Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Christmas Lights A-Go-Go

Filed under: Christmas — Laura Moncur @ 7:30 am

My first thought when I saw this video was how bloody annoying it would be to be the neighbor across the street.

Fortunately, the music was broadcast on the radio, not blaring out of the house with a loud speaker. Of course the constant flashing of the lights (they’re pretty bright), would be distracting, not to mention the crowds of cars that come through that neighborhood every year.

The full story of this video is on Snopes:

If you want to something similar for your Christmas display, the instructions are here:

Here in Salt Lake City, Christmas lighting is serious business. The LDS Temple grounds are professionally lit. Every tree has lights intricately wound around each branch. An interesting nativity scene is accompanied by a narration of the story of Jesus (for all of those who don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ Jesus). It is absolutely gorgeous. Here’s an example:

There are neighborhoods where Christmas decoration seems to be a competition of sorts. There is even rumor of streets that force their residents to decorate for Christmas by placing the requirements in the easement. When I was told that story about Christmas Tree Lane, I just nodded and smiled and hoped it wasn’t true. The person who told me about the easements said it like it was a good thing.

Sometimes people decorate so much for Christmas that I feel like I don’t need to do anything. I can just enjoy their lights and not have to fuss with those green and red Rubbermaid boxes in the basement.


Why I Read Dooce…

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

This entry is why I read Dooce:

She talks about how much she loves her TIVO and wishes she could TIVO real life. This is the paragraph that made me laugh out loud, even though I was trying to be quiet because Mike was still sleeping.

“Last night we had a new gas fire log installed and Chuck [her dog] sat in front of it for so long that when he got up to walk away he was so hot that he collapsed head-first after only two steps. I wanted to set a Season Pass so that when he does this every night for the next four months I get to see it every single time.”

Heart-warming vignettes such as these keep me reading her weblog every day.


Winter Avatar

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

Yahoo! Avatars

I thought I would update my Yahoo! Avatar since I live in the frozen desert of Salt Lake City, Utah. The day after Thanksgiving, it got COLD. I’m beginning to think that I will never learn to acclimate to this state. I’ve only lived here for 30 years and I’m still not used to the sudden changes in the weather.

On another note, I still can’t find a way to make a Yahoo! Avatar fat. It doesn’t matter now. I’m so close to my goal weight that I almost look like my avatar now. Still, it’s pretty buggy that I can’t make my avatar fat. I guess these things are for teenagers. Maybe Yahoo! doesn’t believe in fat people. Hollywood sure doesn’t. They don’t even bother letting fat people play parts of fat people. They insist on using the “oh so realistic” fat suit.



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

Puddle by Laura Moncur 11-30-05

Life must be hard for my friends and family. They never know when I’m going to take out my camera and start snapping pictures. Mike and I were taking his sister, Kristen, and a friend, Lorna, to lunch at Singing Cricket Cafe when I stopped them so I could take pictures.

This puddle was so crystal clear and the sun was shining on it so nicely. The leaves underneath the water looked like finely oiled cherry wood. I had to stop. How could I leave it to just memory?


The Final Cut

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

View movie details at Amazon I don’t know how I missed The Final Cut with Robin Williams and Mira Sorvino. I spent a couple of hours the other day looking at movie previews and came across this movie. It sounded interesting, so I ordered it at NetFlix. I watched it while doing my daily run last Saturday and I was astounded by how good the movie was. I thought that if I hadn’t heard anything about the movie and it didn’t even show up in my local theaters, then it must have been BAD. Instead, I’m sitting in awe of its greatness.

The movie follows the life of Alan Hackman (Robin Williams). He is a cutter. Instead of splicing together movies, he cuts and pastes lives. Eyetech has created an implant that can record every sight and sound a person experiences during his entire life. The implant is installed when a child is an infant and grows organically, nearly undetectable. After death, everything the person saw or heard is accessible from the chip. It’s Alan’s job to edit the lifetime down to an hour and a half for the benefit of the bereaved loved ones.

Alan is given the hardest of the jobs. He will take the worst of humanity and create a “Rememory” that the family can be proud of. It’s not a job that many can handle. A former collegue of his couldn’t handle the pressure and turned on the entire profession, joining the anti-implant hippies. Alan is able to handle the worst of the nightmares he has to view on the screen, until his own nightmare comes crashing into his life through the memory of a client.

If you are a member of NetFlix, go there right now and put this movie at the top of your queue. If not, you might have to search a little bit to find it at your local video store, but it’s totally worth it. I was expecting a silly sci-fi movie and I was hoping that maybe there might be one good idea there. Instead, I was treated to an elegant story and inventive sci-fi that felt as if it could have already been invented forty years ago. Genius…


Christmas 1980 – Part 1

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

In honor of the holiday, I brought out my photo album and scanned in the photos of my first Christmas that I remember. My dad had been really into the whole Jehovah Witness thing when I was a kid. We technically weren’t supposed to celebrate any holidays after the divorce, but my mom missed Christmas, so she said she was going to celebrate it no matter what. We didn’t need to participate if we didn’t want, but she was going to have a tree. She said she would get us presents if we wanted and that year, both Stacey and I really wanted.

Tree - Christmas 1980

Here is a picture of Stacey and I in front of the Christmas Tree. Stacey is on the left looking like a commercial for Christmas itself and I’m on the right. I hadn’t learned how to do my hair yet. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to flow like Farrah Fawcett’s hair. Check out the Holly Hobby pajamas. I wore those until they didn’t fit anymore, I loved them so much. They stuck to the sheets because they were made of flannel. At night, under the sheets, when I moved in the dark, I could see little static electricity sparks.

The presents we are holding are some toys that Marieva Richie gave us. Marieva was a friend of my mom and she used to always give us little presents. The curly pencil that I’m holding on the left was something that I actually still have. It was so cool that I didn’t want to use it as a pencil. It’s in my memento box with my old journals and letters from girlfriends.

I can tell so much from this picture. The cabinet on the right of the picture is the china closet. It is an antique from my grandma in Montana. I guess Dad didn’t take that piece of furniture until after December 1980. It ended up in my dad’s apartment. He eventually gave it to me. Right now, it’s stored in the basement because the house we are living in is so small that I don’t have a place to put it.

Also to the right is the bookcase with the National Geographics. My grandpa in Montana had a subscription to National Geographic for us kids. We got every one from 1978 to 1982. I got custody of them when mom sold the house in West Valley because no one else wanted them. I kept the cool ones (I have ALL the National Geographics on DVD, now, so I don’t really need the paper) and gave the rest to The DI. It’s funny to see them there. I don’t think any of us really pulled them out and read them. They weren’t organized usefully like an encyclopedia, so I couldn’t really use them for school reports.

Last time I drove past the house in West Valley, it looks like the new owners have removed those shutters off those windows and removed the huge bushes in front of them. I remember that room always being so dark because of the bushes and the shutters. That didn’t bother me, though, because we had privacy.

On the Christmas tree, those white balls were made of plastic and were covered with silk or angel hair. The cats loved them and one by one, we had to throw them away over the years because a cat had torn it apart. There were also some fabric ornaments that showed Victorian-Era Christmas people. Mom sprayed them with pine-scented air freshener because she missed the smell of a real Christmas tree. Christmas smells like Lysol to me.


Christmas 1980 – Part 2

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

I love this picture. This is the first Christmas Stocking that I ever had. It’s not fancy velvet like the ones I have now. It was made of felt and Carol wrote our names on them with glue and glitter. Over the years, our names cracked and fell off the stockings. Eventually, I got married and moved out of the house. I have no idea where those stockings are now, probably at the Salt Lake County dump. Doesn’t matter. I can remember them clear as day.

Perfume - Christmas 1980

I am smelling the Jovan Musk perfume that came in my stocking. This was half-way through sixth grade. Soon I would be in junior high school and my mom would let me wear makeup. For now, though, all I could do was wear perfume. I thought it was really grown up. Jovan still makes that perfume. Whenever I smell it, I think of trying to prove I was grown up.

To the left of the photo is the old black and white TV on its TV stand. I will never forget the shock of pointing at an old black and white photo of my mom in her younger days. In the background was OUR TV. I had such a hard time believing that my mom could have owned that television for longer than I was alive. She said it was hers when she lived in an apartment before she met my dad. I couldn’t believe it.

Also to the left is an end table that my dad eventually got in the divorce. Every once and a while I see one of these end tables at the trendy retro furniture stores in Gallery Row. They cost over a hundred dollars. My dad ended up damaging that table so much that it went in the garbage bin years before it could have fetched such a great price.

To the right of the photo is our fireplace. We pretty much only lit fires during Christmas time. Carol would always have those Duraflame logs that we could light so easily. Once she even let us light three at a time. It was a huge fire, but it didn’t burn any hotter than a one-log fire. I remember sitting on the hearth and feeling the heat of the fire on my back. It was always so warm in the family room.


Christmas 1980 – Part 3

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

This is the last picture I have of 1980. Luckily, it shows all of my presents right there in one place.

Presents - Christmas 1980

I am opening the BEST present that I got that year. It was called the Fashion Design Center. I can barely describe how fun and cool it was. There were plates of heads, torsos, pants, skirts and footwear. You could choose whatever you wanted, place the plates in the center and put a piece of paper over it. Then you go over the plates and paper with a black crayon. It would show the outline of the model that I had created. After that, I could color the model with colored pencils, water colors or crayons. Honestly, the colored pencils worked better than anything, but having those options was really cool. I played with that toy until about ninth grade. I have no idea where it is now, but it served me well for the years I had it.

I think the SuperCurl 3 in 1 was a hair dryer. I don’t quite remember anything except hoping that it would finally be the magic tool that would help me make my hair look cool. It didn’t. It would take me about ten years before I learned that if I didn’t brush my hair, it would be just fine. No fancy blow dryers or curling irons are necessary, just leave my hair alone, and it will look so much better.

The next present is the Fresh n’ Fancy Perfume Making Kit. I made many smelly concoctions with that thing. The next year, I would get a chemistry set for Christmas. You can’t imagine the smells that I made with that thing. It’s not pictured here, but that same year, I got a fingernail polish making kit. I very quickly learned that I could make red, pink or orange polish and no matter what I did, the polish would peel off my nails in one rubbery piece.

The last present pictured there are my Fireball Roller Skates! I loved those things! Chelly Bird, my friend, had a pair of tennis shoe roller skates, so now I would finally be able to skate with her. Sure, those skates were more like roller derby skates, but they were better than nothing! I wanted to skate with them so bad that the next day, I skated on our covered patio in the backyard. There wasn’t much room, but I wanted to be able to play with my new toy. I skated all that winter to school.

That year, I got a lot of presents. I think that year we got past the “Don’t Celebrate The Holidays” technicality by opening presents on New Year’s Eve instead of Christmas Morning. It didn’t matter to me. For once I was more like normal kids. I got to come back from the school break and say, “I got roller skates for Christmas.” We got a pretty Christmas tree with lights and pine smells. It was a great Christmas that year. I’m smiling just thinking about it.



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

Fireplace by Laura Moncur 12-06-05As I’m writing this, it’s snowing outside. There hasn’t been a lot of snow yet, but with these storms, it can go either way. I’ve lit a fire log, so the fireplace looks golden and enticing. I’m ready to hide in this house until the snow goes away.

I used to love snow. I can still see its beauty. It covers the neighborhood with shiny sparkling glitter. It dampens the noises of the neighborhood. It marks winter and Christmas and all those feelings of good cheer.

Then, I lost almost eighty pounds over the course of five years. The layer of fat that protected me from leering men and the cold is gone. I’m cold all the time now, even in the summer. The snow is pretty from my living room window, but I have no desire to venture out there. I used to just toss on a jacket. Now, I layer a turtleneck under a sweater under a hoodie under the leather coat.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get acclimated to this weather again. The winter hibernation begins.



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

Her fingers are wrapped with the blue yarn and she holds her crochet needle like a pencil. My grandma taught me to hold the crochet needle differently, so I am amazed that she is able to make any stitches at all. Her hands shake and the process seems like a struggle to me. I can envision my fingers making the same stitches: single crochet, triple crochet, single crochet. It would take me half the time to make as many stitches as she is making, but it doesn’t feel like a struggle to her. She is talking amiably to her friend, both of them completely unaware of my discomfort.

It would probably be rude to take a picture of her hands right now, huh? I’ll just have to remember this when I am old and my hands shake. I can only hope that it won’t feel like a struggle to me by then.



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

Sunrise by Laura Moncur 12-08-05

Sometimes, when I can’t think of what to write, I’ll look out the window to my left. The other morning, the blinds were closed, but I parted the slats so I could see out. The sky was glowing at me and suddenly I knew what I was going to write. The pink only lasted less than a minute before it was a washed out yellow. I’m grateful I was there to see it blush.


Snowclones, Words For Snow and Sunburn

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

I wrote an entry a while back about the words for snow in which I talk about my lack of belief in the saying that Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow.

It turns out that snow isn’t the only thing that people say these sorts of things about. Language Log uses the word “snowclone” to indicate commonly recurring phrases. Cultures that “Have X words for Y” is a snowclone that has been around for a while now, in addition to the “No word for X” category.

These sorts of language follies can have a strong impact and seem to be used for propaganda. Most recently environmentalists are saying that the Intuit have no word for sunburn, but because of global warming, they better learn one. Anyone who has ever been skiing knows the sun gets you twice: once from above and once bouncing off the snow. I highly doubt that the Intuit have no word for sunburn and it makes me wonder what other shoddy research those environmentalists have bandied about.


Why Not You?

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

Steve Pavlina wrote a really good entry about social responsibility. His premise of the article hinges on those things that bug you about the world. They bug you because you’re supposed to fix them.

Years ago, I decided to take a back seat to the problems of the world. I stopped watching the news and decided to focus on my own happiness. To be honest, this approach has been very beneficial to me. I’m happier and I’m less angry at the world. Now, when I notice things that really make me angry, I actually CAN do something about them because I have taken care of myself to the point that I can give some back.

I don’t take Steve’s way of viewing the world. Just because I notice a problem, doesn’t mean it’s mine. In that entry, he said:

“Responsibility for fixing the problems of the world rests on your shoulders. You can give up control, but you can never give up responsibility.”

I think he’s wrong. I take a more personal approach. I prefer the Michael Jackson view:

“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

After all, I’m the only person I can actually control.


Book Binge

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

Mike and I went to Barnes and Noble the other day looking for a book for him. We didn’t find one, but I bought three books for myself. I haven’t got a chance to read them yet, but I’m excited about all of them:

View book details at AmazonDigital Fortress by Dan Brown: I enjoyed reading The DaVinci Code, so I thought I would give another book a chance. The premise of the book is that someone has created a code that is unbreakable and it puts the government in a bad situation. The hero is a mathematician, which I like. The only problem with the plot is that anyone with a random number generator can create an unbreakable code nowadays. Cryptography has gotten to be a big computer issue, so I’m wondering if Dan Brown has the “skillz” to actually write this book. I guess I’ll see.

View book details at AmazonYou Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay – The book I picked up is the fancy schmancy version with lots of pretty pictures and full color glossy pages. I don’t know why I was willing to pay ten bucks more for this book, but I had wanted to pick it up for awhile and I thought the paper felt good. I have long believed that there are psychological reasons for some of our sicknesses. I thought I invented the idea until someone told me about this book that has been around since 1984. I thought I’d read her take on the whole idea and see what she recommends about my stomach pains.

View book details at AmazonPretties by Scott Westerfeld: Ever since I read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, I have been waiting for this book to come out. This is a sci-fi book set in a future where everyone undergoes surgeries to make them “pretty” at the age of sixteen. Our hero narrowly escaped her surgery throughout most of Uglies, but at the very end, she was taken into the large facility and changed. Will her friends be able to rescue her? Will she even want to be rescued after she becomes “pretty”? I put this book on hold at the library, but when I was at Barnes and Noble, I already had an armful of books, so I decided that I would actually buy this one. This is the book I’m most excited to read.

I just finished reading this book, so I’m free to start in on my new ones.

View book details at Amazon Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell: I just finished reading this book. I picked it up and read over half of it in an evening. It is a non-fiction book about the ability of our minds to make split-second decisions. Some people call it intuition; others call it a gut reaction. Whatever it is, it’s usually right, even when we can’t articulate why it’s right. I was kind of hoping this book would tell me how to use this ability to my advantage, but it is focusing on stories about the phenomenon instead of how-to instructions.

Click here to read the best quotations from the book:

When I said I was hibernating this winter, I wasn’t lying. I’ve stocked up on enough reading to keep me busy for a couple of weeks. Maybe by then, I’ll be acclimated to the weather enough to be willing to venture outside.


Working Hard

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

As I exercised on the elliptical trainer in the hotel gym, I could see the construction workers laying bricks on the new addition. There were three of them, but the only one who was working was the guy in the mustard colored jacket. I could tell he was talking to the other two guys as he aligned some of the bricks. He stopped for a moment to make a point, gesturing with his hands. His chopping hand movements made him look a little angry. He went back to tending the alignment of the bricks while the other two brought up a steaming bucket of mortar.

They were working on the last two rows on the top of the building. The scaffolding stayed on the other side of the property while the man in the mustard jacket reached down from the roof. One of the other guys hoisted the heavy bucket of mortar up and dumped it into the tray. The guy in the mustard jacket slowly moved the tray and a stack of bricks to the area that needed work.

He lowered trowels of mortar onto the line of bricks. Every once and a while, a bit of it would fall, making the long trek down to the ground. He brought out a corner brick and mounted it on the edge of the building. When he pushed the brick down, even more mortar fell down the long length of the building. I watched as he placed brick after brick along the line, ignoring the discomfort of my workout. I could feel the sweat threatening to inch into my eyes and I wiped it away with my fingers. I had been working out for about forty minutes and the man in the mustard jacket had completed a row.

I smelled the pungent odor of my own sweat and I hoped no one else could smell me. A noisy group of men had arrived to sit in the sauna. None of them noticed the work going on right outside the huge plate glass window. I saw the other two construction workers approach the bricklayer, and I realized that they had been gone for a long time. They were carrying paper coffee cups with plastic lids. One of them had brought an extra coffee for the guy in the mustard jacket. The three of them took a break, huddled over the cups for warmth.

By the time my workout was done, the other two guys were busy bringing up another steaming bucket of mortar while the guy in the mustard jacket set the alignment of the bricks he had placed. I hope they got time and a half for working on a Saturday.



Filed under: Art and Photography,Linda,Maggie,Our Pets — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Maggie by Laura Moncur 11-15-05

Maggie, my cat, is sitting on my lap, purring loudly. Since I’ve started working from home, she has made it a habit to sit on my lap the entire time I write. Sometimes I feel like she’s glad that I’m home because she gets extra attention, but most times, I just feel like a warm pillow.

Sid, the dog, has taken to following me around the house in the hopes that I’ll drop some food. He’s rewarded about fifty percent of the time. It’s not like I’m feeding him treats. I’m just clumsy and sometimes food falls on the floor. Anything down there is fair game to him. He loves carrots. He thinks that grape tomatoes are toys. He’s quick to take anything. He’ll take it to the food dish and start eating it there. If it’s good, it’s gone. If he doesn’t like it, I’ll find it on the floor with a couple of teeth marks in it.

No wonder we have mice. Linda, my other cat, and I saw one a couple of weeks ago. It was only an inch long (not including the tail) and it scurried between the floor boards and the wall, just like in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. Linda jumped off the couch and paid vigil at the point where the mouse disappeared for almost an hour. She was very quiet and sat still, just waiting, but the little guy was in the basement and long gone.

Maggie found a mouse under my desk. Mike and I were snuggling on the couch with Maggie when she jumped off us quickly scuttling under the desk. We saw her pounce on it and play with it for a bit, but it must have gotten away. This house is over a hundred years old. There are holes and pathways for small animals all over. With the settling on the northeast side of the house, the cracks are getting even larger.

I usually clip the cats’ claws, but since I realized that we have a mouse problem, I’ve left their talons unshorn. I don’t want to have to call an exterminator. I don’t want to have to get a live trap or some poison. I don’t even want Maggie or Linda to actually catch a mouse. All I want is for them to scare them away so I don’t have to deal with them. I’m even at peace with cohabitating with the mice. Maybe they’ll eat the grape tomatoes I accidentally drop. Sid sure won’t.



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

In July of 2003, we moved from our big house in West Jordan to this small house in Sugarhouse. When we moved, I looked the house up on the county records and I remember it saying that the house had 950 square feet. Our previous house had 3500 square feet. We gave a lot of furniture to The DI that year.

We’ve lived here for over two years now. We’ve had three Halloween parties here. This is our third Christmas in this house. We’ve gotten used to the size of the house and found ways to fit the treadmill in the corner of Mike’s office. We live with my bicycle on its trainer in the living room. We live with both our bikes in the living room in the summer since we can’t lock them up on the porch anymore. We’ve grown accustomed to this house and its size.

Since we’ve lived here, the house has actually felt bigger than the county records said. As far as I know, the county assessor isn’t allowed to come onto the property to calculate the square footage. They have to make an estimate from the curb. That makes their job easier, but it also leads to errors. Most of the time, the errors are in favor of the home owner and the estimate is lower than the actual square footage, so the owner doesn’t have to pay as much in taxes. I had good reason to believe that this house was bigger than 950 square feet.

We’re only renting here, so we’ll eventually have to leave. It’s only inevitable. We’ve looked at the floorplans for potential new living spaces. I found one with 901 square feet that has a similar floorplan to this place. I was trying to convince Mike that it would be a good place for us, but he didn’t like that it was even smaller than the place we live now.

I was worried that the floorplan showed a place that was MUCH smaller than our current place. I was curious and I wanted to know the actual square footage of the house. I got out the tape measure and forced Mike to hold the other end. When all the measuring was done and the calculations were made, I was shocked: 873 square feet.

Even now, I don’t believe it. I measured it with my own hands. I made the calculation twice. Mike checked my work. All of this, yet, I feel like this house is so much bigger than 873 square feet. A home is so much more than the amount of floor space. A house is so much more than its walls and placement of the bedrooms. A mansion can feel cramped and a closet can feel spacious. A home grows or shrinks based on how much love is in it.


From Your Friends at Google

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

Last year, we didn’t sell enough Google ads to rate a gift, but this year, we got a present from Google. It’s the coolest little thing. I wish I could buy one for all my techie friends. In the nice case, there is a 4-Port USB Hub, a 128 MB USB key chain storage device, a wireless optical mouse with the wireless transmitter built into the mouse, a retractable USB cable, a computer earbud/microphone, a USB light, batteries for the mouse, a hand strap and drawstring bag.

I was totally impressed and it immediately disappeared into Mike’s office. He had claimed it in the name of Starling Studios. I had to reclaim it just to take pictures of it. Otherwise, it’s his. It felt so good to receive something like this in the mail again. We used to get little things like this all the time from computer and Internet companies. After the Dot Bomb, all these cool little toys dried up.

It feels like we’re in another bubble. That’s okay. We’ll ride it until it pops again. This time, we’ll make sure we have a nice cushion built up to break our fall.


Neverending Camping Blanket

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

I finally finished it. I’ve been crocheting this blanket for months. I bought the yarn online and when I opened the box, the green fleck yarn was flecked with red and yellow and the green was a Christmasy green instead of a dark sage. It wasn’t at all what I imagined, but I started the blanket anyway. I eventually got used to the color because I was crocheting with it, but a couple of weeks ago, a friend asked what I was working on.

She thought it was a Christmas project.

Yeah, that reminded me of the day I opened to the box, slightly disappointed. Now, I have a huge Christmas blanket instead of a camping afghan like I wanted. Fortunately for me, Wild Oats is collecting blankets and afghans for the homeless. I can donate this blanket, feel good about myself and start crocheting a new camping blanket.

That’s the last time I buy yarn online…


External Validation

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 3:43 pm

I got my Press Pass for CES this morning. I’m smiling to myself. I’m press. They reviewed what I’ve been writing for The Gadgets Page and decided that I’m good enough to be press. I’m a writer. I’m a reporter.

When I go to CES, I’ll have access to the press room. I’ll have access to all the keynote speeches without having to get a ticket. I’ll get to go to any sessions for free. I’ve never attended a convention as press before, so I’m excited to see if it’s different.

Most importantly, this is the first real external validation that I am a writer. I wish I had something to take a picture of and show you. I guess as soon as I get my press pass, I’ll post it. I’m just jumping up and down happy about this!


Static Electric Sparks

Filed under: General,Maggie,Our Pets — Laura Moncur @ 8:45 am

The humidity is low. We run the humidifier 24 hours a day, refilling it when it goes quiet, but it cannot keep up. The tropical plants that shouldn’t survive a Utah dehydrated winter are wilting. Somehow, Mike will keep them just healthy enough to last until the swamp cooler turns on again.

At night, when I pet Maggie, I can see electric sparks fly. Every time I touch her ears, a tiny flash of static electric light flares. She doesn’t cringe at the shock. She purrs loudly instead. She climbs on my belly and gives me a kitty massage. The moments before I fall asleep are illuminated only by static electricity.


Eight Life Hacks

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 9:08 am

This list is almost exactly what I would write if I had thought of it first.

When Mike and I sold our huge house in West Jordan, I learned this tip the hard way:

Live Small – What’s that, you can’t afford a three-bedroom, three bath house with a huge yard and garage in a neighborhood where #3 is possible? Good. Then you won’t buy so much crap. You’ll save money in the long run, and you’ll be happier, too.

What David doesn’t tell us is WHY this is true. When we lived in a big house, there was never a question about whether we had room for anything. If I found a crappy exercise bike for ten bucks at The DI, then I bought it, without thought. Now that I live in an 873 square-foot house, we have to weigh EVERY purchase. It makes me conscious about what is important.

Via: Lazy Trainer – Tips to Being Healthy, Wealthy and Happy


It’s a Wonderful Life

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

View movie details at AmazonWhat would Christmas be like without It’s a Wonderful Life? You say you’re sick of the movie? Ok, watch the edited version:

I couldn’t count how many times I have watched that movie. It is truly a perfect Christmas story. What our new generation needs is a Christmas movie that is just as perfect and timeless. I wonder where it will come from.

View movie details at AmazonThe last truly good Christmas movie that they have made was A Christmas Story. I’m always surprised when people tell me they have never seen it. How could they have not seen it? I never saw it in a theater. I never consciously sat down to watch it. It was always on television from December first until after Christmas. I’ll never forget the scene where his friend gets his tongue stuck on the flagpole. That’s another great Christmas movie, but it was set in the fifties. It’s time for a truly wonderful Christmas movie set in 1982.

Here is the Bunnies version of It’s a Wonderful Life:

The Bunnies also did a version of The Christmas Story:


Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!

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

I’m taking some time off. I have no idea how much, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, view this commercial here:

Don’t bother with the angel, just watch the Hindu Santa and the Jews. It’s a funny little commercial that is trying to sell you cell phones, but it is so indicative of the holiday madness that is going on.

Whatever holidays you do or don’t celebrate, may you be joyful this season!

Writing for Starling Fitness

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

We have just started a blog that is about health and fitness. All my writing about exercise and eating healthy is threatening to take over Pick Me!, so we’re branching off Starling Fitness:

You can find all my thoughts about exercise, eating healthy and playing fitness video games there.

Wish me luck!


CES Press Pass

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 6:58 pm

CES Press Pass

My CES Press Pass came in the mail today. I’m smiling as I type this. This is my first piece of external validation. I want to kiss it.

I had no idea that so many companies would want to feed me because I’m a member of the press. Why couldn’t they have fed me when I was poor and starving?


New Year’s Resolutions 2005: Recap

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

These were my New Year’s Resolutions for 2005:
I will weigh 130 pounds.
I will have finished writing Looking for Christ.
I will have paid at least $2,500 a month to the IRS.

It seems like most people forget about their resolutions during the year and don’t remember they had anything to say about them until December 31st. Well, here we are. I remember vividly what I said I would do. How am I doing now?

I will weigh 130 pounds.

I don’t weigh 130 pounds. Last year at this time, I weighed 170 pounds and I wanted to be at goal by now. I’m not. I weigh 154 pounds right now. I’ve lost a total of 16 pounds over the year, which is good, considering that I would have gained that much and more if I hadn’t worked so hard this year. I didn’t make this resolution, but I am 16 pounds closer to it. I’m happy!

I will have finished writing Looking for Christ.

I haven’t even finished one more chapter on this book. When I did NanoWrimo in 2004, it really burned me out on fiction writing. LFC has sat dormant for over a year now. I have the rest of the book mapped out, but I haven’t wanted to write fiction for quite a while. It’s supposed to be fun, so I’m not going to worry about this until it’s fun again. NanoWrimo got a lot of writing out of me, but it burned me out. I’ll come back to this when I’m ready.

The main reason I started writing this book is because it was haunting me. It’s not haunting me as much as it did before. I’ll start writing again if it won’t leave me alone. Otherwise, I’m happy to leave it as it is.

I will have paid at least $2,500 a month to the IRS.

This is the one resolution that I succeeded on. We still owe a lot to the IRS. We are still working our butts off to pay them. We actually paid a lot more than $2.5K a month, so I’m very proud of us for our accomplishment this year. Yeah!

This year has been hard for us, but I’m glad that I’m here and happy. Hard work is good. Growing is good. Paying off debt is good. I want many more successful and happy years to come. Thanks to all you readers out there who give me notes of support. I appreciate each and every one of you. I hope you enjoy my writing next year.

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