Sunday, January 23, 2011

Giving the people what they want

I have been in the house just long enough to not want to leave it anymore.  This morning... I might have.  A nice bike ride, a romp around the gym circuit.  But it was one degree.  So I stayed where I was.

12 hours later, I am beginning to think I could hole up until the rice ran out.  And you know the rice never runs out.

That blue figure  says minus 7.  7 beeel -- ow.  
  This is the kind of night where you just stayed wherever you were, or at the nearest apartment to where you were, because you couldn't face the bus stop.  Always keep a black blazer at work.  This is what we learned.

Now out here in ex-urbs, we wait for the plow, we keep lots of coffee in store, and we wander into crazy tasks like shredding 5 years of 401k statements from the old mill.  Funny story: I rolled that account into my others as soon as I could, but Schwab didn't close it.  Instead, they kept it open to receive my stockholder's class action settlement (Taylor v McIlvey... god rest his soul...).  Now they send me new notices asking how I would like to handle the $160.00 they deposited in it.

And I ran the stats on my new counter, conveniently located at the bottom of this page.  My old counter counted, and told me where people's internet service provider was, but lacked what any serious blogger wants to know:  what did I build that people are coming for?  And how well am I, purely by accident, optimizing my search engine competitiveness?

I am surprised to discover that my top 20 referrers these past 10 days are more like to come from Bing than certain other, more vocal, search engines.  But that's my style, isn't it -- fish in a less popular pond.  Grocery shop from left to right.

What mostly surprised me is that anyone visited this site at all in the past 10 days.  I should probably put something up for them.

Search String Referrers, past 10 days  (that is, something other than searching the name of this blog, or pointing directly from a bookmark) They are not ranked; each one was unique.

A Bing image search for the phrase "caftan cigarette" brought up one of my favorite posts the 70s series, including an unusual gathering of the Mattel elite dressed by Edward Albee.

The phrase "what did girls wear on soul train in the 70s?"  I would think this was a Halloween costume search, except it was in January.  Fortunately, the pic is pretty accurate and not too over the top.

Kosmix is a search engine I never heard of that listed one result for the term "corset" as my post Middle-Aged Ladies and Their GirdlesThis is consistently one of my most frequently visited posts.  I can not tell you why, except that we are all doing a lot of girdle searching.

My buddy Jay at HR Clean-up, and a frequent guest on our little show here as one half of the Tarleton Twins, named DrawingIn one of his top-10 reads, so I pick up a few lookie-lous from there.  He has been more active than I have of late, and much more meaningful, so give him a drop-by, would you?   Jay was just quoted in this week's Boston Business Journal.

More Bing: Cheez-its fun facts.  Well, naturally.
Another for the image "Yuppies," and I have stolen that poster myself.
And lastly, "Mr Peabody cartoon," named here as a tattoo I would get if I believed in tattoos.  I have upped that list to 6 since I saw this: 

Stay warm, America.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Lest you think I have fallen out of love with you... or with public yaddayadda out of proportion to its importance....  well, all right, I sort of have.   I considered shutting the DrawingIn Room down in 2011.  This is not a fish for compliments.  It just seemed like one of those fresh start New Year things to do, and I had just written a pile of Christmas/New Year cards, so I was beginning to feel I had said all I was going to say.

And I have been fairly over-tasked at work.  Good News: I seem to have kicked the task compulsion (email as excessive hand washing).  Bad News:  I seem to have kicked task compulsion.  The trouble with workoholism is you can never go Cold Turkey.

Except in your heart.... 

So I have been a little behind, and tired of the keyboard by the time it is blog o'clock.

Tonight I made the effort to at least organize myself for tomorrow so I wouldn't start the day behind (this was mainly solved by moving all the task due dates to Tuesday and clearing the calendar for Wednesday so I could work from home and watch the snow fall).  So I was out by 6, but that only means I am out in time to sit in traffic and get home too late to do much of anything else.

Then there was the gas tank issue.  I tend to trust my "fuel remaining" indicator, but I don't rely on it, because I know it is not a real measurement.  It's an estimate.  And I do that all day, so I know how whimsical it is.  You may live in one of those regions where your errands have to be on the right side of the street or you cahn't get they-a from hee-ya.  I live such a life.  On my drive home, I usually choose the gas station at the junction of 2 and 2A, which is closed for renovation (please improve the traffic flow, okthnxbai).  That only leaves the Concord Rotary (ok for late night, terrible for peak time) or the "GAS" (I swear that is its name) on Baker St near the Papparazzi.  More to the point, one should buy one's gas in the morning----

Is this at all interesting to you?  This is what New Englanders talk about all... the ...time.  Wait until Wednesday when it snows.  Hoo-weeee will I be dull.

Anyway, just going off-route for this stop adds half an hour, but not doing it means running out of gas in the traffic line.  People love that.  They love this one more:   

At 7pm, now past my usual turnoff, but with a full tank, I admitted I was not going to any gym -- but I had figured out what to make for dinner.  So there's that.

So, lookit, I just haven't had the impetus to write.  If you follow this blog, you know this happens.  Don't be fooled by how many words I can use to say I have nothing to say.  I know when there is no real content.  And I know it hasn't been so particularly original lately.

This isn't even what I started to write about.  But it kept me from updating one more project plan.  And for that... I thank you.

Enjoy this:  I searched the phrase "Gantt weenie," and this is what the Imperial Search Engine returned.  So I put glasses on her, and yeh - that's about right.  Dork.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bye-bye blackbird

 Well Happy New Year to you, too.

The current count is 2000.  2000 Redwing blackbirds rained on a town with only 5000 people.  The odds are not in your favor.  You know who could have used those birds?  The fine people of Australia....

Prevailing theories on the rain of birds:

Poison:  ruled out by autopsy, which is correctly known as necropsy in animals, to perpetuate the notion that we are better than them.  17 birds were examined post-mortem, which seems like a low statistical confidence, but the poor vet probably needed to get back to whatever he was doing.  If he had spent his youth chasing the DDT truck, he probably wouldn't recognize it if it puffed in his sweaty little face.  The Christian Science Monitor adds, "If the birds had been poisioned, biologists say, it's more likely that they would have died around their roosts rather than in a single raining event." 

Weather: "Although freely available archived lightning data is unavailable near Beebe....."  what a great sentence.  So many modifiers.   So specific.  "AccuWeather suggested lightning as a possible cause..."  well, they would, wouldn't they? Redwings flock by the millions; a lightning strike could take out a pile of them, but then they could bring down a plane.  Nature is so fascinatin'...

Loud Noise: Brought to you by the weather theorists after they looked more closely at the timing of the thunderstorms and the timing of Birdageddon.  Maybe... fireworks, they say.  I think it would have to be something louder than that. 
End Times:  I reject the notion that the world ends in 2012 -- not just because time is a man-made construct and if God follows it, he is probably on the Jewish calendar, but because the Mayans couldn't predict the end of their own world, so why should I listen to them?  The Peruvians, now.... they knew from a bird splat. 

Dropped cargo:  I might reject this theory if it hadn't happened so recently, so close to home.  If you are looking for a new hobby or interest, consider collecting Things that Fall Off Airplanes.  There are new opportunities daily, apparently.  See also, things that fall from the sky in general...

Fowl Play:  We're not above it.
And I don't for a minute think that it's proximity to a 100,000 dead fish is a coincidence, either.  Time for us to consider Chairman Mao's Great Sparrow Massacre, or just a good old fashioned American jackrabbit drive.

Birds are Dinosaurs:  History tells us they tend to die off in inexplicably large numbers.   
HAARP: I had no idea what this was.  Having spent the requisite 6 minutes on research (and called it macaroni...) I have come to the conclusion that for a pack of physicists they make one ugly-looking website.  It stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.  And it looks like this.  The website acknowledges, "...Some insignificant potential impacts, such as lost habitat, socioeconomic, and wildlife impacts, may not be mitigated."

You know what else "Harp" makes me think of?

Beebe:  In learning about the blackbirds, I learned some fascinating things about Beebe.
(2) Pacific Islanders live there.  Are they married to each other?
(8) Registered sex offenders, meaning you are far less likely to have a sex offender on your lawn than 12 dead birds.
Single family home is still under 100K....but probably the market is down just now.

Get this:  no one has been murdered in Beebe for 7 years.  in 2009, 3 people were, and assaults are way way up.  Beebe is one tough town, with a local crime index higher than the US as a whole.

Tornado activity is (brace yourself) "252% greater than the overall U.S. average."  The nearest hospital is 15 miles away.  I think the birds just gave up.  Or they bumped into each other.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Amateur Week

You know it is a new year because your gym is suddenly crowded -- on a Sunday morning at 10am.

I have long suspected there my gym only has 20 members, and that 15 of them do not have jobs.  Because the same people are there no matter when I go.  They are like seat fillers at the Oscars, or fake staff certain Mill managers might have scheduled at the dollhouse factory.  And they were certainly all there today, as were.... the Resolutionists.

But props to the new guy who did atomic pushups balanced on 3 free weights -- vertically placed free weights.  I couldn't even find a picture of this move, and you know I can find a picture of anything.  There, just now I entered "skunk gnome" for no reason.

Anyway, I can't find exactly the picture, but it is something like the position above.  Each hand on a free weight standing on its end, both feet balanced on one weight in the same position.  Doing.  Push. Ups.  He can stay.  Because he can do any damn thing he pleases.

I rode 7 miles on the Expresso bike, only one of which is working. Not that I could have ridden both -- what I mean is that I am about a 5 minute mile, and when the gym is crowded you are asked to "limit to 30 minues [sic]."  I hate to keep people waiting.  But I hate not to finish.  Not bad for not having been there for a couple of weeks. 

While we're on the topic, do stop by the Expresso site and read their copy.    I enjoy this gem:
The Expresso approach is fundamentally different from taking your mind off of boring exercise. It engages your mind into your workout so that you'll get the best workout during the time you allocated for fitness in your busy life. 
Helps me understand why the machine rarely works properly.  Today you could shift gears DOWN, but not UP , and it put me on the Leader Board for my route.  So you know that can't be right...

Sat in the sauna, which I enjoy in the winter, and listened to 2 members take matters into their own hands by moving a clock off the side wall to the locker room where there used to be one but isn't anymore.  Ordinarily, I approve of this sort of rogue behavior, but I happen to know it was moved outside the sauna because a different member asked for there to be one in view from inside the sauna, where really one shouldn't stay for very long.  And I am sad to say I know that because I enjoy reading those "Ask the Manager" comment cards posted outside the locker room.

Here are some more characters to add to our little play:
Kidspace: The staffer who primarily staffs the child watch area, but also works the front desk, where she can be seen talking to...

Hobbler:  That sounds mean, but it is only a flat observation.  This woman, also on staff, prowls around on this contraption.  It seems like an innovation, but then it also reminds me of this.

Sofia: She is not new; I just haven't mentioned her before.  She is one of the group who is always there, but more specifically always in the locker room.  She is about 60, leathery, Mediterranean.  Chesty.  Hence....

Eldin: Actually a woman, but a woman painter who wears spattered overalls.  She tends to open with the weather and end with some vampyric sad sack story.

Not Frank:  For about a year I have been uncertain whether this guy is actually one of my neighbors, and it turns out he is.  He is the guy whose name I don't know, but think is not "Frank."  "Frank" was my original secret neighbor name for him, which I shouldn't let slip. 

Mighty Mite:  A little guy, with a badger-face, and a 30" inseam.  But he's got some power.  If we had 3 of him, Atomic Push-ups wouldn't need to tie up the free weights.

Ok, so that really was mean.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Words words words

What is the name of that phenomenon that occurs when we,  as a society, decide to change the language or the rules overnight -- and we all just buy into it?  Of the "Have a Nice Day" variety.

I have watched some of these happen within my own lifetime.    There's one right there:  my own lifetime, as if that clarifies any confusion about whose lifetime I mean when I refer to it as my.  We also like to use it for emphasis in phrases like, "in a pool of his own blood."  Wouldn't being in a pool of someone else's blood actually be more horrifying.  whose waste is this?

At some point, we began to refer to "the weight," as in "How did you lose the weight?"  Our weight used to be part of us -- it was a commodity of sorts.  one "lost weight."  Then someone (Oprah likey, or Richard Simmons) made it an alien parasite thing separate from ourselves, so we lost the weight and we gained the weight and we held onto the donut.

"Without all the sugar."  I watched that one happen too.  "Do you want fried chicken without all the fat?  Do you like coffee but not all that caffeine?"  This is Adman FlimFlam to make you think you read No Fat and No Caffeine.  Minus x is less than All.  Semantically, they win.  Run "without all the sugar" through your favorite search engine.  The results are ...weird. 

Lately I have noticed a sign that appears to require me to alert my server to any food allergies in my party.  What kind of Not It game is that?  Why isn't the person with the allergy (the allergy) responsible for this announcement?  It's not enough I have to learn food allergies for the people I am actually hosting, now I have to keep this in my head when we are out in the world, too?

That said.... let's talk about "that said," which I believe Our President introduced into the national dialogue.  It caught on so quickly, people are now using it in place of "Um..."  Here is what "that said" means:  Make a foundational statement about your beliefs, opinions,  rules and regulations, then concede an exception to that rule by opening with "that said, [counter indicated thought]."  Like this:  "I firmly believe that women should be admitted to the US military academies.  That said,  VMI is not one, which is why I stood by their single sex status."  And Shannon Faulkner really should have been in shape before she showed up.  But that said....

"That said" is not a synonym for "here is my next sentence."

Was it 20-25 years ago that the grocery store complex (and you know they determine these things as an industry) sold us on their plastic bags (urban tumbleweeds, an associate once called them).? They pushed them on us like Loosies, then they tried to make us feel bad about them.  "Paper?  Or Plastic?" say the baggers, in a whisper, like cancer.  Don't disdain me, Market Basket, these were your idea, handles and double bagging and all. Hell yes, I want the plastic.

Then came the "green" bag.  The shopping mavens of Chinatown have been using these forever; in Mexico, these bags are gigantic!  You could carry a kidnapped corporate executive in one.  They are handed down in families.  I'll admit I am all about the reusable bags.  Now the big sign as I enter the grocery store tells me I really should wash my bag.  Weekly.


This is what you did with the water bottles.  You scared us into drinking out of  faucets, then you wagged your societal finger at us for doing so.   Stop trying to make me fearful of what you keep shoving into my hands.
Drink bottled water!
Oh, not out of bottles...
Out of this metal thing!
Oh, but not an aluminum one...
Try this glass!
Oh, glass will stress fracture...
Try a water fountain!
But don't get meningitis....     

Are you reading that sign at right, or are you simply slapping your head?

Slang comes and goes, of course, and there is bizspeak, which is an adult form of slang that is actually more irritating because it may not disappear.  It has that way of standing in for perfectly healthy words, and overdoing the job at that.

"in the cloud"?  shut up.  This is worse than "cyberspace," which we also didn't need.

"on the ground," meaning, quite simply... "there."  Or "locally."

"out there," a general um-noise that indicates the speaker has no evidence to back up what they are saying.  As in "all the medications out there," (silently: "that I can't name, but there must be a lot" )

Happy 2011, readership.  Let's see when the zeitgeist decides we switch from saying "two thousand" to "twenty."  I think it has already happened.