Tuesday, July 31, 2007

click the link or die

I'm guest posting today at ...and the pursuit of happiness. Check it out, mofos.

more proof I'm an idiot.

So, it turns out, I don't have a demonic serial-killer neon tetra. I actually killed all of my fish, by being a moron. Actually let me put some of the blame on the "detailed instructions" that came with our fishtank kit. But here's what went wrong, as near as I can tell:
  1. We didn't cycle it. Apparently you're supposed to do a 15% water change every 3 days for the first 8 weeks! I had no idea. I haven't had a community tank since I was a little kid, and as we learned in my previous entry, water quality is not an issue with Convict Cichlids - so it never came up with Holly.
  2. You shouldn't put goldfish in a tropical tank. I think I knew this, but for some reason I did it anyway. You shouldn't even use feeder fish (which are cheap, generally poorly-cared-for goldfish) to start off a tropical tank. Who knew.
  3. I added too many fish at a time, way too soon.
  4. I think the goldfish may have had fin rot, and infected the whole tank.
So I'm off to get a testing kit (I already got a pH testing kit, and the water is very alkaline - I put in some drops to lower the pH, hopefully that will help a bit, at least temporarily). One of the guppies is actually showing signs of ammonia poisoning (resting at the bottom of the tank) - so first things first I'm going to do a water change, then treat for fin rot, then start the cycling process over again - actually testing the levels and changing the water this time.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

my poor fishies

My fish are dying. At first it was one by one, now it's several at a time. We just set up our aquarium a week ago, so at first we thought there was something wrong the the pH, or something. Then we noticed that all of the fish that were dying had missing tails. They drift for quite a while before they finally actually die. It's really sad. When I talked to my mom on the phone the day before yesterday, I had 12 fish. Now I have 4.

By process of elimination, based on which fish we got when, and which ones are left, it's a neon tetra that's killing all the rest of the fish. This is truly bizarre, because neon tetras are very peaceful fish. According to Wikipedia: "They tend to be timid and, because of their small size, should not be kept with large or aggressive fish who may bully or simply eat them." And here's one of them, being the bully. A fish who "should be kept with at least six other (preferably ten others) of their kind, as they are considered 'school fish'," killing four of his own kind. (And four feeders. And a fantail goldfish. And two zebra danios. God help him if he goes after my guppies.) A freakin' neon tetra, for Pete's sake.

Unless it's the ghost of Hardcore Holly.

See, we used to have a Convict Cichlid named Hardcore Holly. We didn't name him that; we were the third family who had him. He was a Navy orphan fish; whenever his owners transferred, so would he - to another family. He must have been five or six years old by the time we got him.

Here's what Tim's Tropicals has to say about Convict Cichlids:
"Convict Cichlids are among the most aggressive cichlids, both toward fish and toward anything else in the tank. They should be kept either alone or in groups of at least four. They will rearrange any decorations and plants in the tank. Water quality is not an issue for them. They will eat almost anything, including cichlid pellets, freeze-dried blood worms, flake foods, brine shrimp and small live fish."

Holly was crazy. He ate smaller fish; that was a given. That's just the circle of life. But he didn't just eat them. He played with his food. I remember one particularly plucky feeder fish who, apparently, wasn't about to just give up and be eaten; rather than trying to swim away and hide, he decided that a good offense was the best defense. He started attacking Holly. And Holly let him, for a little while. And then Holly bit him in half. He didn't even eat the front half; he just let it float away. As a warning to the other fish, I guess.

He tolerated algae eaters, but only as long as they did their job. If they got lazy, or if they did too good a job and there was no longer any algae left to eat, Holly would terminate them. And he would often bite the fins off of a feeder fish or two if they got too uppity. Like I said, he liked to play with his food.

He was smart, too. In our first apartment in New Orleans, his tank was right next to our table. When we sat down to eat, he would tap against the glass to get our attention until we fed him. (He was huge, so when he tapped on the glass, you could really hear it.) And he liked to redecorate. He'd pick up pieces of gravel in his mouth, carry them to the other side of the tank, and spit them out. He was constantly digging holes and creating hills - he would dig straight down to the bottom of the tank. He was quite the landscaper. And you know those little plastic "jewels"? He'd sort them out by color. I swear to God.

Anyway, about a week ago (around the same time that we set up our new aquarium), we put a picture of Holly up on the living room wall. (I sketched it based on a photograph. I'm really proud of it, seeing as how I don't really have any drawing talent and it actually came out good.) So I really am wondering if the ghost of Hardcore Holly is haunting our tank. Because, as Tara put it, "Katrina man, wow, that killed some peeps, huh?" And maybe he doesn't want us to replace him.

RIP, Hardcore Holly. We miss you like crazy. But really. Rest in Peace! Stop killing my new fish!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

i thought i was doing a good job...

Sometimes things that happen for completely practical reasons make me doubt myself and I hate that that happens. Like if my hours at work are reduced due to scheduling conflicts for the other employees, it automatically makes me feel like I must not be doing a good job. I hate that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

reposted from Toddler Planet

"We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer."


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Brandon's new favorite movie is Cars. It was The Incredibles for a while, but we put that one away when he started hitting us with things and then running away really fast. We figured that Cars would be safer for him to watch because he wouldn't identify with any of the characters like he seems to identify with Dash.
As much as I love the Muppets, I have to say that it's nice to be watching something different. Pixar movies are cool because there's a lot of detail in there and I notice something new every day. For example, when Lightning is making his personal appearance, and the spotlight hits him and you hear crickets? If you listen carefully, you can hear someone calling out "Freebird!!!" Hahaha.
And yes, I still cry at the ending. Every time. I'm pathetic.

guess I'll go get a smoothie

I am out of cereal. I pulled out the box of Instant Breakfast that I bought two weeks ago, and it says "use by June 2007". W.T.F???????? The canister of Instant Breakfast that has been in my pantry for at least a year had a use-by date of May 2007. (I just threw it out, BTW.) So how long had that box been sitting on the shelf in the store before I bought it?
The worst part of all of this is that shortly after I bought it, I went through all of my grocery receipts and threw them all away. So I can't even return it.
I'm hungry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

in which I bore you to tears

I haven't written for 10 days. I apologize. I have a ton of projects going on that have been taking all of my creative energy. Bulleted list time!
  • We are slowly redecorating the living room, piece by piece. First up was hanging the TV on the wall. Next we have to hang the shelf beneath it for the DVD player and speakers. I also have to hang the new curtains, make new pillows, knit a new throw, hang some pictures...etc...etc...etc...
  • I have actually been putting some work into the "Brandon's First Year" video montage for his website that I have been neglecting for...oh, almost eight months now. If you ask nicely, and if I know who you are, maybe I will give you the password for his site. (I am VERY protective of my little boy's presence on the internet.) Oh who am I kidding. The only people who really read this are my mom and Tara, and you both already have the password anyway.
  • We bought an aquarium. It has a cool rock and a (fake) tree stump and two real plants - it looks awesome. We got some cheapie feeder fish for it yesterday to make sure it's a hospitable environment. We're getting some neon tetras today. We'll get some more fish on Thursday. Maybe some guppies and a fantail goldfish (we call them "darps" because they look like they're saying "darp darp darp" - we're silly). Or maybe some mollies or danios or something. We'll see.
  • Brian is building a guitar. He is buying the parts and putting it together. The body he got for it is stunningly beautiful. Really. I have been helping him look at pictures and pick things out. I know very little about guitars, but I have a decent aesthetic sense. At some point after he finishes his, he is going to build one for me. So I've been looking at parts for mine, too. I'm trying to decide between a stratocaster-style body (because it would be easier to play and to find parts for, and I could get it made in any wood I want) or a jaguar/jazzmaster-style body (because it looks so darn cool - the pickguard I want doesn't come in a jazzmaster shape, though).
    Stratocaster-shaped body:

    Jazzmaster-shaped body (I wouldn't get it in a solid color, but it's easier to see the shape):

    Abalone (paua shell) pickguard (only comes in strat, tele, and Les Paul shapes, this is for a strat):

    Opinions? Anyone? I have LOT of time to decide.
  • I am probably going to set up a blog for Brian to detail his guitar-assembling adventures. More web design! Yay!
  • I'm planning out my Christmas gift projects. Every year I want to make everyone's gifts (mostly by knitting), but I don't think of it until September or even October, by which point it's just way too late to get it all done. So I'm looking through patterns and yarns and planning stuff out. I have some good ideas.
  • I'm trying to figure out how to spend less on groceries. I am spending twice as much on groceries as I did 3 years ago. Then again, many of the things I'm buying (like chicken breast) cost twice as much as they did 3 years ago. (Of course, 3 years ago I lived in New Orleans and now I live in Hawaii; I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.) I don't know if this is really a "project" per se, but it's taking up a lot of my mental energy.
Bored yet? Okay, good. My job here is done.

Update: rear-routed jazzmaster body and abalone pickup rings. Eureka!! I'm gonna have the coolest looking guitar ever. Maybe I should learn how to play. - 7/24/07

Saturday, July 14, 2007

timshel - thou mayest

I have watched waaaay more History Channel, TLC and National Geographic Channel programs than anybody should ever have enough time to watch. I like to watch stuff about ancient history, and more than anything, I like stuff about the Bible. I have seen so many of these shows, and I've seen so many of them multiple times, that I feel almost obligated to share some of the things I've learned. Today I'm going to talk about mistranslations in the Bible. I'm not going to reference sources because I'm too lazy. But I'm sure that if you google it, you could find plenty of information about this stuff.

Contrary to what some people believe, the Bible was not written in English. (Duh.) And "Lost in Translation" isn't just an artsy fartsy movie with scenes that don't each have a beginning, middle and end. It's an expression that means that words in one language don't always have a perfect equivalent in another language. And so:
  • The word usually translated as "virgin", as in "the Virgin Mary" doesn't mean "virgin". It means "unmarried young girl". Now in those days, of course, unmarried young girls usually were virgins, so one can see how it would be implied. But it isn't explicitly stated.
  • The word translated as "inn", as in, "there was no room at the inn" actually means the upper level of the house, where the people slept - the animals were kept in the lower level. It is quite possible that Mary and Joseph were staying with family when Jesus was born. They surely weren't staying in a barn. There was no such thing.
  • The "rod" being referred to in "Spare the rod, spoil the child" isn't an implement with which to beat your child. It is a symbol of power - like a scepter. Nowhere else in the Bible does the word translated as "rod" mean a stick used as a weapon. So, the Bible isn't telling you to spank your children. It's telling you to maintain authority over them. I'm honestly not trying to start a debate here. If you spank your children, that's fine. However you choose to maintain your authority is up to you. It's none of my damn business. But stop using the Bible to justify it.
Also, Jesus had brothers and sisters. It's right there, plain as day. Read the Bible, people.

ps, Name the book I referenced in the title of this entry, and get a prize. Extra credit if you can explain why it's relevant to this post.

foreign food

Have you ever noticed that people pronounce things wrong on purpose sometimes, just to "fit in"? I don't know if that's the best way to put it but let me give you a couple of examples.

When I was in Manhattan, I got a Caprese wrap at an Italian sandwich shop. (Mmmm...mozzarella, basil and tomato. Mmmmmm...) The guy at the counter corrected my pronunciation - kind of rudely, I thought. I know darn well how Caprese is pronounced. Ca-pray-zay. I have fairly extensive vocal training; I know how Italian words are pronounced, even if I don't know what they mean. But after 5 years of living away from the metropolitan center of the cultural universe, I have a tendency to "Americanize" the pronunciations of things. Because let's face it, if you walked into a sandwich shop in Westwego, Louisiana, and asked for a ca-pray-zay, they'd probably look at you like you were an alien.

The funny thing is, the same thing happened at Sushiman last week. My pronunciation of "nigiri" is corrected every single time I go there. And yet I still say it wrong. Why? I don't know. For some reason I just feel silly saying it right. Maybe I'm just afraid of coming across as pretentious. There's this weird unspoken thing in American culture, where people who correctly pronounce foreign words are considered know-it-alls. And I guess I just don't want to be "that guy". I have a hard enough time asking for "ebi nigiri" as opposed to just "shrimp", and "cucumber maki" instead of "cucumber rolls".

So which is worse? To be the ignorant white person, or the pretentious prick? It's something to think about.

Monday, July 9, 2007


"Rock-a-bye Your Bear" is stuck in my head. I haven't even watched The Wiggles with Brandon in...I don't know, days. Weeks, maybe. It's been a while. And "Rock-a-bye Your Bear" is stuck in my head. I'm not happy about this.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

that's...not hot.

There are FIFTY SEVEN messages in my Junk E-mail box. That's 57 pieces of spam in the last 5 days. Not counting the multitudinous pieces of email I get from websites that I've bought stuff from in the past, which usually make it past the junk mail filter. Altogether it's probably at least 100. IN THE LAST FIVE DAYS!! W.T.F.

And what's up with this?

Brian pointed out that they're hotmail, after all (duh - why didn't I catch that?) but it's still lame.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Saturday night's alright for...something

On Sunday mornings, I go to a 7am yoga class. It is the only 2 hours a week that I do something for myself, by myself. And it keeps me sane. I haven't gone for the last 3 weeks (due to travel and such) and I'm pretty much falling apart as a result. So of course I was really, really looking forward to going today.

The thing about waking up for a 7am yoga class on Sunday mornings, is that Saturday nights are always Brandon's worst nights. Always. He got really messed up with the travel (what with the SIX hour time difference) but he was finally starting to do better. Slept through the night on Friday. I was a happy fun mommy yesterday as a result.

But last night?

He woke up around 2:30. I went in and tried to nurse him back to sleep. The little bugger was wide awake, eyes wide open staring straight ahead, latched on but not actually nursing. So I decided to lay down with him on the folding foam mattress we keep stored under his crib for just such occasions. (Actually it's mostly so that if he needs me in the room while he's falling asleep in his crib, I don't have to fall asleep on the floor.) After about 20 minutes he was almost asleep. Then he popped up, walked away and went for his toys.

That was a big no from me; I picked him up and put him in his crib. I went and got him some milk. I left the room. (Sometimes if I leave the room he'll calm down within a minute or two. If he doesn't, I go back in and try again.)

Around 3:30, I put a movie on my iPod and gave it to him. He quieted right down and I left the room. Of course now, I had spent the past hour getting more and more upset, so I was wide the f*ck awake, too. All I wanted was to listen to my Peaceful Sleep Now self-hypnosis session...but it was on my iPod.

I spent the next 40 minutes peeing every 10 minutes like clockwork. When I FINALLY drifted off to sleep...Brandon started screaming again. He wanted to watch something else. I changed the movie and went back to bed. 20 minutes later...he was screaming again. I went in and changed the movie again. 10 minutes later...screaming again. The battery had died. So I picked him up, brought him downstairs, put on a Little Einsteins video, and laid down on the couch. It was 5:30. My alarm had been set for 5:45.

Towards the end of the first episode I noticed that he was slouching down to the floor (he had been standing, leaning against the couch) so I scooped him up and cuddled him. A couple of minutes later, he had just fallen asleep...when my cell phone rang.

The caller ID said it was in Washington. I don't know anybody in Washington. So I hit "ignore". A minute later my phone started chiming again - they left a voicemail. Some random wrong-number who can barely speak English. And they keep on calling me.

Anyway, Brandon fell asleep on the couch with me, and I scooped him up and put him in bed with Brian. They will probably still be asleep when I get home. Lucky bastards.

So now I'm on my way to yoga class for the first time in a month. I've been up for four hours already. So it's not like I'll be able to fully participate. Fabulous.

I'm just waiting for that broken-English speaking Washingtonian to call me again. I will answer this time. And oooh, boy, will they hear it for calling me before 6am on a Sunday morning.