Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The pressure of the 100th post

I don't know that the 100th post is supposed to mean anything. When I started this page, it was to expand topics beyond what we were discussing on the Business Woman's Finishing School, and I suppose I have done that. I dawdled on this post because I thought it should be indicative of something, but that was just holding back the tide.

So I remove the pile of sticks in front of the storm drain and we can continue.

This is the 100th post.

And I can date it whenever I want. Because blogs allow you to bend both time and truth.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

To Do List Survey

Thanks, SJL, for the survey! Yes, I did enjoy it.
This is not a "what are you" survey, but a study of List Making tendencies.
Takes about 10-15 minutes and you can be interviewed personally if you like.

http://www.AdvancedSurvey.com/default.asp?SurveyID=42180

Also check out our guest site of the week "ToDo Lists" in the blogroll.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

More Relief for Book Hoarders


International Book Project
Who are they?: "...founded in 1966 by Mrs. Harriet Van Meter in the basement of her home... (she's one of us!) Still retains its tradition of person-to-person diplomacy by sending individually crafted mail bags... (AND.. she's one of you!) of a few dozen books to smaller schools, orphanages, and libraries. "

What are the rules? They prefer textbooks, and in multiples, in order to stock classrooms and schools. But fiction is also welcome. Send to or drop off at the warehouse in Lexington, KY

Anything wierd about it? Not that I can see. They have a certain religious bent, as missions tend to. But then, I don't think that's weird.

What else they got? A campaign to get Mrs. Van Meter a stamp.

Books Behind Bars
Who are they? Write a Prisoner.com. I promise.

What are the rules? You recall my chaplain friend who said many prisons won't accept books . Their search tool helps you find those who will by state and type of books, but it requires both fields. I had a hard time finding combinations that brought back results. The state sex offender registry was easier.

Anything weird about it? Besides writeaprisoner.com? You have to be 18.

What else they got? Print a Poster was unexpected, but not what you think.

Books for Soldiers
Who are they? The Order of the Red Grail.
Yikes - who the hell is that? An "umbrella" charity in NC whose only charity is this one.

What are the rules? Lots. On this site, soldiers make specific requests through a bulletin board forum, and in order to donate you must become an "official" (approved) volunteer. There are a lot of terms and conditions about "appropriate" behavior, which probably mean "sex," but you can test it by discussing "politics."

Anything weird about it? Plenty more. I enjoyed this in the FAQs:
"Can I send romance novels? Yes, there is not a problem with racy covers as was the case during the first Gulf War. Of course, many troops are not interested in romance novels, so only send them in response to requests for these types of books. " (oh....aren't they?)

What else they got? The grail, it seems, and some unimaginative merchandise.

BookAid
Who are they? "Founded in 1954 by Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly... (I don't even have time to look that up, but count on her getting her own post later) Her husband was at that time Governor General of the Bahamas and during their travels Lady Ranfurly became aware of the desperate shortage of books experienced by many Bahamian children. "

What are the rules? Limited subject matter (reference and vocational training). They actually prefer the cash, unless you are a book publisher.

Anything weird about it? They seem very sweet, in fact. Focused on children, and Africa particularly. This was.. unusual:

Aid International had a stand at the Hay Festival in May. 100s of people visited our stand and created a 'Word Snap' - a polaroid picture of them with their favourite word underneath it. (out of which books for soldiers made a white t-shirt)

What else they got? The Reverse Book Token - donate in someone's name and receive a token to personalize for them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Practical Mathematics

The ghost of Rasputin has won a mathematical prize for disproving the theory "a doughnut shape cannot be transformed into a sphere without ripping it, although any shape without a hole can be stretched or shrunk into a sphere."

This math problem, proposed in 1904 (one presumes at a Boy Scout camp or the St Louis World's Fair) concerns the field of topology, which does not allow for simply wadding the donut into a ball (also known as the Wonder Conundrum).

Krispy Kremes do this best.

Instead, the mathematician used algebra to prove that it could be done. When algebra and geometry start sleeping together, I head for the hills.

Now that I know there is a market for solutions to real-life conjecture using higher math, I am taking to my cabin to prove or disprove the following:

1. A pizza can not be evenly divided among 3 people without 1 falsely claiming she had all her allotted pieces, although a Hawaiian pizza can be presumed in any department-wide order exceeding 3 pies.

2. The amount of time provided for you to speak in the meeting will be inversely proportionate to the amount of time you spent preparing for it.

3. If someone is in the woods to hear it, a truck will be backing up.

4. You can not lose if you hold on to Boardwalk and Park Place, regardless of the number of opponents or length of play.

5. Working mothers, plotted on a graph, form a breast curve.

6. Every good boy does not, in the main, do fine.

7. It is in the last place you looked.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nature/Nurture


What I looked like then:










What she looks like now:












Still trying to work out the math on this one.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

New England Saturday Night





It is Saturday night in Massachusetts and the promenade is crowded with families, pushing strollers. On the footbridge, seniors pause to catch their breath. Scattered conversations are heard in dozens of languages. Just a few steps from the state house, viewers are selecting their seats for the next show. If they angle their chairs right, they can watch amateur daredevils have a turn on the trapeze rig while they wait.

Smalltown USA has not given up on the Common. They have moved it indoors, to Jordan's furniture.

In a short drive, for a few hours (and absolutely no money if you want it that way) the entire family, including the jaded teens and their friends can find entertainment and refreshment in a Jordan's establishment with or without furniture shopping. Join the Mardis Gras parade, catch an amusement park ride, an Imax film, a turn on the flying trapeze. There is a different Liquid Fireworks show every half hour which is completely pleasing to adults, and mesmerizing to the under 10 set.

If your interest is actually furniture, you'll have no shortage of assistance, some in labcoats.

Here is the question to "I dunno ~ what do you want to do," especially for out-of-town guests, who won't believe that this is actually what we do for entertainment.

Swanboats, Hatch Shell, roller blading on Memorial Drive are all still preferred for the real Boston experience. But we don't all live in Boston anymore.

Here is how to pass 5 hours in a Jordan's, in this case the "Beantown" themed store in Reading, MA.

Dinner at Fuddruckers, where no one will wait on you or ask you how everything is, nor will they bum-rush you out for the next paying customer. You will be carded for your alcohol - twice - but when you notice the malt-shoppe age of most of the clientele (nearly all of whom are named Dude or YouGuy-eez) you'll realize this is a good rule, and try to be flattered because your grays are showing.

For dessert try either the bakery, the ice cream stand or the candy shoppe, a replica of the Boston statehouse made out of lacquered jelly beans. In fact, everything is made out of lacquered beans, from the Wonka-style flower garden, the tile floor, cafe tables, and giant banana split being worked over by Big Dig constructon vehicles. If your party includes 3 year olds, you can stop here and your evening is set.

Here you can try the trapeze for $10, or watch for nothing. Take your coffee in front of the Liquid Fireworks display and just TRY to be jaded about it. Marie commented it was no Bellagio, but each time the lights dimmed for the next display, she sat us right back down.

Send the older kids to the IMAX with a bag of Jelly Bellies in more flavors than anyone needs and enjoy some pleasant adult time wandering from room to room like a living version of the HG-TV lineup. Get the younger ones a taxi stroller and encourage them to beep the horn at slow moving traffic. This is how we learn.

Live vicariously in the BOSE home theatre wing, and announce to your companions what you would and would not do in your home theatre space.

No one displays furniture like Jordan's. Every room has its own theme, down to the music, and leads you to the next and the next in what feels like a maze, but never dead-ends you. As your party lounges in dream parlors none of you will ever buy, and a conversation piece sparks an actual conversation...you'll wonder why you don't do this at home. And you don't know why, but you don't.

You will indeed run into your neighbors here. And their visiting parents. And an entire family you haven't seen in 10 years. And none of you live anywhere near here. You don't ask why they are there on tonight of all nights. You already know.


Dude! You're 95% from Massachusetts!

Dude! Me and Sully and Fitzie and Sean are gonna hit Landsdowne tonight after the game, hang out at the Beerworks. I'll pick you up at the Coop at 6.

How Massachusetts are you?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Speaking of Cartoon Characters

Discovering that I am Spiderman drew in another thread.

In the game you play where you consider tattoos you might ever get, I accept that in the end I would choose a cartoon character. I have no tat, nor would I get one (paganism, yadda yadda... besides the thought of things I may have thought at 18 I would forever want on my body, like Free Nicaragua or a portrait of Sting), but then I won't have children either, but I know what their names are.

So yes, a cartoon character, but an obscure one. A conversation piece.

1. Mr Peabody
2. Timer
3. the Powerful Mach 5
4. the Minah bird
5. Ralph Phillips

can you even believe I found pictures of all of them? Without hardly trying? You can't stump the Internet.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Turns out I am Spiderman


intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.

According to Which Superhero are You? quiz. These are the great moments we need the Internet for -- uncredentialed personality tests that are oddly satisfying.

I confess to a girlhood crush on Peter Parker, but let's face it. He's no Speed Racer.

According to the Which Classic Sit-com Character are you, quiz, I am Cmmdr Adama from Battlestar Gallactica... and I think we all agree that was not a sit-com. But "fearless, courageous, and tolerant of the idiots in your charge"? Yeh, I'll take it.

In the realm of Washed-Up Sit-Com stars, I come out as Bea Arthur. [I am not making any of this up; I am sitting here taking quizzes.] "a strong woman with strong opinions." God'll get you for that, QuizFarm.

By now you must realize I am only amusing myself.

Which dictator am I? Why don't you guess:
Joseph Stalin! h'ray! We are so proud. "You can't stand those who question you... You tend to make them disappear very quickly." I can't argue it.

This is quite a dinner party I'm building.

Let's close with something more intellectual. Which Greek Goddess am I?
Hestia, goddess of the hearth. Maude disagrees.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Safe Distances From Things Suspected of Being Explosive

From the people who brought you the "full and upright position."

Interesting that this real worry would occur so soon after my irrational fears list.
Fly safely everyone.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Things to Worry About

  1. You could kill someone with that knife if you turned around too quickly.
  2. You left the oven on. The coffee on. The iron on.
  3. Where is the car?
  4. There will be a spider in the oven mitt when you put it on.
  5. Is that a lump?
  6. Is that a tick?
  7. Is that a water stain?
  8. The engine light
  9. The burglar alarm
  10. You have cancer. They have cancer. He, she, or it has cancer.
  11. There could be a Level 3 sex offender in your neighborhood.
  12. The water heater should not be that loud.
  13. The house is falling down the hill.
  14. You live too close to the railroad tracks. Airport. 200 ft high dam.
  15. There is too much paint stored in the garage.
  16. Killer Bees
  17. You will never get another job.
  18. You will shoot everyone at your present job.
  19. This list isn't funny. You're just crazy. Or I'm just crazy.

One of us is crazy. You decide.

Monday, August 7, 2006

It's Really Very Simple


1 - Marionettes, leprechauns, jack o’ lanterns, toile
2 - English schoolboys, goth grrls, Haley Joel Osment, steamer trunks
3 - Bozo, Jerry Lewis, Santa
4 - Grandfather clocks, Charlton Heston, OnStar
5 - Scarecrows, Identical twins, primitive portraits, Raggedy Ann
6 - Santa’s elves, Emmanuel Lewis
7 - Jack-in-the-box, carousel ponies
8 - Nancy Reagan, Zell Miller
9 - Davey’s dog Goliath
10 - PeeWee Herman
11 - C3PO
12 - Fred Rogers
13 - Michael Jackson

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Bible Box Update

because I know you care...

Think of the M*A*S*H episode where Father Mulcahy leaves the morphine under the bell at the orphanage.

Hands Across the Water (now linked twice from my site, so let's hope they are not a subversive military organization...unless of course they are for Our Side...) made this statement in their goals, which I thought spoke directly to the box of Bibles residing in my garage:

We are addressing an important conservation problem an important conservation problem in this country as our landfills and paper recycling centers can no longer take all of the excess but perfectly serviceable books that our schools and libraries were trashing - with guilt - before HATW’s existence, for lack of other outlets...Contrary to popular conception, most of the books that are being destroyed here in the USA are not moldy and tattered but are instead often quality books that are still in good condition. Typically they are discarded by a relatively affluent households, schools and libraries which must periodically "weed out" their collection due to space constraints.

Amen!" said my Bible box. "Pipe down, you," I said, and sent the HAW people (also known as Surplus Books for Charity AND Literacy for All) a note about the Bibles.


Reply: Yes, we gladly accept bibles and all religious literature as well as all kinds of books.


"Halleluah!" the Books cried. "Don't make me come out there," I yelled.

And --- -and...there is a collection bin in my own town. Bin-to-bin book transfer!


Here how it goes down: Drive to the parking lot behind the gym. There are 2 boxcar sized bins. One is a clothing dump, brightly painted with the charity name, and contains those pull-down drawers that are the nature of these bins. The other is olive green, sits on the other side of the parking lot, and appears to be sealed on all sides.


But oh! kick aside that piece of parking lot curbing, and a door swings open. And the bin is full of clean, boxed, neatly organized books.


Pause here for dramatic effect. Bring up the music if you have it.


I have a new calling: ushering orphaned books through this literary underground railroad. I have a new thing to worry about: getting locked inside this bin.

I leave my box, including a complete Chronicles of Narnia inside this poetically fitting Wardrobe, replace the asphalt block (for now I am an insider) and drive away.

in closing,
Thanks to Dr. A, who sent this clip.




Friday, August 4, 2006

The Big Mistake

does anyone ever miss Fallen Fruit?

Sam is in the Russian Team Room eating alone, which she rarely does. It happens that her mother, whom she had arranged to meet today, has had to cancel out, but Sam keeps the reservation for herself. She has always believed that eating out alone is a sign of self-assuredness; but she hardly feels sure of herself, and keeps glancing up around each page of The New Yorker she turns.

It could have happened that Kyle would enter the restaurant as she was glancing over one of these pages, but it happens not to be so. Kyle gets up to her table before she turns another page. She stares at the button of his shirt, follows the stitching up to the collar, to his narrow pointed chin, to his nervously smiling bottom lip.

Kyle and Sam had lived together for over a year in a townhouse in their hometown in New Jersey. This awkwardness between them was not something new.

Even when sharing their bed, there had been a sense of politeness hanging thickly over their relationship. It had been a tedious engagement, as far as Sam was concerned. Kyle had sworn that he loved her, and maybe he did. That's not for her to say. But she knew she hadn't loved him. She felt it for certain the morning of the pancake breakfast.

Sam was in the kitchen, opening a carton of instant pancake batter. Sam certainly could have made her own if she had wanted to, and had thought about it, but concluded why bother for a man who inhaled food so quickly he rarely noticed if it had died yet. A response to that might have been...because I love him enough to think he deserves special attention. That response did not occur to her, and Sam found that highly significant. She poured the pancakes, fried them, and served them with Karo syrup and sausage patties. While Kyle was sugaring his coffee, Sam called off the engagement.

Not entirely because of pancake batter. They were just the symbol of the recurring intangible problem -- whatever it was that made her stare at him like someone she didn't want to know when he was stomach down on the bedroom floor doing his morning push-ups. She took long walks alone and read the new novels, saw movies in the afternoons, and in general had been carrying on a side of her life she never considered sharing with him. When they made love, she enjoyed it and felt for the moment close to him. The closeness, she realized, was temporary.

The butter was melting on her pancakes; the square on top stayed cool and uniform. "I think we need to talk about some things," she'd said, not calling him by his name because she wasn't in the habit of it.

Kyle had looked over his fork. A dot of syrup was in the corner of his mouth. It glistened when he spoke. "What's the problem?"

In Sam's memory of it, Kyle had taken it well, and her memory isn't far off the mark. Of course he had been hurt, but as he had grown older, he had become grateful they had been spared the Big Mistake. Separation had put years in his face, which is what Sam first notices now. There are lines around his eyes and a whiteness in his eyebrows. He is thirty-seven or so. Sam can't remember anymore -- only that he had been born in March. The last birthday they’d spent together had been to Lake Placid, to ski.

She invites him to sit and he quickly orders a drink. He takes her hands and says, “It’s great to see you.” Letters have passed – more like postcards in envelopes – but even that had stopped three years ago. “I can’t believe we would see each other in the city---“

“When we never do at home,” she says, laughing.

“I hope we’ll see you this Christmas.”
“At Allison and Neil’s open house, sure. I’ve heard it’s absolutely—“

“Oh, incredible. It hardly looks like the same house since they knocked the walls out and opened up the rooms.”

“Did Alison get her library?” asks Sam. Already he is nodding.

“She did. It’s all refinished and the books are moved in. They’ve got wooden sculptures. They bought them through your friend.”

“Claire.”

“Right.” He hasn’t stopped smiling. He looks comical with his new moustache, but it helps fill out his face. The moustache smiles too, turning up at the ends past his mouth, then puckering back to show his top pink lip. “God, Samantha,” he says.

Kyle had never called her Sam, and Sam liked tat about him. She had forgotten how she liked to hear him talk, how his eyes look right into the eyes of the people he is talking to, how he makes them feel he’s never heard anything so captivating as what they are saying. Whatever she was about to say to his “God, Samantha” is forgotten when she sees that the jewelry she feels against her fingers is his wedding band. “When did you get married?” is what she says instead, but it comes out in a cheerful tone.

“Last July, your folks didn’t tell you?” His expression does its best to apologize. “Your father was…”
Sam clenches her teeth. “Congratulations. Anyone I---“

“No. I don’t think so. She’s from Connecticut…” His voice fades without providing a name.

“Marriage looks good on you,” she says, but the smile is a strain to hold up.

Kyle is tearing his cocktail napkin into strips and rolling them into balls. “What about you?”

Sam smiles and bobs her head from side to side. She traces an initial into the condensation on the side of her glass. “No one you’d know.” Her eyes watch the trim around the top of the walls in the dining room.

“Well, that’s great,” he says, in the way children are praised. “And the business is going well?”

“Very well.” He gaze dives down into his. “So well I can afford to take a break over Christmas.”

His moustache tugs down, to show this impresses him. “That is well. Christmas should be your busy season.”

“So I’ll have time to travel. Maybe I’ll see you around town.” Nothing in her expression indicates that she wants the conversation to continue. She offers her hand to Kyle and dismisses him. “Give your parents my love.”

“Call me when you get in town,” he says.

“I’ll do that.”

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Embracing your Retail Deity



I am not a collector of many avatars and the few I have I am still coming to terms with. Avatars occur at the intersection of Creepy Puppets and Insane Robots, and like the toile people run through your house at night and whisper behind your back.

I have 2 avatars in my possession at present:
My IM avatar lost its human face a few months ago when baseball season opened and I changed it to the Red Sox logo from Alfred E Newman. AIM provided a Mad Magazine theme, but most of the Alfred avatars were animated, which I think is annoying to your IM recipient. I had chosen the only one that was static.

Mwtyger IMs: "Your avatar is vomiting," which it was, into a barf bag stenciled "Mad." Classy.

I have a friend whose boyfriend designed an Avatar for her Yahoo IM. Yahoo has a wizardy sort of tool which creates a human figure of your design in a hip animation style partway between Kim Possible and the Bratz. He also designed his own, and enjoys dressing it every day, and changing its attributes (another word for "accessories" preferred by people who say "avatar").

His girlfriend is dumbfounded by this interest of his. I believe she had her time of playing Barbies, and he did not, which is why boys are drawn so late in life to D&D, WOW, and SCA.

Which brings me to my other avatar, pictured here -- hilariously dressed in an outfit I would never buy.

Land's End provides a model that you can dress in their "separates," presumably to encourage you to buy them, though that doesn't seem to happen. I have met no one with a Lands End model who says, "why yes, once I saw it 'on,' and turned my model 360 degrees, I had to have it."

By entering your measurements, and some other physical information (face, hair, build, etc), you create this mannequin of yourself. You could lie to your Land's End model, but it won't help. It can help you choose a hair style, though, and commit to losing those 20 pounds, or 12 inches. It can not convince you to try the Land's End turtleneck jersey dress and wool mocs if you are not already from New Hampshire.

Some important things to know about your Land's End model:
1. you can not cross-dress at Land's End.
Trousers are for men, and slacks are for women. This took a great deal of the fun out of it for me, until I used my same measurements to build a male model. I am afraid that, especially from the rear, it looks a lot more like me.

2. always choose the "younger" setting for your facial features.
The "older" setting goes immediately too far, like kids in drama club playing the grandma. Same principle for "build," where you should choose "less muscular." Disregard this rule if you are Hillary Swank.

3. Land's End will suggest "things that go with what you are wearing."
Keep in mind you are shopping at Land's End.