Hey, guys! Help a student out? It’ll just take a few minutes of your time, and you could win an Amazon gift card! My name is Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn, and I am a Sociology and Mathematics student from the University of Southern Maine. I am conducting an anonymous survey about happiness and subjective well-being with … Continue reading “3/13/09”

Hey, guys! Help a student out? It’ll just take a few minutes of your time, and you could win an Amazon gift card!

My name is Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn, and I am a Sociology and Mathematics student from the University of Southern Maine. I am conducting an anonymous survey about happiness and subjective well-being with adults 18 years or older.

Would you help me spread the word? The survey is located here: http://www.gotthink.com/survey/

This anonymous, online survey is voluntary and will take 5-10 minutes to complete. It will be open until Thursday, March 26th, 2009.

There are no known benefits to participating in this survey; nor are there any known risks for participating in this survey.

As a special incentive, those who complete this survey have an opportunity to participate in a sweepstakes for one of two $25 Amazon.com gift certificates. Those who wish to participate, when they complete the survey will be given an option to go to a separate survey that will collect their email address. Winners will be informed via email when the data collection is completed, on Thursday, March 26th, 2009.

I have chosen to ask you to help with getting the word out because I know that your blog is visited daily by a variety of people. By using my online connections, I hope to get a more diverse set of respondents than I would if I were only to use my friends and family.

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So Fred was going to go to work yesterday morning, and I heard him get out of bed and move around a little after 5:00, then I went back to sleep. Some time later, he came into my room and sat on the edge of the bed.

Turned out he’d had the worst night ever, the night before. He was freezing and he couldn’t get to sleep, and when he finally got up and took his temperature, it turned out that he had a temperature of 101.

He called in sick (or rather, I guess you’d call it emailing in sick) and made an appointment with his doctor. I went with him and cooled my heels in the waiting room while the nurse practitioner looked him over and stuck a long q-tip up his nose.

He has the flu.

She gave him a prescription for Relenza and told him I should call my doctor to get a prescription for the same as a preventative. When he told me that, I told him my medical records were still at the same office where he goes (long story short: my doctor has opened her own practice; I consider her my doctor, but haven’t needed to visit the doctor since she left the practice with Fred’s doctor, so Fred’s doctor still has my records.), so we went back in and got a prescription for me.

If I’d known it was going to cost $57 for my prescription, I would have just taken my chances. Gah.

Fred spent a good part of yesterday snoozing on the couch while I caught up on TV* (and Tommy tromped all over him repeatedly). He’s staying home today, too, and hopefully by the time the weekend is over, he’ll feel a lot better.

Spanky is doing perfectly fine – but to be honest, he was acting perfectly fine before we took him to the vet, too. We give him the wet food we got from the vet once in the morning and once in the evening, and he likes it. We give it to him on a plate in the small bathroom in the computer room so we can keep an eye on him – so that none of the other cats can elbow him out of the way and hog up the food – and he eats what we give him, and he’s happy about it.

He’s such a happy cat, nothing really bothers him (except that he knows when I’ve picked up a can of compressed air from, I swear to god, three rooms away. DOES NOT LIKE the can of air.) I know I’ve said it before, but our orange kitties – Sugarbutt, Newt, and Spanky – are absolutely the happiest cats we have. They’re so laid-back and sweet.

I sure do love my orange kittehs.

*How is it that I watched every episode of Big Love last season and never realized that Selma Green is a woman? I thought she and Hollis were brothers!

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Warning: It’s a super-sized Comment! Answering! Extravaganza! this week – and I know some of them are questions you were asking of Nance and I, but since we never got around to making a video, I’m going to go ahead and answer them myself.

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I’ve been sending messages over the ocean to tell Spanky he has to live for ever.

If happiness helps to prolong one’s life – and I think that the happier you are, the longer you tend to live – then Spanky surely will live forever because he is one HAPPY kitteh.

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I do love to see a photo of a cat on a worktop…..it makes me feel better about my house πŸ˜‰

Oh, we never allow our cats on the counters or the table. Never! That was a one-time thing. Really!!! Ignore that cat bed on the dining room table…

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About the vole — a stray cat arrived at our farm (probably dropped) and she was truly a killer kitty. Nearly every morning she’d present a dead vole at my backdoor, minus head. She had an addiction to biting off the heads, though I never saw her devour the remainder of the vole. I’d see her patrolling the perimeter of the property early every morning, watching the ground for voles.

For a time, she stayed in the barn and would also kill mice. OF COURSE, I ended up taking Bitty Kitty into the house with my other cats. DH was upset, since he said she was his rodent/vole death squad. He didn’t want mice in the barn, since they might get into horse feed (though most of it was kept in metal barrels).

Is it wrong that I adore the idea of a kitty death squad? It was actually the first time we stepped onto the front porch and found pieces of a vole waiting for us that we knew Maxi and Newt had truly adopted us.

(I’m curious now why they eat the voles and moles and birds instead of offering them to us…? Hmm. I’ll say that I do prefer it that way, though!)

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I think Suggie just better ship those Reese’s peanut butter eggs to me RIGHT NOW and no blood will be shed! I love those things. I always purchase 1 bag of spice jelly beans and 1 package of the pb eggs around Easter. So far, the jelly beans have been purchased and eaten – yum.

My favorite part of this time of the year is the Reese’s peanut butter eggs. I actually had a hard time finding them this year, which made me cranky.

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And Suggie has knives. Lots of knives.

And he knows how to use ’em!

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Sugarbutt blends in perfectly with your cabinets and kitchen decor. He is a beautiful countertop decoration!

Truly, I always recommend matching your cats to your decor. Suggie matches the cabinets well; Spanky’s pretty green eyes go well in the living room; Newt’s buff orange goes nicely with the peach walls in the laundry room, and Mister Boogers goes well with whatever room he enters. Hetred goes with everything!

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what do you do with the egg shells?

Whenever I use eggs, I collect the egg shells ’til I have a bowlful, then I let them dry in the oven, crush them, and feed them back to the chickens. The calcium in the shells helps to give the shells on the eggs they lay harder. The harder the shell, the better! (We also give them crushed oyster shell for the same reason.)

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I was reading your blog while watching American Idol and I read “and a couple of months before we met in prison”. That shocked me…until I read the words again…”in person”.

I wouldn’t have held it against you if you had met in prison, but I might have been a “little” scared.

It would certainly have been a more interesting story!

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I really hate that you have spring already. Can I tell you to fuck off? North Bay lost almost 2 feet of it’s snow… and… I’m up by Thunder Bay now, we’re getting 40cms of snow.

Bet you miss living here, eh? Like, a lot??

Of course you can tell me to fuck off. You have my deepest sympathy with the snow and the cold. The older I get and the longer I live in the South, the more certain I am that there’s just no way on earth I could ever move back to Maine. The cold would KILL me. I can barely stand the three and a half minutes of cold weather we get here every year!

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What does “pipped and died in the egg” mean?

The hatching process consists of the three stages – first the chick “pips”, which means that they poke their beak through the shell in one spot. Then, they “zip”, which means they poke all the way around the shell so they can pop the top off the egg. Lastly, they hatch by pushing the top off the egg and squirming their way out.

(Nance would probably tell you that the fourth stage of hatching consists of the chicks collapsing as though they’re dead.)

You can see pictures of the zipping and hatching part of the process here. (Next time we hatch eggs, I’ll see if I can’t remember to get a picture of each stage!)

In this case, the chick pipped – poked the hole through the egg shell – but died before it got any further along in the process.

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Your 2001 entry is one of the funniest ever!

Fred and I both use the line “It smells kinda… chemical!” all these years later and then laugh like goons.

This is the first time I am so sad to see kittens leave. I know it’s totally necessary and the right thing to do. If you kept them all you’d have to stop fostering. Does letting them go get easier with time? Or does it depend on how much each kitten tugged at your heartstrings like Samba did with mine? I’m sure they will both find great homes.

It really depends on the kittens – some kittens are easier to leave at the pet store than others, but it’s certainly never easy. When I put a kitten in a cage and they don’t immediately go hide in the litter box, I feel better about leaving them there. On the other hand, when they do go immediately hide in the litter box, I feel horrible.

What really sucks is that you can’t explain to them that this is for the best, that someone will hopefully adopt them quickly and love them forever and ever. If there was a way to make them understand that, I think it might make leaving them there a little easier.

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I think Stinkerbelle looks angry because the dark lines on her forehead make her look like she is frowning.

I think Stinkerbelle looks angry because she’s a mean and hateful brat. She was laying on the bed in the guest bedroom the other day and I was petting her and she seemed to be enjoying it, then suddenly FOR NO APPARENT REASON she smacked at me AND IT HURT.


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I saw this and thought of you!

Obviously nine cats is NOT enough. I need to make a shirt with a picture of each of our cats on it, that says “Currently at ten. GOD KNOWS how many cats we’ll have next year!”

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Mr. Boogers, why do you hates me?

Boogie say “It not personal, stupid. I hets everyone.”

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Oh yeah, didn’t you wind up getting the SideSwipe blade thingie for the KitchenAid Mixer? I don’t recall hearing how that worked out for you. I am really interested in getting one myself… provided it works worth a damn. I am just concerned that too much of the batter/dough would stick to it and be ridiculously difficult to salvage.

I did get the SideSwipe blade, and I like it a lot. Dough does stick to it, but I don’t find it any more difficult to scrape off the SideSwipe than the regular flat blade. My only gripe is that one of the little fins tore recently, and I ended up having to pull it off so it wouldn’t end up in the cookies I was making. Even with one little fin missing, it still did a good job of mixing. So I’m saying I recommend it!

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We still have not received the testimonial of the ScamWow.

Would you believe that after I HAD to have the freakin’ ShamWow(s), I still haven’t used a single damn one of them?

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My question is about Jane; are y’all still friends and if so, can you please tell her to start writing again, mmmkay. (I kid; just wondered why she isn’t as prevalent on yours and Nance’s sites – y’all seemed like you were tight at one time.)

Yeah, I still consider Jane a friend, although we don’t email as often because she has a stupid JOB and she wants to do a GOOD job and she fails to understand that her whole reason for existing is to entertain me. Damn her.

(I would never tell Jane to start writing again ’cause she’d snatch me baldheaded and rightly so. She’ll write when she wants to/ has time to, and we can just consider it a lovely surprise when she does.)

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What was the breed of large dog that you had in the house that didn’t work out?

Jake was a Great Pyrenees, just like George and Gracie are. I think Jake would be a fabulous watchdog for the chicken yard, he was just the right dog at the wrong time. If we’d found him two years later, he’d be out in the back forty guarding the chickens right now.

(Though I’ll admit that I’m glad we have two dogs out there instead of one. I like knowing that G&G have each other to play and snuggle with.)

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What happened to SCOOPHANDS? Couldn’t they have caught the roosters? Mighty nice shootin’, though, Fred!

SCOOP HANDS would have been plenty helpful when we were trying to catch those goddamn roosters – I don’t know why it never occurred to me to grab them, but you can bet I’ll keep them in mind for next time!

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Robyn, I would love to hear/see you read aloud one of your “best of” entries, particularly one where you go on a cussing rampage. Your voice sounds so sweet and kind that I think it would be hilarious to hear you say “Fuck” 837 times.

I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future – I don’t know that I’d be comfortable reading an entry on video, but I’m sure I could make a wav or mp3 file of whatever entry y’all want to hear!

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I should really pick up my cross stitching again. I have one that I finished over a year ago, but I have to do the topstitching still. It’s my first one, so I am a little unsure of how to do this. Any advice???

I have no real advice – I think you just kind of have to dive in and do the best you can. Readers? Any long-time cross-stitchers have advice?

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I’ve done that exact same cross stitch of the cow but I’m currently “working” on a baby announcement of when my youngest son was born–I started it 5 years ago:)

I tend to cross-stitch and cross-stitch and cross-stitch and then all of a sudden I just STOP and don’t cross-stitch for weeks or months. Once upon a time I was making a picture for my sister’s birthday, this one:

and then for some reason I put it down and didn’t touch it – or ANY cross-stitching – for SEVEN years. When I finally finished it, it had a damn stain on it that wouldn’t come out, and I ended up selling it on eBay. (Yes, the person who bought it knew that it had a stain on it!)

Speaking of cross-stitching, when I was looking for the picture above, I found this that I cross-stitched for Fred back in 2002.

I think he hung it up in his office, but I don’t know for sure. I also made one for him that said “I need what it don’t be”; Fred once got an email from someone who was trying to ask him something about a program Fred had designed, and in frustration, the person (English was not this person’s first language) said “I need what it don’t be”, and Fred and I were so captivated by the phrase that I had to cross-stitch it.

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And: “my Georgie and my Gracie” – also Dogs! amongst the “things that make me smile.” Oh no, they are not pets, they are work dogs. And when they quit laying eggs, then Fred will process them.


Please take the above as an affectionate little tease. I know the dogs have their place and do a good job. The pics of them protecting the chickens from the hawk were wonderful.

I have no affection for those dogs. None! At all! No, really!


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Oh, I love that hampshire looking pig. Actually I love them both! They are adorable. I noticed their tails aren’t docked, I wonder if you don’t have to worry about that when they are outside. They have so much other stuff to do, besides chew on each other tails.

That’s a good question – if I recall correctly, none of the pigs at the farm where we got these two had docked tails, so I imagine that when they have room to roam and dirt and grass to root through, they don’t go after each others’ tails.

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So, do you notice any difference in personality with these pigs as opposed to the other ones you’ve had? Friendlier? They look cuddly… like, I’d want to go give them a great big pig hug!

They’re not really friendly, per se, but they aren’t afraid of us at ALL. They learned very quickly that when they see us it means there are snacks on the way, so they come right over to the gate and wait for us. (They learned more quickly than the other pigs we had, for sure, so maybe they’re smarter. Or just hungrier!) If we take too long to get over to the gate, they squeal and grunt and all but call us motherfuckers. They are spoiled ROTTEN, but they’re so cute about it that I can’t help but laugh at them.

You would want to go give them a great big pig hug right up until you got a whiff of the pig stank, trust me. Although maybe that’s not really fair – it isn’t so much the pigs that stink as the pig yard. They tend to use the corner of the pig yard closest to the chicken coop as their toilet, so as you approach the pig yard, it stinks to high heaven. Thank GOD the house isn’t downwind from the pig yard!

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Are you going to break down and finally name your piggies Cocoa and Oreo? They are, after all, your cutest. pigs. yet.

Sure, why not? I don’t know that we’ll ever call them by their names, but I see no reason we can’t declare their names to officially be Cocoa and Oreo!

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I was wondering how the dogs were doing with the hawks. Do the hawks make noise that attract the dogs’ attention or do the dogs just have a sense for when there are hawks around?

I honestly don’t know how it is that the dogs know there are hawks up there, whether the hawks make noise that I just don’t hear, or if the dogs just happen to glance up and see them there. Whatever the case, I think George and Gracie are doing a really good job of keeping the chickens safe. The funny thing is that apparently Pyrs don’t really hit their stride as far as bonding to and guarding their flock until they’re about 18 months of age, so I look forward to seeing them get serious about their job this winter.

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2009-03-13 (2) 2009-03-13 (1)

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We went to the Fiery Foods show this weekend. (The guy from Man vs. Food was there!!) Anyhow, there was someone giving samples of Lethal Injection hot sauce, which has bhut jolokia peppers in it. I was too scared to try it, especially after watching my boyfriend and his best friend suffer for 10 minutes. My boyfriend said he’d never tasted anything so hot in his life — he eats habanero peppers like they’re fruit!

I honestly don’t get why anyone would desire to eat something that causes them actual physical pain. WHY? It makes no sense to me! The day I popped a roasted jalapeno pepper in my mouth and then complained about my mouth burning for an hour afterward, Fred thought I was crazy. Hot food loving people are The Crazy.

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BTW – Because of you and Fred I’m starting a vegetable garden. I’ve been breaking my back clearing an area in the backyard for it. Ya’ll are also the reason we think it’s perfectly OK and normal to have “only” 4 cats. See what you are doing to the world?! πŸ™‚

I wonder how many cats have been adopted because people could use the “At least we don’t have as many as Robyn and Fred” justification? πŸ™‚ (That would be 2 of ours)

Y’all, ‘fess up. How many of you have said “We can get another cat – we still won’t have as many as Fred and Robyn!” to justify getting another cat?

I know Michelle used to comfort herself with the thought that she had fewer cats than we did annnnnd… how many cats DO you have now, Michelle? πŸ™‚

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Bottom line–instinct and experience makes good bread, so keep at it and one day you’ll just “get it.”

That’s what I figured, it’s just going to be a matter of doing it ’til I figure out what I’m doing. I told Nance last week that my next goal is to do a decent loaf of bread without using the bread machine (yes, I have weird goals) and then I want to try my hand at pie crusts!

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Yum! Pecans! Not sure if you like peanut brittle….but I saw this episode of Peter Perfect (which is actually kind of cute) and he was helping a woman get her business back on track….the business? Pecan brittle! And apparently everyone they met on the streets thought it was much better than peanut brittle. Might be something to try.

Oddly enough, Fred and I discussed the idea of pecan brittle. I’ve checked out a few recipes, and it doesn’t look too terribly difficult. We have so many pecans, why not give it a try, right?

(I toasted a pan of pecans earlier this week, then when they were cool I put them in a bowl on the counter, and every time I go by the bowl, I grab a couple. They are SO DAMN GOOD.)

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Did the chickens come out in the snow much?

The chickens didn’t really know what to make of the snow – most of them stayed in the coop (which they tend to do when it’s cold out), and the ones that came outside didn’t pay much attention to the snow at all. I’d like to see their reaction if we got three or four feet of the stuff, though!

(Which is not to say that I want three or four feet of snow, just that I’m curious what the chickens would do!)

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OMG – that is seriously the first time I have heard your voice Robyn. You sound just like a CNN journalist. Or maybe a guest on Martha Stewart. Actually you sound just like a Mum (Mom) on any American sitcom I have ever seen! Sorry – Australian here. I lurve your accent. BTW – goats cheese is unnatural and wrong. It tastes just like the smell of goats. Bleugh. But each to their own. I am biased because I grew up on a farm on which the livestock included goats. I can’t stand the smell of them.


And I know I’ve said it before, but your voice is always so different from how I voice you in my head, as I’m reading you. Love the slices of life that you show us, it’s very interesting and fun.

Everyone always says that I sound differently than they expect. Which begs the question, of course – what did you expect I’d sound like?

I know some people expect a Southern accent and some people expect a Maine accent, but I really kind of grew up all over (my father was in the Air Force ’til I was 12, and I was born in Maine, my sister was born on a base in Canada, we lived in Indiana, Michigan, Guam, and very Northern Maine. We settled in Maine (about 40 minutes north of Portland) when I was 12. My father’s from Alabama and my mother’s from Maine. My father does have a southern accent, but my mother doesn’t really have a Maine accent (after meeting my parents for the first time, Fred said “Your mother doesn’t really have an accent most of the time, ’til she says something like ‘CAH’!”). When I worked taking orders at LL B3an one winter, a caller told me I sounded like I was from the Midwest.

But tell the truth – y’all expected me to sound like Marge Simpson’s sisters, didn’t you?

If you have a burning desire to hear my voice – and Fred’s – you can actually go to last year’s entry, scroll down, and listen to us reading the newspaper article about Flappy McGee laying her monster egg. There’s even a blooper reel!

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Vodka makes a good cleaner on tile, bathtubs, kitchen surfaces and the like. Also makes a good room deodorizer spray mixed with your favorite essential oil.

That sounds like something I need to make – I have a little bottle of lemon essential oil, and it’s impossible to find lemon-scented deodorizer spray in the stores. I think I’m going to try making my own; it would certainly put the vodka to good use, otherwise the bottle of vodka would just sit in the cupboard for years and years!

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OK, so I was buying seed potatoes and onions at southern states today so I thought I’d ask: What are y’all growing, food-wise, this year? TELL ME ALL ABOUT YOUR GARDEN! πŸ™‚

Fred can add to this list, but I believe our garden this year is going to include the following: tomatoes (sungold, Golden Jubilee Heirloom Orange, Brandywine, Better Boys), peppers (habaneros, jalapenos, bell peppers, bhut jolokia peppers), yellow, scalloped, and zucchini squash, eggplant, cabbage, romaine lettuce, corn, okra, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, melons (haven’t decided what kind just yet), acorn and spaghetti squash. I’m talking about doing a couple of raised beds behind the back yard where I can grow carrots and onions this year, and possibly a small herb bed. In addition to the garden, we’ve got 10 apple trees, 11 peach trees, 5 plum trees, 2 pear trees, 4 cherry trees, 2 fig trees, and some muscadine grape vines. (I don’t expect all the trees will bear fruit this year, but I’m hoping at least several of them do!)

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Miz Poo and Tommy were playing with catnip toys, and Tommy got a little too close to Miz Poo. So she boxed his ears. You can imagine how pleased he was at being schooled by a portly Poo.

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2008: What you don’t know is that there are moments of pure glamour interspersed with all the drudgery.
2007: No entry.
2006: That is an amazing and scintillating fact, right there.
2005: No entry.
2004: No entry.
2003: Y’know, sometimes I wonder how I make it through the world, clueless as I am.
2002: Her portly butt probably cut off the circulation to something important.
2001: I should have her arrested.
2000: Work was just heavenly today.