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Josceline's · Bower

An Electronic Hermitage

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I know a lot of you are upset with current actions of our State government. I know it takes a little time to figure out who is running in non-partisan February primaries, and the State Supreme Court race is not that exciting or easily reduced to soundbites.

However, it is only by paying attention all the time, and not just during Presidential elections, that you can keep from being blind-sided by developments like we've seen this week. A lot of Governor Walker's actions over the next few years are likely to end up in court. If the court is stacked with WMC-financed conservabots, how do you think that will turn out?

If you are happy with the status quo, by all means vote for Justice Prosser, the WMC-backed incumbent. If you do not want the court to be a rubber stamp for our Governor, vote for someone else. The Isthmus has candidate profiles, which can be seen online at http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=32182

As an added bonus, Madison residents can also vote in the primaries for Dane County Executive and Madison Mayor.
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Here is a recent video clip showing the same adorable lion cub from the Vilas Park Zoo. 

He'll make his public debut sometime this Spring.  He is still nursing.  He's fortunate that his mother can feed him, since he is a solo birth.  Several years ago, his parents produced a litter of five cubs who had to be hand-reared by zookeepers because their poor overworked mother couldn't produce enough milk.
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For the last couple years, I have been a Friend of the Vilas Park Zoo. Thus, I get their email newsletters with the latest Zoo news.  The most recent one included photos of the lion cub that was born at the zoo in December, as well as the female red panda that was sent as a potential mate for the zoo's male red panda.  They are both among the most adorable mammals I have seen in a long time.  I'll have to get to the zoo in the Spring to see them both.
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My office declared a use-your-best-judgement-come-in-when-you-can policy on Wednesday, which meant that I did not get the whole day off. We both went out in the morning and started digging out.  About three hours later, the sidewalks and most of the driveway were clear (and the snowblower-owners were just starting to venture out). My hubby was sick with a cold, though, so after that, he was absolutely done.

The plow came around noon, so I went out to deal with the driveway apron.  I got about a third of it (on the sidewalk side) cleared, when a neighbor with a snowblower came over and finished the job.  I gave him ten bucks and told him it was gas money for the machine (which got a real workout yesterday). I thought I was all set to go to work, but when I opened the garage, I noticed snow drifts inside. They were only a couple feet inside, and not very high, but it still shows how fierce the wind was at the height of the blizzard.

I also miscalculated the width of the cleared driveway space. It wasn't quite enough to drive around the van, and I smacked my side mirror.  I picked up the broken pieces and disposed of them, then finally made it into work.  I switched the back-up tapes in the server and made 300 copies that a co-worker needs to have at 9:00 a.m. this morning, so my presence for even a few hours was useful. 

I called the hubby and begged him to widen the driveway canyon (or move the van over a bit) so I wouldn't have to do it when I got home after dark.  He took care of it.  However, when I got home, I discovered the plow had come by again to clean up after the cars that had been parked on our side of the street when it made its first run.  Fortunately, the pile of plow droppings was small, and it didn't take much time to shovel.

Today, I hurt all over.  When the vitamin-I wore off about 4:15 a.m., the muscle knots caused both arms to fall asleep, which woke me up.  I hope this is our only massive snowfall of the winter.  I can handle four or five inches at a time now without a problem, even if we get snow almost every day.  A foot at at time, however, is a bit much.
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Life has been hectic.  Last week at work was stressful for a number of reasons, particularly Friday. 

The weekend was lovely, though.  I attended two birthday celebrations on Saturday and had a wonderful time.  On Sunday, we watched the Packers beat the Bears from the comfort of the Knuckledown Saloon, along with the other regulars.  There was much rejoicing at the end of the game.  I am looking forward to the Superbowl party there, partly because the Packers are playing, and partly because Zartan said he'd make his famous BBQ ribs for the potluck.

This week work has again been extra-stressful. My mom called me this afternoon and invited me to supper (she did the same thing two weeks ago, and I rearranged my planned after-work errands so I could go).  This time I had to turn her down, though, and I felt terrible about that. I'm still trying to get control of the work-life balance thing.

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I've never shovelled snow without gloves on before. I've ditched my coat before, but never my gloves. I started out wearing gloves when I shovelled last night, but my hands were sweating, so I took them off. If I'd been using my old shovel with the metal handle, I'm sure I would have needed the gloves. But the plastic handle actually felt almost hot by the time I was done.  The temperature was hovering around the freezing point, the wind had completely died, and the snow had dwindled to very fine and barely visible.  It was actually pleasant to be outside.  That will change soon -- the temperature supposed to plummet today, with below zero lows overnight for a few days.
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Although we didn't go to 12th Night, we had a nice weekend all the same.  On Saturday, we shoveled the sidewalks and driveway, then took some stuff to St. Vinnie's.  Of course, we came away with as much stuff as we left behind (oh, well).

On the way home, we stopped at the Olbrich Gardens conservatory for a brief tropical respite. They currently have an educational exhibit about coffee. The coffee plants in the conservatory do not currently have beans visible, but they had a number of signs scattered around with information about the history of coffee.  They also had a glass display case with a modern rendering of a medieval Ethiopian recipe for energy bars -- coffee beans mixed with animal fat, formed into balls. When people first discovered the stimulant properties of coffee beans, before they learned to make it into a beverage, they made these snacks, which warriors would eat before battle. I prefer chocolate-covered espresso beans, myself.

Last night, we went to the Knuckledown Saloon for the Packer-Falcons playoff game. There was a really good crowd, probably a combination of the Packer game day regulars and the Saturday night regulars. They always dispense free shots (usually of some kind of schnapps) after every Packer touchdown. Given the large crowd and the high score, they ran out of more than one of their usual varieties, leading to a rainbow of choices as the evening wore on.  We were all thrilled by the outcome.  No one was really confident that the Packers would win, however, until the 4th quarter, so everyone was still excited, despite the one-sided score.

Today, I started making some plans for our next trip to Las Vegas.  We have purchased our tickets to the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly convention.  The convention hotel was sold out for those dates before we even learned about it, though.  They touted another property owned by the same company (it isn't particularly close by, but there is a free shuttle between the properties).  However, it looked rather run-down and wasn't conveniently located for anything else we might want to do, so we decided we'd rather stay in the condo-suite hotel where we've stayed before. I got an email about a sweet New Year promotion they are running through the end of the month, so I made a reservation for the whole week we'll be on vacation. Maybe we'll get around to using the fancy pool complex this time (the weather has been either too chilly or too damn hot to spend time outside the last couple times we were in town.  Now we just have to agree on what shows to see before the convention starts. It may finally be time to go see Penn & Teller (there are 2-for-1 promotions available now). Lewis Black is also in town, the same weekend as the convention. Decisions, decisions.

I was very happy to hear today of not only the Laurel elevations that were previously planned, but the Pelican vigil at Twelfthnight. I hope everyone had a wonderful time at the event, and a safe journey home.
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Today's New York Times has an article about smartphone mixologist apps (unfortunately, the good ones are not available for Blackberry) that give you recipes for drinks you can make with the random ingredients you have on hand.

Sadly, the author of the article does not share the recipe for the Wiccan Debutante.

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We went to my parents' house yesterday afternoon and had a pleasant visit, gift exchange and dinner with my parents. We are going back for a little while today to see my cousins and their little boys. They are all high-energy, much-indulged kids, so it will be noisy chaos.

At home last night, we exchanged our gifts and watched a performance of The Nutcracker on PBS.  The dancing was very good, and the sets were beautiful. We didn't buy anything for the cat because she always prefers found toys to purchased ones.  I got my husband a set of strings for the ukelele he found at an antique store in the neighborhood (it was missing one or two).  He replaced all of the strings, and this morning Noke was having a great time with one of the discarded nylon strings. Felix nativitas.

Tomorrow, we are driving to my MIL's house to have Christmas with her and my BIL's family. 

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Our local newspaper ran an article today about the House of the Virgin Mary in Turkey:

The author is Scott Klug, possibly the same one who used to be my Congressman (and was a news anchor before that).

It's a pretty accurate description of the history of the shrine.  He left a couple things out, though.  He mentioned that it's revered by both Christians and Muslims, but he didn't mention that the local springs were probably a pagan shrine even earlier.  The practice of leaving rags with prayers written on them is said to pre-date the arrival of Jesus' associates. 

His statement that the springs "bubble" in stone basins is not quite accurate.  They now flow through pipes and faucets, so there is no real bubbling.  Here is a picture we took (our other pictures from the site look very much like the ones in the article):

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