Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This could be why I've been baking like crazy

Seasonal depression has come early this year. I think it's especially nasty since it didn't visit last year. So if you've wondered where I've been lately, I'm just waiting it out and trying to function.


Friday, August 17, 2012

No place is safe!

The dreaded spider season is coming soon and I have been anxiously terrified about it for the last 6 months (it's THAT scary!). Last year, it was within the first weeks of September so I am absolutely dreading the end of this month that is approaching much too quickly. For those of you who weren't with me last year, just go to the archives, look up Sept. and you can read my massive freak out over the monstrously huge spiders we encountered last year. Apparently they come inside for their mating season, but I can hardly think of them without panicking.

Back in Washington State, where I had lived until I was 25, we had some decent sized spiders, but I never expected the biggest spiders I had ever seen in the 'wild' to be in Ireland! The things were the size of my palms and nasty beyond all reason! As a bit of a pre-monster spider invasion, little spindly daddy long leg spiders start their mini-invasion. We had one in every corner of our ceiling for a couple of weeks, as I left them there hoping that it would keep any bigger ones from moving in. They aren't like the daddy long legs I am used to, the type with one round shape for a body and then legs sticking straight out, but rather have a very tiny defined head and abdomen and then bendy, spindly legs.  For the most part, I have tried to be ok with them, knowing that their mutant cousins which are due to visit, are much worse and enough to make me cry at the thought of one in my room again.

So at this time in the year, we are in the midst of this tiny mini-invasion and I'm managing as I wait for the imminent doom of giant terrors to arrive. Bear in mind that my fear of spiders is so bad that I can't even look at a photo of a spider. I have violently shoved laptops away from me and made Branden close internet pages where there have been spider images. This is something that drives me nuts when looking up home recipes for spider repellents as the idiots who make these sites, think it's ok to use photos of spiders despite the fact that the people most likely to look up these recipes are probably terrified of spiders in the first place! Anyway, this morning I woke up to find a spindly spider had created a web and suspended himself in the middle of my bra cup...I didn't realized they were animal habitats! Good grief! Surprisingly I didn't even freak out over the spider, I just sort of laughed in shock and then had Branden kill it.

As the month of September approaches, please send out anti spider prayers for me. I about had a breakdown last year, and with reports of these spiders getting considerably bigger each year, the sheer size increase may just kill me from shock!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Spammers Crack Me Up!

My blogging has been limited lately due to me being up to my eyeballs in stuff going on...and considering that I'm only 5'2", it doesn't take much to reach my eyeballs! With too much to try and attempt to update (no, still not pregnant and still not planning on it for years and years to come), I will just give you what you came here for, a laugh!

Since I am wildly popular, or maybe it's just because I'm weird, I have attracted some spam comments over time. The thing about my spam comments, is that they are too funny to find annoying and delete forever. This does mean that I have a load of floating comments in my spam folder, but they bring me great joy as I read how ironic they are on certain posts and how ridiculously obvious it is that they are spam, despite them trying to pull the old "act normal and maybe she'll fall for it and post it on her hugely popular blog so we can get millions of hits and retire early" scheme.

Take this comment for example:

"Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There's a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers Here is my web-site :wellington boots sale"

Ha! Your shameless flattery doesn't fool this girl! If you actually had a personal site that was "wellington boots sale" then you really need to go out and get yourself a nickname or hobby. Plus, I already own a pair of wellington boots, thank you very much!

There are other ways that the spammers try and pull the wool over my eyes. Like this one:

Hello! Quick question that's completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone. I'm trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share. With thanks! Here is my web blog ... You Could Try This Out

Trying to play with the ever so helpful personality? Well too bad; I'm onto you! ...mostly because your blog link was just an ad for eyedrops...and I also wouldn't have the first clue as to how to answer your question as I'm technologically impaired and am terrified to go near something as up to date as an iPhone.

My favorite spammers though, are the ones that try to act like a normal commenter but they obviously didn't read the post they commented on, especially when they provide their links! For example:

I am extremely inspired together with your writing talents and also with the format for your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it's rare to look a nice blog like this one nowadays.. There are a few good critiques i have found the following http://www.mycrappyreviewsite.bla and - just lookin to help! Have a look at my weblog - gorilla swing sets

Firstly, your flattery did not fool me again, especially since you left this comment on my Skinny Dipping Story and I know for a fact that you were nowhere inspired or wowed by my 'writing talents' for a tale like that! And paid subject matter?? Why yes, I actually do get paid to discuss the horrors of skinny dipping in rural NO! And "stay up the excellent quality writing"? Oh the irony! But on a side note, do you set up swing sets secretly in the night in public locations, or are they actually for gorillas? I realized your grammar is totally off so your spelling may be as well, so if you mean the first thing, then you need to change your website to "Guerrilla swing sets". That's my 'good critique' for you.

Then there is the super odd spammer, who makes no sense at all and you are left scratching your head trying to translate it. Like this particular spammer:

What i do not understood is in reality how you're not really a lot more well-preferred than you may be now. You are so intelligent. You already know thus significantly relating to this topic, made me for my part consider it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women aren't interested unless it's something to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs nice. At all times deal with it up! My webpagelotto software

My attempted translation of the first line:
"I don't get how you are not more wildly popular that you are now" I know right?

Translation of second line:
"You are so intelligent" ok, so maybe that wasn't necessary to translate but I just liked repeating it!

3rd line translation:
"I know a lot on this topic and caused him to think about it in lots of different ways" That's impressive considering this was my post about how stupid a lotto commercial is over here that states you have a better chance of winning than you do of being attacked by a bear...easy since there are NO BEARS IN IRELAND!!! *except in zoos

4th line translation: 
"??? ??? ??? Girl gaga???" I am lost and have no clue.

5th & 6th line translation:
"your writing is nice but bla bla bla, I don't speak English"

And then since the whole point of the post was to make fun of the Lotto, he kindly gave me a link to his lotto software website! How sweet and very, very dumb.

As stupid as my spammers are, they have brought me great laughter and some confusion, but as a whole, I quite like them. But I'd like to leave a final note to normal spammers: Normal spammers, please do not leave me comments as you are dull and boring. And just to clarify, normal spammers are those who speak English as their first language, who have genuinely interesting websites and actually read my posts. Thank you! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Translations may vary...

Branden's laptop now has a dictate feature. Does it work? Technically yes. Very well? Not so much. In all fairness, if I were to be nice to it and speak slowly then it may work better, but that's not very fun! How it works, is you hit a button twice and the little mic symbol shows up, letting you know that it's starting to record. You speak for about 2 minutes and then the symbol shows you that it's done and then you wait to see how it mutilated your words! Great fun!

So today, I have a few pre-prepared things I want to say and see how the dictate feature slaughters it to a million bits handles it. Something to note, for punctuation, I have to actually say the word "comma" or "exclamation point" in order for the dictate to include it in. I will post my actual words first and then you can read the dictate's translation, and then my thoughts on it after. Enjoy!

My Actual Words:
Hello and welcome to Padded Cell Confessions! I'm Maggie, your Princess and most people find me to be quite quirky, random, and a bit of an odd duck really. I'm nuts about animals, my favorite animal is an ocelot, and I also am crazy about my husband Branden.

The Dictate's Translation:
Hello and welcome to Patisel confessions estimation point I Meggie, your princess and most people find me to be quicker quirky, random, and it did not definitely. I'm not about animals, my favorite animals and ocelot, and I'm also crazy but my husband Brendan.

What in the world is Patisel? I also don't appreciate that it misspelled Branden and my names. At least it seemed to know what an ocelot was! Ok, that was a fairly easy one so now onto something a bit harder.

My Actual Words:
When I was a kid, I had a lisp. My mom didn't want to pay for speech therapy so she just held my jaw closed and made me say things like "sissy" and "Sally sells seashells by the seashore". It worked, as it taught me that I couldn't put my tongue through my teeth with my jaw clamped shut! Thanks Ma!

The Dictate's Translation:
When I was a kid, I have a list. I'm on didn't want to pay for speech therapy so she just told my job closed and many say things like sissy XOXO seashells by the seashore. It works, doesn't talk that I couldn't put my talking my teeth with my chocolate shop! Thanks excavation point

Firstly, this is a true story and secondly, I don't think "and Sally" sounds anything like "XOXO"! At least it understood one of my exclamation points, even if it slaughtered the last one...and left my mom out! The most important part of this whole translation, is that I apparently have a chocolate shop! Maybe it just translates what we're thinking...??? On to my last chance of confusing the heck out of this thing, and I'll make it a good one!

My Actual Words:
My best girl friend Chrissy likes to have weird phrases she learns in Spanish like "duck with a stick" and "my hovercraft is covered in eels". Branden is planning on stopping by the fishmonger after work today to pick up some whiting. Last night we made chicken roulade which is chicken breast that we stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms, onions, asparagus, and boursin, then wrapped in parma ham. Tasty!

The Dictate's Translation:
I Bescoe from Christy likes to have refreezes she likes to learning Spanish like hooked up with a stick quote and my hovercraft is covered in meals. Brandon is planning on stopping by the fishmonger after work today to pick up some waiting. SMH
Which is a chicken breast that we stuffed with a picture of mushrooms, onions, asparagus, and Bjornson, and wrapped in Birmingham. Tasty excavation point

Um wow. "Hooked up with a stick"?? At least it knew what a fishmonger was but we definitely didn't stuff our chicken with a picture of mushrooms and wrap it in Birmingham! I think the "SMH" means it had no idea what I said for that whole sentence so maybe I should give it another try...

The Dictate's 2nd Translation:
My best girlfriend Chrissy
Replacement face is she going to Spanish like that with a stick and I have a customer to Neills. Brennan is planning on stopping by the fishmonger after work today to pick up some waiting. Laughing made chicken
Which is chicken breast we stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms, onions, asparagus, and going to come and occupy him. Tasty! 

I'm not sure if that's better...either way, it was still entertaining! It did get Chrissy's name right this time, but she doesn't have or need a replacement face! Laughing chicken may be a bit odd to eat and I have no clue who Brennan is despite that I apparently need to 'occupy him'...???

I hope you enjoyed these horrible translations as much as I did! If you have anything you want me to tell my dictate feature for future posts (I'll link your blog to it), let me know! Keep it PG, as the dictate feature seems to turn it a bit PG-13 on it's own... Happy Wednesday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Research Trip/Road Trip in Ireland

As most of you read in my last post, Branden and I headed off for 3 days and 2 nights on a road trip research trip for Branden's studies. I was asked the question, "What is he studying?". He is studying the development of devotion to Mary in late medieval Ireland (1350-1550) through texts and images. I'll answer 2 questions that we commonly get asked when we say what he's studying:
1. No, we are not Catholic.
2. No, there is surprisingly not much studied on this. (which surprised me as I thought that Mary would have been studied in great detail in Ireland)
This trip took us to about 15 sites, including graveyards, ruins, and churches. Most of the images of Mary that he's looking at are carved on tombs and are either depictions of Mary holding Jesus as a child or Mary at the cross. 

On our first day, we picked up our rental car up and headed off. We drove through a bit of Tipperary and the scenery was like something out of a film! At one point, we were climbing though some small "mountains" (where I come from, these are foothills), which had sheep clambering about everywhere, and they broke through to a gorgeous view of the farmlands below and a lovely little lake.

Actually, we drove through gorgeous scenery mostly all that day, and on this entire trip we took over 700 photos! Most of our photos were the images Branden has been studying. Here are some to give you an idea of what he's looking at.

This is a pretty simple image, as it is just on a gravestone, but it's one that both of us really like. I think Mary looks a bit like the Starbucks mermaid with her hair like that. Most of the images are on large tombs like the image below:

This was at the head end of a large tomb in a church in Kilkenny. Even though Branden is studying the image of Mary, he also has to look at what else is carved on the tomb. To get a good idea of how elaborately carved most of the bombs were, see below:

This is why we took over 700 photos. I had to capture each individual figure that was carved, as style and identity of the figures are important. Most of the figures are saints and you can identify them based on what they are holding. One very interesting tomb that Branden was looking at, had all female saints carved onto it. There were no images of Mary, but since all female saints are styled after Mary, it's an interesting tomb for his studies.

The last official stop on our first day was not a place with any carved figures, but just a very interesting site that was built in the time Branden is studying: Kells Priory. This is not where the famed Book of Kells was found but it is very big and impressive. I expected it to be swarming with tourists but we were surprised to find that it was just us and hundreds of sheep! I should actually introduce you to our rental car as well which we dubbed "the snail". The thing was gutless and had a very tough time getting up hills but here it is as we parked at the Kells site.

Kells was a massive site and was well worth the trip! Across from the parking area was a small road that had a sign pointing to a round tower and high cross just 2km up the road. We decided to check it out, but when we arrived I took one look at this and told Branden to forget it!

He finally coaxed me into going in, so we climbed the fence and went into the walled off grove of trees in the background which had a small church in ruins, some graves and a tomb, and the high tower. On the back side of this, you climbed another wall where the high cross was. This made for some great photo ops!

And there wasn't a bull in the field, at least that we saw! ...just a few curious dairy cows. On our second day, we headed from Kilkenny to Dublin, making stops all along the way. Our last stop was just outside of Dublin and we were looking for a St. Mary's Church. Branden said that he had a hard time getting any information about it let alone directions to it. Once we drove into the town, we saw a sign and came across this church.

It was a very pretty little church but we tried the front door and found it to be locked. Having run across this type of thing before, Branden tried a side door and found it unlocked so he popped in to see if he could find anyone...and he managed to set an alarm off! Apparently this church was closed for the day, alarm set, but someone didn't lock the side door. We phoned the person listed on the church sign and she came down, not too happy, to take care of it. We asked her about a medieval tomb inside but she had no clue so we figured that it wasn't even the right St. Mary's! She said there was another St. Mary's up the road so we drove there and found no tomb there either. There were some ruins nearby so Branden ran to them, as it was late and we didn't know if anything would be open, and found that it was the actual St. Mary's but was locked up. He got some distance shots but we were both very frustrated after the whole ordeal.

By the time we got to our B&B, it was time to change and get ready to see Phantom of the Opera. Our hostess showed us our room...made up of 2 single beds! Both of us highly considering not saying anything and just going with it, especially since we were already on edge with each other from the day's fiasco, but I finally spoke up and made her change it while we were away. We changed for Phantom, attempted to not kill each other, and headed off to find some food before the show. The production was absolutely incredible! I have been waiting since I was a little girl to see the Phantom of the Opera on stage, so even just thinking about the opening scene was giving me goosebumps. When the opening scene finally did come, I was already having to hold back tears as the story played out in my mind. The whole thing was brilliant, and I managed to not cry but it was also a great way to get Branden and I on better terms with each other and actually happy to have a double bed for the night.

The next day, I spent about 3 hours in a courtyard outside of the entrance to see the Book of Kells, reading, while Branden was in Trinity's library looking at some books that he needed. For those of you who may be new, this was the part of the trip I had been dreading most as I have social anxiety and being in a new place, by myself, with tons of people around, is practically my worst nightmare. Thus why I sat on a bench for 3 hours and didn't go explore the city...that would have been a bigger nightmare! Once Branden got done, we headed to 2 churches nearby to view some tombs. This isn't one of the tombs, but it was in one of the churches and I thought it was so impressive.

Library visited, churches viewed, photos taken, we got out of Dublin as quickly as we could! We both decided that Dublin is not a place we like at all, and are going to start praying now that Branden doesn't get a job there when he's done at University! I hate big cities anyway, but the roads were just a nightmare, parking was expensive, people were swarming everywhere (mostly loud, obnoxious, American tourists...which I hid from behind my book a lot!), and it just didn't seem to look like the Ireland we've come to know and see through the smaller city we live in and the towns we have visited.

Once out of Dublin, we had 2 stops until we reached Cashel, which has the famed Rock of Cashel that the Queen of England visited. We knew it would be a tight squeeze on time to make it, but we headed off in hot pursuit. One stop we had to make was a bit tough to find, but when we did come across the ruined Abbey in the middle of a hay field, it was a sight to behold! There were a few tombs here (one of which was the photo of the side profile tomb I gave at the beginning) and some carvings around a doorway. It was also completely void of any tourists whatsoever.

When we arrived in Cashel, we found that we were too late to get in. It was another disappointment but our last site made up for it. It was another large Abbey, in the middle of nowhere and completely empty of life except for the cows. Climbing yet another cow fence (thank goodness I brought my wellies!), we walked through the field to the magnificent ruins.

It was so peaceful and gorgeous, so after a good explore, we drug ourselves away to find some food. We ended up eating cold chicken wings with our hands in the parking lot of Tesco...with the Rock of Cashel mocking us from a distance.

Oh well, so we missed a few places, but in reality we saw a ton of sites, found some amazing locations, got held up on the road by sheep and cows, set off a church alarm, and decided from driving on countless tiny roads with blind corners that we are still happy to not have a car! That sounds like a pretty successful road trip to me! Especially since we didn't kill each other!