Saturday, July 28, 2012

Glow-In-The-Dark Mountain Dew

Davina, my friend from high school, shared this photo on my friend Cate's wall on Facebook earlier today:

Having consumed a swimming pool or so of Mountain Dew over the course of my lifetime, I was immediately intrigued.

I was also immediately dismayed when I saw that the photo's originator (not Davina) decided to spell "voila" phonetically. I only realized that after I said the word out loud, because I could not, for the life of me, figure out what "walla" meant. Whoever you are, original poster, I do have to say there is a somewhat amusing je ne sais quoi to your naive gaffe, but at the same time it seems a bit declasse. I also have to say that that might be the bitchiest thing I've ever said in partial French, but your faux pas filled me with ennui, and I had no choice but to sneer.

Back to the soda, you hear a lot of urban legends about soft drinks. In a world where people will tell you in all seriousness that washing down Pop Rocks with Diet Coke will kill you, or that a tooth will fully dissolve if you leave it in a glass of Coke for three days, or that drinking too many sodas in a row will give you carbon dioxide poisoning, is it really so hard to believe that mixing together peroxide, baking soda, and Mountain Dew makes it glow? Especially when you know that mixing baking soda and vinegar makes a rather volcanic bubbling reaction?

I decided that the best thing to do would be to try it:

mountain dew glow experiment (1)

Since it was for science and I did pay $1.25 for it, I decided to drink 3/4 of the Mountain Dew rather than pour it down the drain. While I did have those rootbeer floats on the 4th of July, that soda was tempered by ice cream. This was the first plain old regular soda that I've had since New Year's Eve, and it was disgusting. It was all fizzy and felt harsh and burning in my mouth and gave me the hiccups, but I drank it for science.

Once I had the soda ready, I got some baking soda:

mountain dew glow experiment (2)

A spoonful of white powder! It's like Saturday night at Lindsay Lohan's house!

Anyway, I poured the baking soda in, and the Mountain Dew and baking soda mixture immediately started foaming:

mountain dew glow experiment (3)

Intrigued, I hurriedly measured out the peroxide, poured it into the bottle, put the cap on, and shook it while I ran to the bathroom to shut the door and turn out the lights.

While I was doing all of this, my friend Michael posted this link from, which claimed to prove that this wouldn't work. Are you sure about that,

mountain dew glow experiment (4)

Because my bottle certainly looks like it's glowing.

Especially since I set it down on top of that flashlight.

So, yeah, it doesn't work. But while I was in the bathroom, I spun around in front of the mirror and said, "Bloody Mary" three times, and she totally appeared in the glass and tried to murder me.

You know it's true, because I read it on Facebook.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ordinary Places

This is going to sound weird, but I was starting to think that this set of pictures from the pinhole camera was cursed.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about how I always try to make an effort to take the pinhole camera to interesting places where there are statues or interesting buildings or pretty flowers, and the pinhole does magical things and makes them look all dreamy and special, so I wondered what would happen if I just took the pinhole to random, ordinary places. Would those places look special? Would there be any value to those pictures? Or interest?

How much interest could I find with a pinhole camera in the Target parking lot?

pinhole target

About that much.

I followed through on my idea, spending a weekend with the pinhole camera riding around on my passenger seat while I did my regular weekend errands. Sometimes I saw a parking lot, pulled the car in, and took random shots of the street:

pinhole kingston pike (1)

pinhole kingston pike (2)

and sometimes I just took pictures of random things that I saw:

pinhole fire hydrant

I tried taking several through my windshield, with the camera braced on the steering wheel, while stopped at red lights, but this is the only one that came out clearly:

pinhole gay street

The others are all pretty blurry, which I think is because the car vibrates when it's running and the camera needs to be still.

While that Target picture is kind of bland, I think some of the others are kind of interesting:

pinhole s&s

pinhole mayo garden center

and I was excited to see how the experiment turned out, so as soon as the roll was done I stopped at Walgreen's to drop them off, and was confronted with a sign reading, "Photo Department is Out of Order".

What? For how long? I asked an employee, or, more correctly, I started to.

"I saw the sign on the photo department counter, and---"

"The photo department is out of order."

"The whole department, or just the machine that processes the photos?"

OK, yes, that was totally bitchy, but he did interrupt me, and I had just said that I saw the sign. Did he think I needed someone to read it to me? Based on his response, which was, "Uhhhhh...", I'm not sure he was thinking at all, actually.

The photo processing machine was repaired, days later, so I picked up my photos and CD Rom, eager to get home and post them to my flickr account.

And then when I got home my router was broken and I had no internet for over a week.

Cursed, I tell you. Getting these photos posted was one disaster after another, but that fire hydrant and the Mayo Garden Center photos were totally worth it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jello Molds

Yesterday Kristin, Elizabeth, and I went estate saling. Over the course of four hours, we managed to hit six estate sales, two antique marts, and IHOP, but we all came away somewhat empty handed because most of the good stuff had been picked over by the Friday shoppers.

I did pick up some vintage Jello molds, though, little aluminum ones that are about a half cup each. When I got home, I put them in the dishwasher and then fell into a sleepytime coma on the couch for a few hours, and then this morning I made Jello:

antique jello molds

Online, there were several tips on how to prep the molds to get Jello out of them without breaking when you unmolded it. I decided right away to skip running a knife around the inside edge of the mold, because those molds have fluted edges and I assumed that I would just slice the Jello to hell. I'm well aware of my own lacking knife skills.

Another tip said to spray the insides with cooking spray, tap out the extra, and then pour the Jello in. After it set, according the the internet, the Jello would "slide right out" when you inverted the mold and tapped it a little. This didn't happen. Or, more accurately, the spraying part happened, but it didn't work.

I tapped, and the Jello stayed put.

Given the failure of method number two and my lack of desire to try method number one, I opted to try the third method: Dipping the mold in hot water for "a few seconds" and then inverting it. When doing this, you have to be careful not to dip the mold in too far, or water will get into your Jello, but other than that, it seemed pretty easy, so I dipped:

warm water

and then inverted:

too warm

I dipped for too long, and my Jello got too hot and started melting. I ate the results, rinsed the plate, and tried again:

just right


From now on, all Jello in this household will be served in tiny molds.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fifty Shades of Godawful

I know I almost never write two entries in one day, but I just spent my day off plowing through Fifty Shades of Grey, mostly because I read at lunch on the days when I eat by myself and I don't want to have to make eye contact with anyone in the elevator on my way to lunch with this thing in my hand. It was bad enough getting a look from the girl at the register when I bought it.

I'm not going to bother with a scathing critique, because this book isn't meant for that kind of response and I doubt I can say anything about it that hasn't already been screamed across the internet. Instead, I'll share a few thoughts, and then a few lines.


1) Why is the tie on the cover slightly out of focus? It's been bothering me all day.

2) I will not be reading book 2 or book 3. I don't care what happens to these people. The author didn't do anything to make me care about them. Instead, they just veer irrationally from action to action. Only the supporting characters seem to behave like actual people would, and they fail to do so consistently.

3) The copyright on this is 2011, but I feel like it was written much earlier. There are definite oddities here, but I can't tell if they are due to this being an old manuscript or sloppy writing. The three that jump out are:

a) The narrator is graduating from college at the beginning of the book and engaged in a job search, but doesn't have her own computer or, even more oddly, her own email.

b) A MacBook is described as "new technology", but iPods are frequently mentioned. The narrator is given a Blackberry so that she can send email, but not an iPhone, even though she has an iPod and a MacBook.

c) The narrator's parents accompany her to her gate at the airport.

Those points seemed oddly anachronistic to me, but the fact that I noticed them instead of all the kinky, allegedly hot sex probably just means that I'm not the target market for this.

4) I've read some pretty smutty books before, so I wasn't particularly shocked by any of the pornier aspects. Glamorama was at least as graphic, and I did read that copy of Every Frat Boy Wants It that my friend sent me, so I wasn't especially surprised by anything I read. I'm much more surprised that this is listed on the back cover as a romance, because this is a book about a man who wants to own a woman coompletely, down to her thoughts, and a woman who wants to convince herself that he does it out of love. That's not romantic, to me, but it's possible that I'm just too vanilla for this.

Now that we've gotten my thoughts out of the way, here are the twelve lines in the book that jumped out at me:

Page 25: His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something.

"Or something"? Seriously? You're an author. Find an adjective, or cut that sentence off before the ellipsis. And on the topic of the ellipsis, why is there one on every page?

Page 36: My mouth goes dry looking at him... he's so freaking hot.

My brain went numb reading that... it's so freaking bad.

Page 73: "I'd like to bite that lip," he whispers darkly.

Nothing particularly bad. It just made me laugh out loud.

Page 95: "If there are only two choices, I'll take the debasement," I whisper, gazing at him.

This is romantic? Listening to a girl agree to debase herself to make a man love her makes me want to take her aside and ask her to think about her life choices.

Page 107: I shift uncomfortable, the word "ho" rattling around my head.

"Ho" is a word now?

Page 137: "Don't you have a gag reflex?" he asks, astonished.

I giggled.

Page 186: Oh my, some of this stuff is HOT.

So hot it's capitalized.

Page 191: I don't remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible.

Again, I giggled.

Page 206: Oh... shouty capitals!

This is written in response to an email. She doesn't have a Facebook page, her own computer, or her own email before her boyfriend buys her a newfangled MacBook, but somehow she knows that an email written in all capital letters means that someone is shouting.

Page 256 "Your ass will need training."

Romance. Right there.

Page 273: His voice is soft, menacing, and it's damned hot.

At least she didn't say it was freaking hot.

Page 367: The woman who brought me into this world was a crack whore, Anastasia.

What's sad is that this was supposed to be a major revalation and peice of character development, and it falls completely flat.

In closing, this is a real book. It was published, is on the bestseller lists, and has probably made the author a tidy pile of money. Thinking about that, I'd say it's time I wrote another novel.

The Freedom to Drink Soda

This is a root beer float:

root beer float

I have wanted one since February. Early February, to be exact, but I haven't been able to have one, because I gave up soda for New Year's, and up until now, I haven't broken that resolution.

But right now, I'm drinking one.

It's delicious.

The ice cream is half melted, so the burn of the carbonation is mellowed but still present. There's still an underlying zip of root beer flavor, and the whole thing is cold and creamy and delicious. It tastes like dessert, the kind of thing that springs to mind when you think "treat", and it's unique. Nothing else in the world, even candy flavored like root beer floats, actually is a root beer float, because it's a combination of taste, texture, and temperature, all at once.

Today will be the only day that I drink one, though. Tomorrow, I will go back to not drinking any soda, as I haven't been all year.

People make resolutions for lots of reasons. Sometimes you want to better yourself. Everyone aspires to something, to an idealized version of themselves, and sometimes a resolution is a small step that puts them on that path. Sometimes it's for health reasons, or to please a loved one. I have a few friends who have given up smoking over the years at the request of their children, which, I guess, combines both of those reasons. And sometimes you just give up soda because you realize that you're drinking a small fish tank of it a month and you think maybe that might be too much.

Has it been hard to avoid soda?

Yes, much more so than I thought it would be.

A surprising number of restaurants don't have any alternative on their menu besides sweet tea or water. I like water, and I drink it all day long at my desk out of my water bottle, but sometimes I also want something that has some flavor. Lemonade, maybe, or even Hawaiian Punch. I also had headaches for about two weeks from caffeine withdrawal, leaving me so sensitized to it that a grande iced white mocha (no whip) from Starbucks can keep me wide awake and jumpy for hours. Still, I have remained strong in my resolve, until today.

It's a resolution. It's supposed to be an improvement, not a punishment. It's a goal, not an ultimatum. I'm following it because I want to, because I thought it was a good thing, not out of misguided stubbornness and an unwillingness to "lose" by failing to keep it. I'm voluntarily breaking it just because I can. Doing so does not make me less of a person, and it doesn't mean that I'm a failure.

It means that I value limits, and that I see the need for rewards.

So today, more or less halfway through the year, I'm having a root beer float (or two, or maybe three). Tomorrow, I'm not drinking any soda.

But I might have another one at New Year's.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pictures of June

June has come and gone, and like the months before I have a small collection of photographs that didn't get posted in any other journal entries. In no particular order:

1) Kelly's Unhappy Birthday

Kristin and I were leaving McKay's when we noticed this in the grass at the edge of the parking lot:

cake in the grass (1)

"Is that a cake?"

"Stop for a second!"

"Why? Are you going to take a picture of it."


cake in the grass (2)

A search of the Ingles Bakery website suggests that there's a little over $15 worth of cake melting in the hot sun in that picture, which begs the obvious question: What did Kelly do? It must have been kind of horrible for whoever was bringing her cake to just pull over and dump it on the side of the parking lot. And why there? What could Kelly have done at McKay's to make someone carefully remove her cake from the car, set it on the lawn, and drive away?

We'll never know.

2) Bug on a Window

I saw a bug crawling on the outside of a window at work:

bug on the window

so I stuck my camera against the inside and took a picture. I think it's a lightning bug.

3) Come In For Prayer

Spotted on Chapman Highway:

God's Place Thrift Store

They have an awful lot of bars on the windows and doors for a place that wants me to trust in God.

And no, I did not go inside.

4) Ignite Summit Outtakes

I mentioned going to the Ignite Summit in the previous entry. I don't take a lot of pictures while I'm there, since I'm busy participating, but I did take a couple of pictures before I left that didn't make it into my entry.

One is my horsey notecards:

horse notes

We write notes to the team while we're there, but I also like to bring notes with inspirational quotes to welcome them. The theme this year is Rocky Top Roundup, but I couldn't find any western-themed notecards, so I bought some blank notecards and a horse stamp, and made those.

I also took a shot of my packed bags, pillow, sleeping bag, and cowboy hat, waiting for my morning pickup:


One backpack has my clothes, one has water bottles, books, candy, and other things I will need during summit, the hat is leftover from last year (and we discovered this year that if I sweat enough it dyes a black band on my forehead), and the pillowcase is orange because of school spirit.

I love my school and my job and all, but I do not sleep on orange sheets.