Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Cleaning House For Guests

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 3:18 pm

Mike and I spent all of Memorial Day cleaning house. We did laundry, washed dishes, vacuumed the house, changed the sheets, moved boxes to storage, organized the basement, and hired a kid to mow the lawn. I know that last one really doesn’t count as work. Sometimes hiring someone to do something is almost as tiring as just doing it yourself.

If you couldn’t tell, we have a visitor coming to our house on Thursday and we are excited to see him. Cory Storm is an old friend from junior high. He was in my English class in ninth grade with Mr. Godfrey. He ended up going to Granger High School instead of Kearns, so I kind of lost touch with him until after high school. I’ve mentioned Cory before.

He moved to San Francisco, then he moved to Hong Kong and now he’s back in San Francisco. There is no certainty in this world and he may move to Tibet next, but for now, he’s in San Francisco. His first visit to Salt Lake since coming back from Hong Kong starts on Thursday and I am happy to see him.

Cory is our first visitor to stay at our place since we moved to Sugarhouse. The last time he came, we were living in a 3500 square house with two home offices, a library, a spectacular view of the Wasatch Mountains and, most importantly, a guest room. This time, we’ll be getting the futon from the storage unit and putting it on the living room floor for him to sleep. He’s not picky, but I still feel a little guilty. Of all the things we left in West Jordan, the guest room is the only one I still miss.

We are going to take him to places that are entirely “Utah.” First on our list is the Dutch Oven Buffet in Lehi. Sure it got horrible reviews in the Deseret News. The food isn’t important. The Utahness of it is. Cory has been trapped in Hong Kong for about a year. That boy needs some “bland meatloaf, glassy broccoli and cake-mix cobblers”. Personally, I thought the food was great. They have home-made bread and jams that tempt me to make a meal of bread. I loved the cobblers and there were five to choose from. Sure, the place was crowded, but that’s because everybody loves it there. If it really was as bad as she said, they’d be out of business by now. Instead, Up-Chuck-A-Rama are imitating them and have added a dutch oven section to their buffets. Yeah, he definitely needs to see this place and partake of it’s Utah Goodness.

We’re also going to take him to Red Butte Gardens. We are members there and we can’t let him leave without seeing the desert beauty. Every time we go to San Francisco, we are overwhelmed by the greenery that surrounds every building and creeps into every crack. Even though gardening is much more difficult here, our city is still beautiful. He has to see the view of the city from the top of Zeke’s Mountain Trail. He has been to Tibet, but he hasn’t seen the gardens in his home town.

That’s about all we have planned for him. He hasn’t even given us a hint about what he would like to see while he’s here, so this weekend is bound to be a little random and a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait until you’re on our doorstep, Cory!


May Search Strings

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I usually do this on the first, but I plum forgot it. I’ve been talking about search strings a lot this month. I have spent far too much time trying to figure out how people find me. I am trying to get everyone who is looking for something interesting to read while they’re at work to find me and I want to recreate it whenever I can.

I was obsessing over it last Saturday. Mike came into the living room and asked me what I was doing. “I’m trying to see how these people found me with the phrase “buttercup’s baby morgenstern”. I am on page 15 right now on Google and I’m not showing up. I know there are other search engines than Google, but…” He cut me off, “That’s not the half of it.”

Just like the rest of the web world, the S-1 Filing of Google is of particular interest to us. Everyone has their personal estimate of how many servers they have ranging from 10,000 to 80,000 based on the 250 million dollars they have spent on hardware. There is no predicting which machine you’ll hit and each machine is a little different. There is no way I can track this stuff and I should just stop looking at the search strings, but I find myself drawn to them in a sick and morbid fascination.

tan lines

I don’t know what they were looking for. They ended up finding my entry about Barbies. When I search for that string, there is a lot of porn, but I have a hard time believing that the sentences, “Malibu Barbie was totally cool because she had a tan lines underneath her bathing suit. They were painted on, and if you took her out swimming too often, they would chip right off. I swear, what kinds of kids test these toys?” would have attracted someone looking for porn. Did you find what you were looking for?

william f. clare, best friend jealous everyone likes her, andi glowing fingernails, biggest ball of yarn in minnesota

All of these have had specific entries written about them. There are more hits now because I’ve talked about all of these things in more detail.

bosu ball, bosu gym

I have searched using this phrase. I was looking for a Bosu Ball to buy so that I could practice at home and I wouldn’t get embarrassed at the gym again. I’ve also been looking for exercise videos that use the Bosu Ball. I’ve also looked for exercises to do with it on my own. I have none of that here. All that poor person found here was whining and crying. If I helped only one person out there, then it was all worth it.

lumps on my back

When I said I had lumps on my back, it probably sounded more dramatic than it really is. They aren’t real lumps. They are more like knotted muscles that are tight and uncomfortable. The more they are massaged, the more relaxed I am and the knots go away. If you have real lumps on your back, don’t check the Internet for information, get them checked by a doctor.

akhenaten – religious reforms

Sorry I couldn’t help with your homework. Check out a couple of books from the library and read them. Borrow an A&E video from the library. That’s how I learned about him. Potential essay topic: Religious reforms are dangerous to your health ? Go With The Flow and Live Longer.

beautiful sentences

Only one person was looking for beautiful sentences. They ended up catching me in the act of trying to create a beautiful and quotable sentence. I don’t know if I was successful and I don’t know if the person that found me was pleased. I have an entire website of beautiful sentences. You should check it out.


Diet Mountain Dew

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’m drinking a 20 ounce Diet Mountain Dew: the most caffeine laden drink I could drink without choking down a coffee. After getting completely off of any type of carbonated, caffeinated or artificially sweetened beverage a few months ago, here I am. Drinking a Mountain Dew.

I guess it started after the race. After I finished my race, I had no reason to stay off carbonated drinks. I didn’t notice any increase in physical stamina while I was off the pop and I didn’t notice any decrease in stamina when I started drinking it again. There was no point to keep off the pop, but I had a new habit, so I didn’t drink it very often.

Then I went to Yellowstone with Mike, Stacey, Dan, my mom, and her husband, Reed. We had lots of fun. We sat in the hot tub almost every night. We ate good food. We drank a lot of alcohol. Ok, maybe that was just me. I drank a lot of alcohol. My favorite is a double shot of gin and Diet Mountain Dew. I call it “Gin and Mello Yello” even though I don’t drink Mello Yello. It’s from the song, “Tangerine Speedo,” which is the best song to party to. It’s on the Charlie’s Angels’ Soundtrack. Listen to it right now and then come back to me and finish this entry.

After many Gin and Mello Yellos, I came home from Yellowstone with a major Jones. The gin can come or go. I don’t care. It’s the Diet Mountain Dew, man. I can’t give it up. Ok, that’s a total lie. I could give it up. Give me four days, a warm bed buddy and lots of sleep and the Diet Mountain Dew could leave my life again, but why?

Why should I stop drinking it? I wasn’t able to run easier when I didn’t drink it. I didn’t notice a change in my alertness when I stopped drinking it. All those people who talked about the benefits of quitting soda must be a different species of human being because I haven’t noticed any change.

So, instead of abstaining from it, I actually drove to Randall Brothers and bought one for myself. Here I am, writing an entry and luxuriously sipping a Diet Mountain Dew. I feel like I’m breaking all the rules. I feel like I’m eating a huge piece of chocolate cake in the middle of the day at work. What a strange feeling. Just a few months ago, I wouldn’t have had a second thought about it, now I feel like I’m having the biggest treat of the day.


Amazon Wish List

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I have used it to keep track of the things that I want to read, see or hear. If I would hear of a book (or movie or CD) that was good, I would just put it into the Amazon Wish List. I used it when I was looking for something to read (or see or hear) on the library’s website. There are better ways to keep track of things.

Wednesday, I transferred all of the things that I just casually wanted from the Wish List to my Palm Pilot. There’s no easy way to do it. I just wrote them down in a memo titled “Movies to See” or “Books to Read” or “Music to Hear.” All of the things that somebody recommended to me that I some day might think were interesting are now in my Palm. I’ve condensed my Wish List to the group of things that I really want to own.

The strange thing is that it’s mostly DVDs of television shows. I want every <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Babylon 5, Northern Exposure, My So Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. I want every episode. I want them all. All the books that I had in my list, I just deleted them because I know that the library has them and I can check them out any time I want. Same goes for almost all of the music. The library will pretty much buy any music, even Parental Advisory albums, so I just check them out and listen to them on a binge for three weeks. After that, I’m pretty happy to give them back to the library and only check them out again when I miss them.

Now, I’ve cleared out everything that I don’t absolutely want. The necessities. The bare essentials. Like the Star Trek Original Series Phaser and the DVD+R pack. You know, the kind of things you need to survive. You can check out my Amazon Wish List and tell me if you think I’m missing anything important.


Traveling Stress

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The other day I had a traveling dream. We had gone away for a long time and had really set up camp in the hotel room. Mike’s flight went out before mine, so I was left with all the packing to do. There were so many things that we had spread around the hotel room, I was having a hard time getting them all and I had already missed my flight. I woke up when I realized that I wasn’t going to make it and they wouldn’t have another flight out of there until tomorrow.

I hate this dream. I have traveling stress dreams every once and a while. There is no reason for me to have one right now. I am not planning on going anywhere. It has been a couple of weeks since I last came back from a trip. I don’t know where this thing came from unless I was stressed about Cory coming to our place. The most preparation that we had to do was to go get the futon out of storage so he’d have something to sleep on. That was the most stressful thing in my itinerary and it was a piece of cake.

The worst part of that dream was feeling like I was all alone. It was solely up to me to make sure that all of our things got back home, including Mike’s asthma medication, the tea pot and all of our clothes. I guess the question is: how am I feeling alone right now? What personal chores have fallen unfairly on my shoulders?

In all honesty, there are no familial chores that have fallen on my shoulders. Mike has been pulling more than his share around the house. He has even started cooking meals at home so that we don’t have to eat out as often. I can’t think of anything right now that has burdened me. Work is the same. They ask so little of me that I have no problems keeping up with their requests and I still have time to stare off into space like a zombie.

Oh well. Maybe it was just a dream and has no basis in the real world. Maybe it’s just a memory of a time when I was stressed. Maybe my psyche misses stress and aggravation and now that I have a peaceful and relatively calm life, it feels uncertain.


Mimi’s Cafe

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Transcribed from my Moleskine notebook dated 06-06-04 11:35 am:

I’m nearly an hour early for our monthly lunch. Our monthly lunch hasn’t been so monthly lately and it has been almost a year since I’ve seen my two perfect girlfriends. I’ve known Penny and Dawni since my school years and they were fellow victims in Gifted and Talented.

Dawni is now a gifted photographer and mother of three amazing children. Penny is a supervisor at Intel and a mother of two beautiful daughters. Me? I’m a secretary and a faithful blogger. I feel like the guy in the J song on Sesame Street, “And me? I just stay out of their way. Letter J.”

We used to meet every month, but then Penny had a baby last year and it has taken us awhile to find out what normal feels like again. I suspect we’ll go back to monthly or bi-monthly meetings (that DOES mean every other month, doesn’t it?). In some respects, I’ve missed our lunches, but in others, I was glad for a reprieve.

It’s so hard to be a friend sometimes. I remember what it was like to know them when we were teens. We had dreams and hopes for our futures. All of our lives have traveled different pathways than those teen selves expected. At times, I grieve for those old dreams and at others, I rejoice that we aren’t trapped in the fantasies that our adolescent pasts chose for us. It’s such a strange feeling of ambiguity that just meeting with them can be uncomfortable.

Then again, it’s so easy to be a friend sometimes. Old friends can be just as comfortable as an old pair of Calvin Klein jeans. No matter how frayed or faded they are, they fit so well that they are always the first choice and no matter where I go, they are classy enough to get me past the maitre d’. There have been times when our lunches were the one thing during the month that I had to enjoy.

I think it can be hard because they are the select few that can see right through my bullshit. There’s no way to lie to them, so I have to be my most honest self. There’s no hiding behind small talk. There’s no skirting the issues or avoiding topics with mindless chatter about current events. They have x-ray vision. Even not talking about something says volumes.

Then again, it is so comfortable because they are the select few that can see right through my bullshit. There is no way to lie to them and there is no need to because they know it all. There’s no hiding and no need to explain my past. They were there, living through it with me. They have x-ray vision. Even not talking about something says volumes, which means silence is enough. That’s what can make these lunches so restful and enjoyable.

I’ve been sitting in the waiting area at Mimi’s Cafe. Frank and Dean are singing happily to me while I write my thoughts about the uncertainty of friendship. Penny just called to tell me that she’s going to be ten minutes late. Just like clockwork, Dawni will arrive fifteen minutes early. One is chronically late while the other is chronically early. And me, I just try to stay out of their way.



Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 10:33 am

Paragraph from my personal journal cut and pasted without editing:

06-08-04:  7:36 am: I need to write a blog entry. I have nothing on my site right now. I wrote one on Sunday for Monday’s entry, but I have nothing for Tuesday. I don’t even know what I want to write about. I have nothing truly inspiring on my mind right now. I’m sad that choir is done for the year, maybe I’ll talk about that. Maybe I’ll talk about Mr. Whitaker and his horrible influence on my musical life. All of that sounds like a multiple entry session, though and I just want to run off a quickie. Maybe I’ll look at the journal prompts and talk about one of those for awhile. If I were a tree, I would be… I don’t know. I guess I’ll just show up to the page and see what comes out of me. Maybe I’ll just cut and paste this journal entry right into the blog unedited. That sounds truly horrible. Did I say anything that I would be embarrassed about? Yeah. Did I say anything that would make no sense to the average reader? Yeah. That’s why my true journal entries never see the light of day. They are just about getting the junk out of my head, warming up my fingers and preparing me to write the real stuff. They stay hidden here in my computer with a password and no one sees them ever. Even Anais Nin edited her journal entries to take out the silly stuff and make the juicy stuff clearer. I’m no different. Ok, I’m totally different because I’m living a boring life. I don’t know anyone famous and I’m not having affairs with them and their wives. It’s all very boring here in SLC. I’m just a wife, doing the best that I can to live my life honorably. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s always boring. The only reason people like to read my blog is because I’m a good writer and I can make the drive home from work interesting and beautiful. I need to get to the page and start making my life interesting and beautiful before I have to start getting ready. Damn. I need to get ready in fifteen minutes. I guess I’ll write the blog at work. All the better anyway. The keyboard feels better there.


Wardrobe Malfunction

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 12:20 pm

The Bosu Incident

I ran to Sugarhouse today. It’s about 3.5 miles up, around and back. It’s usually such a pleasant run in the morning because we are having such good weather. The sun is up when I leave the house, but it hasn’t become oppressively hot. It’s just a bright reminder that summer is almost here. My displeasure with the run had nothing to do with the beautiful weather this morning. The blue skies and sprinklers at the park enticed me to run, run, run! Unfortunately, my clothing interfered in the worst way.

I bought four pair of these shorts, all the same color, same size and same brand. They were all black with gray pin stripping down the side. They were all size medium. They were all Kathy Ireland brand. Only one pair failed miserably: the other three are just fine. This wretched pair rides up like a muthafucka.

It took me 56 minutes to run the 3.5 miles to Sugarhouse, around the trail and back home. Every 42 seconds, the shorts rolled up my thighs. The rolling up wouldn’t have been so bad, but the legs of the shorts rubbed against each other in such a way to cause pain to my inner thighs, so every 42 seconds, I had to pull the legs of the shorts down. That means I pulled down the legs of my shorts at least 80 times during my run, which made running almost impossible.

I would have worried that I was too fat for the shorts, but as I’ve said, I bought four pair and these are the only pair that ride up. During the 56 minute tug and pull festival, I chided myself for not throwing this pair away. They look identical in the drawer and when I put them on. It’s only when I start running that they turn into the exercise nightmare ensemble.

I suddenly became ultra-self-conscious. I am usually anti-self-conscious. I usually assume that everyone is so wrapped up in their own little worlds to notice me. Instead, I found myself feeling every car pass on 2100 South. I found myself noticing every jogger, walker and canine on the trail. I found myself trying to pass people, wait for a lag in the traffic and then hurriedly tug and pull my pant legs down. By the time I got home, I lost all sense of pride and just tugged and pulled no matter who was walking past or driving by.

Put even the plainest woman into a beautiful dress and unconsciously she will try to live up to it. Lady Duff-Gordon (1863 – 1935)

The minute I got home, I pulled the sweaty monstrosity from my body and tossed it in the garbage. I ate my breakfast in a tank top and undies and felt much less embarrassed than I had during today’s run. It’s amazing how beautiful one can feel after being ugly for an hour.

 Previous: Growing Back My Legs    Next: The Return of the Treadmill


Key Lime

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Where did Key Lime come from? Ten years ago, I had never heard of the stuff. Now, it’s every where: Key Lime Pie, Key Lime yogurt, Key Lime candies. Every freakin’ where. They want us to believe that key limes are different than the normal limes that we see in the grocery store every day, but I’m not buying it.

A quick Google search tells me that Key Lime Pie originated in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Florida Keys in the 1850’s. If that were really the case, don’t you think we would have heard of this confection before 1992? I want to see the proof, man. I want someone to show me a Betty Crocker book from 1850 that has a recipe for Key Lime Pie. I don’t believe it. I’m thinking it’s the bastard child of pre-made graham cracker crust and those suits that Don Johnson used to wear in Miami Vice.

I don’t mind lime green clothes, cars and handbags. I own lime green skirts, sweaters, shirts, and even a lunchbox. I love to match my car and since I bought the beetle I’m just fine with lime green. It’s not the color of Key Lime Pie that bothers me.

Ok, maybe it IS the color that bothers me. Let me tell you. This stuff isn’t food. I opened my key lime yogurt for lunch yesterday and that bright green color just screamed, “I’m not food! Don’t eat me! I’m toxic sludge! I’m anti-freeze! I’m definitely NOT FOOD!” I ate it anyway (3-A-Day, you know).

They tell me that the toxic sludge colored pies aren’t authentic Key Lime Pies, but I swear to you, I’ve never seen a normal Key Lime Pie. They are all fluorescent green. So, until the food manufacturers realize their horrible mistake, I’m avoiding Key Lime everything. Don’t even get me started about Kool-Aid’s Magic Twists!


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Man, I totally spaced it last week and didn’t do the Friday Five. It would have totally helped me because I had Cory coming to town and I didn’t want to have to write while he was staying at our house. As it was, I ended up with enough entries. Well, it’s back to normal now.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


1. What am I afraid of when I journal?


I’m always afraid that someone will read my journal and I won’t be there to explain my thoughts correctly, so they’ll take it wrong. That’s why my raw journal entries have little to do with what shows up here. I end up just writing whatever comes to my head in my journal and sometimes there is a kernel of thought there to cultivate for a blog entry. Most of the time, I end up getting really good ideas when I’m running or alone at a store instead of when I’m writing in my journal.


2. What do you feel when you re-read your journal?


They are horrible atrocities to the English language and should never see the light of day. I don’t know how Anais Nin was able to use her journals to become world famous. Mine are strictly crap from start to finish. I’m not just talking the journal entries from when I was fifteen years old and stupid. Yesterday’s journal entry is just as trite and asinine.


3. A word that describes my journal is …


Consistent. I write almost every day. Sometimes I take a break on the weekend, but most of the time, I am writing something every single day. Consistency is probably the one cohering factor to my journal writing.


4. What is intimate in your journal?


Everything. Nothing is off limits when I’m writing my journal. There are times when I have shredded my journal entries or deleted them because I was so honest that I didn’t want a glimmer of a chance of anyone finding them out, but being able to write exactly what I feel at all times in my journal is one of those things that keep me sane.


5. What is your list of journal writing do’s and don’ts?


I have no rules with my journal. Grammar is irrelevant. Sentence structure is trivial. Spelling is only corrected if Word happens to notice that I spelled something wrong and even then I only change it if I feel like it. There are no rules. My goal is just to get one page filled with text using Arial 10 point text and half-inch margins. If I can get my fingers to pump out that much writing, then I’m warmed up to do some real writing. Plus, all those silly worries get out of my head and on the paper. They look so much simpler there.



Doggie Nightmares

Filed under: Our Pets,Sid — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’ve spoken before about the ethereal and haunting sounds of my dog when he has a nightmare, but last night topped it all. I was dead asleep. Both of the cats were sleeping on the bed with me and Sid was sleeping in the bedroom. He insists on sleeping by the doorway, no matter how much we entice him to sleep in the bed that we got for him.

He started making those creepy whining noises that signal that he’s dreaming. That’s what woke me up. Because I have finally become accustomed to their eerie and sinister sounds, I was on my way back to sleep when it happened. He barked.

It wasn’t a normal bark that says he’s happy to see our new visitors. It wasn’t the communicative bark that he shares with the many dogs in the neighborhood. It was the terrified bark that came from him when Cory walked into the house in full motorcycle regalia. It was the uneasy and frightened bark that he yelps when we encounter unfriendly dogs in the neighborhood. It’s the bark that wakes you up in the middle of the night wondering who is trying to break into the house.

Maggie jumped so high that she landed on me in terror. Both she and Linda jumped off the bed and hid in the closet. Because I had heard him whimpering in his sleep before the bark, I knew that he had been dreaming, but he didn’t understand. The bark woke him up and he was disoriented and scared. He rushed out of the room, supposedly to check the house for whatever scared him in his dreams. I went back to sleep, nursing claw marks on the back of my legs.

Now, I’m worried. Why does my dog have so many nightmares? We treat him well. Scary men with motorcycle helmets turn out to be fun loving playmates for him in the end. We feed him. He is never disciplined physically. The worst that happens to him are the times when we lock him in the bedroom when workmen are in the house. Why is he haunted in his dreams?

He’s such a good dog that he should only be having dreams of successfully chasing the neighbor’s cat out of our yard and finally catching one of those birds that tease him from the cherry tree. He should dream of playing tug-of-war with Mike until the both of them are so tired that they just sleep together on the thick green grass. There should be no whimpering and there definitely should be no terrified barking in his dreams. I wish he could talk so I could know what his doggie nightmares are about.


A Visit From God (Part 1 of 2)

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Real Live Preacher is having a crisis right now because some weasel of a Christian called him a false prophet. As an atheist, it just bugs me because RLP is a good writer and I enjoy reading his weblog every day and some fundamentalist moron just peed on his parade.

Whether he is a false or true prophet doesn’t bother me because I’m an atheist. He writes well. He spins stories that make me cry and laugh. I don’t care about whether he is leading God’s flock astray because I don’t believe in God. It’s all irrelevant to me unless RLP lets this jerk wreck his mojo.

I wish I could believe in God. I have no faith in God’s existence, but the belief in God seems to bring so much solace to so many people that sometimes I wish I could believe. But I’m a scientist. I’m not just a scientist, I’m a mathematician. I need to see the proof on paper.

Even if God visited me personally to prove its existence, I wouldn’t believe it. I would check myself into a hospital. I would get a CAT scan. I would talk to as many therapists as I needed to. I would find the brain tumor or the suppressed memory. I would solve the problem and find Occam’s solution.

I wish God would visit me and all of my closest friends at a party so that I had witnesses to what I experienced. Is that asking too much? If God is really omnipotent and omnipresent then it would be nothing to just pop in at my next Halloween party and visit all of us. I can just imagine what it would say to us.

“Hello, Laura, I know that you’re in the middle of hosting a party, but I thought I would drop by to acknowledge my existence. Can your friends see me? Ah yes, I see you waving at me, Dawni. Yes, you’ve been a very good girl. I’m so proud of you.  By the way, I’m male. You keep calling me he/she/it. That doesn’t really bug me, but it’s technically wrong. I chose the male persona about three thousand years ago. I had been female for so long that I thought I’d try this one out. I don’t know how long I’ll stay male, but at least as long as YOU’RE alive.

“Was there anything else you needed, Laura? Well, besides the meaning of life because I don’t think you have time for that right now, with all the drinks you need to mix and don’t forget those tombstone pudding cups in the fridge. You’ve forgotten them two years in a row now and I really think they are adorable and your guests never get to see them. Speechless? Wow! That’s a first for you.

“By the way, Dan, you really have never beat the Jesus costume that you wore the first year. I’ve looked into all that Halloweens of the future and you keep trying, but you never really feel like you reach that spectacular height again. Maybe that will make Halloween a little less stressful for you. Next year, you and Stacey are going to go as The Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood and win all the prizes, but for some reason, you will still feel that you can’t beat the Jesus costume. You might want to look into that feeling, especially now that you know that I exist.”

I can just imagine God looking around the party. The music from the computer would be playing Blasphemous Rumors by Depeche Mode and we’d feel a little guilty for never believing in him. He would dip his finger into the ranch dressing on the vegetable platter, tasting it and wrinkling his nose. “Hidden Valley Ranch!” I’d think to myself, wishing that I had thought to make the ranch dip myself instead of just using the no name brand that came with the vegetable platter. He would bring out the tombstone pudding cups from the fridge, taking one for himself. He’d spoon the chocolate and crushed Oreo confection into his mouth and take the Milano cookie tombstone out, dipping it into the pudding and taking small bites. I can imagine him looking at me.

“Is this enough? Great party, by the way. Last year you had a Dracula DVD playing, but I think Metropolis is just as spooky. I guess you all are thoroughly convinced, aren’t you? Do you need a miracle or something?” He would touch one of the wilting houseplants on the bookcase and it would bloom and flourish. “Is that enough? Ah, I can see that it is. Well, goodbye, then. I probably won’t visit you again and some of you will shake your heads and pretend it never happened. That’s ok with me, by the way. Enjoy yourself.” And he would be gone.


A Visit From God (Part 2 of 2)

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Please read Part 1.

After the Halloween party, would I live a different life? After I had been given undeniable proof that God existed, knew about our lives and could see into the future, would that change the way I lived? Maybe.

One thing that I would do differently is pray. I don’t pray now. I haven’t prayed since I was a child and really believed in Armageddon. Not having proof of God’s existence really dampens my suspension of disbelief to the point that it makes praying impossible. I’ve tried meditation and I have found it to be reasonably helpful in calming my tempestuous moods, but I don’t really consider that praying. Prayer implies a higher source.

Mike and I had this discussion about prayer. Ok, it was a fight. It’s always a fight when the dictionary is brought down from the bookshelf.  The minister at my church had a sermon called, “It’s OK to Pray” and I was trying to convince Mike that meditation counts as prayer. In the end, Reverend Dennison also considered meditation prayer, but the definition of prayer implies a higher source. Once I knew that the higher source existed, I might be tempted to pray.

Of course, God himself told me that he probably would never visit me again, so really what is the point of praying to God when there is little hope of a response? Maybe I would just obsess over the visit, trying to find clues in it. What did he tell us when he was here?

He doesn’t like generic brand ranch dressing. Who does? He likes Oreos, chocolate pudding and Milano cookies. Who doesn’t? He knows everything we do and think every day and into the future. The last thing he said was, “Enjoy yourself.”

No, I don’t think I’d live my life any differently than I did before he visited. He told me to enjoy myself and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Does that mean I break laws? No, there are natural consequences to breaking laws that I don’t want to experience. Does that mean that I would suddenly become promiscuous? No, I stay faithful to my husband because I love him and I couldn’t live with myself if I was dishonorable. Does that mean that I would abuse drugs, tobacco or alcohol? No, I want to keep my body healthy so I can stay on this planet for a long time.

Aside from the praying thing, I pretty much would live my life exactly how I live it today if I had such a casual and happy visit from God himself at my Halloween party. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t bothered visiting me.


The Return of the Treadmill

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Bosu Incident   “I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ll condense my two bookshelves. Do you think the treadmill would fit right here.”

Mike indicated the corner of his office that I had coveted for the treadmill when we moved in last July. I knew for a fact that the treadmill would fit there because I had measured it back then. It was a snug fit, but the tread would fold down perfectly and the ceiling was just tall enough for Mike on the highest incline. I was sure of it because I had wanted it so badly.

“Yeah. I know for a fact it will fit there, but do you really want to lose a bookcase?”

“A lot of the space is wasted or could be somewhere else. I think I could condense everything down to one bookcase and then put that bookcase in storage and put the treadmill there.”

“Are you sure? You seemed so against it before.”

“I hate the gym. I miss the treadmill.”

My sentiments were echoed word for word. Ever since the Bosu Incident, the gym has felt less like a playground for adults and more like a playground for mean little bullies. I forced myself to go. I exercised at home. I ran outside. I rode my bike. I played Dance Dance Revolution on the Xbox. I played with my Bosu Ball at home. I found myself dreading the gym and missing my treadmill that was hiding in storage.

“Ok, well, if you want the treadmill back, we can do that. Here, let me help you organize this bookshelf.”

I started to reach for his books and toys. I started to pull the four large books of condensed music CDs.

“These can go downstairs. Now that we’ve ripped them all, we don’t really need to access them regularly.”

Mike stopped me, “No. I don’t want to start that project right now. Cory is going to be here tomorrow. I don’t want to deal with that while he’s here. Let’s just wait until he leaves.”

“Cory could help us move the treadmill.”

“No, let’s wait until he goes home.”

So, I waited. Cory visited and we enjoyed having him stay here, but the day he left, we rented a U-Haul, moved the bookshelf to storage and brought home the treadmill. Sadly, something happened to the treadmill in the move last July and it wasn’t working when we brought it home. After a half hour call to NordicTrack, my part was ordered and it arrived last Saturday. Mike had it replaced and working by the time I got home Saturday at lunchtime. I was happy to be the first person to play on it once we had it situated in the spot where the bookcase used to be.

When we moved from our 3500 square foot house in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />West Jordan to this 900 square foot house in Sugarhouse, we had to make choices. What was more important, my computer or my piano? I had to make that decision. I observed the facts. I sat and wrote at my computer every day and I only played my piano at Christmas. In fact, the last Christmas we spent in the West Jordan house, I didn’t even play. I ended up finding a family with a little girl who wanted to take piano lessons and sold the piano. It was a choice I had to make. I could have put the treadmill where my computer sits today, but the computer had precedence.

Mike had to make choices too. What was more important? Having all of his books nearby or having a treadmill? Since he went from a huge office to a tiny room at the back of the house, he decided that the bookcases were more important. After a year of struggling with going to the gym, though, he decided that he’d rather have the treadmill.

I keep suppressing the thought that he did it for me. He has had a front row seat on the Bosu Incident and all my struggles with the gym. He insists that going to the gym is doubly hard for him because he has to overcome the fear of exercise and the fear of people. I have no fear of exercising. I’m just scared of those skinny bitches that point at me when I’m just doing the best that I can do. That has been enough for me to keep running up to Sugarhouse Park or playing DDR instead of going to the gym. I can only imagine how hard it has been for him. Maybe he didn’t do it for me. Either way, I’m just so glad to have my treadmill back.

Previous: Wardrobe Malfunction    Next: i2Workout


You’re Going Out of Town Again?!

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We are planning a trip to Vegas, back to the beloved Luxor Hotel. They have a special rate on their rooms right now, so we are taking them up on the deal. I have enough vacation time to take another week off, but I’m just taking it off without pay and saving the vacation time just in case I need it later.

Things are so slow at the office right now that there was no hassle getting the time off. Mike is self-employed, so the laptop can go with us if he needs to work and stay dormant if he doesn’t. We went to Yellowstone just last month, but I asked Mike what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted to go to Vegas.

His only request is that we can spend an entire day at Fry’s. I’m down with that. I could spend a whole day at that store as long as we take a break and eat at the café ©n the middle of it. We rarely buy anything there, but we are happy to browse The Future. It’s something that you just can’t do on Amazon.com. I know that I can buy whatever I want on Amazon, but I can’t browse. Browsing is incredibly difficult and not fun at all on Amazon. We don’t have a Fry’s in Utah, so we are driving to Las Vegas to have the full browsing experience. Maybe we’ll buy something this time.

He has promised me that I can have two lazy days doing nothing by the pool. He won’t be required to hang out at the pool with me, but he has to give me the chance to just be lazy. We are going to be at our favorite hotel with the best pool area. I want to enjoy it. The pool at the Luxor is the perfect relaxation wonderland. I have never enjoyed myself lying by the side of the pool as much as I have at the Luxor. Fruity drinks, as many big and fluffy white towels as I want and Top Forty music are just a few of the benefits of lying in the shade of the pyramid. The most important thing is that I’m lying in the shade of the pyramid.

Of course, I forgot to mention the blistering heat that only my adored desert can provide. Vegas at this time of year is like a brightly lit oven blasting you whenever you are foolish enough to step outside of the casino. The old joke goes, “I’m going to Las Vegas this summer because my travel agent said that Hell was booked.” You would think that the heat would dissuade us, but we are going eagerly and happily.

I don’t have much time to make a Las Vegas Mix CD. That’s the CD that gets played over and over during the trip until the songs are permanently embedded in the memory of the trip. Mike never lets me play my mix CDs enough to really do that, but I always think that I should try. What should I put on my Las Vegas Mix CD?


Half-Hour Lunch

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The swings at the park squeak something fierce. It’s like a grating noise that grinds itself into your brain through your ears just like those horrible earwig animals on Ceti Alpha Five. Eventually the pack of children monitored by a sole teen move on to the baseball field in a strange game of follow the leader. It’s not an official game. The pack just follows the teen and occasionally breaks into discussion about the rights of one individual to trip another.

I dropped off the car payment (I’m paying it early, aren’t you proud?) in the mail box. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Woods Cross City moved their mailbox to a different site on their property. It’s much easier to access from my car now, so I’m appreciative. It’s a small blessing in my day. Thanks, mailbox movers. I didn’t have to open my car door to put my payment in the box.

Now, I’m at the park to the east of the Woods Cross City building. It’s called Something or Someone Not Even Important Memorial Park. I remember reading the little plaque and looking at the little log cabin, but I can’t tell you what the plaque said. It was that interesting. There are swings (as mentioned) and monkey bars. There are picnic tables under a pavilion. Once I saw a couple there so in love, but today there are no furtive kisses, only city workers eating their lunches.

I pull my pink lawn chair out of the trunk of the Beetle and feel the eyes of the city workers on me. I can almost hear their thoughts, “A lawn chair. Why don’t I have a lawn chair to sit at the park? Why didn’t I think of that?” I didn’t think of it, actually. A coworker told me once that she used to keep a lawn chair in her car when she lived in Hawaii so that she could go to the beach whenever she wanted. It’s also a good idea for Utah. I go to the park and pull out my lawn chair.

I kick off my fabulous four-inch heeled sandals and relax on my chair with a book. I’m reading another teen novel. I need something light and fluffy and easy to consume at lunchtime. There is no Jean Buidrillard for me at lunch. That’s strictly weekend reading for me. The swings have finally stopped squeaking, but I wonder why the city workers don’t bring a huge can of WD40 for them. They spend more time at that place than I do, I’m sure.

There’s not much time for me to read. Since they’ve cut my hours, my lunch is only thirty minutes now. After dropping off my mail and setting up my chair, I only have twenty minutes to read, but with a teen novel, that’s enough time to make a pretty big dent. Serena is in love with Aaron. Blair is a conniving bitch and Jenny is considering getting breast reduction surgery. Heavy issues, indeed.

I’m in the shade today. Yesterday, I sat in the sun, letting its delicious rays caress my legs. I came back from the park with a strange tan line from my miniskirt on my legs. Today, it’s the shade for me. The game of follow the leader has temporarily been abandoned because “she tripped me.” I only have two minutes until I have to pack my lawn chair back into the miniscule trunk. I can feel the city workers looking at me, “She only sat there for about fifteen minutes. Why does she even bother?”


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

1. Do you believe in ghosts?

I don’t really believe ghosts exist. I want them to exist. I think it’s the basic human fear of dying. If ghosts exist, then death isn’t the end. I realize that it’s an instinctual hope within me and combat it at every level, but that still doesn’t stop me from wanting them to exist.

2. If you were a ghost, what places would you haunt?

I guess it would depend on how I died. If I died at a nice old age of natural causes, then maybe I would haunt all the best castles of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Europe. It would give them that haunted flavor and I would get to do some site seeing.

I have always liked the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I’ve never seen the Haunted Manor at Disney World or EuroDisney, so I can’t really comment on them. I have thought that I might someday like to be the “additional guest” to make them an even 1000 ghosts. Don’t you think it would be cool to haunt that ride at Disneyland? Cory Doctorow probably has dibs on the 1000th ghost spot anyway.

3. What people would you haunt?

If I died a violent or untimely death, then I’d probably haunt the ones responsible for my demise. I think I would do evil things to them like hide their keys and glasses. I’d make noises that sounded like someone was trying to break into their house late at night. I’d give their dog nightmares.

If I died old and peacefully, then maybe I wouldn’t haunt anyone. I might follow around my loved ones until they died, but I don’t think that I’d haunt them. I’d just stick around and ward off car crashes and find their keys for them.

4. How would you decide when it was right to “go into the light”?

I don’t really believe in all of this stuff, but if I found myself as a ghost, then I would have to revise my entire world view and suddenly going into the light might actually mean something to me. I guess all of that would depend on how I died. If I left something undone, then I would want to finish all the business before I hitched a ride to the next life or eternal salvation or whatever.

I guess that’s why I try not to leave anything undone. Sure, there are books that I haven’t written and projects that sit unwoven. When it comes to saying what needs to be said, I say it. I’d rather say exactly what I feel than die incomplete. Being an atheist can do that to you, but I’ve also heard that being a Christian can do that to you too, so whatever.

5. What would you like to be reborn as?

Wouldn’t it be nice if reincarnation existed? I could choose my next life based on my karma accrued here. I don’t believe it, but if it were true, I would like to come into one of those perfect television families. My mom and dad could be Clair and Cliff Huxtable and I would never have to worry about them fighting or getting divorced. My brother and sisters might be a little wacky sometimes, but all they did fell into the range of norm. There would never be a question of whether I would have enough money for college and all I had to do was choose between MIT and Harvard. Of course, I’d go with MIT. I think I want an easy, lucky life this time around. What do I have to do to earn the karma points for that one next time around?



Filed under: Computer Stuff,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Bosu Incident

“I think $17 is too much to pay for those iFit workouts. You only get one workout for 17 bucks and if you get sick of it, you’re stuck.”

“I just think that finding iFit MP3s on the Internet is going to be a little difficult. The more obscure something is, the harder it is to find. Unless you’re looking for Top Forty or Trance music because there’s some weird overlap with Trance music and computer geeks. I’ll look, but I don’t think I’ll find anything.”

I puffed out some air and we talked about something else. The next morning he didn’t mention anything about finding any MP3s for me, so I logged on myself. I only had thirty minutes before I had to get my butt on the treadmill or I would have been late for work.

I searched using the phrase, “treadmill mp3” and the third thing on the list was i2Workout. It is a program to make your own iFit workouts for your treadmill. I was reluctant to even look at it because I only had twenty-eight minutes to get this thing working, but after browsing the other selections, I tried it.

I looked at it, I downloaded it, I installed it and I created a workout within five minutes. After ten minutes, I had a CD in my hand with a random 40 minute workout. There was no music because I didn’t want to have to figure that out. I ran downstairs and grabbed the ghetto blaster and some connectors.

I started my workout on time and it kicked my butt. I’m just so happy that I’m sending in the measly thirty bucks to register it. You can try it out for free for thirty days, so I could just make a whole ton of CDs of workouts before they lapse, but I’m happy to pay the registration fee. For less than the cost of two iFit workouts, I can make all the workouts in the world that I want using my favorite music.

I know that this sounds like a huge commercial for these i2Workout guys and by golly it is. I was able to make myself a random workout, burn it to a CD and set it up on my treadmill within 30 minutes. It made me totally happy.

Have I mentioned how ecstatic I am to have my treadmill back?

Previous: The Return of the Treadmill   Next: Does Anybody Love Their Gym That Much?

UPDATE 09-21-05: If you are unable to download this program from the i2Workout website, there is a mirror of it here: WinSite: i2Workout

You can see my further adventures with this issue at my weblog on Starling Fitness.


Father’s Day

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I never really bonded with my dad. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was because he was in the Navy when I was born. I really don’t know why I didn’t bond with my father, but here I am today and I never went through any of those father issues with my father.

Instead, I bonded with my grandpa. I had all of those “Daddy’s Little Girl” moments with him instead. My grandma babysat me during the days when my parents worked. I remember waiting by the window for him to come home from work. The television was always on and when the MASH song came on the television, Grandpa would be home soon. To this day, those first few notes of the theme song to MASH give me that excited feeling of knowing that Grandpa is almost home.

I remember one time we got to make cookies. He said we could make the cookies from my <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Sesame Street book. They were some sort of Surprise cookies that had many different candies in them and you wouldn’t know what kind of candy you would get until you bit into the cookie. He let me stand on the step stool while we stirred the cookie dough. I remember thinking, “I’m tall enough to marry Grandpa when I stand on this stool. We just need to get rid of Grandma.”

Of course, I am the kind of person who says those things out loud and when I did, Grandpa looked at me funny. I learned very quickly that it was weird to want to marry your grandpa. Pop psychologists always talk about the Oedipus complex. I actually remember feeling like that, so I know that I bonded with my grandpa some time before that day.

I still believe that he is invincible. I remember when Bobka sold her house in Pembina, North Dakota. Grandpa got her piano. He and three other men moved it into the house in Billings. It was my grandpa on one end of the piano and the three guys on the other side. I was sure that my grandpa could have moved the piano all by himself, he was that strong. It was just that Grandma insisted that he have help. He didn’t really need it.

I still believe that he is immortal. Bobka is still alive and celebrating her 100th Birthday this year. My grandpa has longevity in his genes. Even though he turns 75 this year, I still believe he will live forever. Even though Grandma died almost ten years ago, I think he’ll outlive me. Even though he is my last living grandparent, I still believe he’s immortal. I have no trouble facing my own mortality. It’s facing his that’s the problem.

Today we recognize the fathers in our lives. I have a father. He has always done the best that he could with what he had. I have a father-in-law and he is the glowing reminder of where my husband came from. To hear him tell a joke is to see my husband encased in another body. I have a step-father. He’s new this year, but he has already jumped ahead of my dad in the race for my affections.

There is one person who will never fall behind, though, and that’s my grandpa. He will get his Father’s Day card and scold me for the Costco gift card I sent him just like he scolded me for the emergency car kit I sent him for Christmas. It doesn’t matter as long as he knows that he’s remembered this season and every season. Happy Father’s Day, Grandpa!


Fire In The Mountain

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The other day, it looked as if there was a grass fire in the mountain on the way to work. The cloud of thick, gray smoke billowed into air and I could see it from miles away. I panicked and lamented. “It’s only June and here we are in grass fire season again,” I thought to myself. Every year there is property damage from these fires. Every year, our mountains are pock-marked by black scorches where there used to be trees, grass and sagebrush.

The closer I got to the fire, the stranger it looked. It didn’t seem to be growing and all the smoke was flowing from one small point on the mountain. It seemed like too much smoke for one small fire. Then I saw it: the stack. I was heading toward the refineries that I pass every day. It wasn’t a fire. It was a particularly smoky burn.

I breathed a sigh of relief. No fire. No scorched earth. It’s just pollution. That thought stayed with me for a while and I realized that I drive past the refineries every day and I don’t even worry about the smoke that they pour into the air every day. Of course, it’s the work they do that gets me to work every day in my car. If they didn’t burn regularly, I would have to live in Bountiful within biking distance of my employment.

It’s that strange feeling of ambiguity that unnerves me. It’s that cognitive dissonance that makes my head hurt a little bit. I am grateful to them that they provide me with fuel for my vehicle, making my life easier. I’m grateful that the mountains aren’t burning again. I’m bothered by the smoke pouring into the sky. It’s hard to draw the line in the sand and say, “It’s ok for them to pollute the air because I get gasoline from it.” It’s true, but it’s hard for me to admit to it.

I guess I should just look at it esthetically. I’ve enjoyed the burns at the refinery in the past. Sometimes they look like a floating tongue of flame floating in the fog. Sometimes they are spectacular additions to the summer heat of the desert. Sometimes they are smoky specters imitating real fires. They are a landmark that I enjoy driving past every day, so I’m going to admit to the world that I’m ok with their pollution, if only because they make the sunsets prettier.


Bird Watching

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Mike has a bird feeder outside the window in his office. This is the window closest to the treadmill. There is a little red-headed finch that visits the feeder every morning when I run, even though it has been empty for weeks. He keeps coming back every morning. I see him cock his head to the side to look at me beyond the glass. It’s so bright outside that my movements are barely detectable to him. I suspect that if there was food out there, he would gorge himself on it no matter what I did on the treadmill.

He’s the only bird that I’ve seen visit that feeder. We have tons of sparrows and black capped chickadees in the neighborhood, but he’s the only bird who has visited us while I’ve been watching. I know there are numerous other birds in the neighborhood that would love to chomp Mike’s very expensive bird food. Why haven’t they found us yet?

Mike and I were at the shopping center on 1300 East and 2100 South a couple of weeks ago. We were breaking in a new pair of tennis shoes, so we walked the distance from the New Balance store to the Shopko at the other end. On the way, Mike noticed a bird call that was unfamiliar.

We looked up to find and entire flock of cliff swallows. They were building their mud nests on the brick walls of the shopping center. The wall faced north, so they were protected from the hot southern sun and the blustery winds from the east and west. The birds would leave the nest, returning with a small lump of mud. The nests looked like textured pottery and I imagined the broods of chicks that would be raised in them.

We tried to take pictures of the nests, but we didn’t have Mike’s fancy camera, just my Canon, so they didn’t turn out. I had to be content with the memory of the hundreds of birds, building little mud huts for themselves on the wall of an otherwise boring building. I hope the landlords don’t squirt down their nests before the babies are ready to leave them.

Not one cliff swallow has come to eat at our feeder. Now that I think of it, I think they’re carnivorous, so shelled sunflower seeds probably wouldn’t appeal to them. I guess I’ll have to visit them instead of sitting around waiting for them to visit me like my red-headed finch friend.


Bike Riders and the Silver Chain

Filed under: People Watching — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I noticed her because she looked a little like Dawni’s mom. She was riding a similar bike with a basket on the front: electric blue. She was too old, though, to be Dawni’s mom. Then her mate pulled up on his electric blue bike. His back fender was fluorescent orange and green.

She took her package into the Post Office while he arranged the bikes on the rack. He pulled out a short and almost delicate chain from his small canvas tote and twirled the combination until it opened. He locked their two wheels together and followed her into the building. It was as if he locked the bikes up with a necklace.

I realized that it was enough. I could have probably broken the chain with my bare hands and baring that, I’m sure a stick and some twisting would have broken it easily. The lock was merely a token. It was just enough to prevent a stupid kid from walking away with their beat up bikes.

When they returned, he reversed the process, unlocking the bikes and handing hers to her. She got off the bike to bump down the curb, but he just rode right over it. They rode right past my car and I could see that they were even older than I thought. Maybe she was Dawni’s grandma.


The Official Return of The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’ve been writing my own questions for my Friday entries for the last few months, but it seems that someone has revitalized The Friday Five. I’m a few weeks behind, so I am going to do the Friday Five from one of the previous weeks.

There’s a movie being made about your life! Which celebrity will play…

1. You? Why?

Janeane Garofalo because she has brown hair, is intelligent and outspoken. I always secretly wanted to be Janeane, so it’s only fitting that she play me when my life story is put on the big screen.
2. Your love interest? Why?

Tom Everett Scott should play Michael. They have similar hair. Mike’s more on the dark side of tall dark and handsome than Tom is, but he’s the closest guy I can think of besides Tom Hanks, who is too old to play Mike.

3. Your best friend? Why?

My sister, Stacey, would be played by the lovely Kirsten Dunst. Of course, I liked her better before she cut off all her hair, but she can grow it back for my movie. Her portrayal of Claudia, the child vampire, in Interview With The Vampire, was a perfect depiction of Stacey as a child. She was a little adult in a child’s body.

4. Your enemy? Why?

My enemy! Wow! I don’t really have a nemesis. I’ve lamented about this in the past. I haven’t had any volunteers for arch nemeses. As it stands, my movie will have to remain enemyless. Of course, there’s always The Man. He’s always trying to bring me down.

5. Any family member? Why?

DAN! We can’t forget Dan, my brother-in-law and Stacey’s husband. Who would I have play Dan? Jack Black‘s hair is too dark and he would look silly with it dyed blond. Jack Black’s character from Hi Fidelity would be perfect for Dan. Maybe we can take a little creative license and just let Dan’s character have brown hair.

I just realized that this Friday Five might really piss off everyone. I can see it now, “Kirsten Dunst? I’ve always considered myself a Jada Pinkett Smith!” or maybe, “Tom Everett Scott, who the hell is he? That Thing You Do?! I hate that movie!” or even, “Jack Black?! I’m much more like the Rob Gordon character. I thought you hated that movie? Does that mean you hate ME?”

Oh well, if you’re in my movie, I get to choose the actors, not you. If you don’t like my choices, tough. Ok, if you absolutely HAVE to have Jada Pinkett Smith, I’m ok with that. We’ll just have some explaining to do.


Does Anybody Love Their Gym That Much?

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Bosu Incident

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. It’s the new movie from Ben Stiller. Average Joe’s Gym is going to be bulldozed to become the parking lot for Globo Gym unless the rag tag team of losers wins a Dodgeball competition.

Can I just ask the world out there something? Does anyone love their gym enough to train and compete in a Dodgeball competition? Even before The Bosu Incident, I didn’t love my gym enough to defend its honor and mortgage. If the forty bucks a month I’m giving them isn’t enough to keep them alive, then I’ll go to Globo Gym and pay the higher prices. Or maybe I’ll pay higher prices at my gym. Ask me to be in a Dodgeball competition and you’ll just have to be bulldozed, fella.

I’d even run a charity 5K race before I entered a Dodgeball competition, but even that is not very likely. Since Mike brought back the treadmill, I haven’t set foot in the gym, not even to tan my body for the Vegas trip. I have exercised every single day since the treadmill has come back. I have brought the weights that were gathering dust in the basement upstairs and I’ve used them. I have not missed the gym for a second.

Ok, that’s a lie. Once a day, when Ming goes to the gym at lunch time, I miss the gym. I liked going there with him. We talked about work. I felt safe, thinking that the gym bunnies would leave me alone if I had someone else there with me. Going alone after The Bosu Incident, I felt unprotected, but I miss that feeling of safety I had a couple of weeks after I first started going. When Ming goes to the gym without me, I miss it. It’s a moot point, though. I only get a half hour for lunch now, so I couldn’t go with him anyway.

No, if they asked me to be in a Dodgeball competition to save my gym, I’d refuse. In fact, I’d probably hope they lost so that I could get out of my one-year contract with them.

Previous: i2Workout                 Next: Back to the Gym


Have I Told You How Much I Love You?

Filed under: Reviews,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Have I told you lately how much I love my Xbox? Did I even tell you that I have one? My sister and Dan gave me their Xbox for my birthday along with Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) and a Dance Pad. I was so excited that I insisted that we hook it up to Reed’s super big screen TV and play it right there at my parents’ house. We played it that night even though it was really hard to play. Stacey, Mike and my mom were willing to play. Dan and Reed had a pact of solidarity, but Reed finally acquiesced and played one song, much to Dan’s chagrin. It was major fun for all of us.

Even though the directions tell you otherwise, don’t play DDR with bare feet. It’s best to wear socks. If you play it barefooted, you will get the worst blisters on your feet and it will take you weeks to heal from them. Word of honor.

I got a Wallace and Gromit game from Mike on my birthday also. I was so scared of the controller that as of this date, I have yet to play it. In fact, now that I’ve written this, I know that is just silly and I should play the game right now. I definitely should play before I leave for Vegas.

I got the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban game a week or so ago. I burst past my fear of the controller to play this game (makes the Wallace and Gromit excuse sound silly, huh?). Right now, I’m still at the beginning of the game, trying to get the Marauder’s Map. Using that scary controller isn’t as scary when I play a low stress game like Harry Potter. I died a couple of times trying to drag Harry away from the dementors. The dork fainted and I had to take over Ron’s body and drag him out of there. It’s a pretty cool game.

The reason I even started this entry was because the other night Mike found a totally cool thing for me. It is an Xbox Karaoke called Xbox Music Mixer. It only came with 12 songs, but I can put any album I own on it and it will take out the vocals so you can sing to it. I can print up lyrics from the Internet on any song I own, so really it’s the greatest toy in the world for me.

The night we bought it, I stayed up late singing all the songs that came with the game and then I put in Pink’s Mizundastood album and sang almost every song from it. Mike pulled me away from the microphone at midnight and forced me to go to bed. I had been up since three a.m. that morning (nightmare), so I should have been sleepy, but I could have sung the rest of the songs on that album and probably all the songs on Staring at the Sea by the Cure.

After looking for cool games for the Xbox and only finding first person shooters, sports games and the rare puzzle game to tempt me, I am totally stoked by this Karaoke game. It’s a lot of fun. Now, game developers, will you please make more games that use the Dance Pad controller so that I can play games and exercise at the same time. Wouldn’t it be cool if your games worked with iFit machines and let you run on the treadmill to play a game or ride on an exercise bike? I’m not a thirteen year-old male, but I have an Xbox, a pocket full of money and no games to buy. Get Cracking!



Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Salt Lake City is like a little sister who is completely enamored with her older sister, Los Angeles. She watches everything her older sister does and does her best to copy her and maybe even improve on her actions. Of course, she’s always behind, which in city-time, that means that Salt Lake is always twenty years behind L.A.

I remember someone telling me this when I was a teenager and back then, I believed it. L.A. had so many cool things that I was sure that Salt Lake would take twenty years to catch up. But then I noticed some cracks in the theory. Lagoon, our amusement park is now twenty years in the future and it isn’t half as cool as Disneyland from 1984. On the other hand, the Internet has allowed me to shop as well as those folks there in Los Angeles. Given fifteen minutes and fifteen hundred dollars, I can have that cool Louis Vuitton Multicolore handbag sent to me. I no longer have to drive to L.A. to see the cool stuff. I can see it in my living room, in my gym clothes.

Then again, Salt Lake is having a sushi crush right now. There used to be only a couple of places in the city to get sushi, and quite frankly, they weren’t very good. Now, I can get fresh sushi with immaculate presentation at Smith’s grocery store on 500 East and 500 South. There are several restaurants that have the absolute best for me. At this point in time, Salt Lake is infatuated with sushi.

Now, you could say it’s because we had the Olympics here a couple of years ago and the international influence just stuck, but I’m not buying that for a minute. If that were the case, those sushi restaurants would be out of business by now. They would have cashed in during the Olympics and cashed out two months later.

Hey, if we’re going to talk about the Olympics, we hosted the Winter Games almost exactly twenty years after Los Angeles. The monuments built to that event (i.e. The Museum of Science and Technology) were crumbling and outdated when Mike and I visited them in 1990. Goody. I can’t wait to see what the Skating Oval is going to be like in 2008. We’re not obsessed with sushi because of the international influence of the 2002 winter sporting event. We’re obsessed with sushi because we’re the little sister.

Remember back to 1984? I do. I remember that scene in Valley Girl where Julie’s mom served sushi at the party that Randy and his friend crashed. The Valley kids were all stoked about it, but Randy thought it was weird or just something that rich kids ate. I remember that scene in The Breakfast Club where Claire explains her lunch to Bender. The rich bitch won’t let a guy’s tongue in her mouth, but she’ll eat sushi. That movie wasn’t about Shermer, Illinois. That movie was L.A. Los Angeles was obsessed with sushi back in the eighties and poor Salt Lake City is barely catching on that it might be fun to eat raw fish and seaweed. Always behind…


The Perfect Run

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

They say that the ideal running environment is a trail run on pine needles, but “they” obviously don’t run as often or in as many places as I have. Where there are pine needles, there are pine trees. Where there are pine trees, I am going to trip on a fucking pinecone. It’s just how nature works. You can’t have the pine needles without the pinecones. No, the ideal running environment is not a trail run on pine needles; it’s the sixth floor at the Luxor Hotel.

Like any pyramid, the Luxor Hotel is an engineering marvel. The inside of the pyramid is basically hollow, making a huge atrium filled with waterfalls and amusement park attractions. The rooms of the hotel line the outside of the pyramid, so each floor is a square of rooms. I like the sixth floor best because it’s the biggest “track” in the hotel. On floors one through five, the square isn’t complete. Some of the areas are blocked off for office space and attraction rides, so the first floor where there is a complete square to run is the sixth floor.

Once you get higher than the 23rd floor, the “track” is too small to really enjoy running and if you go high enough, it’s just a few rooms and a hallway. But from floors 6 through 23 or so, the running is good. This trip, we stayed on the second floor, so I couldn’t just step outside of my room and start running. I had to walk to an Inclinator, show my room key and get my tired butt up to the sixth floor. Most of the time, however, I can just walk right outside my room and start running. I love to stay at the Luxor Hotel just for this reason.

I always run clockwise. The Pagan tradition states that whenever you go in circles, it should be clockwise. Counter-clockwise is work of the dark side. I would really hate to run for Evil. Considering that the Pagan tradition is thousands of years old, I wonder how they knew that clocks were going to turn in that direction instead of backwards. Maybe the Pagan tradition is why clocks turn the way they do, or maybe it’s all bunk. Who knows?

Pagan tradition aside, I always run clockwise. It doesn’t matter which direction you run. You’ll always have to either pass someone facing or behind. People walk all different directions in hotels and there is no avoiding other people. When I run in the morning, their hotel rooms smell like soap and perfume. Some of the people are crabby and some of them are cheerful, but they always smile when I puff out a Good Morning at them.

The carpeting is softer than pine needles and the only thing to trip me are room service trays. Make sure you run early in the morning or well after four in the evening. Otherwise, you’ll end up dodging the housekeeping carts. If you see a security guard, don’t panic. They don’t mind if you run around their hotel. Just say, “Good Morning” and smile at them. Yeah, Runner’s World doesn’t know what it’s talking about. I’d take air-conditioned carpeting over pine needle trails any day.


Vegas Trip

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We got home late Monday night from our Vegas trip. We were supposed to be home on Friday night, but fate intervened. When we planned our trip, we took the amazing price on the hotel rooms at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Luxor during the week, but we planned to check out on Friday when the prices went up to $135 a night. I remember asking Mike if he wanted to stay the weekend in Mesquite, where we can get a room for much cheaper on the weekends, but in the end, we decided that we would head back to Salt Lake and spend the weekend doing laundry and getting ready for our week.

On Friday, we checked out of the Luxor just fine and were right on schedule. We passed right through Mesquite with no temptation to stay the weekend. We wanted to get home. Mike had found a bunch of Xbox games that he wanted to play and I had the parts for him to fix my treadmill so it would work with the i2Workouts better. We were excited to get home, mow the lawn and do the laundry.

Just past Mesquite, in the twisty and turny part of the stretch of Arizona with no service, our plans took a turn. At first, I thought that I must be close to running out of gas because the car was making the same noise as the low fuel indicator, but a different light was showing. The red thermometer was telling me that the car was overheating. I immediately slowed from my ninety mph speed down to a reasonable sixty. I turned off the air conditioning and turned on the heater. I opened the windows and hoped that we would be able to get to St. George before the car gave out completely.

For all the cursing that I gave the Beetle, I should be happy because it didn’t give out. It held on and we made it to Ozzie and Rosie’s Shop. They were able to order our parts Friday night and we ended up extending our vacation over the weekend and into Monday. I was a major crab cake (my treadmill was waiting for me), so I had a hard time enjoying St. George on foot. Ozzie did an amazing job fixing our water pump and solved our Check Engine light problem while he was at it.

Even though we didn’t plan it, we ended up staying in a less expensive hotel over the weekend, just like I suggested to Mike before we left. It was a little Best Western on St. George Blvd, close to Foreign Auto Parts and Service. We ate at the little restaurants to the west of our hotel. We were forced to relax because there was really nothing to do there without a car to get us around the town. We sat in the hot tub, we exercised in the fitness room and we indulged ourselves at the Deluxe Breakfast Buffet. We even did laundry in the Guest Laundry. It wasn’t a perfect ending to our trip, but it could have been worse.

We could have been trapped in that twisty and turny part of the freeway in Arizona without a mechanic in site. We could have blown a head gasket trying to get our car into St. George. We could have been broke and unable to pay the reasonable rates that Ozzie charged us. We could have been stuck in Panquitch or Paragonah, where there is even less to do than in downtown St. George. We could have ended up with a crooked mechanic instead of the honest and fair service we got from Ozzie. There were so many “could haves” that haunted me, that I was just happy to rest in the air conditioned comfort of my hotel room.

When my mom found out that we had to stay in St. George for the next couple of days, waiting for parts, she suggested that we rent a car and go to Mesquite. I told her, “Mom, I used up all my good luck just getting here. I don’t have any left for Mesquite.”

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