Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Sky High

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

Sky High Last week, Kristen stayed with us while her parents were away on vacation. We try to do fun things while they are gone so that she doesn’t feel like they are having fun without her. One day, we took her to an arcade to play video games and win tickets. Another day, we took her out to eat at a buffet (her favorite because she gets to pick the food). On Friday, we took her to see Sky High.

I expected a dumb Disney ripoff of “The Incredibles” along the lines of “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.” Instead, we enjoyed a funny movie that was well-written and didn’t take itself too seriously. Linda Carter (she played Wonder Woman during my youth) played the school principal. Bruce Campbell (he played Brisco County Jr.) played Coach Boomer. Kurt Russell (Call me Snake) played the superhero father, wanting the best for his son. I could keep listing the cast, but there were so many great stars that I kept getting surprised.

I am sitting here, still not believing how much I liked the movie and considering going back to see it again. I’m still amazed after writing this sentence. Who knew that Disney had it in them?

Hurricane Katrina

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm

How could such a beautiful name cause so much trouble?

I am sending all my good karma to New Orleans today. I never got to see the city that Anne Rice made me fall in love with. Now, I never will…


Illustration Friday: Dreams

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Discarded Childhood Dreams

Discarded Childhood Dreams



Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld I just finished the book, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. It’s a young adult novel, so it’s a quick and fun read. Even though it’s a teen book, the premise of the story is set in hardcore sci fi. Our heroine, Tally, lives in a world where everyone is blessed with being pretty on their sixteenth birthday. They endure surgeries that make them beautiful. Everyone in the city is beautiful after they get their operation. She eagerly awaits the day that she can become pretty and join her friend, Peris, on the other side of the river.

While counting the time to her birthday, she meets Shay, a girl her same age. Instead of counting time until her birthday, Shay isn’t really looking forward to the operation. She likes herself the way she is: ugly and a little too skinny. Tally is given a choice to run away from the city, her parents and Peris to go to a place where you never get your operation.

This book felt like it started in the middle of a big mess, but the situation keeps getting messier and messier. I was describing it to Mike the other day, “It’s like a Lois McMaster Bujold book where things keep getting more complicated the further we get into the book.” Mike was quiet for a second and then answered, “If he solves the problems at the end of the book, he’s like Bujold, but if he leaves all the problems open for the sequel, then he’s like David Brin.”

Everything isn’t tied into a neat little package at the end of the book. The major problems are taken care of, but a new problem starts right at the end of the book. Now, I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, Pretties.

Update 03-28-08: Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.

Here are also my reviews of other Scott Westerfeld books:


Dusty’s Wedding

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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I wish the light had been better that evening. If the reception had started at five or six in the evening instead of seven, I might have gotten better pictures. As it was, I should have brought my tripod and turned up the ISO settings because I couldn’t get a perfectly clean photo. I didn’t even get one of the bride. I hope the photographer they hired faired better.


Flowers and Bees

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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The flowers were swarmed by bees of all shapes and sizes. I was only able to catch one. At least the flowers were pretty. I’ll just have to remember the butterflys and bumble bees…


Weekend in Vegas

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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We spent a relaxing weekend in Las Vegas with Stacey and Dan. They drove the Hummer and we enjoyed riding in the back seat. Paying for the gasoline on the way down was the perfect way to remind me why I drive a Volkswagen Beetle. Here are the obligatory blurry pictures from the strip. I was standing up in the Hummer taking pictures out of the sun roof. I looked like a bloody tourist…

Tomorrow, I’ll post the really good pictures that we nearly got shot taking.



Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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This abandoned area has a huge fence around it screaming “No Tresspassing.” We stayed outside the fence, but it was only Stacey, Dan and Mike that kept me there. I figure if all I’m doing is taking pictures, I can’t be damaging too much.

Right next to this place, there are trailer homes in a sad state of disrepair. The people living there watched us not trespass. I didn’t see them. If I had, I would have walked up to them and asked if it was alright if I could go behind the fence and take some pictures. Dan said that they looked like the kind of people who looked for an excuse to shoot tresspassers. Mike said that the people looked so scary that trying to talk to them would have been a stupid thing to do, but I don’t think so. Even scary people respond well when you ask politely…


Desert Life

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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The wildlife in the desert area behind the Nevada Landing Hotel and Casino was shy and scurried away quickly. I was lucky to snap this picture of our little lizard friend. He was pretending to be a rock until he noticed that I wasn’t fooled. Seconds after I clicked this picture, he was under the rock. The rest of the residents of the area were kind enough to stay still, but rusty cans and abandoned golf balls are always willing subjects for the paparazzi.

In the last photo, you can see our hotel in the background. I kind of wish that I had bothered to take some nice photos of the hotel. Instead, the only advertisement I have for the place is just background for some really old and decrepit garbage.


Illustration Friday: Roots

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Roots: Camelot Resort - Duchesne, Utah - 08-13-05

Lucky thing the category is Art and Photography. I have played with this image so much that I don’t know how to categorize it anymore.

Here is the original:

Original Photo


A Visit From My Past Self

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


“You’ll never guess what I found when I was moving.”

“What?” Dawni had called me in the middle of the day. I was at work and uncomfortable about having a conversation.

“It’s one of the tapes you sent me when I was a nanny in Chicago. You talk about Mike on it.”


“Yeah, your husband.”

“Were we married then?”

“No. You were in love with some guy from K-Mart called Doug Monson.”

“Oh yeah, Doug… I really liked him…”

“You taped some music off the radio, which isn’t good, but when you talk, it’s really funny! I’ll let you borrow the tape when we meet for lunch. It’s hilarious!”


With a quick phone call, Dawni sent me into a worry. I was offered a visit from my past self and I wasn’t entirely excited about letting her stay. Would she soil the furniture?

“That tape is so funny. You were so much happier then.”

I knew for a fact that I wasn’t. “I actually feel much happier now.”

“Well, you were more hyperactive then!”

I held my tongue. If I had spoken, I would have said, “I’ve worked really hard to get some peace in my life. That hyperactivity was actually mania and the depression that it hid hasn’t hit me for a long time. I wouldn’t go back to that time for a million dollars.”

Even after Dawni loaned the tape to me, I was filled with trepidation. I tried to joke about it with her, “Dynatone. I really splurged on you, Dawni.” We laughed, but I looked at what I had written: 10-8-87 from Laura.

The tape was full of nearly forgotten crushes and old gossip. After finishing the first side, I wanted to shake that girl from eighteen years ago. I bragged about how easy college was, unaware of the hell that student teaching was going to be. I was blindly following the convoluted path that I had made for myself. The plan was: I want to be a writer, but I can’t make money as a writer, so I’ll get my teaching degree. Then I’ll have all summer long to write.

I felt like shaking her and saying, “If you want to be a writer, be a writer! Don’t try to cram your dreams into a little box of practicality!” I was sitting in my car thinking about that girl from eighteen years ago. She was exactly like I am now. I am cramming my full-time writing into my life with a full time job. There isn’t quite enough time for both, but I am STILL acting as if I can’t make money as a writer.

That girl from eighteen years ago is lost. I can’t go back in time and force her to major in Journalism instead of Mathematics. I cannot change the decisions that she made back in the Eighties. All I can do is make sure I don’t make the same mistakes right now.


American Beauty

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

American Beauty I just saw American Beauty. We were driving back from Vegas and I watched the first half of the movie on the iBook. I got so car sick that I was dry heaving in the gas station bathroom in St. George. Mike took away the iBook and gave me a Dramamine. The rest of the drive home was a murky desire to watch the end of the movie. I had just gotten to the point where Kevin Spacey throws the plate of asparagus on the wall. “That asparagus looked really yummy,” I thought in a drugged haze.

The movie was amazing. I was really worried about whether I would like it because Kevin Spacey’s character said that he would be dead within a year. I already didn’t want to see him dead and I was only a couple of minutes into the movie. I was so happy to see Thora Birch in that movie. It took me about thirty minutes to realize that she was the same girl that played Enid in Ghost World. After all the attention that Scarlett Johansson has been getting, I thought that Thora was getting left out. I didn’t realize that she got to be in an Oscar Winning movie.

At first, I didn’t like any of the characters all that much. Kevin Spacey was a pedophile. Annette Bening played a little too close to home for me as a real estate agent. Wes Bentley was a creepy voyeur. I didn’t like any of them very much. I thought that the only reason that I would love the movie was the visual symbolism and the beautiful cinematography.

By the end of the movie, I loved them all, even the Nazi next door.


Past Journals

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

Sometimes I think about typing up all my old journals. I have them in a box. I started writing when I got a diary in fifth grade. It was a small light blue book with a lock. I find passwords to be slightly more secure now, but I realized that any lock can be cracked. I wonder if I should unlock them all for the world to see.

I can’t imagine that they would be interesting to anyone but me and my friends. Of course, I can’t imagine that this weblog is interesting to anyone but me and my friends. I guess my circle of friends has opened up to the world and you find all my silly little thoughts of today to be worth a daily read. I’m wondering about my thoughts of yesterday.

Would you be interested in the trials and tribulations of Laura Lund from fifth grade on? Leave me a comment or drop me an email. Would you read it if I posted it?


Ducks, Geese and the Sunlight

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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We were walking home through Fairmont Park and came upon these water fowl. I carry my 2 megapixel Canon Elf (Powershot S100) every where I go. It’s small and is good enough to catch the moment. Lots of the pictures on this site were taken with this camera, but it really does suck compared to the Nikon CoolPix 5700. That camera wasn’t with me, however. I was able to get a couple of good shots. I just goes to show that your camera doesn’t matter:


Still Life on Main Street

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

Still Life on Main Street

This picture is one of a group posted on Flickr by Beatnikside. The caption he wrote for it is:

“They didn’t move from that spot for almost a minute.”

That is what Disneyland is like for me. I feel like all these people are moving past me and I am looking at all the details, trying desperately to capture them.


Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town

Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town: View book details at AmazonLast night, I finished Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow and I am reluctant to recommend it. At the same time, I want to find someone who has had the misfortune of reading it and talk to them about it. This book is labeled a “Sci-Fi Essential,” but I would consider it fantasy. There are golems. There are girls with wings. Mountains and washing machines give birth to sons.

There is also a dual plotline about Internet connectivity. The main character juggles a deadly-dead brother (a full time job of its own) and sells the idea of flooding his small Canadian town with free Wireless Internet using dumpster computer parts. Both plotlines intersect, but it really feels like the main character, Alan (Abe, Anton, Adam, whatever), is living two lives: the real life and the fantasy life. That’s the nature of his character, though. He came from the fantasy world and is desperately trying to live in the real world.

Davey attacks Alan in his bedroomCory Doctorow has created one of the scariest villians I’ve seen in a long time with the dead brother, Davey (Danny, Drummond, Darrell, whatever). A demon from the day he was born, Davey tortured one brother’s animals with vivisection and moved up to murder before he was out of grade school. Yet, he knows the secrets. He is the one of the brothers who can answer the question, “What are we?” I wanted him dissected, burned, scattered and tilled into the ground, but I wanted him to answer the question before it happened.

I just had the feeling that if I had read more fantasy books, I would have understood the relationship of the golems to the mountain. I would have understood the significance of being a son of the mountain. I would have understood the proper etiquette in this strange fantasy world. Instead, I’m still groping with the question of “What are they?” because it was unanswered by the end of the book.

You can purchase this book at Amazon or download it for free at Cory’s site. He has released under the Creative Commons Copyright, so downloading it is perfectly legal.


REO Speedwagon and Styx Concert at the Utah State Fair

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

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September 2nd:

Mom: By the way…. Guess who will be at the State Fair this year? Go ahead guess. REO Speedwagon and Styks (SP?). Who wants to go to the state fair?

Laura: I am SO there to see REO Speedwagon again. That guy was amazing!

September 9th:

Mom: I need to find out who wants to go to the fair with us and see REO Speedwagon and Styx. It is on September 15th (Thurs night) at 7:30 p.m. The tickets are $34 and that includes entrance into the fair ($5). (We won’t be mad if you don’t want to go).

Laura: Yes, Mike and I are going to go with you to the fair. Do we need to get the tickets beforehand? Do we want to drive down together? It’s a school night, so I don’t want to overdo it, but I can’t miss REO Speedwagon. They were so great and inspirational last time!

We want to eat dinner there (FRESH CORN!) and have time to look at the booths before the concert starts. If you’re not interested in the booths, then maybe Mike and I will go down at 5:30 and meet you there. What do you think?

I think they were amazing last night! Both Styx and REO Speedwagon were energetic, got the crowd going and really rocked the place! Tommy Shaw looks a little like Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. He rocks it better than Zaphod ever could, even though he was the President of the Galaxy. Kevin Cronin was inspirational and left me feeling so happy about my life.

Between the shows, there were fireworks. I only got one fairly good shot of them, all the rest were blurry messes. At the end, Kevin called Styx onto the stage. For their finale, they brought out Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. He played piano with them (Johnny B. Good). Sorry the picture’s so blurry. My battery was dead by then and it was a struggle to get the camera to take any pictures at all. Our Governor is the guy in the red shirt who is hugging the bass player in the last picture. I was so shocked.

I took over 200 pictures and these are the only ones that really turned out. You would be amazed if you knew how far away from the stage we were sitting (Section EE Row 15). We were as far back as you could go without being outside the venue, yet I still got a couple of relatively clear pictures.

Mike promised me that we could go back to the fair this weekend to look at the booths and try our hands at taking pictures of the neon and rides and all the happy people.


The Worst Part of Paranoia

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

The worst part of paranoia is when you’re right.

Five months ago, I was laid off at my work… No, I have to start this story earlier. Five months and three weeks ago, I found out that my grandpa has prostate cancer. For about 32 hours, I considered moving to Billings, Montana. I was going to ask for a transfer from my employer and move up there to help my grandpa. That idea ended abruptly with my realization that living in Billings would NOT be good for me. After summers of starvation up there, returning would be a BIG issue for me. Not to mention the fact that my grandpa does not want me to move up there to help him. He doesn’t want any help, which is really hard for me, but that’s another story. We’re talking about my paranoia.

I let it slip to my immediate supervisor my problems and my hopes to move up there to help. A couple of days later, the Vice President asked how were things with my grandfather and would I need to be moving up there? I told him that I couldn’t I wouldn’t be able to live in that city and my grandpa didn’t even want me to come. That conversation felt like a test. I didn’t know what I was being tested for and I had no idea if I had passed.

Over the next couple of weeks, people stopped looking me in the eye. I could tell you the order in which they stopped looking me in the eye if it meant anything to you, but the important thing is that I noticed that certain people had stopped seeing me. I’m pretty sensitive to these kinds of things, so this was my first indication that something was going on. Maybe I failed that test, whatever it was.

I knew for a fact that I was going to lose my job on my birthday. One person acknowledged my birthday, my immediate supervisor, who sat across from me and had to stare at me every day. She gave me bath items in a ripped gift bag. I tried to thank her politely and hid it under my desk. “I’m just paranoid,” I kept telling myself.

Two days after my birthday, they called me into the Vice President’s office. “Should I bring a pad to take notes?” They shook their heads. “Maybe they are just bothered by me and want me to do some things differently,” I told myself. Nope, they were laying me off. They gave me a generous severance and a glowing letter of recommendation. Even though I knew I wasn’t needed, it felt like a kick in the gut. Even though I knew it was coming, it felt like a surprise. I spent the next week looking for a job and found another that quickly. I struggled to learn a new job with a huge bruise on my abdomen from my previous employer.

It was Mike who noticed it. In a fit of paranoia, he checked the computer logs. Approximately two weeks before my lay-off, my employer had started hitting my weblog heavily. At first I thought he was just over-reacting. I thought that maybe the hits had come from me, not someone else, but I was wrong. The Billings office had looked at it. The Salt Lake office was still looking at it, even after they laid me off.

At first, I didn’t think it was significant. I had told my immediate supervisor about my weblog. She knew that I wrote in it every day. After Mike gave me a close look at the logs, I realized that this type of activity wasn’t normal. The entries that they looked at over and over were the ones where I talked about work. I had been very open with them about my lack of work and I had been very open on my weblog about it. Nothing that I said should have been a surprise. To any observer in that office, not one word should have been a surprise.

I immediately made those weblog entries private. If you were one of those people who have been reading since the beginning, then you’re lucky because they aren’t coming back. The amount of times that they hit those entries was excessive. I mostly pulled them to get them to stop obsessing over it. Last time I had Mike check the logs, they still come here every couple of days.

This is what I think happened. (Continue Reading…)


Birthday Suit

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

It was like I suddenly realized that the whole freakin’ world could see my weblog. I had told my supervisor about it, but she didn’t care enough to read it. No one there cared enough about me to ask my opinion or what I thought about the office. It wasn’t until they knew that they were going to lay me off that they obsessed over those entries. I still wonder why they didn’t just ask me.

So, I’ve been hiding behind a camera for five months. I’ve been reviewing books and movies and other websites. I’ve been talking in monkey jabber because I realized that I really am just a naked monkey, exposing myself and throwing vomit.

Sure, I’ve taken some pretty pictures. Sure, I’ve found some interesting quotations. Sure, I’ve kept producing. There has been some bit of something for you to look at every day when you come here, but I stopped showing anything of myself for a good five months there. You got glimpses of skin, where you were used to seeing a streaker.

Wanna know what got me out of my dark clothing and back into the light in my birthday suit?

(Continue Reading…)


The Water Ceremony

Filed under: People Watching — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm

He wore silver rings on every finger and his fingernails were longer than they needed to be for a harpist. He wore black jeans and a black pirate shirt. His clothes made him look like a Victorian vampire trying to fit into these modern times. His hair was trying to grow long, but it was fluffy soft down flying around his head instead of hanging. The music he and Maureen played was beautiful.

Sometimes I feel so lucky that I found South Valley. I took a test on Belief.net and it told me that the only religion that I could possibly feel comfortable with would be Unitarian Universalist. I found the closest UU church on the Internet, emailed Sean, the reverend, and decided that I could be happy there.

Two weeks ago, we had our Water Ceremony, which marks the beginning of the church year for us. We start our year in Fall, just like the schools. We are supposed to collect water from wherever we visit over the course of the year and bring it to the Water Ceremony. It represents how we separate in our lives and how we come back to the church to share our journeys.

This year, Mike and I forgot to collect water from any of the many places we visited. We could have brought representational water and shared the stories of our travels, but I decided that I didn’t want to share this year. I remembered what Hugh Elliott said, “All people want is someone to listen.” I decided that I was going to listen this year. It felt good to just hear the stories and not worry about formulating our own.

The vampire/harpist isn’t a member of our church, as far as I know. He was asked to play by Maureen and they played beautifully together. I had no idea that I could enjoy harp music as much as I did that day. When we sang our hymns, he came back to the front row and sang along, but the rest of the service, he sat at his harp, ready to play, when he wasn’t playing. I kept thinking, “Isn’t our church wonderful? Doesn’t this service make you want to come every week?” I didn’t see him last week, so I guess he doesn’t feel the same way as I do. Damn…


Not Summer, But Not Quite Fall

Filed under: People Watching — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 pm

The weather has been beautiful here in Salt Lake City. The heat of the summer flew away and now it’s crisp without being cold. It’s sunny without being unpleasant. Everyone has come out of their air-conditioned houses to eat on the patios at the local restaurants. We drove past the new bakery/café on 2100 South the other day and every outside table had a hippie at it. They were eating and reading and looking at each other, furtively. The light changed and we drove past them, destined for another destination.


5505 White Cherry Way

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

I dreamt about Sceverenia’s house again last week. The house was for sale and vacant. I was trying to find what was left in the basement. I found some family pictures and I looked at myself next to all of them. I woke up with sleep paralysis again, unable to move and hallucinating Stinky Ghost trying to get into bed with me. In dreamland, I screamed at him, calling him a pervert and he ran into the kitchen, not going any further.

I’m bothered by this dream and it makes me think that something was left in her house. Sometimes I worry that the ghosts of her brothers or her father are trapped there. I emailed Scev and she said that she dreams about the house, but her dreams always involve yard work.

It’s for sale AGAIN: bank owned and vacant. God, I wish a good family would buy it. At least the bank is watering the lawn this time. It’s green and lush and in desperate need of mowing. Maybe I’ll ask a favor of my favorite realtor and have her show me the house. Maybe I’ll be able to collect whatever was left there.

Great… then I’ll have two ghosts following me around.


Number 10

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

The elderly couple in front of us were physically fit and well dressed. It was their first time to the café, so they were confused about the ordering process. The employees patiently helped them and gave them their number to claim their sandwiches. Then it was our turn. We ordered and received our own number. Mike noticed it.

“We’re number 1!”

I wasn’t really listening, but it didn’t take us long before we were quietly chanting it,

“We’re number 1! We’re number 1!”

The couple smiled at us and the wife held up her number. “We’re number 4.”

I laughed and replied, “Well, someone has to be number 4.”

The elderly gentleman answered, “As long as we’re not number 10. In Korea, you don’t want to be number 10.”

For a second, I thought that there was some cultural significance to the number 10 in Korea. I thought that there was an Oriental story behind the number 10. “Why? Is it unlucky?”

The man shook his head, “In Korea, it was dangerous to be number 10.”

I suddenly realized that he hadn’t studied the Korean culture. He had served in the Korean War and he was talking about a sort of soldierly superstition that meant that they had lost more than one number 10. Maybe in a grisly death. An uncomfortable silence fell between us and the happy mood of the café sounded loud and obnoxious for a moment.

“My grandpa served in the Korean War.” I said, remembering my grandpa up in Billings, alone by choice.

He answered me, “He did?” He tried to keep his voice light.

“Yeah, he never talks about it.”

“Yeah… you never talk about it. I only mentioned it… it was a joke…”

I smiled and was suddenly grateful that he shared even that small bit with me. “My grandpa loves that show, MASH. He would watch it every day. Now, he likes JAG, too.”

“He does, eh? It was an ok show, but I wouldn’t watch it every day.”

“When I was little, I used know that grandpa would almost be home when the music for MASH came on. That’s how I told time when I was little, by the TV.”

“Well, when you see your grandpa again, you tell him you ran into a guy who was up on the 38th Parallel. It was right between the North and South Border.”

I repeated his directions and promised that I would talk to my grandpa about him. The man smiled and got his soup and sandwich from the friendly employees at the counter. We nodded goodbye at each other and didn’t say another word.


Illustration Friday: Escape

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

He attended the Christmas party every year. Outgoing and gregarious, no one would ever believe the fact that he hated the event. It was a waste of money. It was a stressful ordeal in a supposedly happy place. Worst of all, he was expected to attend and not paid to do so. It was work in a social setting and he hated every minute of it. He counted them down until he could escape.

Three months ago, the secretary was taking a poll. “What would you like to do for the Christmas party this year?” Everyone laughed when he said, “Not have one,” but no one took him seriously. He’s such a kidder, you know.

Three months later, he found himself held hostage for three hours at a casual restaurant in the ritzy part of town. The president of the company flew down on the company dime. He and his wife were staying at the hotel across the street, also on the company dime. The vice-president and a few select clients were also staying at the hotel at the company’s expense. “Fucking waste of money,” he thought to himself.

(Continue Reading…)


Spend More Time With Your Kids, Not Shopping For Them

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

This is the tag line for a text ad. It has shown up so many times that I became conscious of it. It’s an advertisement for Drugstore.com. I guess they are suggesting that if you shop at Drugstore.com, then you’ll have more time to be with your children AND be able to shop for them.

What if we took that phrase to heart, though? What if we spent more time with our loved ones, not shopping for them? How many hours have I wandered around department stores trying to find a gift? Would that time have been better spent with the person?

There is so much etiquette affiliated with gift giving. It has to be a surprise. It has to be perfect. It has to be given at the appropriate time. Some of the best gifts I’ve received were when Mom, Stacey and I all went to choose our gifts or spend our gift certificates together. Some of the best gifts I’ve enjoyed giving were when the person said, “All I want for my birthday is for all of us to…”

Then again, it feels so good to guess right. When I have thought of the perfect present and I KNOW they are going to like it and then they REALLY do like it. That’s great too. Every once and awhile, I can hit the right button, but it’s hard and it takes a lot of thinking.

I don’t know what’s right. We’re coming up on Christmas and I don’t know what is the best. I just wish Drugstore.com would stop with those text ads, because they seem to scold me, no matter which one I choose.



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

When is conversation real and when is it useless? If you are lonely and you talk to a machine, is it like playing Solitaire or is it emotionally helpful? Is talking to a nearly senient computer program just as good as talking to a human being? Does it make you less lonely? What if you don’t know it’s a program?

This program won this year’s Loebner Prize, but it still isn’t considered sentient. No wonder if you read the Transcripts. I don’t know how they can give prizes out for these things. When I read the transcripts, it seems obvious which conversation is with a human and which is with a machine.

Mike used to have a primitive form of Alice running on a BBS that he used to run when we were in high school. He had a “Talk to the SysOp” feature that was just Alice answering questions poorly. I tried having a conversation with Alice a few times, but it never felt like a conversation. I always felt like I was doing something for the common good, teaching a machine to have a nice conversation.

None of these machines tested were real conversations. Jabberwacky was far too busy to have a conversation with me. That Loebner Prize must have gone straight to its head.

Writing for The Gadgets Page

Filed under: Computer Stuff,Gadgets & Cool Stuff,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 am

I am now writing for The Gadgets Page, so all my ideas about cool gadgets are going to go there from now on. You can read my reviews here:

I am excited to write down all my ideas about the new stuff out there, so please read my reviews for gadgets, video games and computer stuff there!

Wish me luck!


Only 39% Evil….

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

From The Sect of Homokaasu – The Gematriculator:

This site is certified 39% EVIL by the Gematriculator

I guess I’m not going all Tourette’s Syndrome nearly as often as I thought I was. What can I do to boost the evil? What…

This site is certified 61% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Maybe I just need to minimize the good…

Via: Ministrare



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

I’m feeling a little tired, so I’m going to take a break for a couple of days. If you really miss me, you can see what I’m up to on Starling Fitness and the Quotations Blog. See you soon.


Illustration Friday: Fresh

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

“Fresh fruit, that’s what I need,” she thought to herself, “I’ll go to the Farmer’s Market. That’s where I’ll get some good shots. The light will be right and there’s lots of stuff there to take pictures of.” The evening before, she charged her camera batteries and emptied her compact flash card. She planned on getting there right when it started so she would have the whole morning to get good photos.

The vendors were setting up when she arrived. Some of them had shady tents to house their produce. Others just backed their beat-up trucks up to the spot and opened the tailgate. She watched as two policemen gathered the homeless people who slept in that park. She watched one the burly policeman nudge a sleeping man with his foot. The man rose and acquiesced without a word. She aimed her camera and zoomed in as the other policeman worked to rouse a different indigent. She took pictures of the risen walking in a line away from the park and wondered where they were walking to.

She turned back to the Farmer’s Market. The activity had grown and the apples looked bright red in the sunshine. Suddenly her idea of taking pictures of the fresh fruit and vegetables seemed unimportant. She looked at the few snapshots she had taken of the police and the homeless. “Where do they go?” she thought to herself and instinctively started to follow them.

(Continue Reading…)

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