Sunday, March 30, 2008

Way to "fight terrorism," morons!!

No, this post won't be as polemical or even as political as it sounds. I think we'll all agree that Colombians have done a bad thing: Colombian troops kill farmers, pass off bodies as rebels'.

The Colombian Army: Keeping the World Safe From Agriculture.

And there's your Colombian news nugget of the day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life is good.

My goodness gracious, gentle readers, my mind is blown by our brand new (refurbished) iMac! Of course, I'd gotten accustomed to the PC and was really utilizing it to its fullest by the time I wanted to hack it to bits with my little hatchet, so this wildly different thing may take some getting used to. The thing I miss most was that Chris and I were able to have separate accounts--I can't figure out if that's even possible on this thing. I sure hope so, and I may be harassing Apple employees until I get a definitive answer. Everything else, I'm sure, will come with time.

It has a larger screen than our television (we considered ditching the TV, then remembered we might be able to get the Game Cube hooked up to it--me need Zelda). Even funner (yeah, yeah, not a real word) is a tiny remote that allows me to sit on the bed and control my CDs without putting out a single ounce of effort. But I miss my RSS feeds something fierce, and the hugeness and brightness of the screen (don't tell me to adjust the brightness--I'm not dumb and I already have it as dark as it can be) is making me tired. But it isn't buzzing and doesn't go to blue screen every other day. It's already winning!

I said after the last computer (a refurbished Dell) that I'd never get a refurbished computer again. I have faith in this computer, but if it requires a new hard drive ... then a new motherboard ... then a new monitor (which would be a major problem, as the CPU is in the monitor) ... I'll live out the rest of my days as a computer-free hermit. I weep at the prospect. Don't fail me, iMac.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

... to all the Protestants and Catholics out there. We still have a ways to go, but at least this year the Orthodox will get cheap deals on Easter candy!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Today in Colombia news

Things continue to be slow on the adoption front, but the FARC front is heating up nicely. I get Washington Post news emails every day with South America news set to top my list, and usually if there's any news out of South America it's out of Colombia. Here's today's rather heartening news story: Colombia's Rebels Face Possibility of Implosion.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gardening success!

Last year, when it came time to order my herbs, I was enticed by Cuban oregano. Cuban oregano, unlike "regular" oregano, is a succulent (for the gardening-mystified, that means it has big, fat, juicy leaves instead of the regular thin, "dry" leaves you see on most plants). So I ordered one. Alas, they were out, so I ended up with Italian oregano.

I hate Italian oregano. It never softens for me when I cook it, and the flavor isn't enticing enough for me to fight through that. And of course, it's like a weed and JUST WON'T DIE. It's the bermuda grass of herbs. Not only that, but it's predatorial: It's in a container, yet it's made moves on nearby containers in attempts to kill the other plant and move into its space. It's the bermuda grass and the Nazi Germany of herbs!!

So woe is me. But today we went into Dallas for a little plant shopping (anywhere but Lowes!) and found a place next to Dallas Farmers' Market that was selling veggie plants and herbs.

And then I spied it.

In all it's magnificent, beautiful, revoluntionary glory, there sat Cuban oregano.

Comrades, I bought two plants. And tomorrow I'm making Cuban black beans (oregano sauteed with onion in olive oil and added to black beans--super easy). I think my whole year was made today.

Vive el oregano Cubano! Buenos noches, gentle readers.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New stuff

Crowds and IKEA go hand-in-hand on Saturdays, so we went yesterday morning to get some stuff we needed. We wanted a little work table for the boys and a little bookcase/icon stand for their own teensy icon corner. That much we knew was necessary. The other thing was one part inevitable, one part cave-in--we're the proud owners of a new couch.

I love our current couch--it's a beautiful antique that was clearly reupholstered in the 70s in some hideously distasteful, velvet-like stuff. It's a rather petite couch, only slightly larger than a loveseat, and its main mission is to cause you to seek greater comfort on the floor. There was talk of reupholstering it since our wedding. Never happened. It works well for the two of us, but hardly enough for four and our gatos. I probably could've talked myself out of getting a new one again in time, but when IKEA time rolled around I was ready and willing to get a new one.

So we did. It's brown, squishy, and huge. And we got a bookcase and a table for the boys, although its tininess is in question (the leg/table top combo I had in mind turned out to be much larger than it looked in the catalog). We also got a pop-up tent that looks like an igloo, which proved to be our only impulse buy.

This picture is of the cats, but it really highlights the loveliness of the upholstery.
I have no clue what we'll do with the current couch. I sure hate to part with it, but such is the way of the couch, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pretty quiet, huh?

It's Clean Week, so my time on the computer is strictly utilitarian. Basically I don't want to turn on the computer Saturday and find 2000 emails. But if the Loquacious Loquat is relatively blog-free this week, count your blessings and know I'll start up again sooner or later.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Good news!

Latin American Crisis Resolved.

That is all.

Three-headed monster

Normally I'm a literary-minded gal--I probably could've done this with a picture of Cerberus--but right now I'm a Zelda-minded gal. Anyway, I can guarantee this is a lot funnier with Twilit Parasite Diababa than it would be with some dumb, three-headed Greek dog.


Think of all I could've gotten done on the adoption paperwork while I was making this. No matter--I'll turn to this ridiculous picture when I'm on the verge of being carted away from stress-induced insanity.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The update you've all been waiting for ...

There are lots of ways to waste money. You could flush it down the toilet. You could set it on fire. You could use it as mulch in your garden. You could lend it to a teenager. You could buy Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. All five are colossal misuses of your hard-earned cash. But Twilight Princess is the most insidious because it promises fun then delivers impossible tasks, wasted time, and shattered marriages.

Twilight Princess caught my eye for two reasons. First, it looks awesome. Take a gander at Princess Zelda herself up there and tell me this game doesn't look cool. The second was the rating. Every other recent Zelda game has a rating of E (meaning everyone, from children to people in their mid-twenties with better things to do), but Twilight Princess had a T (for teen) rating. Really, it doesn't seem much more violent than Wind Waker (the other Zelda game we have) when you get right down to it. But for part of the game, Link gets turned into a wolf, and that produces some unexpectedly disturbing material. Not more violent, but definitely disturbing.

None of this is the problem. It's actually quite fun! The game does take itself very seriously (because it's pretty--it's hard to be silly when your characters look so darn good), but it has that epic quality that Wind Waker never quite reaches--remember, main quest alone takes 60+ hours. No, the problem is something we got stuck on. Stuck, stuck, stuck. With a side order of stuck. You're supposed to escort a wagon through a field at night while being chased by monsters on boars who are shooting fire arrows at both you and the wagon, plus there are birds dropping bombs on the road that you have to get out of the way or else the wagon loops back and you have to start the whole thing over again. There are two ways to get a game over: 1) the usual way--you die, or 2) the wagon burns up. The second one is far more likely to happen.

The following is a transcript of our initial reactions to this task.

Chris: This is the hardest thing I've ever done.
Me: (pause) I'm waiting for you to add, "in a video game."
Chris: (longer pause) This is the hardest thing I've ever done.

I took no creative licence in that. That's exactly how the conversation went.

I couldn't be in the room when Chris would attempt to do this part. I sometimes scream bloody murder while watching video games being played. This was proving harmful to Chris's fragile psyche, weakened by continued lack of success. And frankly, it made me tense too. I strongly suspect that shooting arrows while riding a horse is easier in real life than it is in this game. I've become a fan of walkthroughs since we got the Game Cube (I'm a cheater, yes indeedy), but every one of them I read suggested the same thing: This is straightforward, there are no special tricks to make this easier. *stream of expletives* Yet consult the walkthroughs I did, and I made two interesting discoveries in the process: 1) You fight Zelda in the game (cool), and 2) when Chris was making another attempt, I could say anything I want and he'd have no clue. Another transcript:

[While playing]
Me: Hey, did you know you fight Zelda in this game?
Chris: (silence)

[One day later]
Me: Hey, did you know you fight Zelda in Twilight Princess?
Chris (incredulous): You do?!

Again, no creative licence. Not to throw my husband under the bus--after all, look who's not making any attempts at it ...

I ended up deleting that game because I discovered we'd screwed up something else completely unrelated (thank you, walkthroughs) and started over. The Game Cube is sojourning in the closet for Lent, and it's highly unlikely that I'll get back to that point before Monday ... but if anyone wants to come over after Pascha and tackle that stupid field for us, you're certainly welcome to. If not, I may be seeing what kind of resale value this game has.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What gives with South America?

Yes, we're back alive and well from our Big Baseball Weekend. Fortunately it wasn't 100% baseball, and tomorrow I'll do a post about how I've really gone off the deep end with shopping.

You know, Colombia is actually more "together" than you think. Just the word "Colombia" seems to conjure up images of drug trade and any baggage that goes with that. Did you know Colombia's biggest export is roses? What's more benign than that? They also export a lot of emeralds (which is admittedly a pretty bloody business). And perhaps you hadn't noticed, but America seems to have its own thriving drug trade without having to rely on exports (and is cocaine really that trendy anymore?). Although I'm very grateful we won't have to venture out of Bogota, I'll gladly defend Colombia as being less wheels-off than we've come to believe ... and definitely less wheels-off than its neighbor Venezuela.

Usually the BBC is my source for Colombia news, but the latest news about FARC has managed to register here in America. That's probably because it involves Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, America's dictator du jour after Fidel Castro grew old and ineffective. Here are the facts in a nutshell: FARC releases some hostages (and they have many); Colombia invades Ecuador and kills a senior FARC leader; Ecuador gets angry over the invasions, recalls the ambassador from Colombia, and kicks the Colombian ambassador out; Venezuela, not to be out-done, follows Ecuador's lead. It should be noted that Venezuela has given $300 million to FARC--I bet Colombia thinks it's real keen that its neighbors have been funding a revolution in their country.

This great definition of FARC comes from this BBC article. I invite you to sit back and play "Find the Problem": "Farc - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - has been fighting for more than four decades with the declared aim of a fairer wealth distribution in Colombia. They fund themselves largely through the cocaine trade, analysts say, while holding hundreds of kidnapped hostages for ransom and political ends." Nothing says "fair distribution of wealth" like cocaine and hostages!

I have no inkling of an idea how this will affect our adoption. Incidents like this usually turn out to be the diplomatic equivalent of a staring contest, but invading another country is very rarely brushed off. Time will tell if this will lead to military conflict or name-calling and finger-pointing. Naturally, I'm hoping for the latter. But in the meantime, the State Department has issued no new travel warnings for Colombia and says that kidnappings/murders have dropped substantially in the major cities. Let's all hope nothing comes of this except a safer Colombia.