Wednesday, November 30, 2011

...when she finally concluded at the end by summarizing....

There ought to be something profound to say at the end of National Blog Post Month.  Ok, profundity is a stretch, but something meaningful anyway.  What's it all about, etc.

It has not been easy to make space for it every night -- reading other people's finds on the Internet are always more interesting than anything I think I might say about them, and there are plenty of topics I did not get to this month that I had listed ou on my little listie.

I thought for sure there would be an "Occupy" commentary.  I need to get back in the election swing for Decision 2012, but I felt like it was all being said.  Or tweeted.  Or photoshopped.  Or videoed.

I wanted to explore what goes on in the Fellowship Tract League -- the pamphlet people.  A lot, I discovered, but their own website covers it, really.  They make a tract in ASL.  I cock my head.

The guy in the center is reading "Porn XXX."  He super-sized.

I had some art-nostic opinions about the new Walton-funded art museum in Arkansas, but I think NPR got to them first.  Or maybe that's where I got them in the first place.

After learning my hiking boots had been retired by New Balance, I fantasized George Mallory trying to find a new alpine hat for his next Base Camp visit. That scene amused me until I was home, then I was done with it.  The way that story really ends is that I found the 2007 model (mine are 1999, all right - I admit it), which has also been retired, and bought 2 pair.  If I am still hiking at 60, please teleport me to New Balance so I can show off these shoes.

Push came to shove during the holiday week and I had to borrow from other sources in order to both unplug for vacation and fulfill this inconsequential obligation.  They were my sources, though, so it's cool.

I am always interested in reading the site traffic report, and will have to see what happened over the past month.  Besides the NaBlo traffic, I am grateful to the Non-Fiction Class at Plymouth State U for their interest and feedback.  I had nothing profound to say to them either about what motivates me to keep blogging -- particularly in the dark, anonymously, about nothing of much significance whatsoever.

I guess because it is there.

Thanks for supporting the bloggers in your life.  We do what we can to break up the day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double bubble

A loyal reader asks:

So what am I supposed to call the stuff, anyway? Seltzer? Soda Water? Sparkling Water? Club Soda? Tonic? Our favorite: "Fizzy Water." And is there actually a difference, or are these just different words (regionalisms?) for exactly the same thing?

I am pleased to oblige.  

First, there was Water.  And it was Good.
Because I stopped listening to science around 6th grade, I believe that you should theoretically be able to make water out of air.  I realize that's not true -- it requires some curly-que'd flasks and a thing that goes buzz -- but water you know.

Now gas it up: your water needs more elements in it.  It's name is Legion, but I believe there are connotative differences in the term you choose.  The origins of the terms themselves are covered in delightful detail on Wikipedia.  Pay them or don't pay them; that's their business.  We were talking about me.

Seltzer  conjures up the art deco spray bottle on the bar that Nick Charles handled so well.  Because of that, to me, seltzer is the hard bubbles, the dangerous bottle that has to be opened like cracking a safe.  We say it so it rhymes with salsa, and as I have mentioned, Polah makes the craziest Seltzah flavahs evah.  It is in fact the same thing as sparkling water. but sparkling water is softer:  Pelligrino, for example.  Seltzer in the Social Register.
Perrier is too oily, far too soft, and is mineral water anyway. Why accept nature's bubbles when you can trick them out?

"Fizzy Water" is accurate (and charming).  It will get you through a language barrier.  It could get you served a bromide.

Bromo Seltzer - is your remedy for not having drunk seltzer.  It is Tylenol + bicarb + citric acid.  And you deserve it.  Alka-Seltzer is bicarb + potassium bicarbonate + citric acid, and indistinguishable from Efferdent.   

Barley water is what Mary Poppins never smells of.   The more you learn about British foods, the more you understand the Revolution.

Club Soda contains added salt.  Why?  I have no idea.  Club Soda is what you say on the airplane, or in any establishment where you know they will not know what seltzer is.  It comes out of the gun at the bar.  They have it.

Tonic is not club soda.  Tonic is the vile mosquito repellent so undrinkable that is requires gin to make it go down.  (And they do play nicely together once you introduce them.)  Tonic is carbonated water + qunine, and according to Wikipedia, it glows in UV light.  You try it; I'm not gonna.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Seltzer Madness

Ever try to buy seltzer in a grocery store outside of New England?  Are you right now asking, "what's seltzer?"  Can't feature what a seltzer aisle even looks like?  No SUH! 

This story will amuse you even more.  There is a new sheriff in town over at the Polar Seltzer, and by the looks of it, s/he was recently transferred from Yankee Candle.  Because this is a terrible idea.

You don't have to taste it to know it is a terrible idea.  But I did taste it, and I am still resentful, weeks later.  (I am also on day 27 of this blog-a-thon, and even Jerry Lewis eventually loosened his bow tie.  I'll write about anything at this point, but that press release opener...?  Manna.)

A gateway to seltzer?  Why does Polar need to push its bubbly deliciousness on anyone?  Because they just bought a bottling facility in Georgia (from Winn-Dixie, saints preserve us) and the South needs more than carbonation to get its drink on.

Premium seltzers.  Seltzer costs 88 cents a half gallon.  It's hardly premium.  And in spite of everything else we learned in the Rich & Famous 80s, "gross" is not a synonym for "gourmet."

The season's most beloved aromas.  This is not tea.  This is seltzer.  As a mixer, I might buy it (metaphorically.  Not literally.  not at half price). 

A healthier choice of refreshment.   Because if you can't drink it, it can't hurt you.

Granny Smith Apple :  Jolly Rancher plus a facial masque without any of the afterglow of Woodchuck.

Cinnamon:  a candle over ice.  How refreshing!

Candy Cane:  

Pumpkin Spice: Lemme tell you something, pumpkin.  I have been your biggest champion.  But you are this close to getting kicked out of this car.  Settle.  Down . 

Eggnog:  now you've made me mad.

Predicting the Cinco de Mayo flavors:
Pinata full of Chiclets
Dulce de Leche
Margarita Lime... ok, maybe not so bad.  They may have gotten to me.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Heroes on the run

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

Let me explain the differences between Run, Joe Run and Run, Joey, Run.  They are subtle.

If you are looking for the ballad of teen lovers, sung to the baseline of Shaft... or just really like primitive music videos (see... red symbolizes blood, man) you want to go here.

If you want to explore why so many of Saturday morning's line-up was made up of fugitives, stay right where you are.

Run, Joe, Run
Amnesty-seeking Canine GI wigs out during a training exercise and attacks his trainer.... or does he?  To escape the gas, he takes to the run.  And we are to believe that his $200 bounty is enough to make him vulnerable to fortune seekers.  Take a Lude, Joe - you are totally harshing.  Anyway, Joe becomes the stranger who lopes to town, and helps others as he helps himself.  I need the readership to explain how this accusation against Joe came about, since his own trainer is trying to clear his name.  Total Television is silent on this account.

I believe that's William Cannon on the opening narration.  Expository intros were  in vogue, as we have addressed before.  Give that Tarzan a new listen, too, and tell me if that is Richard Chamberlain.  It would explain everything about my need to commit to memory.  Tarzan, however, is no fugitive.  It is easy to confuse him with

"unjustly accused" of killing some drug-dealers he takes up the baton dropped by his cultural cousin Joe while on the run from the university's bounty hunters.  That's what I said.   

Why was Kung Fu on the run?  I couldn't remember.    "I like to think he killed a man; it's the Romantic in me..."  Caine had to leave China, but it wasn't for the glamor of working the railroad.  That was just a bonus.  If you ever wondered how s-l-o-w-l-y a prime time drama could move, watch a little Kung Fu.  Let me know if you make it through this clip.

The Incredible Hulk was not a Saturday show either --  CBS put their spring replacement into the fall season on Friday nights, first in a strong double bill with Wonder Woman, then later as a weird opening choice for the Dukes. [:02 DIXIE].  "The creature is wanted for a murder he didn't commit..."  blah blah you know it by now and the "raging spirit that dwells within him."

You know who they mean....
Hell hath no fury like the decorated vet scorned....

Setting the stage for this crew: 
armed and bloody well for hireThe A Team is grumpily pursued by a full bird Colonel who apparently can't delegate enough to get some NonComs to do his dirty work for him... like they did in the Nam, brother.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Practically perfect afternoon

Someone is about to confiscate the tambourines.
I don't mean to suggest by this title that there were flaws in the afternoon.  If there was anything less-than-perfect, it was that I had to end it so early, due to living so far out and needing so much to do before returning to my routine life.  I certainly could have extended.

Some things you do just to blog about them.  Some things you do for the officially sanctioned freedom of singing "Sister Suffragette" at the top of your voice in a public place.  This was the latter.

Sing-along Mary Poppins at Arlington's beautiful Regent Theatre has one more showing this weekend, and you need to get down there to help skew the average age to those who can actually read the lyrics... and BOO the Bankers when they chant "Think of the Foreclosures!!"

It is a damn shame we did not have this theatre event in my youth, because I would have been there every weekend, in an era where you certainly could afford to go to the movies every weekend (and a horror flick screamer was 94 cents).  What is also a damn shame is that kids today have to be so disaffected so young, because this is best enjoyed by a 7th or 8th grader (what we would have done with Grease!) who would be Too Cool for The Musicool these days.  The audience at our showing was mostly under 10, mostly girls, mostly unable to sing-along.

But boy howdee, could they bang a tambourine. 

The owner of the Regent -- an exurbent Boomer with a fleece jacket featuring the dogs' poker table -- provided each participant with a bag of supplies:  tambourine, glo-sticks (for the rooftop fireworks), spoon (for sugar), tiny mug (for tea party on the ceiling), and tuppence (for choking on).  The film comes with a few instructions, but the tambourines caught on right away.

Props missing were cannon (for chiming the hour on a film that runs 139 minutes), rotten eggs for throwing at the Prime Minister, the Time Warp, and rum punch (hic).  But the kids held up fine.  There was one meltdown as Mary Poppins prepared to leave (after the longest week in cinema history).  Or maybe the poor tyke finally figured out what suffrage was. 

Best synopsis ever, from imdb:  "A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family."
(Do not confuse with "A failed novice comes to work for a bitter captain's unhappy family."  That opens in December) .

At the earlier showing, the 2nd grader in full Jolly Holiday get-up no doubt won the costume contest.  At our showing were 2 boys who made knickers by shoving their pants into their socks, and 20 other kids who just took the owner up on his offer to walk across the stage.

He read us several interesting trivia points, which 8th graders (ok, Dodie and I) would have enjoyed -- then we would have stayed after and begged him to screen Oliver! next.  The little ones weren't listening, but we adults enjoyed the tip of looking for men in drag in the Nanny Applicants' line.

If it has been a while since you watched this film straight through, particularly with 20 5 year-olds, you'll want to prepare them for the long talky bits of insufferable Mr Banks.  You'll want to prepare yourself for how LONG the Jolly Holiday is.  I chose "I Love to Laugh" as my bathroom break.  You'll want to be fully refreshed for the Dance of the Chimney Sweeps. 

On this Small Business Saturday, this is the event we chose - and you can still get in on Rolf and Lisl's turn in the gazebo.  The Regent is a fantastic independent venue of music, theatre, comedy, and film in the heart of Arlington, MA. If you can't get here, activate the closed captions on your own home theatre and dream up your own props for any of the films mentioned above, or perhaps Wizard of Oz,  Newsies, or Hello Dolly.  The kids love Dolly Levi.

This is my favorite Mary Poppins bit on the Internet.  It has been around a while, but still delivers.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Home on the range

Where the heck is Sisterdale, TX?

2 hrs west of Austin, or 1 hr North of San Antonio, but in either case you will not find it in the God's Own Dark that falls over the Hill Country by 5pm.  Arriving after dark added to the effect of opening the door the following morning and seeing the Paniolo Ranch for the first time like Dorothy in Munchkinland.

I'll zoom into that landscape for you:

well....There's been a drought.  Sadly, that lake in the lower right is now just a hole in the ground.  In happier times, that lake looks like this.  So we did miss the misty morning cup of coffee watching birds over the lake.  Instead I was treated to a herd of deer sucking off the last puddle, and that in itself was a scene.

We did not get the sweep of the Milky Way which hangs low over the open landscape.  Instead, we were treated to an early morning prairie style downfall, of the kind that makes Texans dance in the streets.  We stood in the door and watched it for a while; it was more beautiful than  the constellations.

We passed on the winery tours, which are a central activity of this region, just because we were too relaxed to get back into the car, and we had only a few days to hurry up and rejuvenate.

Paniolo bills itself as a Bed & Breakfast Spa.  Meaning breakfast is served and there are spa services. It advertises Wedding Services... in that it has space for an outdoor event, but it is a haul for the caterers and decorators. It is mostly a rustic retreat and you should approach it as such.  The circled building in the satellite view above is the house where we stayed, about half a mile from the main house -- it sounds like a lot, but that's 2500 feet.  You can make it.  If you can't, take the golf cart.  We were afraid of driving it into a ditch -- and besides, we came to get healthy.

Armed with groceries for a 3-day healthy spa menu (and 3 bottles of wine -- we're not stoics, for heaven's sake), we took to the Hills, from whence cometh our help.  Why is whence a statement of place?  Shouldn't it be wherece?  Unplugged (mostly - we had a DVD player and a TV in every room, but we couldn't figure out the cable, and the 2 movies we picked were both disappointments) and well-fed (mmm... kaaaale....), and far from the owner's 4 dogs (really - rethink that when you run a retreat), we began our annual redefinition of our lives and their promise over rounds of Scrabble -- both of which seem deeper to us as the wine bottles empty.

I did not get to play GEISHAS, but I did have it on the tray.   

When you are scheduling your spa services, you'll want to listen carefully when they ask "did ya'll want to be booked at the same time?" or you might end up in couples massage.  Or you might anyway, because the "spa" is just a small treatment room of 2 beds and a whirlpool, with an uncurtained window to the outdoor courtyard, where on a busier weekend, some other guests might have been having their half-day spa lunch.  But none of that was happening, and we only glimpsed other guests (the deer were more prevalent) so we said "meh" and got to it.  Not the best massage I've ever had, but let me disclaim that my therapist was also running the place on her own in the owner's absence.  She had checked us in, brought our breakfast, and would have cleaned the room, but we gave her an out.

If darkness and wilderness makes you feel more "yikes" than "aahh," you may want something more corporate in your Hill Country experience.  If you wanted to swim and boat, well, you may need to wait another 10 years for the Paniolo to get back into gear.  If you wanted to work out, the fitness room is depressing; walk the grounds instead.  If you hate dogs, book the house we did.

I am not linking to them, because this post sounds like a less than ideal review and I don't want to give them the impression we didn't enjoy ourselves.  We did, very much.  maybe I just don't want you to find it more easily than we did.

Sisterdale got a dance hall in it.  Pack your Wranglers.  

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

A typical story

stamps for fun and profit
In my workplace, we frequently send Thank You gifts to customers for various reasons -- mostly variations on Thanks for Not Dropping Us Like a Bad Marriage.  For Sarbannes-Oxley/industry history reasons, these gifts are not of substantial value.  They are not of any value, really,  but they are what we have to offer, so we make do.

I try to gussy them up a bit to hide their schlockiness by wrapping them, or attaching the gushy Thank You Note for which I have always been famous.

That pile of corporate swag has been sitting on the corner for my desk for an extra week for one reason only:  I don't have enough Thank You Notes for the full package.  Someone said this was a fairly typical dilemma than would occur in my life... but not theirs.

It's not a simple case of buying more notes -- They have them at the CVS and I know right where they are.  I can not expense them; they have to come out of my own conscious, so no I don't spend a lot on them.

Not everyone who gets a gift gets thank you note.  These things are hand crafted, and I don't have all day.

They are truly handwritten, but I have some stock text that I use -- one for the project manager, one for the customer, for her boss, for her staff, for the IT boy who grudgingly came to every status call and 10 minutes in would say, "Do you still need me?"  I realized that I was in danger of sending the same notes to people a couple of times a year if I didn't keep track of them, of course.  So I made a library of them.

So first I have to get the cards, them pull from the library, make sure I am not repeating myself (though I don't mind switching off within the same customer, with just a little tweaking), make sure I am not sending them a gift I have already sent and... that it is appropriate to the rank of the recipient and their role in this effort we are quote-quote celebrating.  And those do not always correlate.

This is how to complicate a task beyond reason, and to the point where you can say you don't have time to do it.    It's really not as hard as it sounds.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mother's little helper

"Oh," said a friend, spotting 2 wine glasses in the sink, "What's happening here?" 
I said, "I drank alone.  Twice."

I spend a lot of time with the parents of pre-schoolers and I testify that Mommy's post-bedtime glass of wine is sacred.  And don't play holier than thou with me -- I've seen your Facebook statuses.  I'm having bookends made for you, in the shape of a Starbucks mug and a goblet.

I will smugly say that it takes me no more energy to get through 8 hours with a 3 year-old than 8 hours with anyone else.  But with anyone else it takes a lot of energy.  There is a reason your Auntie Mame lives alone.  But several times a year she can show up with her carpet bag full of hatracks and crayons in her purse and show your pack of li'l no-neck monsters one heck of a good time.  (that was a trifecta of mixed metaphors.  show respect)

I am not as delicious as a 9 o'clock chardonnay, but I can be as intoxicating.

Little kids dig me for the same reasons married men dig me, I think:  I give the impression I have never heard their stories before, I don't care where they leave their shoes, and I let them win.  If you think I just compared your husband to a's nothing you've never done.

Before a certain age, your child will ask in advance of my arrival a) if I have any children, b) if I am staying "over the night," and sometimes c) if I am a boy or a girl.  I have no longitudinal study to explain this, except that before that certgain age, childen are not likely to know grown women without children and therefore think of motherhood as a secondary sex characteristic.  Or I am flat-chested with a deep voice...

When you are on the phone with me, they will climb on you and beg for the phone, then once they have control of it nod in response to everything I say.  I will lie to you about what I said, and it will surface later in their early adult therapy.  And I will laugh. 

Next they will show me every toy in the house, in a mad rush to do everything in their plan before Mommy and Daddy completely dominate the guest and everyone goes back to talking about painfully dull adult things only now there are more of them doing it. 

These are the magic fire-from-the-sky-make-the-moon-go-black tricks I have for kids under 6:

Spelling - it's witchery!  Write my name!  Now DOG.  Now LEAF.  Now NOODLES!

Sorting - Legos, dolls, Matchbox cars, cookies, book sizes.  Bring it on.  I got this.

Story telling - I stumbled into the discovery  that my goddaughter did not know The Wizard of Oz.  I have shown an adult their first snow -- that used to be my biggest  vicarious thrill until I impressed Cowardly Lion on a fresh brain.
(I left some things out, like what's in Judy's cup.)

Singing - I know the words to everything: Wheels on the Bus, Mom Threw the TV Out the Window, Go Down Moses.. I'm hanging onto Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts for you.  They'll shoot milk through their noses.  I stunned my niece into silence once by jumping in on cue and without fanfare to a Green Day song (you know, the one with only 2 verses, and you can understand them.  But it was cooler than turning vampire.)

Sitting on the floor - at least until recently.  I may need something trussed.

Now booking, 2-3 weeks in advance.  I have references.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Overheard at the diner

Woman:  Do you have wheat pancakes?

Amber the Waitress: No.. sorry...

Woman:  Ok, then... I'll have the eggs benedict.  But only half the sauce.  Not all the sauce... that you usually put on it.  [pause]  And wheat toast.

Her Son:  Mom.  You ordered eggs benedict.  It comes on, like,  English muffins.

Woman:  Are they wheat English muffins?

Waitress:  No... sorry....

Woman: Do you have anything wheat?

Son: Mom.

Woman:  Well, it's very hard for me... I can't handle white bread.

Son: It's not that much white bread.

Me:  shoot me please. 

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Monday, November 21, 2011


From Retronaut, my new place to play.

The Today Show Team tries to read a URL. In 1994.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Know your Ryans

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tahitian Treat

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

What if we carbonated Hawaiian Punch?  Would the kids drink that?
Or would they just add vodka to it?

Things to enjoy about the above photo:

Pull tab.   Really cool kids dropped the tab right into the soda.  It is the equivalent of smoking non-filtered.  In today's Germ-Conscious Millennium,  we wipe the spout before drinking.  You can also make things out of pull tabs.  Well, not you, but this guy.

Hard can - it is difficult to see in this angle, but this is not an aluminum can.  Note the bottom seam.  Cans of this era had a fat side seam too, where the steel was soldered together by hard-workin' AMERICANS.  (maybe.  I dunno.)  That's rust around the edge there.  DELISH.

Chemically Enhanced - No secret - we love sodium benzoate.  We love sacchrine and Red Dye #2.  Put it together and whadda ya got....?

That Tiki Idol Font - I can not confirm a release date for Tahitian Treat, but that font and all things Polynesian suggest a full generation before mine.

What you can't see - it was bright pink, like the Barbie aisle.

More from the soda graveyard

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Wrath of the Titans

They say Clash of the Titans 2 will be called Wrath of the Titans.  The young people will not know of a life before video shelving and online searches, when sequels had different titles, and Rambo was actually First Blood Part II.

Remember when it was called Revenge of the Jedi, for about 5 minutes?    

Anyway... Wrath of the Titans.  So lazy.  Here comes the rest of that franchise, fresh from the Title Generator:

Sash of the Titans
Bath of the Titans
Raft of the Titans
Carafe of the Titans
Morass of the Titans
Mash-Up of Titans
Mo' Betta Titans
Twilight: Titans 

Incidentally, this is not the post I started to write.  But, wouldn't you know it, I got to reading the Internet, and now it is Midnight.  Sorry.  maybe later.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your legislative update

Let's check in on (former) HR 1700, the mascot bill of our little website.

Recently, the leadership of the National Women's History Museum asked us charter members to generate some buzz around the project, and see if we could get it a little media attention (or at the very least, search results).  And desperately in need of content, as I often am, I will take the win/win.

Just yesterday, the museum's president  got some airtime delivering a 4 minute update.  I won't repeat it; you can see it here.  In the mailing to us, the leadership was nervous about having been pressed by spokeswoman Meryl Streep for something new to say in the way of progress.  Streep and I share a common complaint, which is... "show me some progress, and I'll show you the money."  I suppose if I had been nominated for more Oscars they might have listened to me (and if I hadn't written it manifesto style on the back of the pledge envelope."

Our little Bill is no longer HR 1700, having been reintroduced Bride in Blue style as HR 2844.  1700 now belongs to some Medicare thing, and I suppose we should care about that too, but I only have time to adopt one congressional bill at a time.  Our Bill is also now called "National Women's History Museum and Federal Facilities Consolidation and Efficiency Act of 2011."   zzzzzzzzzzzz   Would the Civil Rights Act have settled for "Civil Rights and Paperwork Reduction Act"?  I think not, sir.

NWMH makes much about the "progress" of being re-introduced -- they have to -- but we are still just trying to land authorized. 

They also tout "The Museum will be the first museum on the Mall designed by a woman."  This is the problem with women's history -- everything is still a "First" in a Man Bites Dog vein.  Recently the nightly news encouraged me to be jubilant about a woman running IBM.  And sitting first chair in the Boston Symphony.  In 2011, I should hope so.  

Once again, we'll send you to Govtrack, to watch the laws get made, and remade, and marinade.  Here are the current facts on bills related to opening a women's history museum in our nation's capital:

S 1741 actually passed the Senate in 2004, but didn't survive its legislative term, so it was "cleared from the books."  In girls' rules, this is a do-over.
S 501 suffered the same fate, but god bless Susan Collins for trying to introduce it again.  We can almost forgive you for 505, known as "See Something, Say Something."
S 1841 died in committee.  This is starting to read like Alpha-Gorey

Then comes 1700 in the 2009-2010 session.  Passed the House.  Stayed that way.  Its companion in the Senate died.  Now come HR 2844 and S 680 - main difference being naming a new address as 600 Pennsylvania,  near where the Newseum is today.

Since the museum was founded in 1996, the same year as the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Foundation, the NWHM's day may be upon us.  In the meantime, go invent the cell phone, like Hedy Lamar did, or just send cash.  We hope to see you at the ribbon cutting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doncha think....

Slim & Steve

or...what I am thinking about in the staff meeting instead of the staff meeting...

I'm thinking,  given everything we know from television, film, and fiction, shouldn't I know at least one person who has hired -- or been tailed by -- a private detective?  And is this one of those cases where, if I can't think of someone, it must be me? 

Why wouldn't it work into a typical conversation, like children, pets, yardwork -- some universal (or at least American) experience that we have all been through.  Why isn't it a topic of stand-up comedy:  "What is the deal with those incidentals?"  I went to the phonebook (the WHAT? call the Smithsonian) just to see what I could come up with.  here in Central Mass, at the intersection of Meth Lane and Custody Battle, there ought to be at least one good quarter-page ad.

I'm having a fond memory of discovering the number of Escort Service pages in the old Richmond book, and trying to decide if I liked or hated what that said about America.

They are not under "private;" they are under Investigators, under a box explaining the proper licensing required of Investigators.  Sorry Yellow Pages; Internet beat you again. Explains the website of the LPDAM (say it fast, like I'll Be Damned) "Anyone who practices as a Private Detective, Bodyguard, Polygraph Examiner, Accident Reconstructionist, Insurance Investigator or Arson Investigator in Massachusetts must be properly Licensed, or the W-2 Employee of a properly Licensed company, under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 147, Sections 22-30."

Accident Reconstructionist.  I want in.
I've been saying it was time to get out of the office.

LPDAM proudly expresses that they got that header box in the Yellow Pages.  This appears in a list of accomplishments of what "they" said couldn't be done.  Who "they?"  These guys:

 "They said we would never be able to win the fight to include PIs as an exemption in the Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act, both at the Federal level and in the proposed Commonwealth's version. They laughed and said we were way out of our league"

(I imagine the first draft said "they laughed maniacally...")   

Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act:   regulates how motor vehicle departments release driver records and vehicle records.  Exemption, eh....? hmmph.

"They scoffed at the slogan "In numbers there is strength, unity and progress." 
See, scoffing is just petty.  and mean.  The professional response is to scorn.
Be sure to use their "Find a Detective" button.  I'm sure it doesn't leave a cookie.  I'm sure.
This is not as thrilling as surfing the Sex Offender Registry, but you'll sleep better.

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Digital Killed the Phonograph Star

It is a project I had been threatening myself to undertake for a few years.  "Threatening" may be too strong a word, but "promising" is hardly accurate.  I wanted very much to convert my record collection to digital format, and maybe I was committed to renting a conversion device... but not to buy one.

I said to Dr A, "I don't really need to own it.  I mean, what would I do with it once I was finished?"  This very good friend agreed to buy one with me, and we would share custody.  A Win/Win, as they say - lower cost, and how fun! to listen to our lives pass before our ears every time we got together.

It also solved the question of what one does with this machine when one is finished converting:  One Will NEVER Finish this project.

This is not meant to be a review of the brand we bought.  It is meant to be a review of what will happen to you if you are over 35 and decide to take on this project.  You might want to set other hobbies aside.

I bought my first record album in 1974.  I will smugly share that it was Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  This does not mean that everything I ever bought was this cool (nor does it mask the fact that the Beatles were already broken up when I bought it).  I bought what may be my last record album a year ago.  It was on eBay and featured the chapel choir of my alma mater recorded in 1949, and even though it is recorded in 78 rpm and probably as fragile as a china plate, I bought it.  But before that, I think my last purchase might have been at a Jolly Jim's Collectibles show in the past 10 years.

I have about 100 albums by my best guess.  I refuse to count them because it seems obsessive, but judging by how many are in an inch, and how many inches there are....

Dr A and I kicked our project off in January of 2010 with all the big 80s bands, easily the most recent items in my collection.  I thought it was unfair to make her girlfriend suffer through the Monkees, Osmonds, and Bobby Sherman.  She might have tolerated the Beatles, but I thought this would at least give us some common ground.  Until she reminded me she was 3 in 1980.

Unlike "ripping" CDs, there is no fast way to make this conversion.  The machine is literally a turntable with a USB cable to your computer, simply to carry the sound.  Additional (very simple) software talks to iTunes for you, but everything else is you and your Phono, just like the old days.  Needle up, needle down, try to skip the songs you don't like and catch the ones you do.  Even if you play through, every record takes about an hour.  You feel some sense of "progress" --  because at the rate of 4 or 5 songs a side, you feel every track go in -- but it is excruciatingly slow, and reminded me that I stopped listening to my records in the first place because I had to keep turning them over (oh yes, better believe I still own my record player).

 I find can't really do much else while the conversion is going on.  My mind wanders and the record ends.  Just as I did with my old mix tapes, I catch the scratch-scratch-hush-needle return and don't bother to record it again.

You will get pops, and cracks, and (if you have not taken good care of your records, and none of us has) some warpage.  Phil Collins skipped right through "I Don't Care Anymore," because I really don't either, and if it gets on my nerves over time, I'll simply delete it.  It's the Future!

I will still keep the originals; I know myself.  Not just for the art, the sleeves, the lyrics.  Everyone our age understands that.  I stuck things into the sleeves as well:  concert reviews, ticket stubs (Billy Joel in 1978 - $6 - not bad!) the occasional Dynamite cover.  I like them archives there, yet-to-be-discovered.

What I miss most about record buying might be a memory you share as well.  In Boston's Kenmore Square (and likely in the funky comic books and record store of your skateboarding youth), one could buy a record grab-bag.  For $1 (ONE DOLLAR) you got 10 albums in a plain paper bag.  It was my own personal lottery system at a time where $1 was more than a subway ride home.  I got some horrible unheard-ofs.  I got far more treasures, which I look forward to loading into my Playlists.

What in the world will iTunes Genius make of 10 tracks of Twiggy?
Apple might want to think about the digital grab bag.  I have a lot more dollars these days.

Hope you're enjoying National Blogpost Month.
Here's another NaBloPoMo participant for you to enjoy.