Saturday, October 31, 2009

This page does not decorate for holidays

One more clue we are not Google.

I was going to pontificate on the lost apostrophe in "Hallowe'en," but I decided to see people instead.

Happy Halloween everyone. NaBloPoMo starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NaBloPoMo 2009... ?

Still trying to decide whether I will commit to National Blog Post Month this year, which means posting every day in November.  It is a little tricky, because I vacation in November, but I managed to pre-schedule some things during last year's trip.  The downside is missing actual posts from my vacation, but I suppose you have football and mincemeast to distract you.

I do indeed have the time.  I usually have the material, and did pretty well last year.  Maybe you could just read last year's and pretend with me.
I am concentrating on the Finishing School mostly these days (gratuitous link to drive numbers) which also takes the personal time I have left over every day after my "job transition campaign."  And I have to watch the movies sometime, and you count on me for book reviews and the rest of it.  As it is, it is 8:50pm right now, which until very recently was end-of-day email time.  I do myself the favor of not even opening IM during that end-of-day Millstorm.  I am cleaning out my personal Inbox, which is resurfacing some of the suggestions you have sent.  If I find 30 of them, that might be a determiner.

The wireless is broken, which could not have come at a worse time, (notice how this has been going on with the HP notebooks for 2 YEARS and they don't care).  And I am rationing the bourbon.

So... no promises.  But I just might give it a go.  This is not the kind of post you show up for.   It could be the start of a trend.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Goin' to the candidates' debate

Merry Christmas, Massachusetts, Santa brought you a senate race!  Democratic primary first week of December, and tonight, we saw the hopefuls all in a row.

In this corner.....
Your attorney general (cannon)
Your Congressman (cowboy)
Your community organizer (wheelbarrow)
Your business leader  (top hat)

Your moderator Peter Meade (as the scottie dog).

The first challenge for this slate of candidates, and the Party in general, is explaining that Massachusetts has two Senate seats.  We did not actually retire Senator-for-Life Kennedy's desk after his passing.  Do you say you'll do it differently, or exactly the same?  and how much space between you and this guy?

yay much

Meade asked for the candidates to describe the moment when they wanted to run, expecting us to go to videotape, or at least for a kilted pipesplayer to emerge from the wings.  The candidates showed the proper respect for the Late Senator Emeritus, and refrained from saying the obvious answer, respectively:
- The cool murders disappeared the minute I became AG
- It is the natural next career move for me
- I want the President to notice me
- I am a spoiler

Out of tonight's showing, I like Capuano, and reserve the Mass Dem's right to flip-flop on that as soon as it suits me.  I liked how he put Meade in his place for asking questions based on "what ifs."  I actually wanted Capuano to say, "Well, Peter, you could ask would I vote for mandatory push-ups for everyone -- that isn't going to happen and you are deliberately trying to provoke crazy sound bites."  But instead he stuck with, "That's not how it would happen, so it's not a real example."  I shouldn't put that in quotes; it is not exactly what he said.  I did write this one down, "Our mission was not to conquer Afghanistan."

Mike reminded us all he has been to Afghanistan.  ("You, sir, have not been to Afghanistan")  And he has voted on Congressional bills before.  And nanny-nanny-boo-boo.  Martha Coakley refrained from reminded us she convicted Louise Woodward.  (speaking of nannies...)

Coakley did fine. she knows how to speak to camera, and she had some smart things to say.   Like human rights are not determined by citizenship.  If she hires me, I can give her pithy statements like this, because she talks like an attorney, and this is what she meant.

Alan Kezhi played for Passion (capital P) but it backfired on him at times.  He said more than once that "when people have jobs, people pay taxes."  I can assure him that when people  don't  have jobs, they also pay taxes.    He talked a lot about the "special interests and the lobbyists"  (Ye Scribes and Pharisees!) who he admits "run Washington."  Alan, you will have to get into bed with them; our Ted knew that.  Lobbyists have their passions too.

In his nervousness, or over-preparedness, he repeated himself often.  Being the "son of a doctor" is not credentials.  If it were, then I could chair the Armed Services Committee myself.  He also outed himself as Iranian-American, which was bold, and we can look forward to long debates in the Herald about whether he is "an Arab," when of course... he is Persian.

Steve Pellicano... you are not adding value.  Thanks for having some stats to work with (320,000 unemployed in the Commonwealth), but I don't think you broke away from the pack here.  I am filing you under Jim Rappaport .  And best of luck to you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A mild case of purse panic

I am referring to the phenomenon that occurs when you are, say, at a restaurant or on a catamaran, and you suddenly think, "Where's my bag?!" then remember you didn't bring one.  I have seen mothers have purse panic for their children when they have left them with a sitter.

Something feels ... "off" when you lug around a giant bag  (or a 7 year-old) then for one reason or another leave it behind one day.  Or maybe someone took it from you with your badge and laptop tether.   (just for example)

The first couple of days off that tether did feel like days off.  I had too much paperwork and too many phone calls to make to think about unfinished business on the job.  But the start of this first week brought a recurring series of "Oh I forgot to/still have to/need to..." moments of purse panic that would launch my heart into my throat until I remembered that however much I meant to see to those things, they are no longer my things to see to.  I don't even know whose things they turned out to be.  And I certainly don't know how (or whether) they got done.

I'd like to get all self-righteous here and say I don't much care, but that wouldn't be true.  I am letting them go, and in just a few more days I won't remember what they were.  There will only be phantom echoes of meeting minutes that aren't being attended to, spreadsheets that aren't being updated.  Itches I can't scratch.  But in the meantime, I wander around looking for a way to be of use, herding tennis balls and re-arranging lists of things to do.

Like an old soldier, I will eventually go back to sleeping under the covers when I no longer have to worry about incoming artillery.  I will be able to do one thing for more than 45 minutes, when I now feel like ought to turn to some other project I am neglecting.  I will lose the urge to write down how I just spent the past quarter hour.  I will stop thinking in spreadsheets.  maybe. 

Where I directed my energy this past week.

Unemployed Workoholic's Week in Review
Supervised the toilet installation
Got into the unemployment system
Figured out monthly cash flow in/out
Milked the last of the insurance coverage
Relaunch work on the Business Finishing School 
Talking to you

And thank you all for that.

On the upside, you would be amazed at what this has done for my blood pressure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No networking please; we're LinkedIn

LinkedIn was not the first social networking site I tried. I got my start with Netflix, then expanded into GoodReads, taking advantage of "sharing" tools so that my friends and I could recommend movies and books to each other. Facebook was a long time coming. In between, I experimented with LinkedIn for professional networking, to see if I could develop a certain type of professional persona.

"Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. "

I have a number of jobs, have had a number of careers, have an educational background with little direct relationship to anything else on my resume.  I saw LinkedIn as a way to focus on one professional area I wished to develop, and which was in serious need of a network.  I also believed that if I presented a public profile that said I was a certain kind of journeyman, I could start to believe I was.

I wanted a network that was unrelated to my Millwork, which was for a giant multi-national with thousands of employees and alumni-employees that would take over my page if I let it.  I wanted this network to be devoted to my other work.

I record audio books, magazine articles, and generally describe things to people who can not see them.  That's a job, you say?  Yes it is.  As the t-shirts say, "there are just some things a guide dog can't do."  I managed to manipulate the resume fields to reflect my descriptive audio experiences, and the education fields to allow me to identify as "classmates" students I had known in my years as a student affairs officer.  Two organizations I work for -- Radio Reading Service and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic -- are national, so listing them as employers allowed me to find "colleagues" at affiliate studios.

"LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals."

I began to selectively network immediate friends and associates in the biz.  My news feeds focused on the disabilities access field and group updates came from the alumni groups of the colleges I had listed.  And they told two friends....and so on.

Formal networking is not something I do well.  I am the James Garner character in The Great Escape -- I know what's what and how to get it, but I am not very good at reaching out for the potential contact who can take me to the "next level" and that sort of thing.  Watching the network grow was satisying (List + Venn Diagram) and identifying how many degrees I was away from someone in the know became an interesting game.

I began to branch out.

[member testimonial] "...“I realized … the place to go to begin that search was going to be my LinkedIn network,” [Employer] told us. “If anyone can lead me to the kind of person with the kinds of capabilities I was looking for, it’s this set of people.” [Employer] posted the job on LinkedIn and began filtering candidates."

LinkedIn will let you know there are new members you have something in common with. 

New members of social networks like to build their contacts, and since they were offered, this seems like a good place to start.  I would open with a note like this: "Welcome to Linked In.  I am an X-yr volunteer living in New England, looking to network with people who do similar work.  Please reply if you would like to link networks."

Because they are offered to me as colleagues (we have the same workplace in our profiles), I do not need to know their email addresses to contact them this way.  As recipients, they may "Accept," "Ignore," or choose "I don't know this person."   Many do not accept, but others have, which has given my network some national breadth.

Here,  600 words later, I will get to my point.  If this were 5th grade, my essay would be over already.  I always did have that problem.

Recently, I received a "restriction notice" from LinkedIn that I had  too many "I don't know this person" replies, which LinkedIn interprets as a complaint.  LinkedIn had put me on networking restriction.  for networking.

"Searching your email contacts (,,, is the easiest way to find people who you already know on LinkedIn."

According to my AOL address list, I "already know" Conde Nast, American Airlines and some people who promise they can provide "what she really needs."  These are the addresses they would like me to link to, not people in my field I have not yet met.

While restricted, I was not permitted to network with anyone else unless I could confirm their email address.  I should only network with people I am already networked with.  In order to lift this restriction I had to clap some erasers and endure an email scolding about terms of use.

"[DON'T]...invite people with whom you have no prior relationship to join your network"

I have completely missed the point of networking.  This is not how we worked the Fall Mixers.  One was supposed to mingle.

So I clicked their "I get it" check box and was hit with a "don't let it happen again" email with the subject line "You have been unrestricted."
"We thank you for agreeing to comply with our policies and know that together we can maintain an outstanding website for all of our members."  ("I'm not mad at you, Christina, I am mad at the dirt.")

If I don't already know you, you're in luck.  We will now never meet.  You have been spared.
I am checking out The Brazen Careerist instead.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

The Baroness checks in with this selection from the Lillian Vernon catalog. 

1.  How is this a toy?
Toddlers love their pop-corn lawnmowers and their toy food.  Toddlers love to do whatever grown-ups do.  A child this age already knows the difference between work and play.  She would not look this happy cleaning the 14th floor of the Chrysler Building.  Why would she be happy about pretending to?

2.  Stop it with the purple and pink already
I do not deny the phenomenon of purple's effect on little girls.  There is no explaining it.  But it can not, on its own, make a toy any more attractive.  See also.

3.  That child is wearing a smock

And khaki pants.  The universal cleaner's uniform.    And please, please, tell me she is not Latina.

4.  The catalog copy
"Pink trolley holds all she needs to spruce up her room.  8-piece set includes broom, mop, bucket, dust pan, whisk, broom [sic - you already said that - I think they meant "whisk broom"], vacuum and plastic bag.

let's continue...
"Canister style vacuum sounds like the real thing -- as light and release button to remove and empty container."  I promise you that is what it says.  Some of that sentence got caught in the brush attachment.

5. So.. why not give her the real thing?
Are you seriously cleaning her room while she follows behind not-cleaning her room?  You are being played for a fool.

6.  It got bad reviews
Note that the copy gives the size as 29.5 " high (2.5').  The child in this photo is very very small.  The reviews are a little hard to read here, but these parents call it small, flimsy, and not well made.

7. They also recommend it for Creative Development.
Say what you want about Barbie, but she was never a cleaning lady.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  The Auntie from Asheboro, NC gives it a "VERY NICE" (all caps) and "just right" for her 2-year old niece.  Should they advertise it with a toddler, then? 

8. "You may also like...."  
This is what a little corporate sponsorship will get you: a caution sign and wet wipes.  (Kids have trouble getting access to wet wipes, after all. ) Notice that Meredith here is not a professional cleaner.  She is just having it all in her contemporary working girl apartment and business-casual internet wardrobe.

9.  I am not linking directly to the catalog because I do not wish to endorse.
That's not something wrong with this picture; I am just having trouble getting to 10.

10. $29.98, marked down from $45.
You have all that stuff in your house.  It is not purple or pink, but I promise you... she does not care.  And you might get your son to clean his room with the real machine.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A flea in her ear

HUBBARDSTON: The dream of a beach day this year was never realized, but we did finally make it to Rietta.

Many months ago, Fitchy invited me to come along on a pilgrimage to Rietta Flea Market, "a family fun experience," says the website.  and Fitchy too.  So I began to roam the house looking for flea-worthy finds.

Oh, that picture at right will be explained soon enough.  It serves the same purpose there that it did for all us all day -- it attracts attention.

The hook to Rietta is that the tables are provided.  You rent the slot (or slots) and rig it up as you need.  Some of the regulars are elaborate, indeed -- canopies, chair rigs, tarps on the ground.  One family near us had a full taco bar going on in the bed of a pickup.  It reminds me of that scene in Charlotte's Web when they are packing up to go to the fair, where they will live for a couple of days through the ag shows.  Only at Rietta, it is only 1 Sunday at a time, from 6am to about 2pm.

Junk Bonds
Fitchy's family stays packed for these events, and use it as a go-to like your family might use touch football or yachting.  I imagine your family as the Kennedys.  As it turns out, I did too, because our original date was rained out, and after that it became near impossible to coordinate.  My bins stayed in the garage, taunting me, but the joke was on them.  They were in the garage, and no longer in my house.

As a result, I had time to pad my cache with pure-profit finds, namely, books from the town dump.  Some background reading to catch you up. (TV Guides, Bibles)  References may occur.  When the opportunity presented itself, I would load up on the kind of mass-market p'backs that the public go for and toss them into the bins with my thigh-length jackets, size 10 clothes (ha-ha, how cute) and entire bag full of ripped jeans that I boldly labeled "scrap denim," like that's a thing.

I found (yes, really found) a Casio keyboard missing its adaptor cord, some corporate-label swag from the Mill, and Otto's Sega Genesis, which he bequeathed to me as a house-warming because he knows my love of Lethal Enforcer ("keep a-goin'). 

Late Saturday afternoon, the family mobilized, and the plan was on.  Meet at 7am, drive to Hubbardston, add our carload to the family table already in progress.

The Early Birds
Fell into a few categories:
1) The Cadillac Jacks - these are the guys who buy for buyers.  When I am shoveling through the book bin at the dump, I pretend to be one.  It seems more respectable than being a person who shovels through dumpsters.  This is entertaining: according to, a signed first edition of Cadillac Jack goes for $8500.00
2) Old Guys - I think they come for the coffee, and because they are already up
3) Other vendors - who will catch you unprepared and paw through boxes while you are opening them, then resell on you later that same afternoon

The hoarders come later.  They can't rush through the house.  But they will come.  Because
this is who we want to be
this is who we are

650 vendors, of which we were 2, with our own table in between, 2 clothes racks, a shoe rack, a portable crib and a dog kennel, which we were careful to keep apart so they didn't compete with each other.

You in America Now  (said Old Fiddler to Kunta)
If you find the crowd at Walmart just too pretentious... if NASCAR's dress code is too formal... come to where America lives.  and smokes.  and barters you down from $2 to $1 on Ann Taylor linen pants.  And you give them up, because you already feel bad for not just donating them to start with.

People will tell you their stories, which was why Cadillac Jack did it, and a lesser author would have turned him into a detective franchise who solves crimes through his obscure knowledge of Americana and collectibles.

No charge for ranting
A guy who bought a book on cassette so he could tape over it complained to me about how hard cassettes tapes are to find, and even more expensive to buy, but people think the government should pay for health care.  It was like someone hit the remote on my Rant-o-Vision.

Big Ticket Items
Our biggest bulk, the crib and kennel, went fairly quickly, and not to the same family I am happy to say.  The Sega began to get dissected, since I could sell the games without the system, but the whole package made a better price.  The guns and LE game went to an Early Bird, who caught me before my brain was caffinated, and I let him get away with it.  A frequent flier kept trying to talk me down once the only games left were Disney, and he admitted he was only interested in the box, which I found suspicious, so I reserved the right not to serve.  By the end of the day it was $20 with 3 Disney games, and still had the $149.99 Lechmere price tag on it.  Lots of nibbles, but no strikes.

Which brings us to
The Attention Grabber
I no longer remember which of you gave me the pretty boys paper dolls.  I certainly got my enjoyment out of them (and I don't care what you think that means) and decided it was time to put them aside.  I priced them at 50 cents and put them in my book box where p'backs were 50, hardbacks a dollar, a first edition Lovely Bones for $2, which I hid in there for the treasure hunters, and the latest stash of Bibles, each marked "Free."  You can see why the cover of the Romantics Heroes paperdolls would be an eye-catcher (he's not actually naked, but he is wet).  Passersby would see that, the Bibles, then me, and are probably off writing their own blog right now.

It became a quest to sell the paper-dolls.  I pitched it as a gag -- "you want at least one thing today that makes you laugh," -- and they would laugh, then put it back.

Game On
The other item I stashed for the collectors was 4 TV Guides from the big haul -- Michael Jackson, Charles and Di, the Golden Girls, and Valerie Bertinelli.  I purposely obscured them, to see if I could lure a legendary monster trout out of his hiding place.  Next time I will have a rig for them, and bring a lot more.

A 2-foot tall clear spice mill, of the kind you find in Marshall's, or receive in Yankee Swaps, couldn't be given away.  Maybe because it was full of  unspecified "spices," maybe because it was branded as "Betty Boop," when so many chefs are available.  Maybe because it expired in 2006.  Even the woman wearing a Betty Boop fanny pack didn't want it.  She said "enough is enough."  She said it as if we had manufactured the thing.

The buyers have their games too.  One common move was to show a wad of bills (usually under 5) and claim it was all that was left.  Another was to offer to buy the entire box of shoes at a cut rate because they were going to Africa.  Both had the effect of pegging us as Richies (because of my shiny new Cobalt, no doubt, and the fact we were not smoking) who didn't want to take this stuff home, and who felt bad about asking poor people to pay for our castoffs.  It half-worked.  By that I mean, the shoe guy won; the woman who wanted the blender did not.

Fitchy's dad had a scheme for giving stuffed animals away.  They were priced, but if a kid showed any interest, he was going to get it for free.  On other items, he stood firm, but he was working his own set of rules.

Also priced as free was a book called "Free Yourself from Clutter," which I gave to a grandmotherly type who said she was going to hand it to her family and say "you take over."  Funny, or...??

Speaking of Therapy
I found my calling in Fitchy's boxes of baby clothes, which presented so many opportunities for sorting: boys/girls, seasonal, jammies/clothes, sizes... I learned quickly that sizes were what was called for, and created under 12 month, over 12 month, and Ts.  I maintained order throughout the day.  When people ask me "well, what do you want to do?"  I am not really kidding when I say, "fold things at the Gap."

This is not our set-up.  I just thought the page needed a break.

Let me close with this observation of what it is like to work hard for the money.  After about 7 hours (1 coffee, 1 donut, and the best hot dog ever made) I had personally cleared $32.  Not a bad margin when you figure most of the stuff I was selling I had never paid for, and I didn't have to kick in on my share of table fee.  The clouds and wind rolled in, and reminded us it was fall in Massachusetts.  Prices began to slash.  We began to look for people who had touched the peppermill before, or stared long at the Sega.  The paper dolls went down to 25 cents and sold seconds later.  Gag gifts are only a quarter-dollar funny.  Not half.

Fitchy and I ate most of our earnings for lunch.  We strategized for next year and were grateful we did not have to earn every meal that way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Junior High School

#22 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

I don't usually post two 70s entries so close to each other. I like you to think I am more well-rounded than this. After all, the President just won the Nobel Prize, the next door neighbors have moved out, and the news down the Mill is outragous as always. But I went looking for a beloved treasure whose songs I once knew by heart.

The only lines I can remember right now are
This is called a band saw/The blade can slice a tree
Be careful when you use it/Or you'll be an amputee.

Junior High School, the 1978 musical short that would have been lost forever if the ingenue had not grown up to be Paula Abdul. In its day, this bizarro and painfully accurate portrayal of Junior High (I myself was 14 and ghastly) was on The Movie Channel whenever Same Time Next Year was not. I knew them both by heart.

Cue theme music.
Tonight the DrawingIn Room does what it does best. Or at least most often:
Trolls the net for things you would rather not spend time on.
The main lesson of this particular department on this particular blog is that life is not harder for kids these days and the world is not at all a meaner place. Today's kids would not last one week on the banana-seat mean streets of our day. We are not better people than they will be because of it. I am just saying...
That they are pansies.
The plot: (from the film's facebook fan page)

Jerry (P. David Ebersole) wants to ask Lori (Karen Capelle) to Sherri's (Paula Abdul) party but she seems to be going with Bill AND Bob. Fearing he might end up with the dreaded Karen, Jerry decides to take Paul's advice and just ask her. Easier said than done, especially with the evil nerd Keith terrorizing the halls.

You may also remember this plot from your sad high-water slacks life.

The party, though hosted by Sherri, is actually at Julie's house because her folks are out of town. Folks were always out of town. Sixties parents were throwing cocktail bashes and progressive gin parties in their own homes, but seventies parents were god knows where.

You know Paula plays the popular girl because of her exceptional curling iron proficiency.
 Not long after Alan Parker made that freakshow Bugsy Malone, in which child actors were dubbed with adult voices (worst Jodie Foster film ever? Not if you have seen Svengali)

Sorry, I distracted you with that. That was unfair. About Junior High School...

Not long after Bugsy Malone, director Michael Nankin shot Junior High School using real jr high kids, some with more talent than others, but most with very little at all.
Roger Ebert tells how it got made.

This is Michael Nankin's website. There is nothing on it.   literally.
Michael Nankin... Nan--kin... stop doing your stagey head scratching and snap your fingers, HARD.  He's the Battlestar Galactica Guy. Here is an interview with him by a guy who should help him with his website.

Nankin was a young film student, collaborating with writers David Wechter, Helyn Spears, and Steve Jacobson (who according to IMDB did nothing else with himself) who created Junior High. Helyn went on to become an editor and professional name-changer.   But she has an Emmy and I don't.

In 37 minutes, it packs in production numbers, multiple plotlines, and a surprising lot of jockstrap and titty talk.  We were jaded beyond our years.  See also Foxes.
Notice that the gym teacher is named Miss van Dyke.

You can watch the whole film on You Tube, but only in You Tube style chunks. Picklepuss' channel seems to have all of them. 

Interesting side note: The filmmakers received the Golden Knight award in 1978 for their achievement. This is an amateur film award (an award for amateur film; I am sure the award itself is professional. Or professionally ripped off from the Academy award) sponsored by the Malta Cine Circle.

Malta?   hunh.
I am unable to uncover how this little film by some 2nd year film studentds made its way to Malta.
Other things that are Maltese.

I am going to admit that any snicker that may have elicited was not worth the effort it took to make that image. And it was off-message anyway.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Halloween Nutcrackers

From the people who brought you the Easter Egg tree.....
If you've been working on how to make nutcrackers (insane robots of Christmas) more horrifying, try this.  This photo makes them look like there might actually be people in them.

Dig the Krampus version:

If you are looking to one-up the neighbors on Halloween decorations, let The DrawingIn Room offer this culled list of crossover hits:

goth gift wrap

The Tree - "perfect for displaying Halloween decorations," they say.


Photos with Dracula
Your choice of encore posts on this topic

You can always count on a chess set

I am oddly drawn to chess sets.  And glass candy.  I don't collect either because I realize that's crazy.

Annoy The Neighbors - the goal of any outdoor decorating

Or just your dog

In closing.......
Your Halloween Wedding Planner