Friday, July 31, 2009

When did you become old?

There's a "When did you get old" quiz online. Apparently, I was cool starting several years before I was born until I graduated from college in 2003, took a four year hiatus, and am cool again. I have heard the 2004-2007 songs, but not well enough to know them. Oh, wait. I do know 2007, I distinctly don't like it. Anyway, when did you get old?

Who's up for a nap?

I take a nap at work during lunch every day, usually 20-30 minutes. Some days, I don't think I could make it through the afternoon without it. It improves my mood and helps me focus. And now I read in the New York Times that naps "should have the status of daily exercise." Do you know what this means? It means I'm halfway there! For once, I'm ahead of the trend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gotta get a gimmick

Apparently every generation has to have a name now, and I fall under the umbrella of Generation Y. (Real clever, guys. I'm sure someone thought long and hard on that one.) According to this NY Times article I read, Generation Y covers people born 1980-2003ish. So, ages 6 to 28.

Um, what? There's a huge difference there. I mean, my younger siblings--all Gen Y, technically--don't know what high speed dubbing is. They make fun of me for calling a portable CD player a "Discman." They're probably laughing that I'm even talking about a portable CD player.


Maybe if we were all older, you could lump us together, but while we're younger, the groupings have to be much smaller. And why do we have to have a name for each generation anyway? So that it's easier to make unfair sweeping generalizations? Do I really have that much in common (socially, physically, economically, etc.) with a six year old? No, and I don't think I will in twenty years, when they're getting jobs and finishing grad school and my (imaginary) children are in high school. It just doesn't make any sense.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of context

I was driving to work this morning, as I frequently do (like, five times a week, ugh!) and passed the city courthouse, as I frequently do. The steps were covered with people. It was like the ants covering the plate that I had moved the donuts to at my parents' house on Sunday because I found an ant in the box. (I had moved the donuts off the plate before the ants found it again. Don't worry. Donuts are safe in my care. Until I eat them.)

But the people. This is about the people at the courthouse. Now, I'm bad at guessing height, weight, distance, and numbers in large groups, but I'd say there were at least 200 people there, and more crossing the street from the parking lot/bus stop region. I figured there was some sort of protest. Another stupid "kiss-in," maybe.

Ah, but then I looked at the individuals. The long dresses, the long sleeves, the pastels, the incredible high hair (how do they do that?) and I realized, this isn't just some protest, these are... "Pligs! Pligs!" Now, some say that's a derogatory term, but I see it more as a contraction. Shouting "Polygamists! Polygamists!" to no one in particular seems unnecessarily formal.

It was crazy. It would be like...I dunno, driving through downtown Philadelphia and seeing 200 Amish milling around the courthouse. Out of context, a large group, atypical wardrobing, uncommon religious sect, in the middle of a large city. It was just strange. I wonder what legal issue brings them downtown today.

In other news, I had grapes and yogurt with almond slivers for breakfast. It was like a poor man's caramel apple with peanuts, I tell you. My only regret is that I didn't bring more. Or take a picture. It was so pretty in its coordinating tupperware before I put it in my purse, at which point the presentation was diminished a little.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Free shipping!

Hi, my name is Cathie, and I hate to pay for shipping. I never spend less than $25 at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Businesses have conditioned this response in me. If they never offered free shipping, I wouldn't have come to expect it.

Anyway, I bought some shirts from Charlotte Russe last week. They're not here yet, but I just got an e-mail with a code for free shipping, through Saturday, August 1. So if you missed the last free shipping promo, use "EMAILFS" (as in e-mail free shipping) and buy yourself something nice. So, no booties.

P.S. Oh, and if you want a 30% off coupon for Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic (good online and in stores, but it's only for this weekend) let me know. I think I have 20 or so left. That's a stinking deal.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Trip recap

I went to Arizona for the holiday weekend (because nothing says "Celebrating the pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake valley" like leaving it). I saw a community theater production of Beauty and the Beast at the Hale Theater in Gilbert. It was a visually-impaired date (as opposed to a blind date; we had seen each other before and corresponded by e-mail). He is actually visually impaired (most of us are, no?), but my prescription is stronger, so I won the award for blindest date.

I also saw the national touring production of Wicked. It was good, of course. It was Wicked. But the understudy for Glinda and the standby for Elphaba went on. The understudy for Elphaba went on the last time I saw it! I'm sure the understudies are good and all, but if you thought they were the best, they would have just cast the understudy. Frankly, I thought some of the vocal harmonies could have been a little tighter. One of these days, I'll see Wicked without understudies. And perhaps I won't be sitting in the balcony, either! I've been in the balcony both times, and you can't see what's going on on the bridge-thingy when you're at a 45 degree angle! Ah well. It was still a good time.

I got to sleep in on a Sunday, which is a rare treat. It was worth the trip just to be able to roll out of bed at 9:45, wash and style my hair, take my sweet time getting ready, watch bits of Home Alone 2 while I put on my makeup...."Beat that, you little trout sniffer."

Now I don't want to go to work tomorrow. Maybe I should take a day off just to faff around the house. Seems like a waste of a precious vacation day. Maybe just take a half day off? Some faffing, some working? Oh, I need to have my dishwasher looked at! I could do it in conjunction with that! Now that's thinking. They always give themselves ridiculously huge windows to arrive in, anway. "Yeah, we'll be there between Tuesday and Saturday."

I should really go to bed. Stinking work, interfering with all my late nights.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Look at me!

I had no idea there was a concept such as Gratuitous Picture of Yourself Wednesday! I don't take many pictures in general, let alone of myself. Anyway, I'm tired and uninteresting lately, so here's GPOYWT, as taken at my desk (note the Cisco 7965 in the background there):

I call it "I Was Five Minutes Late to Work so My Hair Could Look Like That? or Can Anyone Recommend an Industrial Strength Under-eye Concealer?" The sad thing is, you should have seen the "before" picture of my hair. Not that there is one. But if you had been there...yipes.

Yes. Except I know I'll be back Sunday night

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Spoiler alert! I'mma talk about the movie. It's been out for a week, so I think it's fair game.

So, what did everyone think? I had a couple "WTF, David Yates?" moments, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Of course there were a lot of differences, entire characters that were absent, like the Dursleys, Madam Rosmerta, Rufus Scrimgour--and Fudge, for that matter--but then, they've been doing that for ages, ever since they neglected to bring back the adorable Oliver Wood...for shame! I understand the narrative necessity of moving the story along.

There were a few things that didn't sit well with me, though. Like the entire additional scene with Bellatrix? Now, don't get me wrong, Helena Bonham Carter is awesome. Spot-on as Bellatrix. But the scene was unnecessary. It was like they were just looking for an opportunity to get some more screen time for her. There isn't anything we learned from that scene that we couldn't get elsewhere. And as I like to say, "What? Because there wasn't enough content in the book, they had to add a new scene?"

My other major beef was at the end, that Dumbledore told Harry to hide. There is a big, big difference between being immobilized and forced to watch and being hidden and choosing not to act. And how do they make sure that Harry doesn't do anything? They have Snape know he was there! That changes everything!

Although it does add another layer of ambiguity to an already-enigmatic character. Was Snape trying to keep Harry safe, or was he making sure he, Harry, didn't stop him from killing Dumbledore? Of course, it was probably both. But how does Harry interpret it? Snape isn't a hero. The only heroic thing he really does is showing Harry the memory--but then, that's still two movies away.

Still, some of my favorite scenes and lines in the movie were not from the book. Harry saying that at this point, he just goes along with whatever Dumbledore comes up with. The discussion about skin quality as a contributing factor to romantic interest...hilarious! Ron falling off the couch was so unexpected that it made it even funnier. And Daniel Radcliffe's depiction of the effect of Felix Felicis potion as somewhat intoxicated was great. Considering how heavy the story is, there were actually a lot of really funny moments. And in that regard, it's just like the book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Awkward family photos

I recently--like, ten minutes ago--learned about the existence of the website Awkward Family Photos. Maybe I'm overtired or something, but I literally laughed until I cried. Look at a couple pages, and tell me it's not hillarious.

The best part? It's not me being all awkward in the photos.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Things I would like to get a degree in

Today at the potluck after church, we were talking about how many of us at the table wanted to go back to school. "For what?" someone asked. "That's the problem," someone else replied. "If I go back to school at 28, it will be the only time. It's hard to commit to something." I said that I had a list of like, eight things I wanted to study, and they agreed. How do you pick? I said I'd do med school, except that an English degree doesn't really prepare you for that. I'd have to take so many prerequisites, it would end up being like a second bachelor's before getting the m.d.

I love school. I like learning new things. I like being graded and being the best; I think that was a large part of my identity as a kid. Leaving school was kind of strange, because there were far fewer opportunities for being the best. I like studying a subject just because it's interesting, without some huge career plan. I could go back to school, if I had a roommate. But I'm not sure if that's a price I'm willing to pay right now. Anyway, every time I try to go to grad school, I don't get in, and sometimes get sent off on crazy adventures (hello, Idaho) so for now I'll just make a list of the things I'd like to get a degree in.

  • Children's literature and children's literacy
  • Geology, particularly vulcanology
  • Math, just because I'm bad at it
  • Musical theater
  • Exercise science, particularly yoga
  • Pediatrics (I suppose it's not too late to become a doctor; you have to turn 40 anyway, right?)
  • Pastry chef...ness. (Chef-dom? Cheffitude? I don't know how to turn that into a field of study. I doubt they have a degree in cookies, but I'd like to open a bakery or something)
  • Spanish
  • A few other languages. Russian, maybe, just because it sounds cool
And that's just the tip of the iceburg. I want to know everything! I suppose I don't need formal programs of study, but it would be so nice and organized.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And the Emmy (nomination) goes to...

Ah, the Emmy nominations came out today! Have you ever looked at the full list? All the choreography and art direction and multi-camera cinematography awards? It's quite interesting. The dearly departed Pushing Daisies is up for several technical awards, and Kristin Chenoweth is up for comedic best supporting actress! And Jim Parsons (Sheldon) is up for best comedic actor for Big Bang Theory!! Even dear ol' "Chuck" got a nod for best fight choreography. Do I root for Rainn Wilson or Neil Patrick Harris in the comedic best supporting actor category? Decisions, decisions.

I guess don't watch a lot of dramas, because in every drama catagory there was a lot of shrugging and "I dunno that." I like House, Bones, and NCIS, but that's about it. Apparently I like procedural dramas. Perhaps because everything is wrapped up in a neat, 43-minute package. Well, not everything. House is still an addict at the end of the episode, y'know? But the main story is wrapped up in an hour. I like the closure. I don't want to watch some crazy, involved show where you can't miss an episode or be utterly lost. I don't want that kind of committment with a TV show. I want to laugh, and I want things to wrap up nicely. That's it.

In totally unrealted news, I very well may have broken my toe last night. Or maybe I just sprained the crap out of it. All I know is that it's bruised and it hurts like crap. I should just get rid of it all together. Who needs two baby toes, anyway?

ETA: Oh, I forgot Dr. Horrible! They have to win. They just have to!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Makes me hungry

Fancy Fast Food is hillarious. They take fast food and rearrange it to make it look like classy food. The Taco Bell Tortellini looks rather delicious. It mostly makes me hungry for the original, though. Oooh, like a big tub of McDonald's french fries. That's what happens when you get the perfect storm of salt and fat.

Speaking of unhealthy perfect storms, I'm pretty sure my caramel corn is the perfect combination of fat and sugar, because it is physically impossible to stop eating it once you start. So, so good.

In other news, I was thinking about getting a kit for making funnel cakes, and then I realized, hey. I own funnels. I have the internet. Problem solved! So the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie will be followed by funnel cakes, just like when I read the book. Good times, good times.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The price we pay for solitude

One of the things I had to give up to make living alone economically feasible was cable TV. Now, I love TV. I love weird health shows (especially surgeries) and cooking shows (my cowboy cookies recipe came from a Food Network challenge) and old TV shows (remember Nick at Night’s Block Party Summer? An entire night of Bewitched!) and cartoons (although the current cartoons are kind of lame). I watch “The American President” every dang time it comes on TNT. There was one summer where I saw every episode of Project Runway, and many of them twice. Shark Week. You name it. I love it all.


But, I gave it up. Now if I want to watch Monk I have to get it from Netflix. It’s a hard life, I assure you. And yet I was thinking about it, and even if I had the extra $40 or so a month, I wouldn’t spend it on cable. I’d take a dance class or join a gym (or the Salt Lake sports complex, which seems to have all the amenities of a gym at a fraction of the price). I’d save it towards more frequent travel, or I’d go to more concerts and plays. I’d use it to buy kitchen gadgets and books and shoes (my three greatest weaknesses). I’d buy ridiculously overpriced but very intriguing mineral makeup. (Has anyone tried that? Would you recommend it?) I’d give more money to charity and not-for-profit arts organizations. I’d buy the blue topaz ring I’ve had my eye on that is the size of a small skating rink. I’d do any number of things that isn’t watching TV. Which isn’t to say that I don’t still love and miss watching crazy diagnoses on Discovery Health. I guess there are just a lot of things I’d rather do more.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Songs I dislike so much that some might use the word hate: A list

I was listening to the radio the other day while I was ironing a few things (thanks again, Dad, for the awesome ironing board cabinet!) and Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" came on. And whadda ya know, I dislike it as much as I did the day it came out. I have been disliking this song for over a decade.

Other songs that I dislike to varying degrees and in no particular order:
  • Red Red Wine, UB40
  • Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye
  • Bad Day, Daniel Powter
  • You're Beautiful, James Blunt
  • Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield
  • Pretty much anything by Pink, Amy Winehouse, or Katy Perry
I'm sure there are a lot more, but these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Any time they come on the radio, I'll change the channel. I dislike them with a perhaps unnecessary passion. Any song that grates on your nerves like nails on chalkboard?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Too much for our own good

I just skimmed a message board thread about the breakdown of vitamins in whole wheat, and how long does it take? and does the type of mill make a difference? And I had to think, "Just eat the friggin bread."

I mean, does it really matter? Are you keeping a little chart to make sure you get 100% of every RDI every day? It's got fiber, it's got protein, it's got some vitamins and minerals. Can't that be enough? Do we have to over-analyze every aspect of our lives like this? People lived for thousands of years without the government telling them they should eat more leafy green vegetables.

Now, some may say, "Yes, but they didn't live as long." True. Life expectancy is a lot better now than for most of our history. But people still managed to live reasonably long, productive lives. Much of the increase of life expectancy isn't because of diet, anyway. It's all about medical care and basic sanitation. And frankly, I think even medical care can get out of hand.

We have all of these procedures and devices and things to keep people alive, but I think sometimes a person might reach a point where it's just not worth it anymore. We can keep people alive for years and years, but the real question is if we should. My grandpa has been on dialysis for years, and frankly, all he does is go to dialysis and feel poorly. That's not living! That's just not dying.

But back to my original point. Let's all just eat a healthy, varied diet and let all the percentages worry about themselves, shall we? I don't think I have the mental energy to waste making sure I'm getting enough vitamin this and mineral that. I don't have a specific medical condition to make sure I'm getting what may or may not be enough of any particular thing. It's one thing if you're pregnant or have scurvy or whatever, but I think most of us could just take a multivitamin, eat more produce, and get along quite well.

And they don't know what "enough" is, anyway. All the panicking articles about vitamin D lately indicate that we should be getting like, ten times more than the amount we're already not getting. Or maybe not. It's like the old good-egg/bad-egg thing. "They" keep changing their minds about what is or isn't bad about us. I don't want to have to keep a what-beats-what card on which foods I should or shouldn't eat.

In conclusion, I'm going to eat whatever I want and try to get enough living in that whenever I happen to keel over, I won't feel cheated. Less time worrying about vitamins degrading, more time enriching my life.



Postscript: I seem to have measured something wrong in my bread. It's kind of sad and misshaped. Lets hope it hasn't affected the vitamin content.

Friday, July 10, 2009

All in the golden afternoon

The next several days will be a tribute to my parents and brothers, who were here for a week doing little and big projects around the house. Eventually I'll show you everything that's been done, but now I'll just show you my flower bed.

Remember the old yard? With the weed garden and the lonely tulips?
Weed garden

Lonely tulips

Well, a half ton of bricks later, and it's looking a lot better!

Flowers
Flower bed
Red flowers
Daisies and such

This was the plan all along. I knew I wanted a little wall, so I didn't plant anything, because if I planted stuff and then filled it with dirt, it would be all wonky. I had a plan, people. The weed garden WAS ALL PART OF MY PLAN.

The great thing is that my mom planted the flowers while I was at work, which I totally did not expect. And they're all annuals, so if I kill them, I won't feel bad, because the would have died anyway. I really want a rosebush or two. Because roses grow like gangbusters here. Which is good, because it's an epic struggle for me to keep anything alive. Just one of the reasons why it's probably a good thing that I live alone and will never have children. Because my secret superpower is my amazing ability to repel people. So, yeah. Not so secret anymore.

But the flowers. Look at my pretty flowers! With the pretty wall! And the hose that is way too short!

It's a grill!

Among the many wonderful things that happened in the past week, I am the new proud owner of a gas grill. And I'm loving it! In addition to being my favorite way to prepare meat, I'm trying grilling everything else. Today I grilled zucchini and red potatoes. I cut the zucchini in fourths, long-ways (you could cut it into coins if the zucchini is larger, but I try not to get them that large, because they get kind of seedy) and cut the potato into five or six coins. Just put a glug of olive oil on a plate, dip each side in oil, and toss it on the grill. The zucchini cooks faster, so you might want to put the potatoes on first. I'd say about three minutes per side for the zucchini, and five-ish for the potatoes. Maybe? I wasn't really clocking it. "Ish" is my favorite suffix.

When it done, you'll have something like this (please ignore the oily paper plate. I never claimed to be a professional photographer):

Grilled potatoes

Grilled zucchini

I added a touch of garlic butter to the zucchini and a dash of shredded Parmesan cheese to the potatoes. And salt, of course. So good. It makes me hungry just looking at it.

As a side note, a grill with a warming rack is an excellent way to reheat Olive Garden breadsticks. Toss it in for a few minutes, and it will be nice and hot with a slight crispness to outside and a soft inside, just like it was fresh.

So, to my list of things I can cook on a grill, add zucchini and potatoes. More to come, more to come.

Question: What weird "compliments" have you received?

On my way in this morning, one of the other employees in the building very cheerfully wished me good morning and said that I look very dapper today. Hasn't this become a word mainly used to describe males? I mean, it's technically correct--I do look rather spruce and stylish today, or at very least like a greenie sister missionary with high heels--but it just seemed kind of strange.

And that got me thinking to other strange compliments and comments I've gotten. I think "I like your face" probably tops the list. All it needs is a bad fake Italian accent, more of "I like-a you face." I think my reaction was along the lines of "What the devil does that mean?" and less "Oh, how nice of you."

There was also "dainty." Now look. I may be a tiny little woman ("I ain't got no shins!") with little monkey hands, but dainty I am not. *Checks online dictionary* Oh wait folks. This just in. I am dainty, but only if we're going with definition 4, "overly particular; finicky." That I certainly am. Especially with food. A great insult yesterday at lunch was when I said someone was such a picky eater, he made me look like a garbage disposal. Burn!

I'm sure there have been other strange, strange things said to me, I just can't think of them. What's the weirdest compliment--backhanded or otherwise--that you've ever gotten, given, or heard? I think this could be right up there with bad date horror stories (of which I have several).

Discuss.

United breaks guitars


I fully support this video. I've never had specific problems with United, but there are enough other companies that I wish I could write an angry song about (Chase credit cards, I'm looking in your direction). And sometimes the only way that companies will do anything to fix your problem is after you've made it a huge PR issue for them. Public shamings still work!

So even if you can't write a song to shame a company you've had trouble with, sit back and enjoy this one. It's catchy, too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mixing things up

Lots of pictures forthcoming. Until then, a serious question that's been on my mind.

See, my blender broke. Not really. Just the little plastic coupler/coupling/clutch thing on the underside of the blade that makes it spin. I thought, "Well, that should be easy enough to replace." Yes. If Rival still made blenders, and therefore there were still replacement parts. Another brand's piece might work, but there's the real potential that it won't.

So what do I replace it with? Another blender? A Magic Bullet? A blender/food processor combo? I don't know. Can I really use the Magic Bullet to make salsa, chopped nuts, alfredo sauce, shredded cheese, smoothies, and more? (Can you tell I've seen the infomercial a few times?) Does anyone have one?

I really don't know what to do. All I know is that it's getting to be smoothie season, and all I have is a hand immersion blender. And I doubt that is going to take me far.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 1

So today we got a fair bit accomplished. We--that is to say, Dad--changed out the dining room light for something a little more my style:

Fabulous, no? We also ordered the crazy custom sized blinds for my entry way, struggled to find a bathroom fan to replace my current jet-engine one, did some recon at Home Depot and Lowes, lit some firecrackers (holy cow, fun times!) went to Ruth's Diner up Emigration Canyon (probably the second best french toast I've ever had) bought a grill, bought food to cook on said grill tomorrow, got started on the curtain rail, changed the shower head for something a little less lowflow...good times.

Tomorrow, Music and the Spoken Word, and maybe some sort of scenic drive. Or a nap. Or both, especially since I fall asleep on any car ride longer than about ten minutes.

Every month should have a holiday!

If holidays have taught me anything, it's...uh...that the perfect length for me to sleep is nine hours. Seriously! No matter what time I've gone to bed this weekend, I've woken up nine hours later on my own accord. But do you know how hard it would be to get that much sleep every night? I'd never get anything done!

So, what else is new? My family is in town. Well, my parents and brothers. They're staying with me so that we can spend the money they would spent on a hotel on ceiling fans and the like. Can I tell you how hard it is to sleep in a twin size bed again after two years alone in my queen? I can't sleep on the diagonal in twin size bed! My blankets keep falling off! It's a small price to pay, though. I mean, I really hate those oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures.

Anyway, my mom brought me a huge stack of ladies magazines, so I have lots and lots of interesting new recipes to try. And to modify, because there's always at least one ingredient in it I can't stand.

Have a lovely, safe Independence Day. I saw a joke on twitter this morning that was along the lines of this: What kind of tea did the colonists thirst for? Liberty!

Zing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chocolate cookies!

As promised. Adapted from a recipe in The Week magazine, from Bon Appetit. I never (well, hardly ever) put nuts in cookies. Also, I made the cookies half as large as the recipe called for, and they're still plenty large.

Chocolate Toffee Cookies
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used semisweet chips)
2 tbsp butter
1 scant c brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla
3 Heath or Skor bars, chopped (I just banged 'em with a rolling pin)

Combine flour, baking powder, salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Microwave chocolate and butter for 30 seconds, stir. Microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Let cool to lukewarm. With electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee (and I suppose if you insist, a half cup of chopped, toasted walnuts). Chill batter until firm, at least 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop by 1/8 cup (I have a scoop!), leaving plenty of room between. Bake about 15 minutes, until dry and cracked on top but still soft to touch in center. Cool on baking sheets. Makes 18-20 cookies. (Mine made 19, but some of them were a little large. Also, I don't like prime numbers.)

Compare and contrast

View this and tell me it isn't true. I dare you.

What to do, what to do?

You guys! It's July. Yep, it's July, which is obvious from the cool rain and blistering 74 degrees outside. Oh, Utah. You so crazy.

So, my family is coming to town. Hooray! They'll be here for a week. A week? They'll be covered in moss in a week! How will I keep them entertained? Sure, they're coming to put in ceiling fans and curtain rails and whatever else my evil genius desires (have I mentioned a programmable thermostat?) but I'd like it to be at least mildly entertaining as well.

What does one do for fun in Utah? My parents would be easy enough to entertain, but my brothers...? And then I thought, "Dude, they're teenagers. They hate everything." But then I remembered. Firecrackers. They're only legal for a few days around the Fourth, the twenty-fourth, and New Year's. I can't think of a better way to entertain my youngest sibling. Why, when he was small, he loved to go to the dollar store and get those poppers, which technically are illegal in Arizona. Even as a kid he knew that, and I think got an extra delight out of being sneaky, in addition to the loud snapping noise and faint smell of gunpowder. Quite frankly, it's been a long time since I've played with sparklers, and I wouldn't say no.

In addition to firecrackers--as though we need anything else--there's also the Freedom Festival. I don't know how exciting that would be, but on the radio commercial I caught the end of last night, it mentioned funnel cakes. Dude, I'm in it just for that. (Remember when IHOP had the funnel cake celebration one summer? It was 2005, one of the best summers ever.)

There's Lagoon, which I've never been to, but supposedly is fun. There's Boondocks and Trafalga, if you like minigolf and batting cages and who knows what else they have there. And I live right by the movie theater.

What else is there to do in Utah? And what does one eat on the Fourth of July if one doesn't own a grill?!