if a girl has a man cave, what do you call it?

The bad news? Goodwill doesn’t take computer monitors to recycle (in most of Minnesota)

The good news? Best Buy does.

The bad news? It costs $10.

The good news? They give you a $10 gift card.

The bad news? It’s a Best Buy gift card.

The good news? I no longer have a 40lb 19″ CRT monitor sitting in the middle of my office. It has been replaced by a USB hub.

That, plus the 3 garbage bags full of junk (not to mention the boxes of Goodwill-ables) that also got hauled out this weekend means that my Nerd Cave is starting to feel quite a bit more spacious.

thank god its back

The gmail outtage is making me twitchy (it’s amazing and sad how much this article explains about me, and everyone else I guess), so I figured it’s time to post.

Since we last spoke:

  • the gloves of pain took 2nd place in their category — I’m going to go check out what won first place tomorrow.
  • the ash tree in my backyard decided to do this:Bad tree!

which, really, is unacceptable.  So $600 later, my backyard is minus one tree, but plus a giant pile of logs and a big old stump.  I celebrated this with an impromptu bonfire and Picasso, Chele, Marshall & I had a good time chatting, drinking tequila, and working on cutting down on the size of my wood pile.  [Insert Settlers of Catan joke related to trading for wood here].

Looking ahead:

Camping with the usual suspects over Labour Day is officially a tradition now or something.  It obviously won’t be the same without Nerds 2 and 3 turning our camp fire into a foundry, but I might whittle something in their honour.

Willis reminding me that Surlyfest tickets just went on sale also reminded me that the Autumn Brew Review is coming up September 12th, and forward-looking me bought tickets before they sold out within minutes.  Pedal Pub! And over 200 beers to sample.  I’ve completely lost all desire to brew lately — hopefully this will snap me out of that.

I’ve started in earnest to plan for what Nerd 2 and I will do on our Autumn Vacation.  It’s funny how frustrating it is to buy plane tickets when your criteria are: get the best possible price, for a round-trip flight to “Europe”, leaving sometime the 2nd week of November, returning before Thanksgiving.  I’ve eliminated the idea of flying into London though, which is making things look cheaper and less complicated.

Speaking of Thanksgiving! There may perhaps be plans afoot, so if you’re in the area, keep October 11th free.

bonjour, au revoir!

Sometimes, I don’t post for a while because there isn’t all that much going on.

Sometimes, I don’t post because there is too much going on an I don’t have time to digest it all.

The past week or so has been the latter — items of note:

  • Hot on the heels of my concern over the emerald ash borer making a push into Minnesota, my ash tree decided to drop a large portion of itself on the neighbour’s garage.
  • I took Beauty out on the freeway for the first time — note to self: consider wind speeds when looking at the weather forecast to decide if you want to ride or not.
  • The Draft Party — I used a great many words in the lead up to this event. I don’t think I have any left that can suitably describe it.
  • Camping! Sadly, I had to leave after only one night, but I called in a substitution in the form of Nerd 2’s somewhat over-caffeinated brother, so I’m sure the awesome is continuing in my absence.

Right now, I’m waiting out the last 20 minutes or so before I head to the airport to see my sister’s graduation.  Hopefully, Quebec won’t be too angry at me for all those franco jokes that I made in french class.

apropos of nothing

How have I never heard about the Department of Health and Human Services’ Household Products Database before?

This is going to make my household chemistry experiments this summer so much easier.

Also unrelated: I plan on going to a MN Home Brewer’s Association meeting this Saturday. This is going to involve meeting lots of strangers… what do you think the chances are that I’ll actually go through with it?


The awkwardly named, Cost Plus World Market is going out of business.

This is somewhat sad to me, because I always thought that it was pretty neat for a chain store.  Its selection was reasonably interesting (if somewhat static), and I could even find proper (albeit stale and overpriced) Smarties there if I was really jonesing.  It’s also never let me down for Awesome Christmas (an amusing little tradition where one must get a large number of people presents that perfectly suit them, for under $3).

Besides the various strange foodstuffs, stupid toy things, and papasan chairs, Cost Plus also had the distinction of being home to the one piece of furniture that I’ve ever really coveted — the Spruce Bar.

Basically, it’s a wine-rack/bar thing, with extra storage on the doors, and leaves that fold out to double the width when you find yourself needing a larger surface area for your mixology.  It’s constructed out of a mahgony stained hardwood, and manages to have both arts & crafts and asian influences.  It’s the perfect thing for my dining room, and has been since I bought the house.  It also was $550, which, while probably a perfectly reasonable price for what it is, I just could never really justify paying.

So instead, I would console myself by just visiting the Spruce Bar.  Stopping by to look at it whenever I happened
to be in the store (or even near the store), hoping that the price would change for the better, but it was stubbornly firm.  I’d mentioned to Nerd 2 more than once how much I liked it, and even dragged him around an entire HOM Furniture looking for something similar but to no avail.  Once, I found a $100 off coupon for worldmarket.com, and I almost pulled the trigger (it was the $50 shipping cost that killed that deal).

In truth, it’s been a while since I’ve truly pined for the Spruce Bar.  I think the stress of buying new living room furniture  (and a fridge) may have stifled my desire to reappoint the dining room somewhat, and the $50 wireframe wine-rack that I’d picked up at Costco seemed to be doing the job well enough (despite the fact that its open design has a nasty habit of light-striking any actual wine stored in it).  So, when I’d heard that Cost Plus was going under, like I said, I was sad, but I didn’t really realize the true import of the event.  The Spruce Bar is a Cost Plus exclusive — I wouldn’t even be able to visit it anymore.

Luckily, Nerd 2 is a little better at putting 2 and 2 together than I am.  And, given that:

  • he was instructed that a  Valentine’s Day present was expected this year (I generally am pretty against celebrating v-day, especially with gifts because I believe that true love is shown every day of the year, via actions, not things*.  But given that said actions are going to be a little more difficult for about 12 months starting this Feb, I decided to make an exception).
  • he was not given any hints about what I had in mind for him to get me (because its fun to watch nerds squirm)
  • if I had missed my chance to get the stupid thing, he’d have to hear about it for years.
  • the impending closure implied CLEARANCE PRICES

His path of action was pretty clear.  So, numerous phone calls, trips to Roseville, Maple Grove, and Minne-frickin-tonka, and many, many, allen wrenched screws in awkward places later,  I came home last night to find my long lost (lumber-based) soulmate, standing smack dab in the middle of the living room.  From what I understand, it may have been the last of the things in the Twin Cities (even the website doesn’t have it, though there is a picture of it as the icon for “Bars and Wineracks” on the furniture page), hence the trip to the scary land out east.   So, if you want a Bar-ry (Not Barry, more like  Chairy, but  a bar) of your own… too bad suckers!
*fact: this may be the lamest thing that has ever been written on this here blog-thingy.  I promise not to let it happen again.

in which our heroine can finally abide

The cats in my houses generally do those things that one would expect of such creatures. They are cute on occasion, neurotic most of the time, and manage somehow to be both needy and aloof at any given moment. Except in the mornings, when they are only needy.

Generally, Nerd 2 is up first and can take care of the feeding duties before the cats take to divebombing my face in an attempt to wake me up. The trouble, however, occurs when Nerd 2 gets to sleep in for some cruel reason, or is gone for a long period of time, and the pestering falls to me. I’m pretty stubborn about my last hour or so of sleep, and the cats know that they need to step up their game beyond a few gentle meows or paw taps to the shoulder. Mornings when I’m in charge generally consist of, at minimum, a lot of swearing, an item or several knocked off the dresser, and the occasional scratch-induced battle scar.

Things came to a head mid-last week in an incident that I won’t bore you with the details of, that ended in me returning my nightstand to an upright position whilst praying that my glasses made a safe landing and muttering about aggressions that will not stand…man.

So, Nerd 2 comes back, and I tell him the story, and he tells his aunt, who utters one of the wisest sayings that I’ve heard in my life: “Oh, you never feed cats in the morning!”


I was skeptical of course, the cats have done a pretty good job of training us to fill their dishes every morning, and I couldn’t see that stopping just because they were filled a mere 8 hours before. But ‘lo and behold, the last 5 mornings have dawned to an uneasy truce. No howling, no biting, no cat tongue on my fricking forehead. This, my friends, is change that I can believe in.

caption competition


maybe the nerds are finally wearing me down

But this picture is kind of hot. In a guns-that-look-cool-but-couldn’t-actually-hurt-anyone sort of way.

Another thing that’s caught my eye of late? The Compact. Basically, a bunch of hippies in San Francisco decided not to buy anything new for a year. They set a few exceptions for themselves (food/drink/meds/undies, etc), started a blog and a Yahoo group, and set out on their course for eventual world domination. They are getting some press of late, which is freaking people out (zOMG UR going to cawz teh receshuns!), but also getting people thinking.

Some friends in a community on another site that I frequent don’t think it would be possible. I say, why shouldn’t it be? After all, used is OK – which leaves half-priced books, cd warehouse and cheapo for any media needs that can’t be met by the library or interwebs, goodwill et. al for clothing and various sundries. eBay and craigslist for the big stuff. Food and booze are allowed, and no one’s asking you to wear hand-me-down panties. I’m not sure I can get behind the earthy, save the planet goals of the original cultgroup, but I can definitely support the idea that, in general, people do no need so much new stuff.

So, I think I’ll try it. Not for a full year of course (mainly because I have the attention span of a ritalin starved 12yo boy), but I think a month is beyond doable. Especially a short month (even if it is 3.571% longer this year than it typically is). So, this February, I pledge to do my best to not buy anything new (except for food, drink, necessary meds, cleaning products, show tickets, and anything else that it would be gross to use a “used” instance of*). I might want to put some more thought into the rules and massage them a tiny bit before the end of January (see lazy, cheating, weaselly footnote below for an example), but that’s the general spirit of it. Who’s with me?

*and also maybe DDR Hottest Party for the Wii, if I happen to run into a copy of it in the flesh.


Those of you who don’t frequent the unfortunate expanse that is the bar district along First Avenue in Minneapolis, may not know about Bellanotte. From what I can tell, it’s your typical enforced dress code, skanky ladies skip the line, $10 martinis type of place at night, and apparently they serve food too. I, personally, haven’t been, but I can infer from the crowd I see outside (and from the coworkers I know who go there), so you can consider me an authority.

Those of you who don’t live in Blaine, and have never been paid to drink there, may not know about Bella, the somewhat more, shall we say, suburban, cousin of the original. And when I say suburban, what I might actually mean to say is that it’s in a strip mall. It’s an endcap, yes, but it’s still next door to Von Hanson’s Meats, and one door over I believe is Mansetti’s Pizza and Pasta (with lunch buffet).

Myself, resigned to my suburban home life as I am, have always actually liked that strip mall. Kitchen Party always features lots of cooking gadget porn for me to ogle, and Mei Wei has some pretty damn good strip mall szechuan chicken for the price (not to mention the military discount at Tournament Liquor). But a year or so ago, I found my simple life upset by an ominously glowing object that could have been a UFO, but appeared to have landed (seriously, the thing is lit up like a christmas tree, and the lights change colour in rhythmic sequence)… It seems that the yuppitastic Club West development with its DINKs and townhouses and Lexii had attracted some attention. Bella had landed. And it had valet parking.
Sure, it represented an offshoot of everything I hated when I lived downtown, and the sheer pretentiousness of valet parking in a strip mall defies belief. But hey, they were promising fancy food and silly drinks within walking distance. So I gave it a chance. And then I gave it another. After the third time, I realized that I’d actually rather eat at the Chili’s across the street — at least the crap was cheaper there (and the drinks are cheaper at the Blaine VFW).

So, I ignored Bella. Sure, it was silly, and misplaced and overpriced but not worth a mention here (except for maybe the fact that someone there knows how to buy gin). Until yesterday, when I drove by a new sign that the management had put up. A sign that inspired the poetry of yesterday (sorry). A sign that transcends explanation. But I must try.

You know those really cheap temporary signs? The ones with a black background and multi-coloured neon letters (with all different type sizes) — like these, but with brighter letters?. So, imagine the kind of skanky-fancy restaurant that I’m sure you now think of when you hear Bella or Bellanotte. Now, imagine the sign, advertising for that restaurant; making sure that everyone in the neighbourhood knows, that Monday is “Family Night”. And Tuesday? All you can eat pasta. For just $12.99.

Welcome to the neighbourhood boys. I’m glad you’ve finally decided to try to fit in.