21 December 2007

Web treats

If you are entranced by the Web, you will enjoy Rule the Web, How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet -- Better, Faster, Earlier. It's not a Web for Dummies type of book. It assumes you know how to navigate the Web. The author is Mark Frauenfelder, founder of Boing Boing, an interesting blog full of oddities.

The book contains tips and recommendations on what you can do, and where, on the Web and on your PC. A few examples:
Alas, I don't think the book will help me with the milk I spilled on my keyboard this morning.

20 December 2007

Trouble with the mail

This bit of mail was returned to me. If you look closely, there is a small chunk of the original envelope inside a larger envelope. (I whited out the address.)

At the top is "Return for better address." Does that mean that if I put a complete address and new stamp on it this would go through the mail?

13 December 2007

Fun with words and phrases

I love words. And witty phrases. Here are a few recent favorites.

Via the The New Yorker
  • fed-upness
  • ginned up (as in "You must be ginned up to think that there's no such thing as global warming.")
From "The Eyre Affair"
  • fatuousness
  • "mad as pants" (crazy, nuts -- not in a good way)
Forwarded to me by EclectChick:
  • Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  • Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
  • Arachnoleptic Fit: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
  • Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
From an interview on NPR. The interviewee was referring to the presidential candidate ads running in Iowa (the Iowa caucuses are the first in the choosing-a-presidential-candidate sweepstakes).
[The presidential campaign ads are] Content free and information challenged.
And we have 11 more months of this. God help us.

12 December 2007

Christmas displays without the annoying crowds

Want to see the cool Christmas displays in shop windows but don't want to fight the crowds? Or, if you're short like me, don't fancy looking at the backs of tall peop0le who insist on standing in front? You are in luck.

Check out 10 New York displays on BuzzFeed. Not quite the same as being there but you can stay in your cozy, warm slippers and make your cocoa just the way you like it.

10 December 2007

Is it a sport?

It's not really a sport unless there's the possibility of dislodging your intestine.
Stephen Colbert* in I Am America and So Can You! (I so love the title of this book.) Also from the book:
If you think temporary tattoos are OK, maybe I can interest you in some temporary eternal damnation.

I mean no disrespect to the listeners who have not had children. There's no shame in being a genetic dead end.

I am not the sharpest knife in the spoon.

Click here for Stephen's "On Notice/Dead to Me" list.

*Stephen Colbert/The Colbert Report has a faux news show on Comedy Central. He acts like a self-involved, right-wing news host (a la Bill O'Reilly from Fox News) but it's all a joke. In an interview, Colbert describes his Colbert Report character as a "well intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot."

09 December 2007

Christmas gift ideas

BrandFlakesForBreakfast has a great list of gift ideas like a pet nest bed, wooden USB memory sticks, drippy pillows, political chew toys for dogs* and loads of other cool stuff. The site is also a super way to waste time at work.

*Includes Bush, Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I'd like to get all three. I'd make them all make nice nice. Then I'd let Sophie at them. As is her wont, she'd shake them violently as if to break their necks.

08 December 2007

Thanksgiving and family

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's when my Mom's side of the family gathers for a day of fun. This year there were 23 of us.

My cousin Joni always bring Lefse and by quite early in the day it is all gone. It's really fun to see the little kids chomping away on a little roll-up filled with sugar and butter, moving the Norwegian treat to the next generation.

Every year the kids play with these wood strips. This year they used them to make paths through the living room. They also like to stack them in towers and knock them down. They usually do this in the linoleum-floored laundry room. With no carpet cushion, the tumbling wood strips are very, very loud.

My brothers and I used to play with them at our Grandparents' house. I can't remember where my Grandpa got them. They are varnish and stain samples from years and years ago. In a day of video games and DVDs, it's so fun to see the kids drag out the retro toys.

Sophie gets a chance to meet and greet everyone, lick the little kids in the mouth and clean up spills. She loves the day but the Friday after she seems like she has a hangover.

The day always goes way too fast. One minute you're hugging and greeting everyone. The next it's dark and everyone is going home.

07 December 2007

Thanksgiving

Philosophy and Mutts. Lovely!

Nice way to start the day

I overslept this morning. I was having a weird dream. It was about renovations and redecorating at my allergist's office. (The new waiting room was quite lovely.) Not quite worth the mad dash to get ready for work.

06 December 2007

Funny Grandma

My Grammy lived until 98. Up until the last couple of years she was quite the spitfire. She had all sorts of goofy sayings like:
  • Are you having a spell? (If we were acting really silly.)
  • Did you fall in? (If she thought someone was spending too long in the bathroom.)
  • We have to get there [a restaurant] before the nasty church people. (This was uttered on Sundays when we planned to go to lunch. She wanted to beat the church rush. However, she was dedicated to her church and faith which makes it doubly funny.)
  • How are [his/her] people? (She would ask this if you told her about a new friend, platonic or romantic. She wanted to know what the person's family is like.)

05 December 2007

New term

I don't like the term "brain fart." I like what it stands for -- not being able to remember or think of something, losing your train of thought mid sentence, etc. It happens to me. A lot.

I heard another, more refined, expression that means the same thing: brain fluff. It's more descriptive for me. I think of that airy batting that comes in stuffed toys and quilted items. That's how my brain feels on many days.

04 December 2007

What now?

I found an old notebook. I used to keep it in my purse to write down shopping lists, book recommendations, ideas, etc. There was only one page with writing on it. Here's what it said:
Father and mother separated to different sons' houses -- then they find their long lost adopted son at a car dealership by the train station.
Huh?

30 November 2007

Enough madness already!

Great words from the prophetic Rabbi Michael Lerner:
The central message of both Chanukah and Christmas is the affirmation of hope for a renewal of goodness in the midst of a world that is increasingly dark and fearful. For the ancients, that was expressed through holidays of light—burning the yule log or lighting candles as a sign that even while the days had grown shorter and the sun seemed to be less available, we believed that it would return. Chanukah taught the world that a small group of people (the Maccabbees) could fight the overwhelming power of the Hellenistic empire, and triumph. Christmas brought the message that a little child, always a symbol of hope, could bring love and kindness to the world, with tidings of peace and generosity.

This year, we need to get back to those messages of hope. In a world in which our Senate has just signaled, through the confirmation of an attorney general who couldn't muster the courage to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture, that the Bush Administration need not respect international law, and in which our Congress keeps spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fund a war that the vast majority oppose, and in which our presidential candidates are unable to commit to bringing all the troops and advisors out of Iraq before 2013, there is a desparate need for ordinary citizens to experience of hope for a world of peace, generosity, and ecological sanity.
Read the full text here.

29 November 2007

Your site has a few problems

I received a mailing today from Keller Graduate School of Management. Normally I throw these things away. Today I felt like taking a look. I typed in the URL but could not find anything but minimal information on the various degrees. There are small descriptions but you can't click through there or anywhere else for more detail on degrees, tuition, etc. But you can fill out a form for more information on their MBA. What if you're not interested in an MBA but something else? Why should I have to give you my information in order to get information from you?

Aaargh. End of today's rant.

28 November 2007

Bumper sticker fun

I saw this bumper sticker today. I usually refer to Wal-Mart as The Devil's Little Sweatshop.

This and more at StampAndShout. Stocking stuffers!

19 November 2007

This is meant for kids?


Krista, a friend from work, received this birthday present, as a joke, from her husband. A faux Barbie Happy Hour Play set. It's meant for kids.

15 November 2007

Well that's a good idea!

This caught my attention on the Idea Sandbox blog:
Look beyond immediate conclusions. Break it down - the problem, your customers, a project - into smaller chunks and examine alternate solutions. It may sound completely different than you expected.
I have some breaking down to do.

08 November 2007

Word of the day: vapid

Vapid -- it can be mean to say and it just sounds good.

According to dictionary.com:
  1. lacking or having lost life, sharpness or flavor
  2. without liveliness or spirit
In German the word can be fad or fade (fa-da), words which can said just as patronizingly.

26 October 2007

I am Midnight?

I stole this idea from Julia's blog. This explanation is about 40 percent true. Unusual habits? Experiment with lifestyle? Huh?

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.
Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.
Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.
You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

23 October 2007

New baby!

This is my new nephew, Cohen. I was there for his birth last week. It was amazing. He is the sweetest little baby in the world!

22 October 2007

Wake up annoyances

Waking up to an alarm stinks. It's alarming and annoying. But here are three other noises that, to me, are worse.
  • Car alarm
  • Hair dryer
  • The dog throwing up

11 October 2007

Excel is afraid of Roger Waters

I was attempting to help a colleague with formulas in Excel. It wasn't working so I went back to my desk to mess around with the file. Before I opened the file, I turned on my iPod and chose Pink Floyd. Presto! The formulas worked!

09 October 2007

A must-have shirt

I saw this on the Mental Floss site. It made me laugh out loud. If you don't know Lady Macbeth, check her out on Wikipedia.

Mental Floss is the best magazine ever. How could you not love a magazine that has this subtitle: Feel smart again.

07 October 2007

How well do you know your side affects?

Mental Floss has a great new quiz: Popular Drugs, Ominous Labels. In the U.S. there are many, many pharmaceutical ads on TV and print. The ads on TV are particularly funny since they have to read out the possible side affects. They are often horrifying.

Take the Mental Floss quiz and see how well you know your drug side affects.

05 October 2007

Sophie and the toads

Sophie got her first taste of toad over the weekend. There are many in the garden around my parents' house. Sophie stuck her face in this particular plant (nice and brown from the frost). When she pulled her head out, she was licking her lips like she'd just tasted something awful. Even so, every time we were by that plant she'd go in for a check. Maybe she thought that only some of them taste terrible.

Swag!

I was at the MIMA Summit (Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association) earlier this week. It's one of those events that, when you leave, it feels as if your skull was forced open. In a good way.

One of the great things about marketing conferences, besides the great info you glean, is that you usually get some pretty cool swag. At the MIMA Summit attendees received a swag bag full of the cool and useful items at right.

The conference was packed with design, Web, tech and marketing geeks. The presentations were all about how the Web is changing how we live and what that means to marketers -- how to use the Web and e-mail in new, cool and effective ways. The morning keynote was by a guy from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. He talked about trends in Web use and provided lots of stats (I love stats!) about Internet use, type of use, etc., by various segments of the population.

One of the presenters, from Schematic, had the most brain-busting presentation. He talked primarily about how we'll be navigating the Web in the future. Take a look at the Schematic site and you'll see what I mean. The first part of the presentation was so out there I felt disoriented. (Like I was walking in eight-inch heels through deep mud on a listing ship.) After I got acclimated I was fascinated.

I work at a school that is part of a larger church. MIMA gatherings are full of people who do things we could only dream of. But that's the beauty of it. The ideas open up my mind and push me to keep learning and growing. And it's just plain cool.

03 October 2007

Mean about cats

My brother Mike has a t-shirt with "Cats, the other white meat" printed on it. I wanted to take a picture of it but he wouldn't let me. He was in a very foul mood.

This is exceedingly mean but I'm still working off a bad cat experience. A college roommate had an evil Siamese cat. He would jump up and bite people in that fleshy area between the nostrils until you pried him off.

The shirt at right is for sale at CafePress.

20 September 2007

Goodbye stress, hello happy place

I love popping bubble wrap. At a summer job in college we used to roll over the bubbles with our office chairs. It was the most fantastic sound.

Bubble wrap makes a nice stress reliever and allows me to regress the days before responsibilities -- a career, a mortgage, etc. I don't get many things in bubble wrap any more. Schade! (bummer)

I was so excited to see this on Boing Boing! Although you can't roll over the Puchi Puchi Electronic Popping Bubble Wrap Toy with a chair, you still get that lovely sound. You can go to your happy place for just $7.20 (5.12 Euro). Available in five colors.

19 September 2007

Valkyrie

The movie Valkyrie is due for release in 2008. It's about the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. The main character is Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the leading players in the plot. (The plot also included Dietrich Bonhoeffer*.) Who gets to play the martyred Von Stauffenberg? That chump Tom Cruise. Yes, you read that correctly. How is one to take the movie seriously with him in the lead?

This reminds me of a story I heard in my theology of Bonhoeffer class. Dr. Burtness , a Bonhoeffer scholar, told us that David Soul, yes that one from Starsky & Hutch, wanted to make a movie about Bonhoeffer. And who did he want to play Bonhoeffer? Himself. Oh good lord.

*Bonhoeffer was already in prison in July 1944. After the failed plot the Nazis discovered his involvement. He ended up at Flossenbuerg where he was executed, by Hitler’s specific order, on April 9, 1945. It was just three weeks before Flossenbuerg was liberated. His brother and two brothers-in-law were also executed for their parts in the conspiracy.

18 September 2007

Oh, I thought you were....

Sophzilla and I walk in the morning and the evening. We see many people and their dogs. The other day, one of the regular walkers (a human) was wearing black sweatpants and a black, hooded sweatshirt. The hood was up and his face was partially covered. (It was quite chilly that morning.) He looked like a death eater. Good thing the school bus had already passed. There might have been screaming.

17 September 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Arrested Development

Kelsey, one of my work colleagues, shared this with me. I've only seen snips of Arrested Development. It's completely mental.

In this scene the baldish guy, Tobias, who thinks he's an actor, is auditioning for a store's fire sale commercial.

10 September 2007

Death at a Funeral

"Death at a Funeral" is one of the best movies I've seen in ages. It's hysterical. The action takes place over one day at the home of the deceased. One thing after another goes wrong, usually embarrassingly so. I laughed so hard I was almost in pain.

It's one of those movies where you see the character rather than the actor ("Hey, that's Hugh Grant.") Even so, I recognized two of the actors from two of my favorite films: Pride and Prejudice and A Room with a View. And the actor who plays Simon played Steve the Pirate (so incredibly silly) in Dodgeball.

Here is the trailer. I'm happy to report that all of the good bits aren't in the preview.

30 August 2007

State Fair memories

The Minnesota State Fair is on until Labor Day. I drive near it most days on the way to work and all sorts of fun memories pop into my mind.

When I was growing up our family would often go to the Fair. It was incredibly fun. My parents kept tabs on what we were eating so there were no throw-up incidents at, or on the way home from, the fair. They also, usually successfully, steered us clear of buying the various crap and oddities for sale in the Grandstand. And every year my Mom would make us go back to the car at lunch time. She brought sandwiches, fruit, that type of thing. I can still hear her say, "You kids have to eat something besides junk today."

I had one of my most embarrassing clothing faux paux at the Fair. Around Labor Day dressing can be a quandary if you're going to be gone all day. Shorts or long pants? Long sleeves or short? Just because it's cool in the morning doesn't mean that it won't get hot later. In this particular year we were in long pants and long sleeves. At the last minute my Mom grabbed a t-shirt for each of us, just in case it got too hot for sweatshirts. It did. In the rush my Mom didn't consider what we were wearing when choosing the shirts. I was wearing plaid pants -- red, navy, orange and other warm, fall colors. The t-shirt she grabbed for me had horizontal stripes in primary colors. It was awful. I didn't blame my Mom -- well maybe I did a little -- but I can still remember how horrified I was to be in that outfit.

29 August 2007

Phrase of the week

Heard this term in a Fresh Air interview with Bill Flanagan, a MTV networks executive and author. Low-impact Monday. As in, I want a low-impact Monday (no meetings, hassles, etc.). I love it. The interview is great.
Bill Flanagan, Fondly Biting the TV-Network Hand

Novelist Bill Flanagan wrote the comedy A&R about the smooth operators and the scatty artists who make the music business so entertaining; now he's lampooning the cable-TV industry in his novel New Bedlam. The source for his send-ups? His career as an MTV networks exec.

27 August 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Colbert

Part 2 -- the funnier part -- of Stephen Colbert's 2006 speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. (Stephen Colbert is the host of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central.) He blasts Bush, the administration and the press in a really sneaky, snarky way.

22 August 2007

The Unforgettable Fire

Lately I've been listening to U2's Best of 1980-90. "The Unforgettable Fire," is one of my all-time favorites, particularly this line, "Come on take me away, come on take me home, come on take me home, home again."

Each time I hear it I remember riding the Rapide through the dark London streets. After six months in northern England we were on the way to Gatwick and back to the States. To say that I didn't want to go back, that England had become my home, is an understatement. I listened to this song over and over and over. Throughout the next academic year I had a terrible case of reverse culture shock.

The actual video can't be embedded but you can see it here. This video is a compilation of U2 images.

16 August 2007

Stupid!

I read this story in yesterday's newspaper. A guy in Kentucky tried to rob a liquor store but was caught. He tried to disguise himself by wrapping his head in duct tape. (Full story.) I shudder thinking how much skin and hair the duct tape took with it upon removal.

13 August 2007

Will it blend?

A colleague turned me on to this site: Will It Blend? There are "try this at home" and "don't try this at home" videos. It's a beautiful thing. In the below, the host, delightfully cheesy, blends an iPhone.



This is marketing genius. Blendtec actually sells blenders.

12 August 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Ralphie

Oh Ralphie, you are so dim. Below, the best of Ralph Wiggum from the Simpsons.


Productivity tip from Jerry Seinfeld

Productivity tip from Jerry Seinfeld? Who knew? The Seinfeldian Chain is a motivational way to track your progress toward any goal. I love it.
...He [Seinfeld] told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

"Don't break the chain." He said again for emphasis... (more)

Create your own chain to track your progress toward a goal at SmarterFitter.

10 August 2007

Redneck Games

This one speaks for itself.
From the Boston Herald:

Texas ’Redneck Games’ draw several thousand

DALLAS - More than a few athletes have been accused of doping over the years - but the competitors at the "Texas Redneck Games" might just be dopes.

These competitors forgo the shotput for the "Mattress Chuck" in which two-man teams heave a mattress from the back of a pickup truck as far as they can. And if you aren’t planning on heading to Beijing for the next Olympic Games, there’s always the ugly "butt-crack contest."

By the time the latest Redneck Games ended Sunday, more than 54 arrests and citations had been issued on charges ranging from public intoxication to speeding, according to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department. Officials are considering charges against the organizer and landowners where the event was held.

"I’m an old fuddy duddy and all that, but you got a vehicle, you got alcohol, and you got illegal dumping, and you’re making a contest out of that?" said Lt. Pat McWilliams, sheriff’s spokesman. "We are very fortunate that we didn’t have a fatality." More.

Thanks to Kelsey for the tip!

06 August 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- 11

Spinal Tap skewers bands who are full of themselves yet amazingly stupid. This clip features Nigel Tufnel.

04 August 2007

Fall?

It's a cloudy but glorious day. It's only 66F (19C). It's been a hot and humid summer and today is a lovely change. I almost put socks on.

This word of the day comes from Wordsmith: haboob (huh-BOOB), noun. A violent dust storm or sandstorm, especially in Sudan. [From Arabic habub (strong wind).]

If my Mom would have known that word when we were growing up she would have used it to describe our bedrooms. 'It looks like a haboob's been through here.' She often described our rooms as federal disaster areas.

02 August 2007

Summer

I love kind of tomatoes you get out of garden or from the farmers' market. I'm trying this year to get grape tomatoes to grow on my deck. There might not be enough light but I'm trying it anyway. I was so excited to see these little beauties!

I planted quite a few flowers on the deck this year. Once the sun has gone around the house, toward late afternoon, it's quite lovely and shady, even on the hottest days. (And man, we've had tons of those this summer.)

Sophie has a grand time on the deck sniffing the flowers and, when I'm not watching, eating the dirt.


23 July 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Rico and Kip

Uncle Rico and Kip sharing a strange conversation. These guys have girlfriends? From Napoleon Dynamite.

20 July 2007

Words and phrases

David Sedaris is one of the funniest people alive. Here's some of his wit (see here for previous post). From Me Talk Pretty One Day.
  • Hokey claptrap
  • Saucebox -- that is, his French teacher's mouth as in "I didn't know what would next come out of her saucebox." She is mean and unpredictable, often berating students.
Here he reads one of his funniest essays -- on the Stadium Pal.

17 July 2007

How much is your body worth?

If you leave your body to science, wouldn't you want your family to get some cash for it? Take this quiz, 20 easy questions, and find out how much you, well not you actually, could get for your body. I don't know if you can hold anyone to these numbers.

$0The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth. From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Thanks to Pig Sty Ave. for the info.

16 July 2007

PooPooing the Monday Blues -- Yanking Andy's Chain

There's nothing like yanking the chain of someone with anger issues. If you're not in striking distance that is. Andy loses his phone and his mind in this clip from The Office. (Andy is a real sycophant, a slap-you-on-the-back kind of guy with an ego the size of the former Soviet Union.)

13 July 2007

Exit strategy

'Exit strategy' and Iraq were all over the news today. That reminded me of work incident. Each year our department goes off for a day and half to plan for the coming year. It's very productive and as a treat, we mix in a bit of fun.

A few years back, a not-to-be-named co-worker was in charge of planning the 'fun' part of the retreat. It was horrible, uncomfortable and included costumes. We felt like hostages.

The activity was meant to 'bond' our team. It did do that but with an unexpected twist. We all bonded around how much we hated it.

Another co-worker had gin hidden away in a corner. (Our retreat was on the campus of an undergraduate, and therefore dry, campus.) She'd approach people quietly and ask, "Do you want a drink?" The universal, glee-filled response was, "You have liquor?" If we had to sit through this we might as well have a gin and tonic in hand. Part way into the awfulness my boss leaned over to me and said, "Is there an exit strategy for this?"

09 July 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Dwight the fascist

For your Monday enjoyment, a clip from The Office. In the show, Jim and Pam -- the two scheming in the clip -- are constantly devising ways to torment Dwight. When he's not sucking up to Michael, the boss, Dwight is subjecting his co-workers to his fascistic tendencies and over-inflated sense of self (he has a bobble head of himself on his desk).

08 July 2007

Working your gray matter

I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love. It's an OK book. I waver between loving it and finding the main character (the author) highly annoying. I did, however, gather a very good tip from the book which I am putting to use.

For the last few days I have been reading a small news story in German. The first was a story from Der Spiegel about the new Simpsons movie. I love the show but I don't know about the movie so it wasn't quite cheating. It was a fun interview with the creators, Al Jean and Matt Groening. I even laughed out loud a few times!

Today I'm reading a story from Deutsche Welle about people who are learning German at the Goethe Institute in India.

Practicing your language skills is amazingly entertaining and the pay off is three fold: you work your brain, improve your language skills and learn something interesting. (I will not be reading any finance or economic stories. That stuff freaks me out in English.)

On a side note, you may, as in all news reading, learn things you do not want to know. I just read in Der Spiegel that Tom Cruise will play Claus von Stauffenberg in an upcoming movie, Valkyrie. Shudder. (Stauffenberg was a crucial player in the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler.)

Die Hitze! (the heat!)

A very poignant word on my word-a-day German flip-a-day calendar: unertraeglich (unbearable). Die Hitze is unertraeglich! (The heat is unbearable.)

Genau! (Yes!) It's been like Tulsa here. That is, hot and humid. It's been in the 90s (32C+), again.

I carpooled with Sally on Friday. When she dropped me off at my car I knew it would be hot. I'd left a sun shade on the dash. I was hoping that it would make the steering wheel touchable.

I opened up the car door and the heat that rolled out was like a blast furnace. Luckily, I had a canvas tote bag in the car. I used it like an oven mitt to drive. Maybe I'll start keeping an oven mitt in the car. Just in case. Hang it from the rear-view mirror.

07 July 2007

Philosophical question and cool trend stuff

Trend Hunter serves up cool, funny stuff that makes you feel, 'I'm either really normal or really abnormal for not understanding the allure of this stuff.'

Will people buy the solid gold dress ($250,000, 183,000 Euro), the USB Butt Cooler (4,800 yen, $39, 29 Euro) or the Swiss Glamour Camping Kit ($299, 219 Euro)? Do these things demonstrate the ultimate in consumerism? Is all this stuff just a substitute for 'self actualization' (Maslow's hierarchy of needs)?

Is worth in the eye of the beholder? Or in the eye of the person observing the beholder?

There was a great story in the New Zealand Herald about need vs. want. (I found the link through Google. I don't suffer that much from screen suck.) But for me, it's not just a financial question. This lens on Squidoo is an interesting exploration into Huxley's Brave New World.

I can't throw too many stones. Do I really need my iPod, all the books on my shelves or the special treats I feed Sophie? No. But do I want them, yes.

If found these suggestions. I don't know about all of them but it's a place to start.
Ask yourself:
1. Can I live without it?
2. Will the world stop going around if I do not have it?
3. Will it make a big difference in my life if I do have it?
4. Will my life end if I go without this item?
5. Can I find it elsewhere for less money?
6. Can I find it on sale or clearance or used?

Guess I won't be purchasing the butt cooler.

06 July 2007

Who's your baby mama?

Mo Rocca's blog poses this video question today: Who is your fantasy baby mama? How about you? Who's is your fantasy baby mama or daddy? Rule -- you commit to the pregnancy and the first two years of the child's life.

04 July 2007

A surprise for Indepence Day

From the Borowitz Report. Andy Borowitz is fiendishly clever. His bogus news stories are like a release valve, letting off a bit of the stress from the latest annoying or aggravating news from the current administration. Today's story:

Cheney Declares Himself National Monument
Latest Attempt to Dodge Subpoena

In a bold new strategy to avoid a congressional subpoena, Vice President Dick Cheney today declared himself a national monument.

Mr. Cheney took the unorthodox step only after failing in his attempt to invoke a little-known legal principle called the separation of Cheney and state.

Aides to Mr. Cheney confirmed that being a national monument gives the vice president not only immunity from subpoenas, but also a draft deferment in perpetuity.

President George W. Bush presided over a solemn White House ceremony this morning in which a plaque documenting Mr. Cheney’s status as a national monument was affixed to the vice president’s midsection...

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01 July 2007

28 June 2007

Cafe culture goes canine

This is an old story but I love it!

MEXICO CITY, Nov 17 (Reuters Life!) - Patrons smoke and gossip into the night. Some sip cafe latte from sleek china cups. Others pant and drool and lick the floor.

All are valued customers at Mexico City's Bow-Wow Deli.
The tiny corner cafe in an up-and-coming residential neighborhood caters lovingly to dogs, although people are welcome, too.

Inspired by similar establishments in Japan, it may be the surest sign yet that this developing nation of more than 100 million people -- and countless dogs -- has one leg planted squarely in the First World.

27 June 2007

What PowerPoint deserves

PowerPoint has its uses but it is often, justifiably, maligned. It's something to look at as the person drones on and on. It keeps you from going totally mad. Especially when running, screaming from the room isn't an option. Don't get me started on those who put their entire spoken presentation on their PowerPoint slides. Or those that fill the slides with words. Sheesh! It's supposed to be an overview not a booklet!

The next time you're forced to do a PowerPoint presentation, head on over to Crappy Graphs. At least there will be something enticing in your presentation. Some of the brilliant options for you:
FYI -- If you Google "hate PowerPoint" you get over 10,000 hits.

Found this info at BrandFlakesForBreakfast, a great blog from an advertising firm in Danbury, Connecticut.

Subversive cross stitch

Crafty Planet, a very hip store in North Minneapolis, has a wonderful line of subversive cross stitch patterns. This is one of the more suitable for this blog. I do love some of the others!
I would like to add a few others. I better get designing.
  • Get Away From Me
  • You Make Me Ill
  • Please Don't Talk to Me

26 June 2007

Well that's just silly

I freely use "middle-aged white guy" to describe the sometimes unequal treatment that many women, non-whites, etc., receive at the hands of, well, the middle-aged white guy who has the power. "Who made that rule?." "I don't know. Probably some middle-aged white guy." I also use it to describe an out-of-touch or stupid action like trying to gain favor at an AA meeting by handing out liqueur-filled chocolates.

And sometimes, I don't have a lot of sympathy for men losing a bit of that power since, until fairly recently, they've had a lock on it. But in the story below, I really feel sorry for them. Apparently, a woman changing her name upon marrying isn't possibly dodging something like a criminal past by the name change. But men? You better check them out first. Trouble they are. Just nonsense (or in German, der Unsinn--I love that word).

Changing His Name
Why can’t a husband freely take his wife’s surname?

by Bailey Porter

When New Yorkers Elizabeth Batton and Garrett Sorenson married last August, they wanted to adopt each other’s last name as a second surname, making them the Batton Sorensons. But there was no option on their marriage license application to do so. Elizabeth could easily change her surname to Sorenson, or to Batton-Sorenson, but for a man to adopt his wife’s name is another story.

That’s because although New York is one of only six states in the U.S. that recognize a statutory right for men to take their wives’ last name, the couple married in Kentucky, where no such law exists. Under most states’ laws, if a man wants to take his wife’s name he must petition the court, advertise in a newspaper and pay hundreds of dollars in fees. A woman needs only to fill out a marriage license application. More.

Poor guys. Trying to be all equality minded and the man's after them. It would be interesting to find out if those changed-name couples' lives differ. Does there tend to be a more equal distribution of chores, child care, etc., when both change their names? How about typical roles? If both people change their names is there less, "You mow the lawn, fix the car, etc. You're the man," or "You wash the clothes, take care of the kids, etc. You're the woman." If I was a sociologist I would try to get grant money to study this.

25 June 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- David Brent dance

When I heard that there was going to be a U.S. version of The Office I was very skeptical. 'Oh great. Take a brilliant show and completely wreck it." But it works. Very well (as you can see from my going on and on about it here).

The U.S. version of The Office provides me with at least explosive laugh per show. Plus a lot of regular laughs in between. The British version is also very funny but in a different way. It's more uncomfortably funny. In the following, David Brent (Ricky Gervais), the hopelessly clueless boss, once again sucks all the attention.

22 June 2007

Living out loud

EclectChick forwarded this to me. Whether you believe in God or not, it's a great affirmation!

God Says Yes to Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Kaylin Haught

As one of my favorite writers, Cheryl Richardson, says, 'What are you saying 'yes' to?'

20 June 2007

Lewis Libby and the German calendar

I have a calendar that has a German word, and a demonstrative sentence each day. The combo of yesterday and today's sentences made me think of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.*
The words and examples make better sense if you read today's entry first.
Today (a la Libby):
sich errinern -- to remember
Ich kann mich nicht errinern. (I cannot remember.)

Yesterday (a la the jury):
wahr -- true
Das is gar nicht wahr. (That is not true.)
*Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice for exposing undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. It was done to punish her husband, Joseph Wilson, for questioning the Bush administration's rationale for going to war with Iraq. Libby claimed to have forgotten conversations in which Plame Wilson's identity was discussed. He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

19 June 2007

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

The look of the blog has changed. Again. I truly am a good (?) example of 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.'

Last week I was working on my blog and attempted to change something in the template. Bam! There went the sunburst header thingie. So I used a blogger template just to avoid problems. But it was so boring! I love color and mixing it up. (Hence my multiple blog template crashes.)

This past weekend I looked for the sunburst template but didn't find it. I decided I should stop messing around so I used one of the blogger templates that you can customize. Now I can switch up the colors according to the season, or my whim. There's much less chance for a crash and burn since the customizable template lets you do many of the things I've tried in HTML -- to varying degress of success/failure.

If there was a Web site that sent a virtual slap or rap on the knuckles, I would be first in line.

18 June 2007

Is there a card for that?

International Panic Day

When : Always June 18th

Today is International Panic Day, a day for everyone to be worried and concerned. We're not sure what is so big, and so widespread, to create an international incident of this magnitude. But, here it is on the calendar folks......an international day of panic.

Clientcopia

Clientcopia is a collection of stupid-client stories. You don't have to be a services organization to laugh at these. Anyone who deals with other human beings will find these horrifyingly funny.

Stupid Client Quote #5403

We recently began invoicing via e-mail (beats the cost of postage, faster and, face it - we're a web company so why would we not?).

Customer: I got this invoice in my email...

Us: Okay

Customer: Well I need a printed version for accounting to pay it.

Us: Okay - if you use the print function in your email to print out that invoice you'll have a copy to give to the accounting department.

Customer: But I need a printed version, not email...

Us: We are no longer sending out "print" invoices, just via email. Do you have a printer attached to the computer that you receive email on?

Customer: Yes

Us: Do you know how to print off the email?

Customer: Yes

Us: Then I suggest you just print the email for accounting.

Customer: But we need a print version...

*sigh* I gave up and printed the email and put in the mail to them, miraculously a payment arrived on schedule.

Poo Poo on Monday -- Napoleon

One of the many great scenes from the funny and odd little film, Napoleon Dynamite.

17 June 2007

Geek love

Saw a jeep the other day with two identical bumper stickers in the back window: You can buy the shirt, a messenger bag or a thong with the slogan at CafePress.

16 June 2007

Hokey Web quizzes

Your Birthdate: September 29

You have the mind of an artist, even if you haven't developed the talent yet.
Expressive and aware, you enjoy finding new ways to share your feelings.
You often feel like you don't fit in - especially in traditional environments.
You have big dreams. The problem is putting those dreams into action.

Your strength: Your vivid imagination
Your weakness: Fear of failure
Your power color: Coral
Your power symbol: Oval

Your power month: November

I usually think these things are pretty hokey. But I liked what it had to say about me so I changed my mind. How's that for narcissistic?.

Good thoughts and prayers

I posted a prayer/good thoughts request on my other blog, Thoughts on Faith. (Don't worry, it's not a scary one. Anyone who claims they know the mind of God would hate it.)

I'd really appreciate good thoughts and prayers for these dears. Thanks!

14 June 2007

Word of the day (Lieblingswort)

The word that's knocking around my skull today is gumption: initiative or resourcefulness. As in, "It takes a lot of gumption to clean that superfund site." It sounds so weird. Like something on a car. "My gumption is out of alignment."

The German equivalent, at least I think it is, is die Initiative (in-ish-"e"-ah-TEE-va). Or, die Eigeninitiative.

Superfund makes me think of toxic waste and that makes me think of hazmat (hazardous materials) suits. The suit you would wear if you were cleaning up a superfund site. Whenever someone is cleaning out our office refrigerator I suggest they wear a hazmat suit.

13 June 2007

Lieblingsplatz -- Sophie in the sun

Sophie the sun worshipper. She will stay in the sun until she's panting, then move out to cool off -- all but her bottom. Then back to full sun.

12 June 2007

Koolickles

Jeannie told me about this one. Soaking pickles in Kool Aid. And then, I guess, eating them. They're popular in the South. Shocker.

A new trend? Photo and a link to a New York Times story at Deep Fried Kudzu. I also found info on TrendHunter. It looks to be a very cool site. Also on the site, a foot rest that works like a skateboard. I don't think I could concentrate on my work if I had one of those. But, it would be a welcome distraction in some meetings.

11 June 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard is brilliant. Here he is talking about empires and dictators. Best to use headphones if you're at work. Unless you work on the docks or are trying to get fired.

08 June 2007

Lawn jarts -- fun for the kids!

We used to play lawn jarts when I was little. We didn't know any better. They're like darts with a very heavy and sharp end. They could really brain you if aimed at the head. Now they're banned in the U.S.

06 June 2007

New technology, new pressure on thugs

Amnesty International (AI UK, Germany) launched a new way pressure the Sudanese government -- a Webcam in Darfur, "Eyes on Darfur." Peacekeepers and representatives from Amnesty haven't been able to get into Sudan in a couple of years. From the 'technology is a beautiful thing!' file:
The human rights organization hopes its "Eyes on Darfur" project will help prevent violence before it happens, and compel computer users worldwide to pressure the country's president, Omar al-Bashir, to let peacekeepers into the country.
This sets my liberal soul on fire. A serious break in the wall the Sudanese government has try to build between the atrocities and the rest of the world. Evidence!

On Eyes on Darfur you can get information on villages in particular danger (those close to resources the Janjaweed wants, such as water) as well as learn what you can do to stop the madness. On the NPR site you can see images of a village before an after the Janjaweed came through and hear the report on Eyes on Darfur.

05 June 2007

Day-old sushi

On Seth Godin's blog, a repulsive story about sushi. Day old? Mmmmm. I don't even like sushi but I know that's wrong.

04 June 2007

Sanders Says

Tim Sanders is brilliant. Not your stereotypical business speaker/writer. He pushes the boundaries. You can win and others can do. But you have to do things differently. Hurrah! From Sanders Says:
You grow relationships by sharing intangibles and you can't do that until you overcome scarcity thinking.
--------------
Them Generation. This generation isn't confined to a demographic, it is a way of seeing the world through interdependent eyes.

Suggested activity: Scrutinize one business issue this week (new product, old process, etc.) and ask yourself what it means to someone outside the value chain (company, shareholder, Customer). Look five years into the future and identify all the humans that will be impacted by the business issue. Find the "Them" out there that have no voice, but will feel the impact of your business.

03 June 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- prison Mike

The clueless Michael Scott, in "The Office," tries to refute his employees' belief that prison is better than working at the company. This scene was preceded by a conversation with an new employee who had been in a white-collar prison. In it the ex-con says that he got to work out a lot and spend a lot of time outside while he was in prison. 'We don't get to workout during work or get to go outside...'

As usual, a couple of employees make him look even more stupid by pretending to take him seriously. Due to language, this is best listened to with headphones unless you're at home. Or, don't care.

Frog in the planter

I was digging around in a planter, preparing to put in some flowers, when out popped this little guy. He must have been living in the dirt. Only about an inch long, he stuck around for quite awhile then bopped off.



30 May 2007

Marketing geekiness

Seth Godin's blog entry today is particularly good. It hits a chord in my geeky marketing soul.

Pundits are (nearly) always wrong
Here's why: Because we measure the wrong thing... We measure whether or not it agrees with our worldview and our sense of the way the world is.

The problem is that hits change worldviews. Hits change our senses. Hits appeal to people other than the gatekeepers and then the word spreads...

No one 'pre-predicted' the astonishing success of Flickr or Google or Twitter or Bill Clinton's first run for President. Sure, it was easy to connect the dots after the fact, but that doesn't count.

Of course, there are plenty of failures to go around (I know that I've got more than plenty). Just because everyone hates it doesn't mean it's good. Execution is everything. Execution and persistence and the ability to respond to the market far outweigh a pundit's gut instinct. But, the thing to remember is this: if everyone loves it, it is almost certain to have troubles.

In fact, my rule of thumb is this: if the right people like it, I'm not trying hard enough.

On a related note -- I was in a meeting last week with a couple of marketing/business case consultants. I mentioned the book Differentiate or Die, by Jack Trout, 'the world's foremost marketing strategist.' They hadn't heard of Trout. My perception of their work went immediately in the toilet.

29 May 2007

Mouthiness for almost Monday

I'm listening to David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day. I read the book and have already listened to the audio once. (Bonus! David reads the book!) I'm not a re-reader of books so that tells you about the brilliance of the book. It's one of the funniest ever. Examples:
  • A concept as uninviting as a shampoo cocktail
  • [Remarking on the sorry state of many Americans' attire while traveling in Europe.] Comfort has its place but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you're there to mow its lawn.
Since it's the equivalent of Monday here (yesterday was Memorial Day, a holiday.) A few more laughs to get you off the ground.
  • I'm a great interviewee. I have something else no one has. My brain. Which I use to my advantage when advantageous. (Andy on "The Office.")
  • Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes (An appetizer on the menu at Granite City. I understand the concept -- chunks instead of paltry crab shred. But I still don't want to eat anything that has "lump" in the name.)
  • Take it to shutty town. (A euphemism for shut up from "King of Queens.")
From the above you'd think I watch a lot of television. Not so. But when I watch a show like "The Office," in which you are always gifted with at least one gut-busting laugh, I write down funny things I hear. Nerdy but it delights me to no end.

28 May 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- Atom Bomb

"The Young Ones" was a fabulous British comedy. The characters are absolutely horrible. But incredibly funny -- especially Rick, the nerd, and VyVyan, the guy with the silver stars stuck into his forehead.

22 May 2007

Not quite Successories

A while back I overheard this funny interchange between two individuals who appeared to be work colleagues.

Colleague 1: "Your were there. Were you asleep?"
Colleague 2: "I didn't care."

Universe, random thoughts

Today's note from the Universe. Particularly timely!
Just put yourself ahead in time, pretend that it's next month already, and imagine that the past 4 or so weeks just totally rocked. Every hope you now possess for the coming weeks has manifested. Every challenge was breezed through. Every cool person stayed cool, every trickster became an ally, there were happy surprises along the way, and, you got plenty of sleep.

This is how we do it.

Kung Fu -
The Universe

On a completely different note, I'm on a Peter Gabriel roll. I am spellbound by "More Than This," from Up (Roxy Music also has a lovely song by the same name). And I don't care how often I hear it, "In Your Eyes" is a treat for the ears and spirit (and Youssou N'Dour is fabulous).

21 May 2007

Poo Poo on Monday -- fax machine

From "Office Space." The characters take the horribly functioning/jamming fax machine out for a beating. We would so like to take our office color printer. (Print two pages -- slooooooow, jam in some unfindable place, warm up for 10 minutes, print one page on white paper, print the next on huge purple paper, jam...)
Due to langauge, this is best listened to with headphones unless you're at home. Or don't care.

17 May 2007

Zwoelf

Herbert Groenemeyer's new CD, Zwoelf (twelve) came out in March. I was on Amazon right away to purchase it. But I didn't. It's $33.40 (24.83 Euro) I suppose because it's an import and new. I love Groenemeyer but this seemed a bit steep.

Last night I had the very best surprise. I was snooping around iTunes for Groenemeyer and other songs. I found the CD! For $10 (7.40 Euro). I did the happy dance and downloaded it. (Lyrics are on Groenemeyer's site. Yay!) I stayed up way too late listening.

The entire CD is grossartig (grand). Every track! The music is very upbeat and uses a lot of strings and piano -- my favorites. (Mensch, his previous CD, came out within a couple years of his wife's death. It was, understandably, dark.) My current favorite is Liebe liegt nicht (Love doesn't leave -- I think. I can know the meaning of a word or phrase in German but often can't iterate it in English. I would make a horrible translator.)

One last plug. He supports DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa). " DATA is an advocacy organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty and AIDS in Africa." It monitors the G8's progress on its promise to Africa.

15 May 2007

All of the knowledge, but cheaper!

At Mental Floss you can buy Med School in a Box. All you need to know in a handy carrying case and only $14.95 (about 11 Euro). It would likely unnerve patients, however, if you had to shuffle through the cards to answer questions or name a body part.

14 May 2007

Happy Birthday Sophie!

It's Sophie's birthday today. She is 8. She's a goofy little thing and such great company. Yay for Sophie!

Looking all official. She wasn't quite sure about sitting on the chair (see ears).

Here she is as a pup. It expresses her personality quite well! Boston Terriers aren't smiling dogs so you have to watch their body language to gauge their moods.

Poo Poo on Monday -- Corky

A classic clip from Christopher Guest's "Waiting for Guffman." One of the funniest movies ever. Guffman is a mock documentary about a play produced for a town's anniversary celebration. In this scene Corky, the play's director, asks the town council for money to produce the play.

10 May 2007

Menus

This is what's for lunch and dinner in our cafeteria today. The lunch looks like a joke. Especially when juxtaposed with the dinner offering of tofu satay.

Lunch
Tator Tot Hot Dish
Green Jell-O
Buns
Chocolate Cake
Vegetable

Dinner
Italian Chicken
Oven Roasted Potatoes
Tofu Satay
Vegetable

It's supposed to be 85F (29C) today. Who wants any kind of hot dish when it's that warm?

Johnny Cash/NIN

I really like some of Nine Inch Nails' music. There's something so strong yet desperate, and slightly menacing, in a lot of the lyrics. "Hurt" is gorgeous and heartbreaking. Johnny Cash's cover is beautiful. It's especially poignant since the story is no stranger.

Those sweet Mutts

This one made me a bit teary.

09 May 2007

New Yorker cartoons

The New Yorker has great cartoons. They're smart and funny. My first read when I look at the magazine. In a recent cartoon there are a number of people sitting around a board room table. The man at the head of the table says, "As board members, we need to speak with one voice. I'm suggesting Donald Duck." See the cartoon here.

If you like the cartoons you can get one every day on e-mail! Go to this page and look for ArcaMax newsletters on the left side of the page.

08 May 2007

So bad, yet so good

I couldn't find a clip of this on YouTube so I'll explain this Saturday Night Live sketch. I haven't heard or seen this in more than 15 years. Even so, the song will pop into my head and linger as an Ohrwurm.

Garrett Morris plays a guy before the parole board. He's wearing the grey and white striped uniform and hat. He is a model prisoner. He vows that he's reformed, will be a model citizen, can re-enter society, etc. The parole board is very pleased. They are about to grant him parole and he tells them he'd like to sing a song. He launches into this:

I'm gonna get me a shot gun and kill all the whiteys I see
I'm gonna get me a shot gun and kill all the whiteys I see

[can't remember this bit] ... whitey he won't bother me

I'm gonna get me a shot gun and kill all the whiteys I see

I'm gonna find me a chick in a navy blue sweater
I'm gonna find me a chick in a navy blue sweater


At this point in the song he is hauled off by the prison guards.

07 May 2007

Poo Poo on Monday

I e-mailed EclectChick this a.m. about Bush's approval rating -- 28 percent. She coined a new word to describe her delight: Schadenfreudelicious (Schadenfreude* + delicious).

I am eating my lunch and the celery is extra salty. I wonder if that means it's gone bad?

*Glee at another's misfortune.

Welcome to Optimism
no longer publishes Stu Poo Poo's the Blues. It's a dreary spring day here so here's my Monday Poo Poo the Blues (I hope that title isn't trademarked) -- future Dwight.

04 May 2007

Finally, what I was meant to do!

EclectChick sent this. Finally, I can leave the tedious world of marketing and pursue my dream of packing heat and catching speeders. I bet you get your own roll of yellow tape.