.  But the best news of all is I only have to wait one more week for the return of my beloved White Collar!  Yes, Peter and Neal will be back on the airwaves next Tuesday, and I can’t wait.  Well, actually, I’ll have to wait just a little bit.  Not only another week until airtime, but then a few hours afterward to watch the DVR showing, as my classes also resume next Tuesday.  Is that some bad scheduling, or what?

So, as this week’s edition of Tube Day Tuesday wraps up, are there any returning shows you’re looking forward to?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Take: Les Misérables




  Oh, Les Misérables.  Let me be upfront about my bias:  I love this musical.  The music, the story, the characters, the lessons learned—there’s not really a bad spot to be found.  A few months ago, I even confessed that in this particular instance, live theatre could even trump my beloved television as the preferred medium.

  So, what about the movie?  Well, that’s what we’re here to find out, right?  But first, a short primer for those who may not be familiar with the work.

  The story comes from Victor Hugo’s classic novel, and tells the story of Jean Valjean, a convict sent to prison for stealing bread to feed his starving family.  As the story begins, he’s being paroled, but in 19th century France, parole is a life-long cross to bear, just about guaranteed to cause recidivism.  So it is that Valjean soon feels desperate enough to steal from a priest, hoping to give himself a head start.  But he’s caught (those constables are everywhere, it seems), and almost certainly headed back to the pen.  But the priest backs up his story and has him freed, and even allows him to keep the stolen silver.  He’s bought Valjean’s soul for God.

Thus begins the story of Valjean’s redemption, as he determines to keep his promise to the old priest.  The rest of the story picks up years later, and finds Valjean a factory owner, mayor, and all around good guy.  But he’s still a wanted man, hunted by Inspector Javert, and living with that constant fear.  Through a heartbreaking series of events, one of his factory workers dies and leaves Valjean to care for her young daughter.  This is another promise he’s determined to keep.  The final stage of the story is again many years later; the daughter, Cosette, is now a young woman on the verge of love, Valjean is older and wiser, but still in hiding, and France is brimming with revolution.

That’s the story; now let’s look at the film.  First, let me be clear:  this is a musical film.  I know that seems pretty obvious, but I don’t mean the kind of musical where there’s your regular story acting going on and every fifteen minutes or so someone decides to break into song, then get back to their regular self.  No, this film is music, start to finish.  I didn’t count them, but I’m going to guess there are maybe a couple dozen spoken words in the entire thing, and it runs over two and a half hours.  If you don’t like a lot of singing, this is not the film for you.  (This would be the reason I treated myself to a special matinee showing one weekday and spared my husband, since I’ve already subjected him to the live performance three different times.)  And, speaking of the live version, I will try to keep this primarily focused on the film, but there’s simply no way for me not to compare the two mediums.

So let’s start with the cast.  Valjean is brought to life by Hugh Jackman, who has been nominated for an Academy Award, and just last night took home the Golden Globe for his role.  He’s certainly a talented man; heck, I can even remember enjoying a Tony Award broadcast because of him, and I am totally out of the loop of current Broadway hits.  That being said, I’ll just get it out of the way and say that if there’s a weak link in the cast, musically speaking, he’s it.  And, given that he’s the star, that’s kind of a downer.  On the other hand, even if there has to be a weakest link, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s really all that weak, and I think that’s the case here.  From strictly an acting perspective, he does a great job; you’ll feel his anguish, know his heart, pray for him to prevail.  And the man can sing; I don’t mean to imply he can’t.  But there are times his voice sounds . . . tinny might be the best way to describe it.  It’s not weak, far from it.  And it’s not that the music is outside his range.  But from time to time, something doesn’t sound quite right.  It’s not enough to be unpleasant, but I found myself wishing for something a little more. 

Perhaps this is the time to comment on the filmmaking process in this particular movie.  Unlike a typical musical, where the soundtrack would be recorded (and perfected) in a studio somewhere and then the actors lip sync to the songs as they film, these songs were filmed live.  hmm.  Filmed live.  Does that make sense?  What I mean is, the actors actually sang as they were filming each of their scenes. In terms of comparing film to theatre, I think that approach gave the closest approximation of seeing a live performance that you could hope to get in a movie.  I also think it means the songs have to be pretty darn close to perfect, because with state of the art technology in both film making and showing, there isn’t a lot of forgiveness.  In that way, I think maybe the stage performers have a slight advantage, because no matter how great  a space they’re performing in, it’s not being broadcast in THX surround sound.  You can watch a little bit about the filming here

Anyway, I think maybe that’s where Jackman suffers, or perhaps it really is in comparison.  The one place I really found his performance lacking was in Valjean’s signature song, “Bring Him Home”.  But maybe it’s just me.  Listen to Jackman, and stage star Colm Wilkinson, and you be the judge. 

Russell Crowe is the ever vigilant Javert, and while I can’t say I’m exactly a huge fan, I think he does a good job.  I’ve heard some bad things about his singing in the movie—even one of his costars poked a little fun at the Golden Globes—but I think he holds his own.  Granted, it’s a role with only a couple of major solos, and if it were much more than that, he might’ve run into trouble, but I say he’s the right person for the job.  He’s very believably self-righteous and certain, and his moment of transformation is worth seeing.

Anne Hathaway portrays Fantine, the ill-fated factory worker who changed Valjean’sfantine life when she entrusted Cosette to his care, and all I can say about her is that she impresses mightily.  She’s got maybe a handful of scenes and only a couple of songs, and still manages to have the most emotional moment of the film.  You wouldn’t really want to leave after “I Dreamed a Dream”, but if you did, at least you’d be leaving on a really high note.  She also picked up a Golden Globe last night, and is nominated for an Academy.  I have to say, I think her chances at the Oscar are better than Jackman’s, not necessarily because she’s that much better, but because at the Golden Globes, there were two categories for leading actors: drama and comedy/musical.  At the Academy Awards, Jackman has to go head to head with the dramatic winner, Daniel Day Lewis, as well as three other nominees.

I found the rest of the cast to be uniformly solid.  Cosette is played by Amanda Seyfried.  I’d put this in the supporting role category, even though she’s half of the major love story.  Even so, we don’t really get to know the character all that well.  We meet her as a child, when she’s rescued by Valjean, and when we see her again, she’s grown and falling in love with Marius.  There’s really not much time to find out a lot about who she is. 

cosette and marius

Marius is part of the group of young men planning a revolution, trying to bring equality and social justice to his country.  He’s played by Brit Eddie Redmayne, who’s completely believable as the sincere activist who finds love just as he and his group finalize an uprising that’s almost destined to lead them to their deaths.  He and Cosette share the much talked about love at first sight.  My only quibble with this casting is that while he’s easily believable as a rich young boy (as one of the songs says) out of his element, he doesn’t look like someone a pretty young girl would get all ga-ga over across a crowded square.  I mean, he’s cute in a freckle-faced way, but not your typical dashing young male.  A minor detail.

The other characters we meet are Eponine (Samantha Barks), who is also in love with Marius (she’s my personal favorite, btw); Eponine’s parents, the Thénardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter)les-miserables-2012-daniel-huttlestone, who offer up the comic relief of the movie, though they also come across much ickier than they typically do on stage; the revolutionary leader Enjolras, (Evan Tveit, who’s going to be in a new USA Network program that I’m looking forward to, Graceland), who is absolutely a true believer; and, Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), the plucky, scene-stealing street urchin who is actually Eponine’s brother, though I don’t think we ever really know that, in either the movie or the play.  It’s not quite a literal “cast of thousands”, but IMDB lists a couple of hundred credited roles, with another fifty or so uncredited.  There are a lot of people making this music come to life. 

Before wrapping up, I’d like to offer one last comparison to film and stage, and that’s the grand scale that film allows.  The movie is as visually attractive as it can be, considering we spend a lot of time in the poor streets of France rather than on a lovely sunny beach somewhere.  It’s sweeping and dramatic, and there are a few times it brings an intensity to the story you could never hope to achieve on stage—Javert’s final song being the best example.  However, there are also times I think the film suffers from a lack of intimacy that the stage brings.  The aforementioned “Bring Him Home” is one of those moments; it’s somehow not quite as soulful, and I think maybe it’s because it feels bigger.  The worst, for me, though, is “One Day More”.  On stage, it’s the Act One finale, so it feels big and bold as the music swells and the cast comes together, but really, it’s cramped and frenetic and just a little bit desperate, as each of the characters make ready for what they know will be a huge turning point in their lives.  With everyone sharing one stage, putting the pieces together, the emotions are impossible to ignore.  But on film, with the cuts between scenes and characters, something is lost, and that makes me just a little bit sad. 



  A London stage production of “One Day More”.





All right, so let’s just cut to the chase, before this post runs as long as the movie itself.  The shortcomings of the film are more magnified by comparison to live performances than they are when standing on their own.  As mentioned, I have seen the play several times, and I’ve had the CDs of the original Broadway cast in my car for years as stand-by music, so every little difference is glaring; the same would probably be true even if I were to see another live show now.  Still, it’s an excellent movie, with a strong cast telling a timeless story of love and redemption.  I might always prefer a stage production, but I would gladly spend another three hours of my life watching this movie again, maybe even another six.  If you haven’t seen it, and if you love musicals, I’d definitely put this one on your watch list. 

Have you seen the movie?  If so, what did you think?  If not, do you plan to?



A really nice trailer for the film.







All images ©Universal Studios.