Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween! Pumpkin Carving

Hello and Happy Halloween!

Somehow, I got the job of Pumpkin Carver this year. David and Isabel went off to pick some out and I changed into yucky clothes and got the back yard picnic table prepped for the work.

Jacob carving "Oogie Boogie."

"Cheeeeese!" We finish our carve. But wait. There's a whole empty side of this pumpkin. What to do, what to do.

The final Nightmare Before Christmas carves and...


Wooo Hooo!

Friday, October 30, 2009

They're/There/Their Driving Me Loopy!

Me Again! Miss Grammar! Ready? Oooooh Kaaaayy!

They're / There / Their

They're = a contraction of "They are."
For example: They're going to the mall. They're a happy couple. They're in the house.

Whenever you can say "They are," you can use "They're."

There = a location. In or at that place or position.
For example: We are going there tomorrow. There once was a man from Nantucket. I put the keys right there! There should be a law against pants so low, you can see your underwear!

Their - Belonging to them.
For example: Their house is beautiful. Their son made the All-County Choir (wh00t! Go Jake). I think their objections are ridiculous.

Let me wrap it up for you. Ready?

Their daughter thinks they're crazy to go there after dark.

Thank you, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Higher Learning - Touring Full Sail University

My son is interested in music. Making it, playing it, singing it. A lot of the "making it" deals with computer programs and things out of my range of expertise. He discusses MIDI and all I hear is "Wha wha, wha wha, wha wha."

Kaaren says "Press Play!" Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

On his own, he contacted and set up a time for an afternoon tour of Full Sail University here in Orlando. We took one of the Sunday tours around their urban campus. We were first in a really large studio where the nation-wide syndicated The Daily Buzz morning show is broadcast live Monday through Friday. After an introductory "hello" from school representatives, we were split off into smaller groups, based on the letter combinations found on our name tags and shown the areas we'd most be interested in, based on the students' preferences.

Above you see a studio lot being built, for those interested in getting a Film or Show Production degree.

Here we are entering another building, which has a scrolling marquee, giving students information on upcoming activities, presenters, etc. I did not take a picture of the ginormous screen above it, which plays news info, music videos and bulletins. Very cool.

Jake's interest is in recording arts. We toured classrooms, recording booths, voice-over rooms, etc.

Mixing booth dude.

Working with sound on movies.

Jake here mixes all the various sound elements for the movie "Bolt."

We got a presentation in another large sound stage, where we met the president and saw a video of all the people who had gone through the school to get jobs in the entertainment field. We also got a free lunch and met with his advisor, who was very nice and zero-pressure, since Jake is only a sophomore in high school.

There are friends concerned for us regarding this school. I love you and appreciate your concern. This school is very expensive and compresses a 4 year degree into almost less than 2. They only recently (May 2009) became an accredited Florida University. They were previously more like a vo-tech school; a very expensive one. I have heard the concerns even before, years before, Jake showed an interest in this school.

Google Full Sail and you can see people discussing the pros and cons. I did. Jake has 3 more years of school and really, this is the first if many tours we'll take.

Here's the thing. College/University is what you make of it. There are no guarantees that you will get a job in your majored courses. None. Zip. Zilch. It is all up to you. Going to a better-known University does not give you one iota of a guarantee that you will be doing what you went to school for. Do you think the University of Florida promised me a job in my field when I graduated? I wish. I have a Bachelor's, as does David. Neither one of us is anywhere remotely near the fields we graduated in. My best friend with a Masters degree is not either. Several relatives with degrees are not doing what they went to college for.

The entertainment field is even CRAZIER. I do know this. Film majors, musicians, actors, set designers, game developers, they have it even tougher. I worry he's setting his goals too high. I'm his mom. I worry about his future and what he'll do. He'll cross that bridge, etc. and as long as he has not made any whackadoo choices, I will be there to help if needed.

So for now, I am excited about Full Sail. I am also excited about my U of F and other schools we'll visit in the coming years. Wish him luck!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Whedonverse Carves; Firefly

I was carving some stamps last night and thought I would post some oldies but Goodies. Here are some of my Whedonverse carves.

Inara, Take 1
Here's my first attempt at Inara. I didn't really like it, so I tried again.

Inara carve, take 2
I like this one a little better.

Here's my first attempt at Kaylee. I liked it but didn't think it looked like her.

Kaylee Carve, Take 2
I liked my second attempt much better.

My River Tam carve. I really like how this turned out.

I am also happy with Zoe.

If you're wondering what I mean by carving stamps, here's what they look like. I took rubber carving medium, transfered the image on to the rubber and carved away using tools like these:

carving set

Click on the Joss Mania tab to see more Whedon-based posts, including more carves I have done. Also check some out on Flickr.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

*Eye Twitch*

I will say it again:

Your = possession; belonging to.

Example: Your hair is nice. Your daughter is cute.

You're = a contraction of "You are."

Example: You're Awesome. (You are Awesome). You're getting a raise. (You are getting a raise).

It is NOT correct to type, 'YOUR AWESOME.'

For the love of English, get it right.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking Towards the Future

In a slightly surprising turn of 15-year old is planning. Planning for his future.

He is in the 10th grade. I've been telling him since the end of 8th grade that nowadays you cannot wait for junior or senior year. You have to start at the 9th grade level. When we went to Freshman orientation last year, they said the same exact thing. Start now. See what you need to do to get those scholarships (volunteering, after school activities, clubs, grade point averages, AP classes, etc.) and start doing them.

Ninth grade was not productive in these areas. I worried that I would have to take the reins, and honestly, I didn't want to. NO one did it for me, let me tell you. I had to figure it out on my own; how to apply to college (I only applied to one; the one I wanted to go to. LOL Silly, naiive me. Thank God I made it in. Go Gators), how to apply for Financial Aid (thank you High School Guidance Counselors who did it all and beyond. I had no clue I got so much aid until after 2 or 3 months at UF.) I didn't want to be the mom who did everything while the kid just coasts.

Then , something clicked. I don't know what. Next thing I know, he's in chorus. He's going to sing at Epcot. He's talking to the City Parks and Recs people because he wants to volunteer for the haunted house. He's getting Bright Future Scholarship to-do lists and volunteer hour forms.


Finally, he's contacted a University, on his own. Talking to admissions people, setting up guided tours, planning days for us.


Two years ahead of schedule and he's blowing my mind.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Camera Shenanigans

Friday evening, after Isabel went to bed, Jake and I played with my new Nikon. Or rather, Jake did. The kid knows more about aperture and shutter speed than I ever will. Here are a few shots of what we did with a 30-second shutter speed setting.

This is Jacob running all over the upstairs loft area, holding a small flashlight in the dark.

Hmmm. Wonder who this was.

Jake and his "monster in the closet."

Jake's bedroom. (OK, it's messy. He was actually washing his bedding at like 9 o'clock at night. Hey Brenda, see above the date there? That's his "little pillow." The one you made for him before he was born. He still has it. We call it the "iddow piwwoh" because that's how he would pronounce it as a baby.)

Drat, I hit the "right justified" button. Oh well. Here is a picture of Jacob running from guest room to guest room off the loft.

Our favorite shot. The Piano in the formal living room.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Having a crappy week.

In absolutely no mood to blog. My brain is not functioning.

In the meantime, go to my cake blog to see the Oven Cake.

Hopefully, I'll feel more up to it next week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Panama Canal Night Visit

For SHAME!! I'm not done with the Panama posts. How could I be? I could I forget the Panama Canal??

After our visit to Casco Viejo, I went to work the show from 1-9 p.m. David grabbed a cab from the hotel around 6 p.m. and came to show, where he had dinner with me at one of the show's food dealers, and walked around *coughstaringatboothbabescough.*

During the evening, one of our customers who was helping us with the show learned that David and I would be flying out the next day back home and that we had not been able to visit the Panama Canal, so after the show he drove David, another co-worker and me to the Canal.

(Ignore the camera date. It was the 20th. The camera was set to the 19th in error.)

Here we are arriving at Miraflores Lock. There is a restaurant here open until late. We went in just for drinks. Beer for the gents, coffee for me.

The history of the Canal is amazing. Our tour guide (customer of my company) knew so much history. It was so impressive to hear him discuss whatever topic my husband David or my co-worker threw his way. I wish we were as versed in our American history as he was in his Panamanian history.

(image from

A large vessel waits for the lock to drain down so it can pass onto the next level.

A view of the lock, with high water on one side, low water on the other.

Here we saw a tugboat pull up. They won't open the canal for just one boat, so this one had to wait for three or 4 more boats to arrive in order for the lock to be drained down. Notice the other side that held the rather large vessel has been drained low and the vessel moved on.

It was a great experience to see, even at night, and we were grateful to our customer for taking us here before we left on Sunday.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Casco Viejo, or Old Panama # 2

Our last Panama Post. :( Saturday the 20th, David and I took a cab down to Casco Viejo, for $3.

Casco Viejo is the place the moved to after pirates destroyed its original location.

It reminded me a lot of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, except that a lot of it was really run down and abandoned, whereas Old San Juan really does good with the upkeep of the old buildings and monuments.

There is a main square is in front of this church where vendors sell their wares.

We walked down side streets, along a walking tour that was in our guide. We screamed "Tourist."

Underneath this covered floral walkway were dungeons used to keep prisoners.

The view of the current Panama City from Casco Viejo.

A local told us that these little peaks in the foreground are a German submarine run aground. We really couldn't know if that was true or not. He was probably hosing us anyway. :)

After our walking tour, we stopped in a little bodega hidden in one of the narrow streets for some bottled water. We hailed a cab back to the hotel for a quick lunch before my 1 p.m. - 9 p.m. stint at the trade show.

The following day, Sunday, we flew back to Miami, where we alternately laughed and grumbled at the customs route we had to take. We got off the plane, walked a very long way to collect our luggage, turned in our customs claims forms, walked a very long way to give our luggage back to the airport employees, walked a loooong way board the same exact airplane we had just left. *sigh* It took so long, the 45 minute layover was eaten up and they were already boarding our flight to Orlando, so we didn't have time to grab a meal.

I was a bit trepidacious leaving the country. Although I am usually an optimist, I am a traveling pessimist. I am so glad this entire 'work-cation' went so well. I was also so blessed to be able to bring David along and to have a cool mother-in-law who drove down to stay with the kids for a week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Target Doing Their Part

You all know I use canvas shopping bags wherever I shop; the grocery store, Michael's, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. At the cake decorating supply store, a mom & pop shop, the owner thanks me for bringing them in, saving them the cost of their plastic bags. The canvas bags are always in the back of the Jeep.

Today I was at Target getting random snacks for myself to keep at the office. As I unloaded my items onto the conveyor belt, I told the girl at the register "I have my own bags" and handed them to her. She replied "Cool, I love these."

We discussed how much can fit into them and then she told me the new thing Target was doing. For every one of my own bags that they use for bagging my purchases, they will deduct 5 cents from my bill.

How cool is that?

Five cents in the grand scheme of things is not much. What I like is that Target is rewarding people for using canvas bags, and saving themselves from having to purchase those plastic bags too. I figure one canvas bag is equal to at least two plastic ones, so they are saving money on their plastic bag purchases.

There it was, on my receipt; 5 cents off.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Booth Babes in Panama

Ahhh, booth babes. Ok, Ok. Booth Models. Trade shows all around the world hire booth "models" to stand in their booth and attract more customers to stop by. I'm not sure how this help sales if people are just stopping by to ogle, but there you have it. A lot of them in Panama padded their butts. It's TRUE! Latin men like their ladies with ample behinds, and so they wear shiny unitards with butt padding!

A few weeks before my trip for the trade show, a female officer of the company called to speak with me. I was out to lunch, so she left a message with my boss, saying she would call back and she wanted to discuss S. American trade shows and women. I immediately knew what the concern was; that I might be treated like a Booth Babe rather than a knowledgeable member of the team with 14 years experience under my belt. She flatters me too much. I, for one, was not in the least bit worried.

Let's see why, shall we?

Booth Babes (they were really nice.)


Booth Babes (the one on the right was really snooty).


Booth Babe (We all decided she was the nicest and prettiest, as she was pretty much all real).


Are we clear?

No problem at all in the booth. Everyone who stopped by treated me with respect and courtesy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Xenocide, Lost and Keeping Faith

I'm so behind in my book reviews, I'm throwing 3 of them in one post.

"Xenocide" by Orson Scott Card is the third book in the 'Ender' series.

This book was better for me than book two. The dealings of all these species, religions, worlds, was fascinating. I especially liked his portrayal of the planet Path, where the most intelligent are called godspoken. The gods speak through them, through OCD tendencies. Fascinating stuff, how the government twists things and makes things seem what they are not. The book leaves you wondering what the heck Ender was thinking ("outside" Peter & Valentine) and wondering what comes next in book 4.

"Lost" was next, by Gregory Maguire (the author of "Wicked," "Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister," "Mirror Mirror," "Son of a Witch," etc.)

Following the life of an author gone to London, Winifred Rudge, we see her there trying to get inspiration to write a novel about a woman haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. What we don't understand, what we find later, is that the narrative in her head moves from the fictional book, to reveal things in her past that have made her the haunted woman she is today. While there, she tries to find a missing male cousin, deals with the haunting of this cousin's home and a secret shroud found in the walls of his apartment. With really annoying characterizations of Londoners, I found it hard to be sympathetic to this character at all, until then end, where her back story, having been revealed piecemeal, explains a bit more about why she is the way she is.

Finally, we have "Keeping Faith" by Jodi Picoult. I have decided that, for me, Ms. Picoult is not my cup of tea. I know, blasphemy. There are so so many Picoult fans out there, they can't be wrong. I, though, do not like her writing. Her main character in this book was so over-the-top obsessive in the beginning, that I could not see anything else. I get flawed characters, we all are. I just am tired of all of the characters in her books being in these crazy situations and dire straights. I need happy and don't think her books are for me. the 4 I have read have all been hard to trudge through for me, and I think I'll quit reading her while I am ahead.

Keeping Faith Pictures, Images and Photos

"Keeping Faith" is about a mother's struggle with the fact that her child, her Jewish child, seems to believe that Jesus is talking to her. Suddenly, the word gets out that this child has performed a miracle, and their lives are thrown upside down. This OCD lady, Mariah, with her perfection that once drove her to a suicide attempt and that drove away her husband, now has to deal with people of all religions camped in her yard. Priests, Rabbis, network tv, a sleazy talk show host who wants to discredit Faith, all clamoring to talk to Faith, who has inexplicably raised her grandmother from the dead, an hour dead of a heart attack, with a kiss, and possible cured an AIDS child from his disease. Mariah then has to deal with her ex wanting custody of Faith because of the craziness surrounding their lives. I will say, the ending was a little sad, only for Faithand what she loses when everyone else seems to gain happiness.