Thursday, October 29, 2009

Must Be Thursday...

I have to go grocery shopping tonight.

Well, it's not that I have to. There's food in the house. It's just that Thursdays are the only evenings I can get the shopping done with a minimum of aggravation. Plus I'm on call. Even if I wanted to suffer the trauma of a Saturday grocery store run, you can pretty much guarantee a server will implode the moment I queue up in the checkout lane, behind 40 other people.

So yeah. Thursdays.

My local grocery store must be feeling the economic pinch, because they always seem to be restocking at irregular times. I could be wrong about that, after all I don't work in the food business, but I always thought most restocking was done on Wednesdays. Now it seems they're refilling shelves every other day, yet many are still empty. Thursdays are the least barren.

Friday evenings are like open house at the lunatic asylum. Go to any grocery store on a Friday evening and you'll find worn out, lost souls on their way home from work desperately attempting to find something easy for dinner.

For example, our store has great takeout: fresh sushi, fish and chips, pasta bowls, Asian cuisine, even pizza. Visit them on a Friday after 5:00pm and your choices will be limited to a solitary pack of California rolls, and maybe a fried crab ball.

Heh....crab balls.

Saturdays, obviously, are very busy since everyone else had the idea to go that day. The stock boys are restocking - again, and have a palette the size of Greenland parked in the middle of every aisle. Honestly, does anyone really want to waste a perfectly good Saturday on grocery shopping?

Sundays are no good between the hours of 9:00am and 2:00 pm, owing to the after-church crowd. Mondays are, well, Mondays, so I try to avoid any additional stress after work other than cracking open a bottle of red.

Tuesdays are a forgotten day.....I know nothing of Tuesdays at a grocery store. I'm usually still stressed from Monday, and there's often food in the house, so going to the store just doesn't even register.

Wednesdays? Like I said, I always figured this was National Restocking Day, so I've avoided it.

However, there are other things that can make grocery shopping challenging. I really try to be polite and not get in other people's way, pull my cart to the side when I'm looking for something on a shelf, look both ways before blowing out of an aisle, etc. I'm one of the few though.

Invariably, there's always someone stopped dead in the middle of the aisle, catatonic in front of the cheeses. Can't go around - there's not enough real estate, so I wait, five carts deep, while Wallace decides between Wensleydale or Gloucester.

Or there's five long lost friends are having a reunion at an intersection, oblivious to the traffic backing up around them.

Hmmmm. Now that I think about it, I bet there's a direct correlation between how people drive their cars, and how they behave in a grocery store.

Now if I could just get that air horn and rocket launcher mounted on my cart...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giant Crabs Good For America

Not real news from The Onion.


Everybody Loves Pancakes, Right?

Okay, I promised a few people I'd post this pancake recipe. It's really good, and not too complicated. The worst part is the sifting.

After making these, I'll never go back to pancake mix. Well, probably not.

This batter can be mixed up the night before and refrigerated, just bring it to room temperature before baking.

2c flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 ½ c milk
2 tsp melted butter

1) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl.

2) In large bowl, whisk together egg, milk and melted butter.

3) Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the egg and milk.

4) If batter is too thick, add a little extra milk.

5) Whisk until smooth.

6) Add a small amount of butter or margarine to griddle/frying pan. Cook on medium heat (number 4 or 5 on electric stove). The trick here is to make sure the pan is fully heated before adding the butter/margarine and the batter. I've often found I'll start off at the number 5 setting, then end up turning the heat down to 4, once it's hot enough.

7) I use a small gravy ladle to measure each pancake. This is about 1/8 of a cup. You can make yours as big as you'd like.

8) Cook until batter appears to bubble, then flip. Check pancake after about a minute to see how well it's done. They should be slightly browned on both sides, but can be cooked so they're less toasty. Basically, you just want to make sure they're done in the middle.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stieg Larsson's Millenium Series

I just finished the third, and last volume of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series. The trilogy contains three immense volumes:

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Girl That Played With Fire
The Girl That Kicked The Hornet's Nest

They tell the story of Lisbeth Salander, a highly intelligent young woman in her early twenties, who was deliberately mishandled by a section of the Swedish secret police, SAPO. Her father, Zalachenko, was a Russian agent who sought asylum in Sweden. Because of his connections and the information he could provide the Swedish government, SAPO (similar to American CIA) protected him as a highly valuable informant. Zalachenko created his own crime syndicate, and SAPO looked the other way.

Zalachenko was incredibly vicious. When Lisbeth was twelve, he beat her mother so badly she suffered irreparable brain damage. Lisbeth tried reporting him to the police, but they refused to do anything, as he was under the protection of SAPO. So, at twelve years old, she decided to take matters into her own hands, made a Molotov Cocktail and threw it into Zalachenko's car, setting him on fire.

The fire failed to kill Zalachenko. SAPO saw Lisbeth as dangerous to their interests with him, covered up the police reports of the fire, and doctored Lisbeth's psych evaluation so that she would be placed in a mental hospital for children.

Repeatedly, Lisbeth would try to explain what had happened, yet no one would listen – not the police, certainly not the secret police, and not the psychologists that faked her mental evaluations. She decided then to withdraw completely, and refuse to speak to anyone. This resulted in her being deemed “retarded” by most people she came into contact with, particularly once she was allowed to leave the asylum, under guardianship.

Lisbeth's first guardian was a kindly older gentleman who was making progress in drawing her out. He got her a low level position at a security firm, where her co-workers considered her an anomaly. The owner of the firm, quickly realized she was far from “retarded”, was actually extremely intelligent, and had a knack for investigation and computer hacking.

This basically lays the foundation for the three books. You get a little more of Lisbeth's back story with each volume. Early on in the first book, Lisbeth becomes acquainted with journalist Michael Blomqvist. Because of her investigative and computer skills, she's able to help him solve several mysteries and corporate cover ups.

By the end of the second book, Lisbeth began working towards revenge against Zalachenko, also a subject of investigation by Blomqvist. The third book culminates into a series of events where Lisbeth is arrested for attempting to kill Zalachenko, has to prove her innocence and mental capabilities so as not to be institutionalized again.

I've noticed in several advertisements, this series is being marketed as “a new heroine for a new millennium”, or something to that effect. That's actually a large part of what kept me reading these books. I don't care for stories about victims as heroes. Throughout these books, Lisbeth Salander has been, in my opinion, a “non-victim”. She had many, many bad things happen to her, and chose not to shout her victimhood from the rooftops. She decided that what happened to her was no one else's business, and took her life into her own hands.

From this, she methodically began planning revenge on those who hurt her. Particularly Zalachenko. Throughout the three books, Larsson keeps the suspense high, the mysteries exciting, and throws in a few terrific twists.

I'm sure Hollywood will option these books for movies and completely ruin them. Lisbeth Salander is supposed to be about 4'11'' and around 90 pounds, yet strong and wiry. I can see Hollywood casting Angelina Jolie in the role, even though she's two feet taller, and nowhere near the same body shape. This wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that Lisbeth's size plays an integral role in the stories.

I had two issues with the books. One was a particularly violent rape scene, however it was not titillating or sensualized. It was brutal. While that is not my taste in reading, it was highly important to the plot of the third book. The other issue I had was that the final book became somewhat bogged down, explaining the legalese and government of Sweden. It's worth getting through though, because for those of us not familiar with the Swedish government, it's important to the plot.

Unfortunately, we won't be seeing any more novels from Stieg Larsson. He suffered a massive heart attack in 2004, before any of his books were even published.

A bit of background on the author: It seems Larsson was pretty much a raging communist. This places him squarely in an area of books that I would not normally read. However, I didn't feel there was any overt propaganda when reading his books. They were just great crime novels.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures in Banking

Squidbillies Pictures, Images and Photos

Getting ready to start a new job had me thinking about some of the other places I've worked. My first “real” job was as a bank clerk doing loan closings. Man, did I see some strange stuff.

For example, what do you do when you're explaining a particularly complicated document, and the customer's toup starts sliding off? I'm not aware of any protocol for that. Do you say anything? Make hand gestures? What if it hits the floor and crawls away?

I opted for not looking directly at him or his fuzzy pet tarantula. I also managed to finish my coffee without snarfing it through my nose.

His wife was sporting quite the hairpiece herself. It was huge, and apparently bought from the Dolly Parton Wig Emporium, circa 1982. Also, bright blue eyeshadow and three inch nails. Like Lil from The Squidbillies.

How about a customer decked out in biker gear, spikes all over his jacket, and yellowed fingernails filed into points??? Actually, Beelzebub turned out to be quite gentlemanly and polite. He also taught History at a university in NYC.

Then there was the lady who let her two year old to walk up and down on the closing room table, the bank documents, and the lawyer's paperwork. She became incensed when told to remove said child from the table, even though the bank documents were covered in muddy shoe prints.

Here's my personal favorite. No sooner had I walked into the closing room and introduced myself, the customer stood up, stuck his fist in my face and said he'd punch me if I didn't remove certain bank charges.

I could've understood the anger if I'd been bitchy or something, but I was in the room for all of six seconds. There wasn't time for me to get snippy. I hadn't even warmed up.

I think I was so shocked by his asshole-itude, I didn't have the common sense to get scared. I'm just standing there thinking: “Are you kidding me? Who threatens a 5' 2'' bank clerk in front of witnesses? And no ski mask?”

What I managed to finally say was, “Uh...yeah. I'll be right back.”. I found the nearest bank VP and told him I was NOT going to do a closing that required me to have judo skillz. Kindly send in the nearest armed guard. Kthxbai.

The wussy veep actually had the balls to tell me to go back in. He thought I was being a “histrionic female”. I told him to suck it (in bank lingo, of course). He gave in, and went to see what the customer was upset about. He never doubted me again - the idiot got a chair thrown at him. Histrionic my ass.

There were fun times too. We had a cavalcade of (harmless) crazy people working in the mortgage department - just to lighten things up. Like wacky Darlene who gave us the “bathroom weather report”, an hourly update on the air quality in the ladies room. Apparently one of our co-workers was rotting from the inside out.

Darlene also had a repertoire of off color songs to drive our manager mad. That and her clog-dancing between cubicles. You always knew when Darlene was in the room.

Then we had Jenny, with her overzealous burping habit, used for comic relief (it was probably acid reflux, but this was long before anyone knew what that was).

She's the only person I know of that had “needs to control gas” as a goal on her yearly review.

Yep. Good times.

Friday, October 23, 2009


It seems to me that all news organizations are biased, one way or another.

Most are left leaning. Fox happens to lean right. Regardless which side of the fence you live on, this is still disturbing:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beware The Ladybug

The weather's been rather nice the past few days, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. This being the complete opposite of last Thursday through Sunday, where we were treated to a preview of a January blizzard.

So the woodland critters made a reappearance in the backyard, as well as the insects. While I was working at my computer, I noticed a tapping on the rear window and sliding glass door.

Ladybugs. Lots of 'em. Smacking themselves against the glass.

Went outside to find the rear of the house buzzing with them. Not swarms like I've heard about on the news, but still, a lot. They were using the drainpipe as a freeway, some traveling up, some traveling down.

This happens just about every October. They're looking for a warm place to hide for the winter, and in some cases, swarm into houses. We've never had this problem, only about ten or twenty actually find their way into the house throughout October. This usually serves as entertainment for our cat (both the old cat which passed way, and the new kitten). I'm the one rescuing them and pitching them outside. The ladybugs. Not the cat.

From what I read, ladybugs can sting, pee on you (defensive bleeding), and smell bad. Honestly, I've never noticed. I handle them all the time, and never had one sting or defensively 'bleed” on me. Then again, maybe we just have really laid back ladybugs.

Here's two of them, hanging out on the side of the house (click to enlarge):

Here's one with an assassin wheel bug (click to enlarge):

About four seconds before I took that photo, the ladybug had been motoring along the assassin's leg, and the assassin was waving it's long, robotic leg around, trying to dislodge said ladybug. Apparently they don't eat them.

I don't pick up assassins. They have a long, pokey stinger on their face, that they probably use for sucking blood from other bugs. I heard they eat spiders, which makes them awesome in my book.

To give you an idea of how weird looking the assassin bug is, here's a better shot. Check out the stegosaurus cog on it's back (click to enlarge):

Funny, I grew up in a small town, and thought we had plenty of insects. I had no idea there were so many weird things living in the woods of Pennsylvania.

Speaking of weirdness, here's a random photo of Leonidas being pathetic. Apparently, waiting too long for his sweet, sweet softie food caused all the bones in his body to collapse:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Snow, Fall

Well, I was going to write something about teenagers, angst, and how everything in life seems just so difficult when you're 14, but then I decided against it. It'll just make my daughter crankier.

So we didn't get the insane six inches of snow on Sunday. It's bad enough that four inches of snow fell last Thursday. The leaves haven't yet turned color, much less fallen off the trees, so when that heavy, wet snow fell last week, the branches collapsed under all that weight. We lost a lot of tree branches, and have some serious cleanup and pruning ahead of us this weekend.

Of course, today it's 65 degrees outside. The sun is shining, and it almost looks like Spring instead of Fall.

Schizophrenic Pennsylvania.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Snow Is Falling!!! The Snow Is Falling !!!


It's snowing. Again.

They're calling for an inch throughout today, then possibly another FOUR INCHES overnight. According to the local newspaper, the last time it snowed this much was in 1836.

It's October. In Pennsylvania. It's not like this is the Canadian Northern Territory.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Goodbye Jeep


Traded in my trusty, rusty, purple Jeep for a pre-owned Volvo.

It was long overdue. She needed a lot of work, and probably wouldn't have survived my new commute.

Poor little Jeep. She was a great car.

R. I. P.

1998 - 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009


You see that date up there? The one at the top of this post? I'm pretty sure it says OCTOBER 15TH.


So tell me, why is it SNOWING?

Here's my backyard. Yes, those are trees that still have leaves on them!!

We are still mowing grass on weekends, and the leaves have not fully changed for Autumn yet, much less fallen off the tree.

It was seventy degrees last Friday. Where's my global warming?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few Things

I took Friday off work for my birthday (yay!), and tried to have a relaxing weekend. I felt great for a few days last week, then I somehow got my cold back. Or it's a new cold. Or something. I don't know, but now I'm officially sick of being sick. Plus, now I'm beginning to stress about being sick and starting a new job shortly.

Looked at cars over the weekend. I'm considering a new one since the Trusty, Rusty Jeep is eleven years old. Plus commuting. And Jersey. And stress.

Also stress-worthy: apparently my daughter's social life is spiraling down the toilet, which is, of course, all my fault. I wasn't even aware it was in jeopardy.

I thought we had better communication than most teens and parents. Then again, most parents probably have the same revelation at some point. More on that later.

Two other things:

ONE - I tried the FullBar. You eat it with a full glass of water, and it fills you up. This works phenomenally well, except for the eating part. It tastes like the air filter from my Jeep.

TWO - Primeval left us with a completely crap ending in series three, but YAY! BBCAmerica has announced it will work with other production companies to fund a fourth series. Which is a bit odd since Primeval actually aired on ITV in the UK, and not BBC. Because it was such a big hit here in the USA, it prompted this unusual partnership. I don't care, as long as they tie up those scraggly loose ends.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kit's Wilderness by David Almond

In my pursuit of books that might draw my daughter into reading, I was lucky enough to find this wonderful book. It's categorized as young adult, but it's very readable for us older folks too.

Kit's Wilderness tells the story of thirteen year old Kit Watson and his family, who move back to their ancestral town of Stoneygate in Northeastern England. It's an old mining town, seemingly haunted by the children who died in mine disasters in the early 1800's.

Kit meets the moody, troubled John Askew, whom he shares a connection – they both have the same names and ages of two boys who died in the mines over a hundred years ago.

John and a few other children like to play an game called “Death”. In the game, the one chosen for “Death” becomes entranced, sees apparitions, and is then swallowed by nothingness. Kit is drawn into the game as well. After Kit is chosen for “Death”, he's haunted by the ghost children, playing at the edge of the river, or in the “wilderness” near the mines. The reader is left to decide if the “ghosts” are real, a form of hypnotism, imagination, or dreams.

Kit's grandfather, who is succumbing to Alzheimer's Disease, tells him stories about the ghosts, and what it was like working in mines. One story in particular is about Silky, a ghost boy that never made it out of the mine for burial. The “old timers” in town considered Silky to be a good ghost, and they would say he would protected the miners who've lost their way deep in the mine. The stories, along with the ghost of Silky, form a strong bond between grandfather and grandson.

I don't want to give out too many spoilers, but I will say the story leaves some loose ends to your imagination. This might not go over well with kids that are too reliant on the instant gratification of TV, where storylines are spelled out like a treasure map for a two year old.

I enjoyed this book immensely. A little ghost story, a little growing up story, a little bit family. It made me feel good. Warm. Like Christmastime in front of a warm hearth. With family.

I pictured the grandfather in the story being similar to my mother's grandfather who worked in the mines, here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I don't recall the exact stories – they were things mentioned in passing by my mother - just bits and pieces floating around my brain. I seem to remember the ring he made her from a stone found in a coal mine. Fool's Gold maybe? How the children as young as eight (sometimes younger) worked in the mines. I know there's more. I hope that someday my Mom, her brother and sister will write those down for us. To my knowledge, we don't have any stories that take place in Northeast PA, like Kit's Wilderness.

David Almond's first novel, Skellig, was a huge success. It won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book Award, and has been made into a movie by Sky1.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Little Friend

We have a grapevine outside the kitchen window. I should've cut it back about two months ago, but I didn't have time, plus it was entertaining. It housed a large number of critters: katydids, grasshoppers, several inchworms, a large nursery web spider, 3 dime-sized orb weavers, a walking stick, ladybugs and various stink bugs.

It's like Animal Planet in my kitchen window.

Today I found this dude hanging outside the window:

(click to enlarge)

Then it saw me:

(click to enlarge)

Here's a close up:

(click to enlarge)

I need to get out of the house more often.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pickin Berries

Got a Blackberry last week. It's a cool little toy. One of the biggest benefits in having this phone, is that I can use any MP3 as a ringtone.

I'm no ringtone nut. I would just prefer to have a ringtone that won't scare the crap out of me in the middle of the night. Seriously. A piercing ringtone will ruin your mood at 3:00am. Pity the poor fool who got stuck calling out to you, and the cell ringtone is set to “old fashioned ring” (sharp and painful), or one of those bad techno tones that come with the phone (pump up the jam! ...not at 3:00 am).

I've had two Motorola Razrs. Most of the goodies were locked down. But, I was able to use the record function to make a ringtone. The sound quality wasn't phenomenal, obviously, but it did the trick. Well I went through 2 Razrs – the same problem occurred with both. After about a year, they simply stopped picking up a signal unless I was right next to a tower. Considering I live in an area not known for it's strong cell signal, I began a search for a better phone, and ended up with the Blackberry Tour.

During my research, I saw many complaints about the trackball breaking, and I can see why. That little circumpunct (heh, just read The Lost Symbol and I couldn't resist) is used for navigating everything.

So I seem to be getting a better signal, plus toys and email. And a ringtone that won't make my ears bleed.

My personal favorite for on call: When The Levee Breaks by Led Zepplin. Slow drumbeat at the start, then moves gently into the rest of the song.

Besides, the title is so appropriate.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Contentious D

I have nasty allergies, and more often than not, the only thing that prevents me from contracting a hellacious sinus infection is a decongestant. I can buy Zyrtec and Zyrtec D without a prescription now, but if I want the D, I have to sign my life away because it contains pseudoephedrine.

This involves waiting in line at the pharmacy and giving the clerk my driver's license. They write down a number of things from my license and log them in a database somewhere, then I have to sign several documents. I'm not sure why I'm signing these documents, I assume it's something to do with swearing I'm not going to make meth.

However, I've managed to catch a nasty head/chest cold, and I'm taking Tylenol Cold and Robitussin Cough. Neither of these formulations contain pseudoephedrine. Yet, today when I stopped in Target to pick up more Tylenol cold medicine – which is NOT behind the counter, and does NOT require me to provide six forms of ID – the checkout clerk asked me for my driver's license:

“I need your driver's license, ma'am.” the clerk asked.

“Whaaa?” I was in a bit of a fugue from being ill.

“Your driver's license. You're purchasing cold medicine.” she said.

I stared at her for a moment and opened my mouth to argue. This cold medicine doesn't contain pseudoephedrine. Why are you busting my balls? But I handed it over anyway, and she swiped my license. I was simply too tired and sick to give good argument. Besides, I wouldn't have enjoyed it.

Afterwards, the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became. Have you heard about the grandmother in Indiana that was arrested for purchasing Mucinex and Zyrtec within a week period?

Tylenol cold medicine contains phenylephine, which is just the craptastic replacement for real decongestant. To my knowledge, there is no restriction on purchasing this stuff. What does that mean then? Now that the cold medicine Nazi swiped me for Tylenol, am I on the record for having purchased decongestant this week, and therefore have to wait another week before getting any Zyrtec D, if I need it?

Maybe, but most likely not. That's really not the point though, is it? Either she screwed up and didn't need my license for Tylenol, or now some stores are tracking all decongestants, and we're degenerating into even more of a nanny state.

Ugh. My head is pounding, my throat feels like I swallowed glass shards, and, oh great! I just sneezed out “The Thing From Outer Space”. Now I need a shower. And a nap.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I saw something very disturbing on television last night, and it wasn't Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.

Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, is hocking bionic hearing aids.

Aside from the fact that this is cheesily called the “Bionic Hearing Aid”, I've got no issue with Mr. Majors trying to make a buck. Plenty of older celebrities have been on TV, lending their name to stuff. Go for it. That's not the disturbing part.

I think the source of the weirdness is:

1) Majors is sitting in a chair, looking sort of uncomfortably propped up. But he's not paralyzed, just frail.

2) This makes me think of childhood heroes, and fondly remember him as Steve Austin.

3) Then I realize how old he must be (70 years old according to IMDB), which makes me feel ancient for even remembering The Six Million Dollar Man.

A bit of a mortality wake up call.

About a year ago, we picked up some of the old Six Million Dollar Man episodes on Apparently there was a moratorium on selling them here in the USA – I heard this was because Hollywood was in talks to make a movie. I don't know how true that is, but I can't wait to see what a travesty that'll be. I also heard Jim Carrey wanted to do it. There's not enough words to describe how horrendous that is.

Anyway, hubby and I thought the episodes were still pretty good. My daughter, not so much. For us, I'm sure part of the enjoyment comes from our childhood memories. Steve Austin was part American James Bond, part athlete, part superhero.

Heh. Makes me wonder if my daughter will feel the same way in 30 years, when she reminisces about Buffy The Vampire Slayer with her own children.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Celtic Classic 2009

Every September we go to the Celtic Classic. It's usually great fun, food and beer. They used to serve Guinness, but now it's a knock off called O'Hara's. Both are good. Love the Guinness though... it's like chocolate beer.

In 2006 and 2007 we ran in their 5K event - even my daughter. Now the 5K sponsor separated from the Celtic Classic, and I'm not even sure they run in the same area as the festival. That was a shame, because it was all part of the festival fun – you know, like a tradition. Plus you got a really cool Celtic Classic shirt out of it.

It's been the largest Celtic festival on the East coast for close to 23 years. Now I'm concerned it won't be around much longer.

We went last weekend. Walked in on the Sand Island side, and it looked mobbed. Wall-to-wall people. Paid for some beer and food tickets, got some O'Hara's, and headed through the masses. We got about halfway through it, walked past the Grand Pavilion and all the food vendors, over the bridge to Old York Road, behind the Hotel Bethlehem, and there was nothing there. Nothing!

There should've been more tents with vendors, food and games, but instead it was a parking lot. I ended up asking someone what the hell happened. Turns out, last year there was so much rain, the festival didn't make enough money, so they paired it down. Severely.

They had more rain this year. Last Sunday was a wash out. Who knows if it'll be around next year.

Okay, I was going to end this with “It's just so sad”, but now I'm just craving Guinness.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Hermit No More

I've been working from home for about five years now. The job I'm doing now will no longer be needed within the foreseeable future, so I'm transferring to another department. This also means I'll be physically going into the office on a daily basis.

This is still about a month off, and could fall through at any moment, but I'm trying to prepare mentally and physically. For example, this job will be more hands on, so I'm brushing up on a few programming languages that I've neglected over the past year.

There's a few other items on my To Do List:

Daily showers will now be a must, unless I don't want to make friends. You see, working from home means shuffling downstairs, stopping by the kitchen for a cuppa joe, then flopping down in front of the laptop in jammies and bunny slippers. Showers were optional.

New clothing will be need to be purchased, because most of my old wardrobe doesn't fit anymore. This is mainly due to the fact that my home office is right next to the kitchen, and my work uniform is usually a sweat suit. Unfortunately, elasticated pants don't warn you when you've put on a few pounds.

On a positive note, going back into the office may result in weight loss, since I won't have the convenience of working next to where the hot pockets live.

When you live like a hermit for five years, sometimes you forget how to behave around people. For instance, at home, there's no one to share your bodily noises with. At the office, there's a sort of Murphy's Law where this is concerned: Even if no one has visited you all day, or even if it's the day after a holiday and no one's in the building, the moment you silently fart, someone will walk into your cube. See also: rumbling intestines during a meeting in a quiet conference room.

I should probably stock up on the zinc and echinacea, and get a flu shot. I figure by now I've no resistance whatsoever, and germs will feast on my brains.