Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


August Search Strings

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

This month I hit the goal of 100,000 hits. Now, my goal is 100,000 unique visitors before my two year anniversary. I’m at 22,412 right now, so tell all your friends about me. Link to me on your blog. Maybe I’ll even get Slash Dotted or Boing Boinged. That would be totally cool (except, of course, crashing the server. That’s double plus uncool.).

My readership is up to an average of 149 unique readers a day. I hit as high as 375 last month, which was strange. The day that I hit 375, I didn’t write anything particularly interesting or controversial. It was the fifth of August and I wrote about Recycled Buildings. It’s so strange what seems to attract people. I haven’t been able to track it.

who started the gallery stroll on pierpont avenue

I found the website for the Gallery Stroll, but it didn’t have any information on the history of the event. I emailed Laura Durham regarding this question and she was so nice to direct me to an article that she wrote about the Gallery Stroll: Twenty Years and Still Strolling. All the history about the event is right there for everyone to read. Apparently, it was a group of people who started the Gallery Stroll, not just one founder.

balancing on bosu

There are tons of sites out there wanting to tell you to buy a Bosu Ball, but few of them have given you exercises to do or even a realistic review of using one in a class at a gym. My entry is on page five of the Google search and I swear it’s the first one listed that comes from someone who ISN’T trying to sell you one. Don’t buy one. Go run around the block a few times. It’s cheaper and burns more calories.

patron saint of obesity

People all over the world are still wondering to whom they supplicate in the battle of the bulge. Since my entry about the patron saint of obesity, not much has changed. At The Catholic Community Forum someone actually asked who the patron saint of obesity would be. The person in charge recommended St. Thomas Aquinas because he was fat. Another one also recommended St. Thomas Aquinas. Sorry guys, I’m not going to ask a fat man to help me get thin and healthy. I’m still pinning my hopes on St. John Climacus.

amanda moncur, brad moncur, dee moncur

I don’t know any of these people. Sorry. Try finding them using Yahoo! People. I used them when I did my 15 year class reunion and they were pretty helpful. Good luck!

i2workout, create your own ifit workouts, treadmill workout ifit program download free

I know a lot of you are finding this program through me. I2Workout is a great program, but I honestly haven’t used it for over a month. I have been playing Dance Dance Revolution almost every day for my exercise. I still go to the gym to workout with weights and to take that Trekking class every Tuesday: once a week for 24 Hour Fitness and once a week for Xcel. That’s what I need to do to make those memberships pay off. Between those gym visits and my DDR obsession, I haven’t played with my treadmill or i2Workout for a long time. I should feel guilty, but I’m enjoying DDR too much.

biography of phillipe starck

I don’t have the biography of Philippe Starck, but his website does. It’s a convoluted and poorly programmed website that uses too much Flash, so I can’t link directly to the biography. First, choose English, then move your mouse to the left-hand part of the screen. It will say Starck, but once you move your mouse over it, it will change to a huge list of unorganized things about the designer. One of the things on the list (3/4 of the way down) is the word, “Biography.” If you click that, all you will see is a quote and a picture. You need to scroll down to find the “Next” button. Only then, will you find the beginning of the wordy biography of Philippe Starck. For a designer, his website is poorly designed. Peh…


Confession of a FedEx Driver

Filed under: The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

“I saw you driving your truck on I-89 at lunchtime. You didn’t see me because I was walking.”

“I try not to hit pedestrians.”

“I was on the sidewalk, so it’s not surprising that you didn’t see me.”

“Did you just want to get some fresh air?”

“The day was so beautiful that I just decided to take a walk.”

“The weather is so nice. I’m just dreading the winter. Once it snows, I’m ok, but until then I just dread it. I wish it was like this all year ‘round.”

Normal people stop talking at this point, but there is something the matter with me and I say the one thing that touches people off.

“Well, then you need to move to San Francisco.”

“I’m actually from San Francisco.”

“Really? That’s weird. Why’d ya move here?”

“Well, my wife is from here. We had four kids then.”

“This is a good place to raise kids.”

“We’ve been here seven years. Two of my kids have never seen San Francisco. I’ve never been back. We were going to go last year, but then we got pregnant. We were going to take the kids to Disneyland. I took them to Lagoon instead.”

“Disneyland rocks compared to Lagoon. You’ve gotta take the kids to San Francisco to see the Exploratorium.”

“Now we have six kids. My oldest is starting college this fall. We just took her up last weekend.”

“Wow! Do you miss her?”

“Yeah. She’s kind of headstrong like I am and I’m even missing the fighting. She’s only up at Snow College. Her roommate has a car, so we are going to see her this weekend.”

I’m feeling uncomfortable knowing so much information about our FedEx driver.

“Well, I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll see you Monday.”

He walks out and I’m stunned that our younger than his years FedEx guy has a daughter who’s going to college this year. I’m overcome with the feeling that I will never see a daughter of mine go to college and I suddenly hate him for it.


The Friday Five

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

1. If the election were tomorrow, who would you vote for?

I would vote for John Kerry. I tend to vote Democratic just to counteract the mindless Mormon Republicans in Utah. I mindlessly vote Democratic in protest.

2. What are the main things that lead you to vote for a certain person?

I vote for the opposite of what the LDS church tells its members to vote for. It’s not logical, but it works for me.

3. Where do you get your info on the candidates?

I don’t care about the candidates. I vote against the LDS church. It’s not about politics. It’s about religion. It’s about the lack of separation of church and state in the state of Utah.

4. Who was president when you were born?

Man, I have to look that up. Before looking, I’m going to guess Nixon. Nope, I was born April 12, 1969, so the president in office at that moment in time was Lyndon B. Johnson. Probably would have been Kennedy in another time line…

5. If you could choose anyone, dead or alive, to be president, who would it be?

I wish Lee Iacocca had run for president. Even if he had run on the Republican ticket, I would have voted for him. I used to think that Colin Powell should run, but I’m not so sure right now. Right now, my hopes are set on Steve Jobs. He’s too smart to run for president, though…


Weight Watchers Core Food List

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

I’ve gotten tons of hits from people who are looking for this information:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Soups (non-creamy)
  • Whole Wheat Pasta, Brown Rice, Potatoes and Grains
  • High Fiber and other cereals without added sugar
  • Lean Meats, poultry, fish and eggs
  • Fat-Free Milk Products
  • Healthy Oils
  • Condiments
  • Coffee, Tea and sugar-free beverages

This is the “magic” list of core foods that are allowed on the Core Plan for Weight Watchers, but I’m going to be totally honest with you. If you are looking for this, you need to get your butt in the door of a Weight Watchers and pay the minimal fee to go to the classes. A magic list of foods is not what you need to help you achieve your goal. You need the full program to get you through this process.

This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change. You got fat for a reason. Sorry to break it to you, but this fat didn’t mysteriously creep onto your body of its own accord. You have been systematically overeating (or worse, bingeing) for some time now. You need to get to the bottom of the reason that you have been abusing your body. A magic list of foods is not going to help you analyze these problems.

Are you feeling out of control? Are you feeling like this might be the last way that you have to get into control? Are you sick of the way you feel every day? Then you need to take that big step and get yourself into the door at Weight Watchers.

There are no excuses. The fee that they charge each week is nominal. Stop buying a couple of double lattes from Starbucks each week and you’ve got it covered. Some insurance companies will reimburse you for the cost of attending. I’m not a CPA, but I’ve even heard that the cost of attending Weight Watchers is tax deductible.

You think that it’s full of the old biddy committee and housewife brigade? Think again. There are plenty of men attending Weight Watchers. Your best bet is to attend in the evenings or weekends if you want masculine company. If you are a professional woman, Saturday morning is the best time for you to attend and find like-minded women who have a little more on their mind than feeding children or watching Matlock.

You didn’t like the teacher once? Try again. There are probably twenty teachers in each major metropolitan area. Keep going to different classes until you find the teacher that is the best for you, then cling to that teacher throughout your journey. Wait the extra minutes to weigh in with your teacher and talk to him/her personally. Tell them that out of the hundreds of people who come through this door every day, you’re the one person who is going to make it. You’re the one student that is going to make them proud, then live up to that statement.

You came here looking for the magic bullet. You came here wanting to know the supernatural list that would solve all your problems. Your problems are bigger than a list. They need the full treatment. Get your butt into Weight Watchers because the core food list isn’t going to help you if you’re not fully committed to this process.

Update 12-24-04: I am now writing for Starling Fitness, a health and fitness weblog. If you liked (or hated) this entry, there is a new one every day on Starling Fitness. Good luck with your weight loss!



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

I am taking a few days vacation from writing. I will be back Tuesday with a new chapter from Looking For Christ. Have a fun weekend. Get your face away from the television and the computer. Get outside and partake of the final days of summer. Be safe and enjoy yourself.


Looking For Christ: Chapter Six

Filed under: Fiction,Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Here is Chapter Six…

(Continue Reading…)


New Palm

Filed under: Computer Stuff,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 10:46 am

9/8/04 12:33pm: I’m sitting outside wondering what to write and trying to learn the new Graffiti. I just got this new Palm yesterday and this is really the first time I’ve tried this. My speed is abysmal. There are new strokes for almost all of the letters, so I am learning it all over again. I’m finding the double-stroke characters the hardest. Half the time, the old strokes work, but there are a few that insist on their way only.

I’ve had trouble with Graffiti in the past. My 5’s have always been indistinguishable from my 9’s. That alone allows for why K-Mart put me on data entry during inventory.

The preceding took me over a half hour to write on my Palm using the new Graffiti. I know that I’ll get faster the more I practice, but right now, it’s bloody annoying. My stroke that looks like a 7 that always made the perfect T is now useless and ends up putting apostrophes where I don’t want them. I know it should be easier because a lot of double-stroke things (like punctuation) are simplified, but I am having a hard time adjusting.

Learning Graffiti the first time was a piece of cake. I had to learn a different way to write a V (backwards), which is completely useless now. I never really was able to write a G, Q or Y correctly. With this new system, those letters seem to work better. I know this new Graffiti is better, but I’m just learning right now and it’s frustrating as hell.

Don’t recommend that program to me that lets me use the old Graffiti system. This is the new system and I’m going to learn it, dammit. The gauntlet has been thrown down and I picked it up when I bought the Tungsten E. Now I have to conquer this beast. It’s a point of honor.

For the last three to four years, I had been happy with my Kyocera SmartPhone. It was only within the last month or so that I realized that if I bought one of the cool new Palms and went back to my Motorola StarTAC, then I could have all those cool features that I have been coveting on those Palms lately: those beautiful color screens, the memory card slot, that new operating system, the MP3 player functions, the huge amounts of memory and (once again, for effect) those beautiful color screens. Plus, the Tungsten E was so shiny.

So I made the plunge. I gave up the convenience of having my Palm in the same machine as my phone. In return, I have six albums of CD quality music with me at all times. I have a crystal clear screen that has all of those pretty colors. I have more memory than I know what to do with. I have a new version of Bejeweled that glimmers and shines.

I dug the StarTAC out of the basement, charged it, and made the switch. I haven’t missed the SmartPhone yet. I keep thinking that I’m going to miss the phone numbers programmed into the phone. Since I stopped being a real estate agent, I’ve found that I only call three people a week: Stacey, my mom and Mike. I have to admit that I don’t have those phone numbers memorized, but the StarTAC has enough speed dial entries to cover my huge list of peeps.

Now, I just need to learn this new Graffiti system and I’ll be all set.


The Friday Five

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

1. What is your favorite summer activity?

I love to roller skate, which is really hard to do here in the winter with all the snow. I also like to ride my bike and walk all over town, which is also something that I shy away from during the winter. I loved going camping this year. Snowbird in the summer is so fun with the animals and the beautiful mountains. I really can’t choose a favorite summer activity because there are so many to choose from. I’m going to miss summer this year.

2. What was one great thing you did this summer?

The one great thing I did this summer was going camping for the first time in my life. I’m thirty-five years old and I was raised by two women who had absolutely no interest in “roughing it.” Both Mom and Carol had worked at Gibson’s Discount Center in the Sporting Goods department. They could have picked the best tents and showed us the best long underwear back in 1983, but they had no desire to camp. Stacey and I were severely camp-deficient. Stacey went camping a lot a few years ago, but I had never tried it until this year. I love it and it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

3. When you were a child, what was your favorite summer activity?

Swimming! I could have stayed in the swimming pool all day every day all summer long if my Grandma had only let me. As it was, she let us swim almost every day (not counting swimming lessons). We also had swimming lessons Monday through Friday at Rose Park in Billings, Montana. We also had baton, dance, tumbling and tennis lessons, but swimming was my favorite.

4. What has been your favorite summer vacation?

I think my favorite summer vacation was the first summer that I worked at K-Mart. It was the first summer that I wasn’t carted up to Billings for the summer. I stayed in Salt Lake and worked at K-Mart and went dancing with Dawni at The Ritz. It was my first taste of grown-up freedom and I loved it.

5. Summer goes well into September, but when do you feel like it is over?

For some reason, I’m still on School Time. I graduated from Westminster in May 1993, but I still gauge the year from September to June. I just don’t get to buy school supplies and learn new things in classes anymore. I have to do it on my own now, which is much harder. Summer is over when school starts.


Writing Weekend

Filed under: Looking For Christ,Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I have to finish Chapter Seven this weekend, so I’m going to concentrate on that right now. They are meeting some big-wig holy men in this chapter, so I’m feeling some anxiety about it. I’m scared to write some of these people. I know they are only human beings, but up until this point, I was putting words in the mouths of fictional characters. Now, I’m doing it with revered people who could have actually existed, so I’m scared a little bit.

I need to work past that fear this weekend and get this first “real” chapter done and posted. I’ll write again on Tuesday.


Still Working…

Filed under: Looking For Christ,Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 2:24 pm

I’m only half-way done with Chapter Seven. I’m still working on it and I’ll post it as soon as I’m finished. My horoscope said that quality not quantity is important this week, so I’m taking the time to do it right. I’m concentrating on getting this chapter done and then I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled writing.

Looking For Christ: Chapter Seven

Filed under: Fiction,Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 4:49 pm

Here is Chapter Seven.

(Continue Reading…)


Thank You, Sally Brompton!

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 11:00 am

TV Guide Horoscope By Sally Brompton

Aries (March 21-April 20) If you aim for quality rather than quantity this week, you’ll build something that not only stands the test of time, but makes sure your name is always remembered. You won’t lack for energy, but you must remember to focus it.

That was the source of my inspiration yesterday. We’re not TV watchers. We rarely buy the TV Guide, but this week, Mike picked it up because he wanted to see if there was anything worth watching this year (there isn’t). It had been sitting on the dining room table and I read my horoscope with my morning bean burrito yesterday.

Horoscopes are so general that they can really fit into anyone’s life. They fall under the “Good Advice for Idiots” category of fortune telling. This weekend, I was the idiot that needed the good advice.

The problem was this: I knew that it would be a short chapter. I try to make my chapters about eight pages long. That feels right to me, but this chapter was only going to be five pages or so, so I was trying to stuff the introductions of two very important characters into one chapter and still keep it about eight pages long. It was a bad decision that paralyzed me all weekend long.

Silly me. I’m not writing a computer book. My chapters don’t need to reach a certain length to appease the publisher. I’m in total control of this book. No one would even notice if a chapter was only five pages long instead of eight. I’ve seen chapters in fiction books that are only one sentence.

It took the TV Guide Horoscope to convince me that it was ok for me to give each character his own chapter. Quality not quantity is such a generic piece of good advice, but I needed it this week. Thanks, Sally Brompton. Good call this week. I don’t believe you are psychic or can read the stars or alignment of the planets in a supernatural way, but you gave me a good piece of advice this week and I’m grateful.


First Anniversary

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

Today is the one year anniversary of this weblog! One year ago, I stopped hiding my writing on the hard drive and started publishing my thoughts to the world. My goal was to have 100,000 hits by this time. I made that on August 24th some time late in the evening. I don’t think I truly had the concept of what 100,000 hits in a year would be when I set that goal. The Quotes of the Day page gets over 60,000 hits a day, so I thought I was being conservative. Instead, I was grossly over estimating the growth of any non-celebrity blog site. I should have bothered to get famous before starting my blog. I made my goal, but I must admit that I sweated it out until I hit it.

I have been so grateful for this creative outlet. Being able to publish my writing daily has helped my creativity to soar. Instead of draining me, I feel like I have more ideas now than I did last year at this time. When I started this blog, I had so many stories about my past to tell and I still haven’t told all of them. When I started this blog, I had a small arsenal of fiction to post online and I still haven’t shown all of them. When I started this blog, I had so many ideas about life in general and I still haven’t written all of them. I still feel like I could type all day long.

Thank you. Every single one of you that read my site every day, THANK YOU! I know you’re there. I see the stats. I watch the referrers. I look at the sites that hit me the most. Thank you for reading my work and coming back regularly. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your emails. Thank you for your support.

When Mike and I had our first anniversary, his Grandma Tippets gave us a package of toilet paper. She said the first anniversary is paper and handed it to us distractedly. If you’re thinking about an anniversary present for me, I just want you all to know that the best toilet paper in the world is Charmin Ultra.


Xbox Live

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

You can’t download the cool new tracks for Project Gotham Racing 2 without a membership to Xbox Live. You can’t download the cool song packs for Dance Dance Revolution without a membership to Xbox Live. It kind of sucks when you know there are cool additions to your game that are out there, but you can’t get to them without a bunch of red tape.

You can’t just log onto Xbox Live with your computer or Xbox and start a membership. You have to go into a store and buy a stupid Xbox Live membership. Once you input your magic password from your membership card, the first thing they ask you for is your credit card number (so you can pay for those cool tracks and songs). Why didn’t they just let us give them our credit card number and log in without the stupid card from Best Buy? It’s really very confusing and it makes me feel like I’m jumping through hoops for nothing.

I did get this little microphone/headphone thing with the membership card, though. It works with the Karaoke thing on Xbox Music Mixer, so I can sing and dance at the same time. It makes me feel a little like Britney Spears. You’re supposed to use it with the Xbox Live competitions so you can talk to your competitors.

I bought all the song packs for Dance Dance Revolution as soon as Mike logged us onto the system. They totally rock. My two favorites that I downloaded are hard and kick my butt, but I still love them. Heaven is a ’57 and Afronova Primeval are fun songs that I had played on the DDR machine at The Gateway arcade a month or so ago. It’s nice to have them on the Xbox to play whenever I want.

Mike bought one of the tracks that he wanted for PGR2, but he was a little disappointed by them. I think he was expecting Cone Challenges or Street Races and such, but they are just tracks that you can race on alone. Maybe they are useful for competing on Xbox Live.

Mike was the first to try playing Xbox Live against other players. He did a couple of games, but he told me he didn’t really like it. He told me that the kids with the headsets were annoying and it really felt like he was just racing against computer drivers if they didn’t talk.

When I tried Xbox Live with DDR, I was a little disappointed because there were no matches available on Light Mode. I’m not good enough to compete on Standard or Heavy yet. Sometimes there weren’t any matches available at all. I felt like no one was using Xbox Live with DDR. I tried to convince Stacey to get Xbox Live so I would have someone to play with, but she was having none of it.

On a lark this weekend (while avoiding writing my chapter), I decided to Create a Match that I would like to play with a song that I liked. I set it up and within seconds, I had three people desperate to compete with me. We played, they kicked my ass and I created another match. I played for over an hour with a total of about ten users (I lost count after ten.). I realized that these kids didn’t know how to create a match and were much more willing to join one that someone else created.

I have logged on twice again since then and played Xbox Live against tons of people. I’ve met people from New Hampshire, California and El Salvador. I had no idea that so many people out there wanted to connect with fellow DDR players. It has been a solitary game for me outside of the arcade experience, so it is so refreshing to play against others, even if they kick my butt.

On the whole, Xbox Live is totally worth the money they ask. I’ve already played enough to pay for the month. The downloads were totally worth it for DDR, but Mike didn’t like the tracks for PGR2. Now, they just need to create a method for people to start their memberships online instead of having to buy the membership at the stores. Not everyone is going to appreciate feeling like Britney Spears with that little headset thing.


The Friday Five

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

Why do I do this? We are talking about desserts today. I guess this lets you get to know me on a strange “her favorite dessert is…” sort of way. Peh…

1. What is the best dessert you’ve ever had?

There is a lavender crème brulee that is served at The Oasis Cafe here in SLC. It’s probably my favorite dessert ever.

2. Is there a dessert that just plain grosses you out?

Nope. I don’t think there is any food on this planet that grosses me out. I’m very open about my eating. Of course, I prefer simple desserts to chocolatey ones. I have preferences, but no exclusions.

3. Straight out of the container or with lots of toppings…. tell us how you like your ice cream.

I don’t really like ice cream. I prefer frozen yogurt, sorbets or sherbets. When I do have ice cream, I like it in root beer floats.

4. Cookie dough, brownie mix, cake batter or the finished products?

Dough, mix, batter. Salmonella be damned.

5. You’ve just invented a great new dessert …. what’s in it and what is it called?

I can tell you that I will never in my life invent a great new dessert. There is so much on this planet that I haven’t explored that I’m not excited about inventing things. I would end up inventing some traditional dessert from New Guinea and never get the credit.


Waiting for the Perfect Burrito

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

One minute twenty-five seconds is not quite enough time in the microwave to properly cook my bean burrito. I had a small frozen bit right in the center this morning. The bean juice was hot enough to burn my mouth, though. One minute thirty seconds is just barely too much time. I’m guaranteed a scalded mouth if I give it that long. I’m beginning to think that I have to choose between frozen or scalding. There is no happy medium. I have to choose between the two.

Of course, I could give it one minute thirty seconds and then let it sit for a minute or two to cool down, but then the cheese gets all weird. It has been melted, but it has been left untouched for enough time to firm up. No, one minute thirty seconds is too long, even if I am able to avoid the scalding by allowing it to lie dormant.

I could probably give it one minute twenty-five seconds and then let it sit for a minute or two and allow the hot bits to warm up the frozen bits, but once again, the cheese gets all weird. It has just barely melted on the edges, but it’s still quite firm in the middle where the cold bits are.

Based on all this information, I am going to try microwaving my burrito for one minute twenty-seven seconds and see if that helps at all. Maybe the cheese will completely melt. Maybe there will be no frozen bit. Maybe the bean juice will be hot, but not scalding. Until tomorrow, I’m waiting for the perfect burrito.


Bud Light Billboard Update

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

My Bud Light billboard was changed last week. It now says, “Fresh Beer Tastes Better.” I’m absolutely sure that I’m not the target market for beer billboards, but I really don’t get this one. Isn’t beer fresher from a micro-brewery? I went to The Bud Light Website to see if I could find out anything else. The TV ads say that their beer is “day fresh.” What does that mean?

The exact wording says, “Millions of Americans have sampled day fresh beer. Have you?” Are they talking about all of the American tourists who come to the breweries and try the complimentary beer on the tour? Is that “day fresh” beer? They can’t possibly be talking about the bottled and canned beer at the grocery store. That stuff comes in a huge truck that took days to get here and then it sits on the floor and in the cooler case for more days until it’s sold. I worked at a convenience store one summer. That beer sat around forever and we were a busy store in a small town in rural Utah. There was nothing better to do there than drink beer and it still took longer than a day to sell out.

Doesn’t beer have to be aged? Doesn’t it have a fermentation process? What does “fresh” mean if the product has to be fermented? Doesn’t fermentation imply unfresh? What does that billboard mean?

I liked it better when my Bud Light billboard showed sexy guys. It made me think that if I drink beer, I might get to have sex with sexy guys. Don’t try to sell your product with logic, folks! It’s beer! It tastes like piss and the only reason people drink it is because it’s cheaper than gin.

What the advertising industry needs right now is some honesty. If they put up a billboard of an ugly guy and said, “Two more Bud Lights and he’ll be cute enough to kiss,” people would laugh and it would become a tag line. People would say it to each other at the bar when evaluating the pickings and then order themselves another Bud Light.

Even better, with billboards, they could do the Burma Shave thing where you have the ugly girl and it says, “The First Bud Light was Too Cold.” The next sign could have a slightly cuter girl and it would say, “The Second Bud Light was Too Warm.” The third sign would have the gorgeous blonde beauty and it would say, “The Third Bud Light was Just Right!”

If I can think of two totally honest slogans in fifteen minutes, what’s the matter with the advertising industry? What is the world coming to when a multi-million dollar company like Anheuser-Busch can’t get better than, “Fresh Beer Tastes Better”?


Looking For Christ: Chapter Eight

Filed under: Fiction,Looking For Christ — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Here is Chapter Eight…

(Continue Reading…)



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

Tokyo Ferris Wheel

Sometimes I forget that there’s a real world out there. There’s a real world that they base all my favorite video games on. That Tokyo track on Project Gotham Racing 2 is based on a real city half-way across the world. I find, however, that the track and the scenery on the video game are more real to me than that city I’ve never visited. I had a strange moment of confusing reality with video games today. I saw this picture and thought to myself, “Hmm, looks like the Ferris Wheel in PGR2.” It took me at least five seconds to remember, “Oh yeah, the Ferris Wheel in PGR2 looks like this one. This one came first.”

Then again, what is reality? That picture is no more real than the video game. That picture isn’t the actual Ferris Wheel in Tokyo. It’s a photograph of the real thing. Is there a continuum? Is the picture of the Ferris Wheel more real than the video game Ferris Wheel that we pass going 103 mph on PGR2? What about a plastic souvenir? Is the tiny plastic version of the Ferris Wheel more real than the picture of it? Are they all equally real? I get a little confused.

Mike and I were roller skating at Liberty Park a couple of months ago. The air was warm, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. The huge pine and deciduous trees shaded our travel around the smooth sidewalk. To our left was the road for cars. Low-riders blasting salsa music slowly cruised the park. Boom boom cars belting out rap music crept past, looking for babes. Bikes whooshed past us on the sidewalk, giving our unnerved sense of balance a little jolt each time. Inline skaters silently whizzed by us again and again while we did our best to complete a half-circuit of the park. That was our goal: go halfway around the park.

It was a very clear day and I felt like I was in a video game. If we could complete the half-circuit of the park, we would open up a whole bunch of other tracks. I remember feeling fascinated that the programmers included the cars passing on our left belting out the car-appropriate music. At one point, we stopped to adjust our skates and I was stunned by the details of the grass and the ants. Even the problems with blisters from my ill-fitting skates seemed like they were part of the game. “I have to earn the Kudos to get some better skates,” I thought to myself.

Reality is such a tenuous thing. All my time playing PGR2 and DDR has warped my sense of it. Suddenly, the real world seems so miraculous to me. When you look at the sights that you see every day from the point of view of a video game, you suddenly become grateful for the details. Look at that bird! Do you see that? Look at that flock of birds! See how they fly together like a swarm of bees? Do birds really do that? Look at how the wind whips around the branches of the cherry trees! Somebody had to program all that in and look at it! It looks so realistic!


Liquid Courage

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

From the Get Up and Move DDR Forum Topic: Jealousy, Both Positive and Negative

Author: iamjay 09/20/2004 at 16:35:43

This girl I met from midnightmadness in my town about a month ago the night ended with us two together on the couch her in my arms. the nxt time she came over she was surrounding my friend like crazy she stayed with him the whole night so i said @$!^ it and went to bed early. I was dissapointed and jealous. I found out afterwards by her that it didn’t mean anything since she was drunk and all that (yeah rite) we hung out a few more times afterwards and she would hang off my arm, but when my friends were around she would talk to them and all that. Last sat. I tried to my arms around her and she didn’t want to come over cause there wasn’t enough room or something (it could of been tru we were at the park in a lil area with me my friend (that she cuddled with last month) and her friend. After that happened I got mad and said $crew this i’m hitting on her friend. 20min later I took her to the rocks and I was really attached to her, then I invited her to the house and we cuddled some more then we got on the floor and made out and stuff and went to bed. I think that really made her jealous since she was trying to rest her arm on me the nxt morning and I sorta just shifted away. we hung out the whole day and all she did was walk with my friend and on the car ride back I tried to get sleep and she was trying to put her head on me again but it never happened.

now the question is, why the heck are we playing these games. What should I do, I dont like her friend I just wanted to get back at her. And I know she doesnt like my friend she just wants to get back at me. HELP ME lol

Author: abrannan 09/21/2004 at 06:59:48

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say talk to her. I mean really talk to her. Explain how you feel, what you’re thinking. Phrase everything in terms of yourself. (i.e. I feel jealous and disappointed when… Instead of, you made me angry when you did this…) Then listen to what she has to say. And I mean really listen, don’t interrupt, don’t start planning your retort, just take in what she has to say and try to see things from her perspective. Relationships CANNOT survive unless you both are willing to communicate openly and honestly with each other. I speak from experience on this one.

Author: Laura Moncur 09/21/2004 at 13:45:28

Good advice, abrannan.

The only thing I would add to it is: make sure the two of you are alone when you talk to her. If you try to do the serious, heart-felt talk in front of her and your friends, it’s going to get weird.

You don’t want to look like a whipped boy in front of your friends. She doesn’t want to look like a dominated girl in front of hers. Plus, everyone will want to put their two cents in because (as you can see) we all have our opinions.

By the way, the whole “I was drunk, so it doesn’t matter” thing is just a cop out. When people are drunk, they let themselves do the things that they wouldn’t normally allow themselves to do. Sometimes, that means that they talk to the person that they’ve had a crush on forever. Sometimes, they hit on every person in their path. Don’t allow it as an excuse with other people in your life and don’t use it as one.

Sometimes I think I frequent these forums just so I can lecture people anonymously. I guess I don’t have the balls to lecture people in person.

I remember the day my cheerleader friend explained it to me. “You know, when you’re drunk and you try to set your head down on your hand and you miss,” she demonstrated the move for me, “it doesn’t matter because you’re drunk. Everybody laughs and you don’t feel embarrassed.” She, of course, was drunk and trying to explain the intricacies of the theory, “I was drunk, so it doesn’t matter.” I said to her, “When I try to set my head down on my hand and I miss, it doesn’t matter because I’m clumsy. Everybody laughs and I never feel embarrassed.” She shook her head and dismissed me as her silly nerdy friend. If only I were cooler, I would understand.

I was going to tell a couple “I was drunk, so it doesn’t matter” stories, but I don’t have the stomach for it. I have so many that I would fill the page with them. I think I was twenty years old when I refused to allow “I was drunk, so it doesn’t matter” as a valid excuse. Almost all of my stories come from those early years and there are so many that I would bore you with them. I may have already bored you with the subject.

I’ve seen “I was drunk, so it doesn’t matter” so many times in my life that I have no patience for it anymore. My tolerance is so low that I have specifically chosen my friends because they never fall back on alcohol to do the things that they really want to do. I gravitate toward people who do what they want when they want all the time. They say what they want to say. They do what they want to do. They don’t even understand people who don’t live their lives this way

I wonder about those people. Those ones that can’t say “I love you” without a beer in their gut. Those ones that can’t go up to a woman in a bar without liquid courage. Those ones that desire the affections of many, but only allow themselves to pursue many when they are under the influence. If you love them, tell them. If you want them, go talk to them. If you want them all, get them all. Don’t put your life on hold until you can no longer control yourself. Lose control right now, sans alcohol. There are no rules to this game. Just pick yourself up and do what you are afraid to do. If you fail, you can always blame it on your clumsiness. It’s as good an excuse as drunkenness.


Carbonation, Soda, Aspartame and Caffeine Withdrawal

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

My Weight Watchers teacher is back on the soap box about soda. She has stopped drinking soda about five weeks ago. Her flatter stomach and the absence of weight swings have been attributed to the carbonation fast. She is drinking only water now and she is adamant about the benefits of getting off pop.

I leave her meetings thinking, “I guess I should stop drinking pop.” I’ve stopped drinking pop before. I was testing it for myself. I wrote an entry on how to quit soda. I didn’t notice any improvements in my running. I didn’t notice a flatter stomach or absence of weight swings. I DID notice the caffeine withdrawals, though. All of this, and I still leave her meetings thinking, “I guess I should stop drinking pop.”

I found myself planning a weekend of headaches so I could quit cold turkey. It takes me about four days of caffeine withdrawal headaches to get “clean.” I was thinking of sacrificing an entire weekend to “coming down” off Diet Mountain Dew and gourmet coffee. If you could look me in the eyes right now, I’d look sheepish. Yes, I have started drinking coffee. Just two cups a morning, homebrewed. I’ve found that those expensive tiny little packages of coffee that are in the coffee aisle at the grocery store aren’t as bitter as Folgers and I’m able to almost mainline my caffeine.

Maybe that’s why I’m tempted. Maybe I feel out of control. A few months ago, a Diet Mountain Dew felt like a treat. Now, it’s a treat I give myself every day with my lunch. I stop drinking soda after five in the evening so I can sleep, but other than that, I’ve gotten really interested in my daily caffeine dosage.

If I don’t get a good dosage of caffeine, I end up with a mondo headache. If I get a little bit of an over dosage, I end up writing three or four blog entries in one day. If I get an over dosage, every day, I end up needing it to prevent those headaches, at which point, the creativity spurt that used to come from the over dosage is long gone and I need even more caffeine to have that hyper-real writing experience.

All of that sounds like addiction to me and I hate to think that I am addicted to anything. Ok, I’d be happy if someone said that I was addicted to writing or exercise or healthy living. Those are addictions that I could live quite well with. Addiction to caffeine is such a item of contention in Salt Lake City that I feel like I need to be free of it.

Then again, there are all of those studies that say how great caffeine is. They say that caffeine makes us alert, increases physical stamina and makes us hyper-aware of our surroundings. There are just as many studies that say it’s bad, bad, bad, however. I just don’t have the attention span to research this issue and I don’t trust anyone enough to take their word for it, not even my Weight Watchers teacher.

So, what do I do? Well, I’m not quitting next weekend. I can tell you that much. I’m not pinky-swearing that I won’t drink pop/coffee. I’m not increasing my intake. I’m just going to lie low and make the decision later. Right now, I’m enjoying sampling all the fancy coffees in the grocery aisle.


The Friday Five

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

Wow! They wrote this week’s questions just for me, didn’t they?

1) If you came upon a time machine, where would you go? Would you alter anything? Why?

You’d think that I’d send that sucker right back to 0 B.C. and send a team back to observe the life of Christ, but I’m more like Ambigo. I don’t care about all that stuff. I truly think that if a time machine is invented, it will be impossible to change documented history, so I wouldn’t even try to alter anything.

I think I would go into the future. I’m more interested in where humanity is headed than where it has been.

2) If you managed to capture the Questing Beast, an odd combination of animal forms that is said to know the answers to all questions, what one question would you ask it? Would the answer change anything?

Shucks! I only get ONE question. I have so many. I guess I’d ask, “Why?” and hope I got enough information from that one question to answer all the others.

3) You’ve found yourself a rather obedient genie in a bottle. Make your three wishes. Why, out of everything you could ask for, do these three win out?

Firstly, I would wish for infinite wishes. Whenever you find yourself in this situation, always, always, always ask for more wishes. Then you don’t have to weigh the three against all the other things to wish for.

On a more philosophical level, I really believe that all of us HAVE been granted an infinite number of wishes. Whatever we want is right there for us to take. All we have to do is wish it into existence. Ok, I admit. Sometimes we need to work a little to bring it to life, but a little work never hurtcha did it?

4) Someone presents you with a working voodoo doll. Do you use it? On who, why, and to what purpose?

Oh man, that old gypsy belief that whatever you give out comes back to you three-fold makes me just want to put that little voodoo doll in a box and keep it out of the hands of evil. Of course, there are some people in the Republican Party that need a jab now and then. I guess that’s why Rush Limbaugh ended up in rehab.

5) Pick a superpower, any superpower. What and why? How would this change your life?

My tastes are simple; I choose immortality. The only superpower I want is to live forever. I hope medical science figures this out before I get to the end of things. I’d gladly give up my biological existence to preserve my intellectual existence. That’s probably why I write so much. I’m trying to preserve my intellectual existence, even if it’s solely represented in strange scratchings on the walls of the Internet.


Learnin’ the Blues

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

The tables are empty, the dance floor’s deserted. You play the same love song – it’s the 10th time you’ve heard it. That’s the beginning, just one of the clues. You’ve had your first lesson in learnin’ the blues.

The cigarettes you light, one after another, Won’t help you forget her, and the way that you love her. You’re only burnin’ a torch you can’t lose. But you’re on the right track for learnin’ the blues.

When you’re at home alone, The blues will taunt you constantly. When you’re out in a crowd, The blues will haunt your memory.

The nights when you don’t sleep, the whole night you’re crying. But you can’t forget her, soon you even stop trying. You’ll walk that floor and wear out your shoes. When you feel your heart break, you’re learnin’ the blues.

When you’re at home alone, The blues will taunt you constantly. When you’re out in a crowd, Those blues will haunt your memory.

The nights when you don’t sleep, that whole night you’re crying. But you can’t forget her, soon you even stop trying. You’ll walk the floor, and you’ll wear out your shoes. When you feel your heart break, you’re learnin’ those blues.

I could listen to this song over and over. The first time I heard this song, Frank Sinatra sang it to me. I wasn’t grieving. I wasn’t feeling the blues. The lyrics and his voice just made me ache.

Some little upstart, Katie Melua, has recorded her version of his song. I haven’t heard it. I have it on order at the library. Ok, that’s a lie. My library holds are full of Babylon 5 DVDs, so I put the hold on Mike’s card. Until it comes for me, I have to wait to listen to the “New Norah.” When did Norah Jones become so “it” that other singers are described as the “New Norah”?

Sure, the first time I heard this song, Frank was singing. His version is the version I prefer because I love his voice, but wasn’t it Ella Fitzgerald that really made this song popular? What has happened in this world? A little girl sings an old song and she’s dubbed the “New Norah” instead of the “New Ella.” I don’t know why this is bugging me.

Ok, that’s a lie. I’m bugged because I’m jealous. Some adorable brunette is selling an album singing one of my favorite songs and it’s not me. Worse still, she’s dubbed the “New Norah” as if there was something wrong with the original Norah. I’m a writer, not a singer. Ok, that’s a lie, too. I’m a writer. I’m a singer. I’m a painter. I’m even a dancer. I shouldn’t be bothered by the sudden fame of anyone within the lime light of the performing arts, but suddenly, I am.

Envy can be a positive motivator. Let it inspire you to work harder for what you want. – Robert Bringle, quoted in Redbook


Feeling Tired

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 2:45 pm

I went camping at Lake Mead over the weekend and I didn’t write a word the entire time. I had brought my Palm and the beginning of Chapter Nine with me, but I didn’t even look at it all weekend. I swam in the lake. I played with the inflatable shark. I bounced around the beach ball. I fed quail, bunnies and mice leftover Jiffy Pop popcorn. I looked at the stars. I spotted the Luxor hotel’s spotlight from miles away. I drank lots of Blue Hawaiians and Pina Coladas. I even played video games on the Palm, but I didn’t write a word.

I didn’t write in my personal journal either. When I say I didn’t write a word, I mean it. I didn’t write for my journal. I didn’t write on my chapter. I didn’t write for the blog. I didn’t write at all. I think the closest I came to writing was when I wrote in the date in the high score field on my video games. How does that rate?

I’m feeling a little tired of writing. I know that taking more time off isn’t the answer, but right now, that’s all I’m going to do. I’m saying hello so you know that I’m still alive, but I don’t have anything profound to say today. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. Maybe you’ll have Chapter Nine next Monday. For now, all I can do is check in.


Welcoming Committee

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

Linda is always upset with us when we kennel Sid. She sits by his food dish and meows until we bring him home. It’s that horrible meow that sounds like she has been trapped in a closet or that she has brought us the disembodied head of a bird. We try to say nice words to her in calm voices, but nothing that we do helps the situation until we bring the dog home.

Of course, once we get him home, she ignores him completely. She doesn’t love the dog. We never catch Linda snuggling up with Sid for an afternoon nap. She refuses to play with him when he wants to play. When she wants to play, she ignores him or aggressively swipes at his nose to keep him away from her newfound piece of string. She has no use for him other than his small part in the order of the day.

The best part about bringing Sid home from the kennel (aside from shutting up the autistic cat) is how clean and sweet he smells. It only lasts about an hour or two before his normal dog smell comes back full force, but for that brief time, he smells like shampoo. He never smells that good when we wash him on our own. Maybe it’s like home cooking. It only tastes good if I don’t have to cook it. Sid only smells good if I don’t have to wash him.

We spent five days without our pets. The cats were visited by Mike’s parents and Sid happily went to Abraxas kennel (it’s called The Pet Resort for a reason, you know). By the end of the trip, I began to wonder why we have pets. At the campsite, there were a plethora of animals that we could feed and watch. The quail peeped at us. The bunnies gladly munched on our popcorn. The mice scurried away with crumbs and kernels. The crows cackled at us. The falcon flew silently over us, threatening to snatch up an unsuspecting pet. The fish bounced over each other to get to the food we tossed in the water for them. There were so many animals to enjoy at the campsite that I began to think that owning a pet is an inconvenience.

When I got home, Linda meowed that horrible meow to tell us that we forgot to bring back Sid. Maggie sat on my chest and purred. Sid jumped and smiled at us when we picked him up from the kennel. He smelled clean and he only wanted to pee on two or three bushes before we got him to the car. After all of that, I remembered. Bunnies don’t cuddle. The quail didn’t miss us. We own pets because they love us back in a way that humans don’t. Only time together can create this bond. Next time, I think we should take Sid camping with us.



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

Can I just take a quick moment to say, “God I hate poker!”? I love Wil Wheaton, but he has started another poker story. I want to read his writing. He writes well. I’m just so sick of the whole poker thing that I could spit. Sadly, it looks like I’m spitting on Wil.

When did it start? When did poker become a sport? Strike that. I don’t care. I just want it to go away. I’d rather watch Lumber Jack competitions than poker. Sometimes they miscalculate and someone cuts off an appendage. With poker, there’s nothing. I’d rather watch Monopoly. Sometimes people buy houses and hotels and they get to arrange them on the board. Vindictive players can muss them up when they bounce by. With poker, nothing.

Don’t talk to me about the chips. I know they play with their chips. They do it one-handed and it looks really cool. They do it and don’t even look at their hands. I don’t care about the chips. The chips do not make that game exciting. Even if they were gold doubloons, they couldn’t make that game exciting.

Ok, I feel better. I’m going to go back to my DDR and PGR and NPR. Ok, that’s a lie. I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to NPR. Too political. I’ll just go back to my DDR and PGR. You folks can have your poker and play with your chips.



Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Maybe you’ve seen it before. I remember seeing the same poster at a Pizza Hut a long time ago. I stopped to look at it again. It’s not that interesting, but Mike was paying the bill and I was waiting for him to ask me how much to put for a tip. He never asked because I distracted him.

The poster was an engineer’s specification on how to build a pizza. It showed the pizza from various elevations complete with measurements. The overhead elevation showed the pizza cut into various pieces with the different toppings you could have. One of the toppings was capers. I was feeling silly, so I asked Mike, “How come we never have capers on our pizza.” It was probably about the time he would have asked me to calculate the tip. Instead, he was forced to think of an answer, “Because we don’t know what they are.”

I was so sure of myself, “Sure we do. They’re… little… onions… I think.” I thought to myself, “Sure, they’re onions. They are tiny little onion things, right?” I wasn’t sure of myself. I was just trying to reassure myself. I knew they tasted good. I usually had them on a salmon pizza at Wasatch Broiler and on bagels with cream cheese and salmon, of course. I just couldn’t quite tell anyone what they were. The closest description I could come up with was onions.

The girl behind the counter took the credit card receipt that Mike had signed and replied, “Really? I thought they were peppers.” When she said that, I imagined green peppers and red peppers and yellow peppers and jalapeno peppers, “No. They’re definitely not peppers. I think they’re little… onion… things.” She became confused and called to the guy in the kitchen, “Hey, what are capers? They’re peppers, right?” The guy held up his fingers and brought them close together as if he had caught a bee, “No, they’re little…” He stopped talking and looked at his fingers.

The waitress in the back tentatively added, “I think they’re seafood. Aren’t they seafood?” I started to panic. I was sending the entire staff of Robintino’s into the depths of a conversation that I had started flippantly while waiting for the credit card receipt. The chef with the fingers replied, “No, they’re not seafood. They’re… little…” His brain short circuited again and he didn’t finish his sentence. Mike confided to me, “I think they’re berries.” I replied, “Well, I KNOW they’re plant matter. They AREN’T seafood.” Mike patted my arm, “We’ll go home and look it up.”

“Doug!” The girl handed back our copy of the receipt and screamed to the elusive Doug. She confided to us, “Doug will know.” Doug was a short guy with glasses. He was a good fifteen years older than the rest of the staff. He looked like the voice of authority. “Hey Doug! What are capers? They’re peppers, right?” Doug’s forehead crinkled, but his eyes were so small behind his glasses that I couldn’t see what he was thinking, “No, they’re… little.” Doug was our hero. Doug wasn’t going to choke. Doug would know the answer for us. “They’re from the south of France.” That was the answer. She turned back to us. “They’re from France,” she said definitively.

Mike and I left the restaurant. He sighed as he crushed the receipt into his left pocket, “That’s why we don’t have capers on our pizza. The people at the restaurant don’t even know what they are.”

For the record, capers are flower buds. Onions are roots, so they have no similarities to capers. I think I grouped them with onions because they are round. I think the girl behind the counter meant pepper like peppercorns, not like green peppers. I didn’t think of that when she said it, but she and Mike were the closest to correct. If allowed to bloom, pollinate and germinate, they turn into berries, but as they are commonly eaten, they are merely pretty flowers waiting to bloom.

Powered by WordPress
(c) 2003-2007 Laura Moncur