Tuesday, May 20, 2008


We're big on nicknames around here. The different names cycle through and rotate and change over time, with each family member answering to a small handful of names at any one given time.

I sometimes call my oldest son "Boo"...which somehow morphed into my daughter calling me "Moo-Ma"...which she has now shortened to plain old "Moo".

I'm not sure I like this one.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Stumped By A Preschool Game

Junior loves to play the Sandwich Stacker Cookout Game by Bloom (makers of all those fantastic Cranium products). It's a cute early learning game in which you stack giant pieces of plastic cheeseburger ingredients, trying to keep the yummy tower from toppling over. It's a great game for him, because it requires correctly identifying colors & shapes as well as using fine motor skills. (Plus, it highlights one of our favorite pastimes around here -- grilling!)

To play, you simply press the spinner to see what type of item you should stack next on the bottom bun. If the spinner shows a square, circle, or triangle, you choose a topping with that shape; if the spinner shows red, brown, green, yellow, or white, you choose a topping with that color. Most of the toppings are fairly obvious.

For example, this is a tomato slice, and can obviously be used for either RED or CIRCLE.

This is a slice of cheese, obvious for the WHITE category. It is also part of the TRIANGLE category, despite the curvy bottom edge.

Ok, now here's where the edges start to blur (literally). The ketchup is obviously RED, but also a nontraditional SQUARE. The edges are scalloped, the corners are uneven, it contains no straight lines -- but it still has the essence of square.

Now this is where I'm stumped. This pickle layer is a clear choice for the GREEN category...but I keep wondering -- is this supposed to count as a SQUARE or a CIRCLE!? My daughter sees a square here, but I tend to view 4 circles.
What is it?

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The Unread Book Meme

So I've been tagged by Pennamite for my first viral meme. (Mom, don't worry, it's not really a virus. I'm fine. The kids are fine. We're all fine. A meme is just an internet thingy that goes around from person to person or site to site. What? No, no, your computer is fine, too! It's not a virus of any type! Here -- read Wikipedia's meme definition.)

So this meme involves the books most frequently listed as “Not Read” on LibraryThing.com. You’re supposed to bold the ones you’ve finished, italicize the ones that you’ve started but not finished, and *star the ones you have on your To Be Read shelves…

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (long & odd)
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
(years ago)
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
*Life of Pi : a novel
(was supposed to read it as a book club selection a year ago...still there)
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
(seriously, why is this book such a big deal?)
Madame Bovary (Is this title better for a book about a). an uncooperative ovary or b). your best milk cow?)
#The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
(loved the concept!)
#The Iliad
(ok, surely I didn't read all 3 of those Homer things? I highly doubt it)
The Blind Assassin
*The Kite Runner
(a dozen people have told me to read it, and I still haven't. Why?)
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
(am I meeting your great expectations of my literariness so far?)
American Gods
*A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (not literally on my shelves, but I want it)
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
(loved it)
Middlesex (strangely satisfying)
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
(musical sooo much better! book=dark & twisty; musical=fun & uplifting)
#The Canterbury Tales
(was this in high school?)
*The Historian: a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch (ooh, confused this with Middlesex for a moment)
?Frankenstein (mostly I just picture that googly-eyed guy from the Young Dr. F. version...)
The Count of Monte Cristo
(reading those last 3 titles in a row makes me think of breakfast cereals...)
?A Clockwork Orange
(the image of those eyelid holders is seared into my brain, replacing all memory of the actual book...if indeed I did read it)
Anansi Boys (oh, is this novel based on the little spider story clips from Sesame Street?)
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
(high school. Dang it! -- now I think it was just the movie!)
!The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
(Love LOVE! the first half; the end frustrated me)
(I was 14)
Angels & Demons
#The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise) (I read some Dante thing at some point...)
The Satanic Verses
(No, but I watch his ex-wife, Padma Lakshmi, every week on Top Chef!)
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
(that's that guy on Scrubs, right?)
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
(that awful Nurse Cratchett!.. pratchet? krachett?)
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
(what's the hound one? This one? If so, then possibly yes.)
?Oliver Twist (loved this musical and had the cassette tape)
Gulliver’s Travels (I read this...but it might have been an abridged version)
!Les Misérables
(I read it 3 times, saw the musical 3 times, AND saw the movie -- both of our library's 2 versions! Oh, AND the PBS stage version! And I have the Broadway CD. And possibly a few karaoke version songs. For, ya know, when I'm vacuuming and imagining myself as poor Cosette, or feeling dramatic as Eponine while I sing, longingly gazing out the window...which is sealed tightly shut so the neighbors don't hear me! I mean these things are just available in case one ever wanted to do those things. I mean, hypothetically speaking, and all. Ahem. NEXT!)
*The Corrections
(this has been on my shelf for 6 years, I swear. When did Oprah pick it??)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (I've eyeballed it, but it just looks so wordy)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince (Does The Little Prince count?) (Or perhaps Purple Rain?)
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
(hear! hear!....or is it "Here! Here!"?)
A Short History of Nearly Everything
@The Unbearable Lightness of Being
(this is one of those titles that sticks in my head, and I have to think it now and then, all Tourettey-like.)
(hers all blur together, don't they?)
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
(great title)
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
(I can still picture that freaky world)
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
(upcoming elections, anyone?)
@Cloud Atlas
(pretty sure I only brought it home...and then had to return it.)
The Confusion

Persuasion (I'll give you a piece of candy if you read it)
Northanger Abbey
!The Catcher in the Rye
(re-read it after meeting my now husband, because he said it was his favorite book. Didn't really get it, but thought that was so literary and impressive and mysterious at the time. Huh. Remembering that makes me want to read it again. Maybe it would help me understand that whole lightswitch thing.)
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
(sorry Hugo, only one of your books worked for me!)
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values (college)
The Aeneid
Watership Down (Trivia Time: I did a book report on this in 7th grade. At the time we were living in Costa Rica, with only a handful of English books in the house. I read both this one and Catch 22 that year -- 2 on this list!)
Gravity’s Rainbow
(I first read this as Gravy Train Chow -- and I don't even have a dog!)
The Hobbit
(I never was much for fantasy, though.)
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth (no, but I've read White Fang)
Treasure Island
(I watched the Survivor season finale the other night)
David Copperfield
?The Three Musketeers
(mmm, chocolate...think I'm done here. Gonna go get a snack!)

So, dear Pennamite, I started this meme in all seriousness, but It. Is. Long. My attention span was running a bit short, so I decided it would be ok to add personal comments. And also a few other categories. And colors! To liven things up! Here's the key:
? I can't remember if I merely saw the movie or actually read the book
# I think I did, ages ago in school, but I can't remember diddlysquat about it
! I have read it more than once
@ I know the title is familiar for some reason, but I'm drawing a total blank

Incidentally, LibraryThing.com looks like a great site. I'm gonna have to go back there sometime and try it out. (List your favorites and it connects you to other "shelves" with the same favorites.) Seems like it would be a great source for finding book recommendations!

If anyone out there wants to play -- Tag, you're it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

How Many Points Would This Be?

So, I was just wondering, for no reason, really....do you think eating an entire container of Pimiento Cheese Spread for lunch would have any long-term repercussions? Hypothetically, speaking, of course.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Now Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Things were a little intense and messy around here this morning, due to a large felled limb that I simply could not get past. Having dealt with that ornery limb and removing the impasse, we are right back on our previous course, merely a wee bit behind schedule. I would like to share with you a lovely little detour -- the scenic route, if you will -- which will lead us back towards the main road.
For your dining pleasure, please enjoy a little sampling of Amazing Mackerel Pudding, on the house, courtesy of candyboots.com. We expect little traffic and no delays. So just kick back, relax, and enjoy the snacks. We should reach our destination as previously planned.

ps. Here's a simply scrumptious dessert to finish with, courtesy of amalah. It pairs a tangy, saucy bite with a smooth & cheesy finish. (Coincidentally, she also has a book out, brand-spanking new! -- though it has nothing to do with food or drink. Well, maybe a little bit about milk? Go read about it!)

Harvard Schmarvard!

So I sat down to my computer this morning with my cup of coffee and scanned the news headlines. I nearly spewed it all over the screen when I read this one:

Violent Games Myth: The notion that violent video games turn kids into aggressors has been dispelled (Harvard researchers' findings)

Oh, Puh-Lease!! There are just so many things wrong with this that I can hardly stand it.

First of all, if that had been credited to a less-"impressive" source, say, George Bush, or Kathie Lee Gifford, or the producers of Grand Theft Auto, would it even have made the morning headlines? Ignore the status name there, folks, and read the article objectively.

I provided the link above for you to read, but just in case you are too lazy to click on it (trust me, I understand), here are some direct quotes (in blue) from the article, along with my two cents (in black).

Penned by Harvard Med School researchers Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olsen,
"Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do" refutes common conceptions about the causal relationship between
violent video games and violent behavior.

In other words, playing a few hours of GTA IV will not result in your kid stealing a car, careening through traffic and gunning down civilians.
Uhm, no, actually this is NOT an accurate translation of that opening paragraph. I don't think they were talking about "playing a few hours" and "gunning down civilians." These are assumptions! Embellishments! Exaggerations! I can practically see the reporter smirking as he (or she? Why do I feel like it's a he? Ha! -- went back and checked. HE.) wrote this with one eye on the clock, anxious to get home and play his PS3. He was probably chewing on his lead-laced pen as he thought.

"What I hope people realize is that there is no data to support the simple-minded concerns that video games cause violence," Kutner told Reuters News Service in an interview.
Oh, really, Kutner? You're gonna go there? "Simple-minded"?! I admit that makes me want to read the actual research paper, because that's a pretty strong statement and I'm assuming he thinks he can back it up. But to my ears, it reeks of researcher bias. (can ears detect reek? I'm unfortunately fond of mixed analogies. You know what I mean.)

Their findings are a result of a two-year study of over 1,200 middle-school students. Unlike most studies set in sterile lab environments using psychological triggers, much of their data was collected by -- brace yourself -- actually talking to their young subjects.
Ok, so we're supposed to be so impressed that you TALKED to your subjects? Like, dude, like, so, like NOT! How many of us actually see our own behavior accurately and don't bend the truth to our advantage now and then? Uh, huh. And how many middle-school students are able to do that? Especially when questioned by a potentially-biased researcher who is quite likely a fan of the games? Did they ask the parents or teachers or neighbors anything about these kids? Did they look at factual evidence or behavior reports or field notes or standardized questionnaires or anything that could be objectively measured? Is this entire report based on self-reports and subjective measures? And that's supposed to impress me??

The researchers did note a link between mature-rated titles and aggressive behavior, as a significant number of both boys and girls who played M-rated titles
reported getting into more fights over the past year than kids who didn't play
M-rated games.
Ok. Now we're getting somewhere. This "link", did anyone look into that a little more thoroughly? Is it possible that THIS is the type of thing (along with desensitization, normalizing effects, learned behavior patterns, etc.etc.ETC!) that we might be concerned about instead of only whether or not the kids are "gunning down civilians"?

However, Kutner and Olson point out that this simply demonstrates a correlation between violent games and aggression, not that one causes the other, suggesting the possibility that the kids attracted to mature-rated games were naturally aggressive to begin with.
Keep going, you two. Yes, correlation does not imply causation, but it often points to some possible, unknown relationship worthy of further study. And furthermore, they are very quick to point out their study did not find a direct, causal effect....BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE OPPOSITE IS, THEREFORE, TRUE. They didn't find a causal effect in THIS study. That's it! They can't make a blanket denial for any connection in general! The subject has not been thoroughly exhausted & laid to rest as the headlines seem to imply.

Yahoo! Headlines and Mr. Reporter, I'm ashamed of you. And, frankly, a little embarrassed for you. It is possible this study has more credibility than I'm giving it here...but you made it sound absolutely ridiculous.

I'm gonna go walk around the block. When I get back I would like to see a factually-based, reliable weather forecast on my homepage, also, if that's not too much to ask. Quit messing with us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Say What??

Pop: I fixed your bedside lamp. The switch is broken.

Me: Great! Thanks! (after a slight pause) Wait -- what? The switch is broken?

Pop: Yes. I fixed it, and the switch is broken.

Me: Oh. So, you were able to fix the switch?

Pop: No. I fixed the lamp, and now the switch is broken.

Me: So...it's fixed?

Pop: (getting perturbed that I don't understand) The switch is broken.

Me: So did you fix it or not?

Pop: Yes!! I fixed it, just like you asked me to! And the switch is broken!

Me: But...the switch wasn't broken earlier. Did you break it?

Pop: NO, I DID NOT BREAK IT! I FIXED IT! And the switch is broken!

Me: Uh.....

Oh, hi, there Pop! Are you having a nice day at work? Hey, nice that you stopped in to read my blog today! OK, bye! Gotta run! Kisses!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String...

I enjoy all the loving attention and whispered surprises that Mother's Day brings, but truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of breakfast in bed. The kids have managed to pull this off in years past, and it's made for some lovely memories, but there's something about dazedly sitting there amongst the rumpled sheets with eggs and crumbs and gently sloshing coffee, trying to prop myself up comfortably and ignoring the fact that I really need to pee.

But this year? This year those kids really hit the nail on the head. They went shopping with my husband and chose several presents for me, including a 6-pack of Snickers bars. When I woke up yesterday, they helped me get all comfortably lounge-y on the futon, and presented me with my very special Mother's Day breakfast: a cup of fresh, hot coffee and A SNICKERS BAR! And then, of course, I offered each of them one, too, much to their amazed & giggling delight.

We sat around all cozied up together, with our bedheads and puffy eyes, chewing away on our delicious candy bars and sharing sneaky grins. I had a little lump in my throat (not Snickers), and felt all warm and bubbly inside (not just caffeine and sugar). The love & happiness in the room was a present every bit as tangible as a gift bag. Those kids, they really know how to warm the cockles of this mom's heart.

Here are the rest of my Mother's Day gifts: a dozen roses, a gossipy magazine, a balloon (which Junior loved a little too firmly...), and a lunch of delicious homemade fajitas (made without me lifting one finger!)

And then, the piece de resistance: just as I was heading down the hall with Junior to change a messy diaper, my husband shouted out, "No, just sit back down -- I'll change him!"

It just doesn't get much better than this, folks.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.
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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Top Chef Recap - Episode 9: Wedding Wars

We are huge fans of Top Chef around here. It's the one show that really is "Must-See T.V." for our family. The current season is set in Chicago, so we have been extra interested and enjoy watching for familiar landmarks and locations and so on. Here is a little re-cap of last night's episode, just in case you missed it!
The 8 remaining contestants hit the ground running with a QuickFire Challenge. They divided into two teams with Stephanie, Antonia, Richard, & Andrew in one corner, and Spike, Nikki, Lisa, and Dale in the other. The challenge was a relay race featuring each chef's knife skills. Each team had to peel & segment 5 oranges, prep 2 artichokes, clean a monkfish into 2 filets, and whip up 1 quart of mayonnaise from scratch. The teams were dicing and slicing neck-to-neck, and emotions were high! The whole thing came down to the mayonnaise round, with Stephanie whipping up her batch first and clinching the win for the team. Dale got mad, totally lost it, & punched a locker!
Lisa was glad to see Dale providing her with yet another reason to dislike him. The two of them really do not play well together.

She had this to say about the locker-punching incident: "Mrfff mruffffty muffle mrgfff mrfem"

Because Lisa regularly expresses her opinions with colorful language, she will be wearing a duct tape muzzle for her appearance on this blog. After all, this is a PG site! (well, ok, maybe PG-13?)

Then Antonia came on camera and explained what happened. "Dale punched a locker...then had to have his diaper changed," she said with a the smallest of grins.

Which is really not integral to the storyline, but pretty amusing nonetheless.

Then judges Padma & Tom announced the next challenge. The same two teams would be competing in a Wedding War, in which each team would be catering a wedding reception for 125 people the very next day. One team would prepare a buffet according to the Bride's tastes and requests; the other would prepare a buffet agreeable to the Groom.

The rules? Each team would have a short consultation with their client (bride or groom), 45 minutes to plan, and 1 hour to shop for ingredients with a budget of $5,000. The teams would then have 14 hours to prepare the food, requiring them to work straight through the night!

The winning team selected the Bride to work with. She requested a buffet of southern-style food, highlighting meat & potatoes. She also wanted a big wedding cake with lots of layers that was pretty.

The Groom told his team he wanted a menu featuring Italian food, specifying a German Chocolate or Hazelnut cake.

The teams flew into action and, as usual, whipped up a huge assortment of impressive-sounding dishes. As the game timer counted down, the contestants were becoming more exhausted and more strained, and the challenge of bringing both the dishes and the individual visions together (while operating on no sleep), became a little too much for some. Emotions were sky high throughout this entire episode, and in order to continue the story, I have to hand out a bit more duct tape. (excuse me for a second)

C'mon, Chefs!! My children watch this show! Get it together & watch your mouths.

Somewhere in here during a commercial break, the Bravo text poll question was, "Which Top Chef annoys you most?" Yeah. 'Nuff said. It was one of those episodes.

The teams handed out their appetizers and canapes, then served the wedding guests at their respective buffet tables. The array of food was delicious-looking, and seemed to represent much more than 14 hours of prep time!

(Check out some of the menu items and recipes here.)

The judges tasted and discussed the two teams' buffet offerings. They reflected on the "overcooked meat", "flavorless" items, and the "ugly battleship cake". They pronounced the bride's cake "impressive", the brisket "perfect", and the pizza appetizer as better than the Italian team's version. Clearly, they had decided on the winning team.

While the contestants anxiously awaited the verdict, they looked pretty miserable trying to keep their eyes open. The all-nighter was catching up with them! (Well, except for Andrew. Apparently his ADHD came in very handy in this particular challenge.)

The Bride's team was announced as the Judges' favorite, and Richard was awarded the Winning Top Chef position.

He immediately said he would like to offer the win to Stephanie, because she managed to create a lovely wedding cake for the bride (a job which nobody really wanted, yet was integral to their success). The judges applauded his move and told Stephanie that she would receive a $2,000 gift certificate from Crate & Barrel. Stephanie, in yet another fine demonstration of teamwork, announced that she and Richard would split the prize. In a show where the winner takes all, this turn of events was delightful to witness.

Then came the final decision -- the losing contestant from the losing team. The chef who would be promptly eighty-sixed. The steely expressions returned, the suspenseful music swelled, and...

...the loser was announced.

Despite an intense series of challenges, and an emotionally-charged episode, Nikki accepted her cut gracefully. "This show has been a great experience, and I am happy to go home to my family. I know that there will be another venture waiting for me," she said.

And so ended another great episode of Top Chef.

I have to say that the lessons illustrated about teamwork, leadership, cooperation, creativity, and doing the best you can (not to mention the mouth-watering food! The fooooood!!) they serve up each week keep Top Chef on my list of great family t.v. shows.....just watch the language, guys!!

Tune in next week for another exciting episode of Top Chef Chicago, served up on Bravo at 10pm EST. The previews promise tales of sabotage and intrigue...and my mouth is already watering.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Miracle Cures of the 21st Century!

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from Junior's school. I always experience a moment of dread when the caller ID announces the school is calling. Oh, no! What happened?

His teacher was on the phone, and she started out very calm and friendly -- always a good sign. Then she went on to tell me that when they came in from the playground, "there was an incident". Gulp!

Just as the heavy entrance door was closing, Junior stuck his hand in to try to catch it...but instead just had his finger mightily pinched in the crack. She sounded calm, and I couldn't hear any screaming or crying in the background, so I wasn't sure what to make of it. She told me his nail and skin were ok, but there was a lot of blood under his nail. Somehow in my confusion, though, I misunderstood and was picturing a bloody mess with nail hanging on by a hair.

"Wait - is he ok?" I asked.

"Yeah, he's actually surprisingly fine! He's here beside me, and he's not even crying; he just keeps holding it out and saying, "Oushh!...Oushh!" she explained.

Now, I know he has a high pain tolerance, but the fact that he was calm and fine confused me even more!

"So - does he need stitches?" I asked.

"No, really, his finger is fine....he just has a very purple nail and it has to be terribly painful. He probably needs to have a hole poked in the nail to relieve the pressure. I think you need to come get him."

Well! Let me just say that I have been around; I mean, we're no strangers to the ER....but A HOLE? POKED IN HIS NAIL?!? (The mere idea makes me feel faint!) I had never heard of this, and still couldn't figure out whether the injury was severe or not.

Junior's teacher is very laid-back; she doesn't over-react, she doesn't cry wolf. She's dealt with crazy stuff at school and simply sent a note home for me later. So I got there as fast as I could. And you know what? He really was fine! He grinned to see me...but kept saying "Oushh!" about his finger.

His teacher repeated her advice that poking a hole in the nail really would provide relief from the pressure. The school nurse seconded the opinion. The secretaries nodded in agreement. The nurse didn't have the proper tool to do it, and I knew there was no way I was going to do that at home! So I called the pediatrician's office and asked the nurse to see if the crazy rumor was true. She said that particular treatment isn't always necessary, but agreed it can be a great thing. She told me to bring Junior in and they'd take a look. I called my husband to bring him up to speed, and he said he, himself, has done it a million times and it really does help.

Seriously, how have I never heard of this before??

Now, Junior has problems sleeping on a good day, and I was beginning to have images of him awake all night due to a throbbing finger...and though the idea of poking a hole in one's fingernail goes against the very nature of my being, by this point a half dozen people had confirmed the treatment. I drove to the pediatrician's office.

The doctor was concerned with how protective Junior was being of his finger. He ordered an X-ray to be certain it wasn't broken. Which hadn't even crossed my mind, but instantly became all I could think! (Stitches! Missing nails! Shattered bones!! Neurotic much?)

It wasn't.

Dr. L. promised making a hole in the nail was completely painless & very quick, and really was a good idea. So Junior sat on my lap and we all braced his arm down, because he was getting scared.*

I should note that through all of this, Junior was an absolute trooper. Despite a few scary moments for him, the entire visit was smooth & easy. He charmed everyone, waited patiently, and was very cooperative. He even signed "thank you" and waved goodbye to everyone as we left! (You've heard the theory that pain provides focus?... I'm thinking it just might be true.)**

But back to the story. They used a special heated tool that melted through the nail in about 2 seconds flat, squeezed out the collected blood, and PRESTO, MAGICO! -- nail fixed. Seriously. The purple? GONE. The pain? GONE!!



As my grandma would say, "Well, I never!"

I'm telling you, that finger isn't even swollen. It's crazy. CRAZY!! Who knew?!

*(Not as scared as he was of the scale, though. To stand on. And be weighed. That! Was scary stuff.)

**(I could insert some joke here about a fashionable tool belt with convenient hammer being the very latest in mommy accessories...but I won't...ahem.)

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Also, the Bridge Is Out Ahead...

This picture earned its way onto my bulletin board today.
(found on reallyfunnypictures website)

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Passive-Aggressive Calendar: Let Me Show It To You

I bought myself a calendar this year. Generally I just use the free one that comes in the mail mid-December. But this year I actually went to the store, browsed around, and carefully selected one that had nice, large squares for writing in and a spiral binding so it would lay flat. It even had an attractive plain, red leather(ish) cover on it, so I wouldn't mind it lying around in plain sight all the time. I payed $16.95 for it, and considered it money well spent. I truly believed that this calendar would improve my life by helping me to be more organized & efficient. Look out, 2008; here I come!

But there's a problem. Unlike every other calendar I have ever owned, including all the mini-planner purse editions, school calendar magnet versions, and those small-squared, awkwardly-sized, floppy, free ones from our insurance company or bank or whoever*, this one STARTS ON A MONDAY SQUARE.
And if that's not confusing enough, the tiny preview month-at-a-glance calendars at the top of the page are in the traditional SUNDAY-SQUARE-COMES-FIRST format. Passive-aggressive, I tell you!
So this Monday Square format. It does not work for me. When I write down events and appointments by date, everything is hunky dory and I love my hip new calendar. And if something falls on the right-hand page (Thursday - Sunday), I see the weekend shared squares and everything's fine. But when someone says "how about Monday?" or "next Tuesday" or "this Wednesday" I invariably get it wrong!!

Yes, I know -- it is already May and I should have caught on to this by now. But it keeps tripping me up!

Last week I emailed someone to "definitely (probably, I'm pretty sure)" expect my son because I had returned his registration form with our commitment. The problem was I returned it a day late because I marked the deadline on my calendar on the wrong dumb square! So...we're planning on it, but until we hear for sure, I'm hoping they have a slightly flexible deadline.

I also dropped off my 2 dozen cookies for the teacher's lounge at school last week, just as I had agreed to do....only I was, again, a day late. I breezed into the office with a grin and a chipper "just gonna drop these off in the Teacher's Lounge!" and then opened the door to an empty room. So on Tuesday there were dozens of donated cookies and drinks for the teachers to enjoy, courtesy of the PTO,....and on Wednesday there was a lone, tired little plate of cookies from me. I moved the empty containers and explanatory post-it notes and thank you cards from the day before, brushed aside the dry crumbs, and set my little plate on the table. Then ran!

So I think I finally got it through my thick skull: CHECK THE DAY! The actual name of the day of the week, for each square, no matter how delicately labelled and deceptively fluid it may appear! This is it. I have cracked the code. I have learned my lesson. I will double- and triple-check dates from now on!

Look out, all you Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays left in 2008; I am still coming!

And now I must run, for I have places to go and people to see! Oh, wait. Never mind. That was yesterday.... (banging head on table)

*Note To Our Friendly Business People:
To Whom It May Concern,
The free calendars were great and all (I mean we've used them for years now, even though we don't even have a nail in the wall to hang them from or anything!) but probably not really worth your advertising dollars. Think about it -- even after all these years of free calendars, I can't remember who you are! Perhaps you would consider dropping our insurance rates, or our interest rates, or your service charges, or offering some discount in whatever it is we are consuming from your business, in place of the annual calendar. Ok? Great!
Thanks, your loyal customer,

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Creature Comforts

Flipping through channels the other night, I landed on an episode of Creature Comforts. This show features a soundtrack of actual interviews with ordinary folks, which is then animated using a variety of clay-mation critters. I'm telling you, the way these producers transform ordinary conversations into entertainment is creative genius. Take a peek at this clip about Self-Image:

You can watch Creature Comforts on the Animal Planet channel, Thursdays at 7pm EST.
Don't miss Episodes 5 & 6, premiering on May 8th (repeated on May 9th at 1pm).