Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Because I Can't Leave My Upstairs

We are doing some flooring installation (okay, I'm not, but the Empire Today guys are) so I am sequestered upstairs. At least my crabby daughter is napping. (It's tough when you start the day at 5:30am.)

On various breaks from my newsletter editing, there were these:

Hollywood story #1 -- Creepy.
Hollywood story (and I use the term "story" quite loosely) #2 -- Hilarious.

(Who knew you could survive all day on a granola bar and chocolate, along with a heaven-sent latte from a friend who knows what you need? Thanks, Kel!)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hung Over

He won Top Chef. Oh, the humanity!

I am convinced his foams and powders were a direct result of his rapport with Marceau (a/k/a Elias Big Boy).

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yum... Pioneer Woman Cooks!

I don't get to her often enough, but G-d knows I love Ree and her blogs.

This is just way too much to stand. Cook it tonight!

Sicko, redux

I first wanted to post about this back on July 4th. Gives you an idea for my free time follow up skills... ugh.

I've done a lot of thinking about this since I saw the movie, and had numerous discussions with people "on both sides of the aisle," as the cliche goes.

Most doctors I work for predict the change is inevitable, but no one is quite sure what it's going to look like or when it will really happen.

My friend who accompanied me to the movie is an avowed liberal. And the wife of a doctor. I asked her, "Are you really saying you'd be okay with his salary being cut?" No one has those numbers, but I do wonder what the reality would be like in a universal health care system.

Having just stayed most of yesterday in the ER, I could only imagine the revolution that would take place if you removed all those administrative folks from the mix. At our local hospital, they even have a specially designed scanner for health care cards. Last time I was in with one of my kids, I commented about it to the admissions person. She said, "Yeah, it's great when it works." Sounds similar to most health care plans to me.

I can recall battling (and battling, and battling) between our insurance company and a health care provider when my son was being tested for developmental problems. Even though the billing was going out of the same hospital program, each doctor's coding was different. So some were covered, and others (on the same team) were not. The insurance company told me the doctor's office was coding improperly. The doctor's office told me they were following directions from the insurance company. When I asked the insurance company which codes the doctor's office should be using, they said, "You aren't allowed access to that information. Only the doctor's office can know the codes." So hours of wrangling meant we wound up footing the bill.

Note to Michael Moore -- The revolution may not be as far away as you think. When several well-heeled (we'd call them "high maintenance" ladies-of-the-lake (and of a "certain age," as the French would say) at my local coffee shop were discussing out of network coverage for when they're in their winter homes (Florida, Arizona, New Mexico), and cited as a horrific example one of Moore's case studies in the film, I knew we might be making progress. No one knew the anecdote came from his movie. But someone had repeated it with enough fervor to make it spread like a rumor in the game "Telephone." It was the story about the woman whose ambulance ride wasn't covered (following a traumatic car accident) because she hadn't gotten pre-approval. "Can you imagine?" they said to each other.

After seeing the movie, yes, I can.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Homage to HolyCandy.Com

How can you not love this? Can't get that in People, people.

Old favorite section: "Breath Smells Like."

New favorite section: "Most Likely to Have..."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jenny, That's What I Said!

My friend Jenny recently asked me what I thought of the whole Zac Efron/Vanessa Hudgins "thing." Well, apparently Dlisted got to it before me. (Jenny'll vouch for me here.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Which Part is Most Disturbing?

Usually I love to read the posts from AdRants. But this was really twisted, even for advertising:



Maybe it's the fact that they used CGI "people" instead of actors. Eeew. Maybe it's that they're pitting dad against baby son for mom's affection, set to a rap song. Yuck. And, you can even play the videogame online if you were that inspired by the clip. Uh-huh.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More Embarrasing VMA Moments

As if Britney wasn't enough -- how about this? I love Dlisted's comments about this the most!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Why I'm Not a Jessica Fan

You might be surprised. I'm not talking about Simpson, or Biel. Or even Rabbit.

No, on my radar screen right now is Mrs. Seinfeld, who has come out with this book.

I first read about this on Saturday while getting my hair done -- the only time I get to peruse Vogue Magazine. In it, there was an article (!) about Mrs. Seinfeld's new book, and her philosophy on getting her three tots to eat healthy, along with a cover shot of the new book. There are numerous paragraphs dedicated to her collaborators, how she simply decided not to fight with her children about eating vegetables, blah blah blah. Why this warranted this much copy, in, did I mention -- the fall edition of Vogue Magazine -- can only be explained by her last name.

Anyway, she says her children simply "expect" that brownies are made with spinach and carrots. Her son's yellow birthday cake is pictured, as fortified with pumpkin.

Now, I'll admit that part of why this is such a burr under my saddle is its condescending tone. Coming from a very wealthy, very connected person. You have to ask, could she even have gotten this published without Jerry's name and money? I mean, when this was featured in a special email to my Amazon email account, I knew the marketing was cranking into high gear. For a children's cookbook. Hmmm.

The article also talks about her list of high profile consultants (Dr. Oz from Oprah being just one, natch).

I must admit it's good marketing. Especially the way it's described as an 'antidote for the childhood obesity epidemic.' That's certainly high praise -- from her publisher. It would be very cool if she took the profits and donated them to a foundation or program combatting childhood obesity. Walking the walk, as it were, since they're using that angle to sell the book.

I may just review this book once it hits the shelves in October. If I can get it off hold at the Library.

Let's hope she's as successful as Shoshanna.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is This Your Name?

Try this for sophmoric fun.

It tells me that:

According to the US Census Bureau°, 0.005% of US residents have the first name 'Kia' and fewer than 0.001% have the surname 'Labracke'. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 0 'Kia Labracke's.

Thank goodness I have proof. I'm one of a kind.

Another Ebay PMPL (Pee My Pants Laughing) Moment

Thanks to Sonya, one of my handful of faithful readers, for sending this.

While my kids aren't Pokemon fans, really, can't we fill in the blanks here?

Ed Additional Note: For some reason the original listing isn't viewable. It went like this:


I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…

MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.”

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”

“No.”

“Can we get cupcakes?”

“No.”

“Can we get muffins?”

“No.”

“Can we get pie?”

“No.”

You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) Of course, there’s no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, “Wow! Are all six yours?”

I answer her, “Yes, but I’m thinking of selling a couple of them.”

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh “child”, also known as my husband. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. I’m amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say “influenza”?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because it’s so much more fun that way.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, that’s my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, it’s out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as I’ve received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Japonais

The place where my friends and I dined for my 40th birthday was recently visited by Brangelina.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cherchez la Femme

For any husband who doesn't get it, this is just part of why women need so many shoes. To the Endless people, now please do a spot that explains the 25 pair of black pumps and strappy sandals, please...

Monday, August 06, 2007

I Scooped The Queen!

This will never happen again. But I reported this first. Here's Perez' version. Long Live The Queen!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Your Permanent Record

Reading this story reminded me of two incidents of 'academic standards' becoming irrelevant.

The first involves my high school graduation. I'd gotten very good, if not perfect grades, throughout high school and fully expected to graduate in the Top Ten of my class. My high school's Top Ten was the equivalent of magna cum laude -- with highest honor. Alas, when the announcement was made, I came in 11th.

Coming in 11th when the "Top Ten" is the highlight of high school is, in a word, devastating. (Especially as a hormonal 16/17 year old.) What was even more egregious was when an advisor of mine alerted me, a day or so before graduation, that, as the saying goes, that game was rigged. How? Our principal had gone into my e-records and weighted my Publications (ancient slang for Yearbook) grade from a regular English credit down to a -- something lower credit. Which dropped me from wherever (that I never knew) to 11th. The rationale? That the person who righfully deserved the #11 spot "wouldn't be able to handle it" as well as me.

I was young. I lived in a small town. I'd already been accepted to all five of the small, liberal arts schools I'd applied to nationwide. I couldn't wait to get out of Dodge. I told no one about the switcheroo.

Why, I'll never know, I did tell my parents. Except in an incredibly half-assed kind of way. I wrote a note to them in a card I gave them before the ceremony. They read it before my name was called. Afterward, even with my "with honors" (albeit not "high honors") cord, they were proud of me. They congratulated me. But they were mad as hell. All I could say was, this isn't the hill I want to die on. I'm outta here. And I was.

The second incident happened to a professor friend of mine who made the mistake of holding a student accountable for the expectations set out for his class at the beginning of the semester. What he didn't know was that this person's father was a major contributor to the endowment fund. Oops.

What began as drawing a line in the sand ended in him losing his job and any hope of a tenured position. But I'll bet he sleeps better at night than that student.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Makes those Jon Benet Photos Look Natural

What kind of craziness is this? Oh, wait, there's the "Keeping Her Natural" version here.

What person said to herself one day, "I know, let's start airbrushing photos of young girls?" The seventh sign of the apocalypse.

At least the people at Dove have some grasp of the situation. Show this film to everyone you know, especially moms of daughters.

From The House Of Constipation

I just walked into our downstairs powder room. The one that guests are supposed to use. Not only is it past its cleaning schedule, which of course is not exactly unusual, but it also had an open package of baby wipes sitting on the counter. Which can only mean one thing.

All of my children have been constipated types. All have been on sugary laxatives to help their GI tracts process a little easier. I have been warned for my daughter that if we don't 'get things moving,' toilet training will be nearly impossible.

I've tried prunes (now marketed as "dried plums," I guess to remove the elderly stigma). Miller's bran sprinkled into muffin mix. Water, water, water. At one time I could have told you exactly how much dietary fiber was in most of the (limited) food groups my kids ate.

My husband used to eat a particular brand of cereal which he claimed should have been called Roto Rooter.

Maybe that's why I found this video so funny.



In a "hit them over the head with the symbolism" kind of way, as my former Shakespeare professor would say!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Maillot My

We just spent a weekend in the Wisconsin Dells, a popular tourist trap that has a smidge of credibility now for its outrageously expansive (and expensive) waterparks. My husband's company ran an incentive trip and my kids won the lottery.

What was disturbing, aside from me throwing my back out on the very first morning (did I mention my three kids and a waterpark?) was that there were an incredible number of obese people there, both adults and children. Children as young as 3, 4 years old who were already on a very serious path of health problems due to being overweight.

It's easy to say to myself - Hey, at least I look decent in my tankini. I'm heading for the ice cream place as soon as my daughter starts to yawn for her nap.

OTOH, now that I work for who I work for, childhood obesity is no joke to me. I look at these kids and think, you are going to be the first generation of 20 year old heart attacks and Type 2 diabetes sufferers. It's incredibly sad.

I don't have any ready answers, except to acknowledge that all of us need to stop rewarding kids with food. Why not say -- instead of "Let's get ice cream, you did such a great job on ____" -- "Let's go for a walk together." Or "Let's play baseball."

I understand that kids aren't as mobile (on foot, on bikes) as they used to be. For very valid reasons. But let's make an effort to show them that physical activity is a part of healthy every day living.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

David Strom's Luddite Quiz

From the strominator.com blog!

Thanks to David for letting me reprint this here.

I got the idea for this column from Dennis Drogseth, who has been around in our industry as long as I have, working at IBM, Cabletron, and now as an analyst for Enterprise Management Associates. He told me that he still was a Luddite, even though Dennis is one of those people that can actually speak about routers and SMNP. So I thought up this little quiz that you can give your friends and see how you stack up on the tech scale. Okay, print this out, pick up your number two pencils, and no looking at your neighbor's paper.

1. How do you communicate with your teenagers?
(a) Still talk to them f2f
(b) Call them on their cells to find out where they want to you to think they are
(c I M them from work when they get home from school
(d) Message them on Facebook or Myspace
(e) Not allowed to connect to them via Facebook or Myspace
(f) Who can talk to their teens anyway?

2. How did you find your present job?
(a) Am self-employed, the ultimate job 2.0 lifesytle
(b) Found it through LinkedIn
(c) Found it through Craigslist
(d) Did all those annoying exercises in "Parachute" and they actually helped

3. When did you last post to your blog?
(a) Last hour
(b) Last 24 hours
(c) Last week
(d) I don't have a blog and don't want to start now
(e) Blogs are so yesterday, now I have my own Facebook network and they create all my content for me

4. How many iPods do/have you own(ed)?
(a) Have an iPhone, who needs an iPod?
(b) Have two (or more) – one for exercise, one for cross-country travel
(c) Have one, and replace it every time Apple announces a new version
(d) Don't want to spend the dough and bought a cheaper MP3 player
(e) Still buy music CDs and listen to them the old-fashioned way

5. How do you watch most of your movies?
(a) Download them legally from Netflix, iTunes or Amazon
(b) Download them via a P2P, you don't want to know the details
(c) Rent them from Netflix, just upped my monthly plan
(d) Have a DVR and love it
(e) Just bought a DVD for the car to keep the kids occupied
(f) Stay up late and have watched every "Die Hard" at least five times
(g) Go to the movie theaters and suffer with the vast unwashed masses

6. How many speakers are connected to your living room music system?
(a) 7 (and more in other rooms of the house too)
(b) I thought I was pretty cool with 5
(c) Listen to The Who on just 2
(d) Just the one that came with the TV set, thank you very much

7. Do you have more computers than people at home?
(a) Yes, significantly more and it is pretty damn depressing when you think about it
(b) Yes, but only counting the work laptop(s)
(c) No, we are one-to-one
(d) No, fewer PCs than people and have to fight over who gets to use the laptop

8. Do you have a NAS device at home?
(a) Yes, it is the only way to safely store my music, videos, and photos
(b) No, but I do my backups online do I get points for that?
(c) What's a NAS?

9. How many online photo-sharing services have you used?
(a) Several, and I upload photos to an electronic photo frame too for grandma
(b) Several but they all have issues
(c) One and I am happy with it
(d) Why did Yahoo get rid of theirs, it was better than Flickr anyway
(e) None, still taking my film to the drugstore

10. How do you look up phone numbers?
(a) Bigbook.com or similar service
(b) I go to the company's Web site and root around for their contact info
(c) I just Google the company
(d) I have that big printed thing from the phone company somewhere around here
(e) I don't care if it costs me a $1, I still call 411.

11. How do you book your airline flights?
(a) I use Kayak or something equivalent to find the best prices
(b) I go directly to the airlines' Web sites
(c) I call my travel agent
(d) I don't want to fly anywhere this summer and deal with the crowds

12. How many digital cameras does your family own?
(a) More cameras than people
(b) Fewer cameras than people
(c) One-to-one, but I still can't find a camera that has decently short shutter delay.

13. Are you the master of your own domain?
(a) Own several domains, in the process of consolidating them all under one registrar because it is getting out of hand
(b) Yes, own my own domain and run the family Web site keeping track of everyone too
(c) I am a GoDaddy reseller and will gladly sell you a domain if you don't have one yourself
(d) No, just use hotmail or Yahoo and am happy with that

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Or, Why Me + A Mac = Dangerous

Our home laptop has been ailing for what feels like years. In fact, I bought it over three years ago, and have had it in to Schmest Scmuy at least seven times for various problems. Having given up on Schmest Schmuy, I went to a local PC fixer, then a friend from our school who repairs PCs in his spare time.

Mind you, my brother has been trying to get me to switch to a Mac forever. FOREVER. "But," I'd say, "what about ____ software or ____ compatibility? What will become of my emails?" He'd patiently lay out the options for me and wait for me to come to my senses. I didn't.

Meantime, I was purchased another Schmindows (Schmista) laptop for work. I'd offhandedly requested a Mac, only to be told they were too expensive. After only three weeks on the job, it quit during the projection of a DVD during our annual meeting. Subsequently, it shut down during a Schmower Schmoint presentation a mere half hour later. No love lost between me and Schmista.

Flash forward to my current situation. Dead laptop, emails piling up (or being bounced) from my web ISP account, checking obsessively to try to delete out what I could while saving what I needed. Missing a payment or two because my Quicken interface hadn't gone online in 3+ weeks. You get the drift.

My son attended two (free) Mac camps this week. One on movie-making and one on podcasting -- both of which he loved. (Editor's note - If you do this, you have to stay on site. As Shrek would say, "Now that's some fine print for yeh!") That said, I spent a lot of time in what I've always thought of as a product manager's dream home -- the Apple store. Clean, well-organized, friendly, helpful, accomodating, thorough, funny -- this place has it all.

Today, I brought home our new baby, an iMac with all the new Mac software I need. So in addition to Andy Warhol-ing myself, I can also pay my bills again.

But if you expect an email or a Christmas card -- think again. I lost that all with my old email program and contact manager, neither of which port to Mac. Please contact me with all your info, so I can plug it into my new system!

And yet, I'm smiling. Only slightly more broadly than the store manager when I asked whether or not I needed to purchase anti-virus software.

Bye-bye, Schnorton and Schmcafee.

Oh, and check this out for more.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

One of My Favorite Comediennes

You can't beat Kathy Griffin, especially as a celeb watcher.

(Who can forget her red carpet -- where she isn't allowed any longer -- interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, which was preceded by her announcing, "Here comes Gwyneth with her big bag of bullsh--.")

Watch this for a hilarious Ann Coulter rant.

Don't Have Time To Peruse The Web?

Try this to set you off in all sorts of directions...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Funny Internet Forward

One of the rare funny ones! Thanks to my friend Lori for sharing this.

DON'T TAKE ME IF I DON'T WANT TO GO....

After Mr. and Mrs. Fenton retired, Mrs. Fenton insisted her husband accompany her on her trips to Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, Mr. Fenton was like most men -- he found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunately, Mrs. Fenton was like most women -- she loved to browse.

One day Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from her local Wal-Mart.

Dear Mrs. Fenton,

Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may beforced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5 minute intervals.

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares - get on it right away."5.

August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

6. September 14: Moved a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.

7. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department.

8. September 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"

9. October 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as amirror while he picked his nose.

10. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudlyhumming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12. December 6: In the auto department, he practiced his "Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.

13. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

14. December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed "OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!"

And last, but not least, 15. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here!"

Regards, Wal-Mart

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Maybe This Explains Why He Hated Infant Swim Lessons...

My oldest son hated, HATED, swim lessons. Our playgroup playfully signed up our then 5-9 month olds for mommy & kid swim lessons, and we were so excited. Flash forward to the first day, when my son screamed (SCREAMED) for what seemed like forever. Two lessons deep, this hadn't changed. We were outta there.

INFANT SWIMMING MAY RISK FUTURE RESPIRATORY HEALTH
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long recommended against infant swimming lessons due to the false sense of safety that this practice gives regarding the risk of drowning. Now a new study may add another reason to avoid infant swim lessons. “Infant Swimming Practice, Pulmonary Epithelium Integrity, and Risk of Allergic and Respiratory Diseases Later in Childhood,” examined the role indoor chlorinated pools play in the development of asthma and reduced lung function. The study, conducted in Belgium, found that trichloramine – a chlorine byproduct that gives indoor pools their distinctive “chlorine” smell – is one of the most concentrated air pollutants to which children of developed countries are regularly exposed. The study asserts that this pollutant along with other aerosolized chlorine-based oxidants can be associated with airway changes that predispose children to asthma and recurrent bronchitis later in childhood. They encourage more study and possible regulation of the air quality in the indoor pool environment.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Like a Hole in My Head...

... did I need to find one more time sucking site to peruse. But here it is, fellow Hollywood trashers, enjoy. (The Justin and Cameron dialog being particularly hilarious!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wrong, wrong, wrong

As someone who recently has given up "CSI: Miami" due to how graphic it's become, this is just too much. (A rare case of a "Daily Candy" recommendation gone horribly wrong.)

Budding Author, Proud Mom

NEWS FLASH EDIT -- Sunday, June 17th.

My son didn't write this. Neither did his classmate. It was something they studied for poetry class! Sorry about that! K

Original Post:

From my kindergartner's end of the year writing binder:

DID YOU HEAR THE STORM?

Did you hear the storm last night?
I did with my eyes shut tight.

And when the clouds were shifting gears,
Suddenly, I grabbed my ears.

Today, the sun is shining bright!
I'm never scared by storms at night!


(Mom's note: I laughed especially at how hard he's convincing himself on those last two lines, and at his handwritten note at the end stating, "By {me}, Not {her}!!" She is a 1st grader - now 2nd - and he's the only K5'er - now 1st grade. So there's lots of together time, for good and frustrating! Often they interact like siblings...)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Good Labels

I just read this and it really gets me going.

I have two sons who have, at different stages, been diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction (SID). Some medical doctors (including the ones who first evaluated my eldest) don't even believe SID exists. Suffice to say, it's on the autism spectrum, which includes everything from autism as most of us understand it, to Asperger's syndrome, to Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and so on.

Is Jett Travolta autistic? I certainly have no clue. That he is a celebrity's child puts him under the crosshairs my kids won't ever have to endure. But the notion, whether true or embellished, that he is being denied intervention(s) that could help him, is really troubling to me. I worry more about that than whether it's because his parents are famous, or because they are Scientologists.

I attended a seminar recently where a clinical researcher stated that, in my state, the average age that a child with autism is diagnosed is four and a half years old. It boggled my mind. Knowing about the golden "birth to 3" window, how can it possibly be that we are missing the signs? Those are the kids being evaluated by private doctors. If you are relying on your public school to identify autism, add another year and a half. That's 6 years old, twice as old as the experts recommend in terms of early intervention.

This is a struggle I have had for some time now. I remember when my eldest began speech and occupational therapy, and several people warned me, "You don't want him labeled as a special ed kid." Huh? Deny my child what he needed to progress, because of vanity or some pretense that he didn't need anything? Fast forward to another conversation I had with a former Catholic school teacher, whose son has the same issues. She did not reveal any of her son's issues on his application to (parochial) school, because she said that she knew how those kids were treated, and she didn't want her son to fall into that category. Why would you put those teachers, much less the child, in a situation where everyone is pretending there are no learning issues?

I am lucky. Both my sons function in the "real world" relatively seamlessly. But even so, I'm not hesitant to acknowledge the issues they went through, even if it's been a blip on the longer term radar screen. And at a minimum, we have availed them to every possible avenue of help.

I am also lucky because, as fate would have it, I happened to collide with parents and therapists about the same time as I began to sense something was amiss with my child. So the whole notion of interventions was a lot less foreign and scary, though I've lost a lot of sleep over the years about where we'd end up.

Labels or not, I can't help but advocate that children be given every opportunity to rise above developmental hurdles. Sure, most of this was not on the radar of my own parents -- but neither was cessation of smoking and drinking during pregnancy, benefits of breastfeeding, and use of carseats. Would we really go back to a time where we simply called kids "quirky" and hoped they fit in at some point?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Instant Karma... Or Why I'm Not A Model

This brings me back. Way back. To a time when I was young and studying in Paris.

I never would have known about Rick Astley or Terence Trent D'Arby had it not been for an enterprising young Jamaican man I met in Paris named Chris. Chris was an ambitious young model who sold it all to make it in the big city. Instead, he wound up rooming with three amiable if very un-glam Frenchman in a Paris flat, all the while self-promoting and trying to convince everyone he was the. Next. Big. Thing.

I met Chris through my friend X. (She no longer goes by her name, but just in case, let's keep her anonymous.) She was dating one of the roomies' brother, or cousin, or second cousin. Who cared? He was French, she was (recently) unattached, and the sparks flew.

Meantime, Chris convinced X and I that we should help him promote his career by coming to several FABULOUS parties at the apartment he shared with his French roomies. So we did. We chose our (pathetically American and very un-mode Salvation Army) outfits carefully. We contributed to his party food fund. We should have been asking -- Why on earth would we be an asset to his self-promotion?

In tres Francais fashion, we brought flowers the nights of the fetes. We greeted his roomates, whom I'll call A,B and C, with affection and genuine appreciation for their hosting, um, the host of the party. (What we didn't know until much later was that Chris rarely if ever chipped in on rent, a major faux pas in any language or city. He eventually disappeared before he could be kicked out.)

I genuinely enjoyed the company of Chris' roomates. They were fun, and real, and kind of shrugged their shoulders at all the fashion nonsense swirling about the apartment. They kind of celebrated with the party, even if they weren't a party to it.

I'll never forget the last of these parties I attended. There were two pathetic scenes playing out. One was another model who was walking around the party with her headshots, unabashedly talking only to those people she thought could get her a job. The second was a photographer who had his portfolios spread out on the floor around him as he sat, cross-legged in the entrance to the apartment. Everyone who entered had to first take a cursory glance at his oeuvre and oooh and aaah, or some BS like that.

Oddly, around this same time, but independent of the whole Chris interaction, I was walking down Blvd. Montparnasse and someone said, "Hey, do you speak English?" I turned and said that yes, I did. The man who had tracked me down said, "I'm a photographer and I have a Nike shoot coming up. I can't find any French women with calves like yours."

At this point it seems relevant to add that I grew up as a ballet dancer. So I have unusually large (and reminiscently muscular) calves. At 19, they were probably still quite so. Anyway, pursuant to several minutes of idle chitchat, he said, "Look, if you would only drop 35 pounds, I could get you modeling work here."

As any 19 year old would do, I convinced myself that giving up baguette, cheese and wine would certainly be worthwhile for a chance to work with a Vogue photographer. I began to sit in on similar (though more powered, and smaller group) parties with his crowd, where real working models would stop me before I sipped a glass of champagne to say, "Do you know how many calories are in that flute?"

It wasn't long before I realized that he was BS with a capital B, capital S. I hated his friends, his colleagues and everyone around him. Definitely a short-lived friendship.

Meantime Chris had vanished from the City of Lights, and I went back to being just another American student in Paris. Happily.

Fast forward two decades. I am in an emergency meeting at the software company I worked for and someone comes rushing into the conference room saying, "Don't you speak French?" After confirming that yes, I was still verbally fluent, the international sales manager says to me -- "We've got this new distributor here, and we're localizing our product for them." (In un-technospeak, that means translating English software to French.) "Can you help with dinner?"

I walk into the lab where they are working, ready to suggest a restaurant for dinner. Who do I see but A and B, who have since launched an IT services company and are now, well, here in Wisconsin working with my company. I met their gaze evenly. A certain recognition is happening, though none of us can quite believe it. There is no mention of modeling, of late night parties, or of Paris. Only of TCP/IP, how Win95 will affect our business, and how our browser compares with Netscape.

And how Chris disappeared into the night, having made keys to the apartment for all his friends, but having rarely paid any rent. "That's the modeling business for you," they said. Which is just one of the reasons I never made it as one.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

One Morph Thing

This is fun. But some of the examples are downright scary! Note to self: Never have a headshot taken that fits their criteria, or you could wind up like this...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beyond Bad

I am sad to see that Doc Marten is using photos of the late, great, Kurt Cobain in current advertising. (Photo not linked here, on purpose.)

Aside from her own sad biography, is anyone taking seriously the claims that Courtney Love was behind his death? I read a compelling book on this topic and wonder if, in perverse fashion, she's using his money for lawyers to deflect inquiries on her guilt.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And You Thought the O.J.Simpson Book was a Bad Idea?

How about this?

La Vie en Rose

My friend Debbe is a personal hero of mine on several fronts, not the least being that now that her kids are out of the house she makes it her mission to travel one week every year to Paris with a friend. Let's see, I've got about 22 years to go...

Thanks to Debbe, my daughter now has her first real couture. From Paris. Wait a minute. I don't even have a dress from France, much less Paris, and I lived there! Have I mentioned that my daughter is scarcely 2 years old? O, the humanity! Then again, I wouldn't look nearly as cute in a hand smocked dress as she will.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why It's All Worth It

This was the card I got from my 6 1/2 year old for Mother's Day. He made it in school, it has a collaged vase with tissue flowers on the front.

He wrote:

May 7, 2007

Dear Mom. Happy Mother-
's Day! You are the best.
I have a present for you.

On the opposite page, the teacher filled in his answers to questions about me.

My mom is so happy when... I hug her.
My mom and I have fun together when we... go to the park.
My mom is really pretty when she... puts jewelry on.
My mom's favorite thing to do is... take care of me.
If my mom could have anything she wanted, she would get... clothes.
My mom is really good at... kicking the soccer ball.
When my mom wants to relax, she... takes a nap.
My mom's favorite meal is... guacamole.
My mom loves me because... she likes my eyes.
I love my mom because... I like her here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Just in Time For Mother's Day

My mom just sent me this.

I'm hoping that her angle -- or should I say, this is mine -- is that the study sample were adolescents beginning at age 14. So my son has what, 4 1/2 more years before we put the hammer down?

Here are some shows that even I would miss:

Mythbusters -- Actually makes me want to understand principles of physics. More than I can say for my high school chemistry/physics/calculus teacher. (Though, through the magic of Google, I discovered that his son apparently did take these principles and apply them in real life -- as a member of the US Freestyle ski team -- way cool for for a Three Rivers, MI native.)

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends -- I really dislike Cartoon Network about 95% of the time. (All bets were off two years ago on a family vacation aboard a cruise ship. CN was the only children's show in English available in the 3'x8' cabin my husband shared with our boys, then 5 and 8. You figure out whether they were allowed to watch as he tried to get ready for dinner!) But this show's premise, that all the imaginary friends conjured up by kids actually dorm together under one roof, is genius. I especially love Wilt (homage to Chamberlain) and Eduardo.

American Idol -- I know, I know. I never watched until this season. But it's actually, for the most part, family entertainment and a lot of laughs! Now we can all do spot on Randy Jackson ("Yo, Dawg, I'm not feeling the You-Ness of it!") and Simon Cowell ("That was, simply put, truly horrendous") impersonations. Now with two feet planted firmly on the bandwagon, I'm rooting for a Blake and Jordin finale.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader -- My sons are convinced that my husband and I are both qualified to Go. All. The. Way. For ego boosting purposes alone, worth yawning through the s-l-o-w production. Oh, and as during football season, "Mute" button on the remote must be handy at all times for those "House" and other inappropriate commercials they run for this, ahem, children's show.

Man Vs. Wild -- I mainly love his accent; the XY chromosomes in our household love such manly survival feats as him drinking his own urine...

Deadliest Catch -- Another testosterone blaster, but it does harken me to a time when a high school friend of mine worked on a shrimp boat in Alaska. Nuts.

Suffice to say, we spend a lot of time outdoors, at museums, zoos, parks, and reading. But in spite of my early motherhood protests -- which I knew would come back to bite me -- we do spend our fair share of time in front of screens, be they television, computer, or GameBoy.

Unplug our TV? Not unless I can catch Project Runway and Desperate Housewives via my laptop...

My Incredible Granny Nanny -- Or, Happy Mother's Day, Part 2

I thought my Mom had coined the term "Granny Nanny." Apparently I'm wrong.

When I read this article, I could relate to it 150%. While hardly an MD resident or high powered attorney, I am currently in the position of having taken a part time professional J.O.B. after a decade of being "just" a mom. Ambivalently, I only accepted the J.O.B. after late night negotiations with my M.O.M. about her role in the childcare. (As a sidebar, my Mom's first comment about possible childcare arrangements was, "Over my dead body will they go to daycare." So that narrowed my options.)

My friend Jenny summarizes my situation with the following admonishment. "You suck." She readily admits her jealousy that my Mom, earth Mom and former children's librarian, is there and willing to help on a small or grand scale.

For years my Mom has covered every Tom, Dick and Harry commitment that has come along. It started with my nascent web design business when my eldest was less than a year old. I'd drive him up to their house, we'd spend the night every Thursday. Making sure she made my favorite Asian Chicken salad that night, she'd then watch him all day Friday so I could work on my husband's company's web site. Then other clients' web sites. That's how I fit it all in.

Then I began volunteer work, and graduated to a new level of needing to get away on odd days, or a string of days, around my husband's schedule. In the blink of an eye, we were doing more calendar checks than I was doing with my husband! And yet she was always willing, always able, and always managed to fit her grandkids in.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. My dad had accepted a J.O.B. in southern Illinois. My mom had the following choices:
  • Stay in their place in Wisconsin alone, minimum of 30 minutes away from either of her kids;
  • Retire and move "down South" with him; or
  • Retire and move nearer one of her kids

Clearly, between my brother and I, at this stage, I win. I have three kids whom she adores. He has a fiancee (whom she adores) and a lot of pets. Call that hand.

The truth is, she is there for me now in ways that only other mothers can appreciate. If my youngest falls asleep late and needs to be awakened in order to pick up the other two at school, she comes over to "napsit." If my husband and I want to take in a movie and coffee, she's there. If I need to bail on the school concert because my littlest is 1/2 hour past her bedtime, my Mom drives the others home. Don't want to deal with grocery shopping with three kids? Mom will sit with them in the car while I breeze through. She volunteers at my kids' school as much as I do.

She is as integral a part of our family's daily schedule as I am, and I could never repay her that debt. I want her to know how much I appreciate her knitting herself into our lives.

When this J.O.B. opportunity came my way, I knew what I wanted and needed for my family. On paper, it looks so simple. 10-15 hours a week, from home. Occasional meetings and travel. The question was -- was that what she wanted? I can only speculate, because she'd never tell me differently. But I am blessed every time that I entrust my children to her loving care.

Happy Mother's Day, Granny Nanny. We all love you.

Friday, May 11, 2007

How Do You Feel About IRack?

Thanks to my friend Christy for this hilarious clip.

Those Crazy Dutchmen

This is so insane, and yet oddly I'm loving it. The kooky idea, the takes-itself-so-seriously copywriting. The gallery of photos of the shirtless blond (presumably Dutchman) who shows you how to install it... is he included in the $6K price tag?

(Thanks to Daily Candy for keeping me in the international product loop!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Way Too Funny to Be Legal, and Certainly not PC

Another reason why my friend Christy and I get along so well: a perverse, perverse sense of humor.

My husband and I have (inexcusably) joked for years about kids making clothes for kids. Leave it to The Onion to give us this perfectly perverse visual.

This is why...

... I can't give up Perez Hilton. Everything Alexa Ray Joel says about him is true. He's brutal and irrelevant, possibly even dangerous. (OK, even I don't think he's dangerous, sorry Alexa.) But who else is going to direct me to hilarious drivel like this?

Monday, May 07, 2007

News You Need to Know

My daughter used her potty seat -- as something other than a temporary hotseat -- last night. Her brothers were cheering like mad, prompting her to say "I do it again!" and try to recreate the moment at least five more times.

Here's hoping the real deal goes that happily!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Knew He Was a Pig

Two words: Alec. Baldwin.

Two more: Called. It..

This Breaks My Heart

As a movieholic, this article made me so sad. I grew up on Siskel and Ebert. Godspeed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My VA Tech Connection

When the news came out about the VA Tech murders, all I could think about was my friend Doug. He's a Poli Sci professor who spent the better part of a decade in Blacksburg. He changed universities three years ago, so he was safe that day, and in that instance. But I still needed to hear his voice.

So I called his cell phone, just to say hey, I need to hear your voice.

As it happened, he was in Hawaii, at a conference. We have yet to connect by phone, but we're still connected.

I met Doug my freshman year of college, and we have remained close in spite of all the places and distances that have come between us over the years. This is the person who joked me through my first broken heart. Who used to play backgammon with my now husband with cases of long-necked Budweiser on a makeshift game table in his apartment. Who was informed by the local police that in Wisconsin, unlike his homestate of Montana, carrying loaded shotguns on a rack in your truck wasn't a legal option.

This is also the person who married his amazing wife while he was on sabbatical in Fiji and she was in the Peace Corps. Who has a beautiful, smart and loving son named Milo, and a very cool dog named Stella. Who lives on the California coast with them, and dives, sails and enjoys every single day.

A lot of the "angles" to the VA Tech story were predictable, some were not. From afar, I wish someone had been able to reach this troubled person, and I feel the pain of his family in trying to come to terms with why he did this.

For far more selfish reasons, I'm very glad our Doug wasn't on campus that day. But it doesn't stop me from weeping every time our pastors pray for the victims, or retell the scene of the professor who used his own body as a shield so that his students might escape. I don't know how, as a human being, or as a mother, you rationalize any of it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cell Phone Users -- Please Note

Amen, brother.

I knew civilization was heading this direction back in 1999, when my friend Chris and I went to Paris together. Strange things were afoot. Friends who lived in Paris gave me not one, but two or even three cell phone numbers where they could be reached. Table tents in restaurants asked clients to please refrain from using cell phones while seated at the table. Why were adults in ostensibly one of the most civilized nations in the world (debatable, I realize) having to be reminded to, well, behave civilly?

Until right around that time, I had an installed car phone. (Do you even remember the CarPhones+ days?) So cell phones were a relatively new phenomenon. Just two years prior, I began using email for work and home. The technological revolution!

It's downright disturbing to see people with Bluetooths hermetically sealed on their ears. I do not appreciate when I'm at my local coffeeshop and someone is loudly conducting business on their phone. And yet I have been known to casually brush my hair over my earpiece and chortle with a girlfriend while grocery shopping. I'm not hurting anyone, right?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ah, Marketing...

The Teletubbies invade London, Beatles-style? Brazilliant marketing, or milking a turnip? You make the call...

My (older) boys don't admit that they used to love the Tubbies. LOVE the Tubbies. I never loved them, believe me. But I did sit through the one VHS tape we own what seemed like a million times.

Fast forward to their baby sister, who LOVES the Tubbies. So much that I actually hid that one VHS tape. No more Tubbies! (And never these Tubbies.)

But on the 10 year anniversary, they're back, and unmasked! And selling Teletubbies headbands -- you choose your character, Tinky-Winky (revealed as a ballet dancer in real life -- so that pink purse is making sense*), Dipsy, La-La or Po -- with the profits going to autism reseach. Now can anyone tell me where to find them??? They were on the Today Show, for goodness sake...

*Addendum to the Anonymous poster who asked whether I was being homophobic here. No. But having spent 15 of my first 18 years in ballet, I can vouch for a fairly (cough cough) high percentage of male dancers being gay. I didn't mean to offend. Actually, if anything I thought it was genuinely hilarious given the whole Jerry Falwell stupidity. But I can see how you thought I was validating that somehow. Not at all. Shine on, TW!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Oh, Please...

I once saw this guy at LAX. It wasn't pretty then, and neither is this. I saw this and my eyes just naturally rolled heavenward.

I'm married to someone whose politics land slightly to the right of Jeb Bush. On election day we're called the "Cancel Each Other Out Couple." So if anyone might even marginally like Alec Baldwin, it might be me. But I don't.

Maybe it's the whole Kim Basinger, what-really-happened thing. Maybe it's his puffy, arrogant nature (and physique, but I digress). But I was really much happier thinking he was moving out of the country when (George W.) Bush was re-elected. And now he's away in London while this story breaks. Hmmmm.

Perhaps it all happened the way the journalist tells it. More importantly, a US soldier will get a supplement to her education. That's all good. We have yet to hear a statement from Mr. Baldwin.

Wait a minute, I do like this story.

And You Thought Conferences Were Dry...

... not so! A great speaker at my meeting today used this as part of his -- stay with me -- presentation on making seamless transitions in during the career life cycle of a doctor. Contrary to what you may be thinking, the presentation was great, but this got the most laughs.

(Editor's note: Alcohol references for adults -- sometimes funny. Alcohol references for kids -- never funny.)

Maybe the Bratz Dolls Can Sport Sobriety Bracelets, Too

... or, things that make me mental.

In a world where Lindsay and Britney are in and out of rehab (with breaks to shop at Robertson's, natch) -- who greenlights products like this? Do we not have enough of a problem with underage, and I mean pre-teenage, drinking that we have to egg them on with a product marketed just to them?

My husband and I were at the coffee shop recently and overheard a conversation with the barrista (high school senior) and a friend who'd come in to get some joe.

Barrista: Did you see so and so at the party last night?
Friend: No, they left pretty early.
Barrista: Did you stay over?

Stay over? When you were in high school, dear readers, was it an option to "stay over," at a coed party, alcohol or no alcohol? Come to think of it, were there any coed parties that (a) didn't serve alcohol or (b) were on the approved list of any sane parent?

I suppose we should be glad that our Barrista and her friend have the option to stay, rather than drive home after drinking. That's one answer, and clearly the agreement they have with their parents. I'd submit that, longer term, the old-fashioned, "Call me if you need a ride home" would provide an ounce more protection, if not from embarassment, for these girls, and would at least be consistent with a "Hey, we really don't think 'sleeping over' with a bunch of hormonal teenagers is a great idea" philosophy. But it still doesn't address the drinking part. Do these girls' parents accept that they're drinking? Is that just a given?

The other crazy factor here is how parents know anymore where their kids are calling from. I know several parents who, G-d bless them, are still fighting the good fight. Their kids have to call in from a land line. No cell phones. Because you could be, well, anywhere and checking in by cell.

I have a few years to sort this out before my son is out and about. And by then, I'll have a GPS chip implanted under the inside of his temple...

A Lesser-Known Vaccine Controversy

As a mother, I've anguished for years over various and at times hyperbolic arguments about vaccines. If you have children under 10, you know what they are -- vaccines cause autism, exposing your child to chicken pox is better than vaccinating, you shouldn't give a combination MMR, and most recently, how soon to have my daughter vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. (HPV has its own set of controversies, but I'll leave that to another time.)

I should point out that in the final analysis -- and nearly a decade apart -- all three of my children are fully up to date on all recommended vaccines. Our family's choice. That's not what this post is about.

What you may not be aware of is the real cost to pediatricians to accomplish their goal of having children vaccinated. Read this -- and advocate for your doctors. Insurance companies need to pay not just for the cost -- or a part of the cost -- of the vaccines, but also for the overhead and administration to inventory and give these immunizations.

This problem is reminiscent of the way insurance companies used to view mammograms. They'd be covered only if the woman was diagnosed with cancer. Huh? So we'd rather discourage early detection and instead pay for oncology treatment? There is a similar mindset at work here. Because most people have been immunized against diseases that have all but disappeared as a result, there's no red flag waving to say "Pay what you should!" And because it's the doctors, not the patients, in this case, receiving the brunt of the burden, the general public is largely unaware of the problem.

What's In... NOT!

To my handful of readers -- I apologize for my absence. The new J.O.B. and other commitments have seriously curtailed my blogging hobby! I have (literally) 20 minutes to myself in a nice hotel room, in a day with meetings from 7am-9pm. So what am I doing?

Checking email of course!

I'm sad to report that, after my last several loving posts about Daily Candy, a recommendation and review of this was waiting for me today.

Truly, do I need to say more?

Okay, I will. I have nothing against modesty. At the tender age of nearly 41, I embrace modesty whenever possible. But need we sacrifice that much style to wear a "modest" bathing suit? Have you ever seen anything so hilariously bad? I have to wonder who the founders of this company are. Much less the designers. Would you ever put a "culotted swimmer" on your design CV?

I know people who opt for the little skirted Lands' End models, which heretofore I've always considered to be the definition of "modest swimwear." I've always wondered if it was cellulite or lack of time to hit the waxing salon that motivates women to wear those.

Mark this down: Even if I am 80 years old and in who knows what kind of shape, I will not be covering my body with a scuba suit with a sundress-cum-culotte coverup and calling it a "bathing suit."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Love Me Some Bacon

There are few things as purely wonderful as the smell of bacon cooking. Saveur Magazine (my husband's favorite periodical) has in the past done an entire recipe section just on bacon, including Billionaire's Bacon, that wonderful decadence that is bacon smothered in brown sugar. (Oh, how that channels my inner Homer Simpson -- and his happy, rotund belly.)

In the March 2007 issue, they feature on page 35 an artisanal bacon, ham and prosciutto maker, Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams (Madisonville, Tennessee). The picture isn't much to look at. Just a few strips of perfect bacon on a diner-style plate, with a larger stack on a plate in the background. But author Todd Coleman's description will make you want to go online right now and order your first package.

You'll have to wait in line. A note on their website laments:

***Attention to All Customers: Due to the recent article featuring our bacon in Saveur magazine, we have been absolutely overwhelmed with orders. We are a small, family-run business and producing high quality products is a process that cannot be rushed. We are working around the clock to fill all orders as quickly as we can, but some orders may be delayed as much as 5 weeks. We appreciate your business and hope you find our products worth waiting for! Thank you, Allan Benton***

I don't feel too bad pouring another cup into his overflowing PR bucket. Eventually he'll catch up to all those orders, mine being one in the queue. So I'll let you know if it lived up to expectations. We're taking Pancake Night to a new level...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Zeichen Press

I know I just (and I mean just) wrote this about my love affair with Daily Candy Chicago. Today I got the most faboo link to a company called Zeichen Press. I was so excited about it that I emailed them -- and they have graciously offered to let me link to them here, and post a picture some of their incredibly groovy products.

(Snaps to any company who has a real person respond that same morning, who quotes my email as having made her "coffee taste yummier." Somehow I know this woman is someone who appreciates a good cackle.)

Sisters-in-law Fran Shea and Jen Shea offer handmade cards, business, greeting and otherwise, all handprinted on vintage and antique letterpress equipment. The designs are clever, visually appealing, and to quote their own description, "occasionally sweet." If you're a graphics nut like me you will especially appreciate the "Projects" section.

"I'm dreaming of my next holiday card..."

Can you imagine any better way to showcase a coaster, sleeve a CD, or share a truly original and unique greeting card?

Sorry, Lake Country, no outlets here. But you can buy online through any of their distributors.

Monday, March 12, 2007

For My Fellow Sybills Out There...

I receive Daily Candy by email. Love it! (And the Chicago edition is written by a good friend's daughter, in the interest of full disclosure...) It lets me pretend that I actually live there and know all the great things that city has to offer. (Too bad Milwaukee hasn't made the grade yet...)

Anyway, today's edition included this, which is way too cool not to share.

Accessorize to your heart's content, for a relatively cheap price!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bald Sad Scary Suffocation Man

I have a new job which allows me to work from home. The organization I work with provides a computer. They were generous enough to buy me a new laptop. (The process? That's another post.) Suffice to say that after numerous emails, telephone calls and a near aneurysm when on the phone with UPS, I finally drove to a nearby town and picked up the laptop on Thursday.

When I opened up the packaging, this was what the laptop was wrapped in:
I think Dell's graphic designer might have spent too much time watching the Scream movies. In a perverse way it reminds me of a Munch-ian version of the Romper Room lady's "Magic Mirror." Remember at the end of the show when she'd put the mirror in front of her face and do a shout-out to all the kids who were watching, with a trippy swirly design on the back of the mirror?
Anyway, you have to give props to a graphic that is this disturbing enveloping each of the million Dell laptops being shipped every day. There's a whole nation of Bald Sad Scary Suffocation Men!
Probably the most effective part of the graphic, though, is that it demonstrates clearly that the most efficient way to use the packaging to suffocate yourself is by cinching it firmly with your fist around the neckline. No random, accidental asphyxiation for this guy. He means business.

Monday, February 26, 2007

My High Tech Legacy -- (Snort)

So, in the grand Internet scheme of things, I forget that my personal and (until recently fairly dormant) professional lives cross. I recently Googled myself because I was looking up an old article reference that I knew had been on the web. In doing so, I realize that even these blog posts are showing up much more prominently than I ever expected. Not that there's too much to be ashamed of. Not that any of my new colleagues are looking me up... Let's hope not, anyway.

I did just find this, which really freaked me out. It's in Spanish, which I don't speak anymore. (Eight years of bilingual education as a young kid, but French is my game.) It references one of my very few published writing credits, a chapter in a little tome published in 1997 called The Intranet Resource Kit. The best I can tell, the author is referencing me and a colleague of mine with regard to the type of corporate culture necessary to facilitate a good working intranet.

Other Googlings result in some PR interviews I did for CyberSearch, a really great and cutting edge product for about the year that it was marketable, as people conducted offline searches of the Internet. (AOL and other ISPs realizing fairly quickly that the per minute/per hour charge for Internet access was a short-lived cash cow...)

My new colleagues are all doctors who have insane schedules, work endless hours, run hospitals, clinics, non profit organizations, write grants, and on top of all of that love and support spouses and children. So I sincerely doubt that they're spending a lot of time wondering about my background.

A disclaimer, just in case -- To my new colleagues -- don't be afraid. I really do have a career background that doesn't involve stuff like this. But having both personal and professional personas does make me a lot happier.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Book Club Rocks

We had our -- don't know how to say "every 15 months" in "--nial" terms -- book club selections last night, and frankly they're exciting! Every member brings two (hopefully) very different books and describes each. Through a process that is slightly less complicated than choosing the next Pope, we come up with the final list. I've also included the ones that didn't make the cut, because frankly they all sound pretty interesting!

Here's to the third Monday:

The Secret -- Rhonda Byrne
Broken For You -- Stephanie Kallos
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings -- Maya Angelou
Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages -- Sara Rath
Suite Francaise -- Irene Nemirovsky
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals -- Michael Pollan
Silas Marner -- George Eliot
Rise and Shine -- Anna Quindlen
The Memory Keeper's Daughter -- Kim Edwards
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game -- Michael Lewis
A Northern Light -- Jennifer Donnelly
The Freedom Writer's Diary -- Erin Gruwell
The Tortilla Curtain -- T.Coraghessan Boyle
The Year of Wonders -- Geraldine Brooks

The "Also Rans:"

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -- Jonathan Safran
No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in WWII -- Doris Kearns Goodwin
A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence -- Patricia Hersch
Crazy in Alabama -- Mark Childress
Karelia: A Finnish-American Couple in Stalinist Russia -- author unknown
The Power of One -- Bryce Courtenay
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century -- Thomas L. Friedman
The Pavilion of Women -- Pearl S. Buck
Pitching My Tent -- Anita Diamant
The Last King of Scotland -- Giles Foden
Lost Daughters of China -- Karin Evans
1984 -- George Orwell
Eating Heaven -- Jennie Shortridge
The Measure of a Man -- Sidney Poitier
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia -- Elizabeth Gilbert
The Year of Magical Thinking -- Joan Didion

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A New Thing I Love

This is the best thing since sliced bread. (Or multi-tabbed browsing, which I must mention was pioneered by our old product circa 1993...)

Back to the best thing ever. Christy told me about Pandora. Have you tried it? Omigosh, for a music lover it is just about as good as it gets. Type in your favorite artist, and it automatically provides radio-like stream for you to approve or not.

So far I have channels for Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Liz Phair and Uncle Tupelo. That's just a few hours' worth of listening.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Garbie

We have a boy, a boy, and a girl, in that order. Our boys are wonderful, sensitive and intuitive. But they are in no way prepared for the invasion of "girl things" into their lives. As my eldest informed the ultrasound technician the day the news broke, "We don't do girls at our house." (What that makes me, I can only guess.)

So before my daughter came along, they never paid close attention to the My Little Pony commercials, or the Bratz aisle in Target -- except to hear me wonder aloud who designed a doll whose feet come off, fully shod. Creepy. Maybe the idea is to eliminate the micro tiny shoes that Polly Pocket or others wear. I won't even mention how offensive I think the Bratz dolls are in general, though my boys have heard all about that too.

My daughter just turned two. About a week before her family dinner birthday party, we were at the coffee shop and another girl, probably age five or so, came in with this doll:




To say she was interested in it would be like saying I am interested in coffee or chocolate. I am not interested in coffee and chocolate. I need coffee. Crave chocolate. Desire them both. So it was for my daughter with this doll. I think you can see from the picture that she is pretty cleverly packaged. A doll that disappears into a bouquet of flowers! How cool is that? The little girl was aghast that my daughter was honing in on her action. The need flourished.

I didn't know at the time that she as a Barbie, otherwise known in our house (by the brothers who can articulate it) as "She Who Shall Not Be Named." Or more accurately, "She Who Shall Not Enter Our Home." I certainly didn't know she was The Flower Girl in the Barbie Wedding Doll series. Even I have a problem with that, but I digress.

You may have guessed at this point that Flower Girl Barbie lives at our house now. I didn't invite her. My mom bought her, having witnessed the love affair that fateful day at the coffee shop. Our daughter simply adores her. When we told her it was a Barbie doll, she promptly christened it "Garbie." Which is, in garbled 2 year old speak, an expression of love, awe, and "I go the cool toy that girl in the coffee shop had!"

Where have all the English Majors Gone?

All my life I have been told that good reading and writing skills would serve me well in any discipline or career. I even changed my major in college from pre-engineering to English and French, because I was far more interested in reading literature and writing essays than trying, in vain, to "get" chemistry.

I've never regretted that decision. It was the right choice for me, though I do confess that when interviewing for my first job there were many moments when I was thinking, "Four years of private college tuition and I'm waitressing?" It only lasted a year and a half. And it wound up being my French, not my English, that landed me that first job.

Fast forward nearly two decades. I am shopping at my local Target, and stumble upon this:


It immediately caught my eye, not because of the riveting packaging (yawn) but because I happen to need some of these. So I picked up the box, and then I saw this:




Someone at the Rubbermaid Company actually gets paid to write this copy. Several other people get paid to review the box it in a product meeting and give it the green light. Yet another employee is in charge of having the boxes printed. No one along this line, even the printer, picked this up? Talk about quality control issues!!! (Or, just control issues -- those would be mine. I wasn't nicknamed "The Red Pen" for nothing.)


So go ahead, major in English. And please, check your spelling.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Call it Intuition...

... but Howard K. Stern is behind a lot more than propping her up in front of the cameras.

After learning of Anna Nicole Smith's untimely, if not unsurprising, demise, my friend Christy emailed me reminding me that I had predicted this scenario shortly after Anna Nicole's son's death.

The question is, will he ever be nailed for it? In spite of living in a high tech, DNA, crime scene investigation world, I wonder if he had way too much time, under the influence 'witnesses,' and non-US jurisdiction going for him in pulling off ... something.

It is sickening that a five month old child is now being clawed at from all angles -- Stern, two other men claiming to be her father, members of Smith's own family -- in an attempt to get to money she may not have even had rights to.

So sad.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse

France will ban smoking in public places as of next February.

France. The country.

As someone who generally falls on the side of health advocacy, I know in my intellectual mind this is a great thing.

As someone who lived there during my younger years, I am shocked. What is this world coming to when the people who gave us Galoises are banning smoking from cafes and brasseries?

I think I need to take a quick trip to get one last look at the Paris I knew!

Then again, this could save them a bundle on restoring monuments, cleaning streets (though if they're sneaking cigs dans la rue, one can only imagine how many butts will wind up underfoot), and lower that pesky public healthcare bill...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Girl Weekend Nonsense

Want a piece of this?

(Source: www.dailycandy.com)

I can't title this post as I'd really like to, because I'm protecting the innocent. It's a he. It's a husband. It's not the man (I think it's a man) in this picture. But my friend's husband wears fur pants. While naked. So when this came out at a weekend retreat (along with the coffee through my nose) -- well, you can just about imagine the threads that were spun.

Actually, this is a little misleading. I find when I go away with friends (and no spouses or kids) that we spend very little time talking about our husbands. Okay, maybe not very little, but it's certainly not the focal point of the weekend, unless someone is having an issue she's trying to hammer out. I think our husbands think we're talking a lot about them, when in fact we are dealing with more important topics such as:

  • How we barely made it to the weekend. Any mom who has ever prepared to leave her home with someone else in charge knows that there is a universal law that states that chaos will precede the 24 hours of her departure. speeding tickets, clothing mishaps, ebola virus -- we've lived it.
  • Toenail fungus. Why people get it, weighing in on whether or not we have it (and comparing toes for the visual judgment), and how we can get my friend's podiatrist husband to prescribe something long distance without ever seeing us. Because we're too embarassed to actually show someone in person our gnarly foot problems. And snapping anonymous digital photos for her to email him later and plead our case.
  • Our families. Try as we might to "get away," our central focus always comes back into view. This husband's job situation, that child's latest developmental tilt-a-whirl. It's unavoidable, and let's face it, a great valve to let off whatever steam might be building up.
  • Muffin tops. I just saw a comedienne use this term to describe her paunch. And I use the term loosely -- she looked okay to me. We need to know why they just won't go away. That goes for the people working out and dieting, and those who aren't, the latter just believing that caring about it and bringing it up in the group should be enough for it to disappear.

This ain't a guys' fishing trip. But it sure does the job!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What Katie Holmes Cruise and I Have in Common

I was delighted to see that Katie Holmes Cruise and I have something in common. I'm told you can buy the generics at Target -- but this chiquita requires the Spanx Sky Highs. As a public service announcement/cautionary tale -- I knew it was time to hit the gym when my Spanx actually caused my back to spasm, such was the shifting of body, um, mass.

(The only portion of Katie's life that leaves me jealous, aside from the fact that she can afford as many pair of SkyHighs as she wants, is that she's in Paris...)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Hound Dog"

I haven't seen this movie, but I am disturbed by reports about the depth and nature of sexual content portrayed by child star Dakota Fanning. She turns 13 years old next month.

13 is practically fully grown in Hollywood. I get that. (If you have any doubts, the movie "Thirteen" will chill you to the bone, but it is well worth it for the great performances by Evan Rachel Wood and Holly Hunter.) But explicit scenes involving masturbation, nudity and rape for a 12 year old actress?

(Other accounts say that some of the more graphic scenes mysteriously disappeared from the cutting room floor when certain child advocacy groups protested the use of a minor actress in such disturbing scenes.)

Is anyone else bothered by reports that that Fanning's publicist and mother were attracted to the project, allegedly, because it had "Oscar written all over it."

For once, let's call a spade a spade. There appear to be good reasons that investors backed out of this film, which co-stars talented actresses Robin Wright Penn (one of my favorite actresses, BTW) and Piper Laurie.

In a bit of a Catch-22, I can't explore just how bothered I am about this without seeing the movie. But do I want to spend $10 to watch a child being exploited?

I'm not opposed to the telling of a great story, depressing or not. Child abuse is a serious problem and the more light shed on it the better. But at what expense? Certainly someone should be watching over Dakota's best interests as a not-yet-teenage child. Comparisons to Jodie Foster ("Taxi Driver") and Brooke Shields ("Endless Love"), who both portrayed sexualized teens don't even seem fair. I've seen both those movies. Both girls were inappropriately sexualized at a similarly early age, especially considering the time periods during which those movies were released. Interesting notion that we've slipped down a slope of expectations in that seeing characters like Tracie in "Thirteen" engaging in sex isn't too unbelievable.

But neither Foster nor Shields was hired, at age 12 and with the consent of her parents, to film an explicit rape scene. And providing the visualization, for the big screen, violence against a child, especially a rape of a young girl, seems unforgivable, especially in the name of art.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Photo Caption Contest #2

My friend Jane Doe is _____.


I'm calling her Jane Doe because although she agreed to let me use this anonymous version of her picture online, she, unlike some people we know, has her limits.

This photo was taken on a women's weekend affectionately called The Literary Retreat. Another friend's parents own a cabin on a beautiful, clear, peaceful lake (that shall remain unnamed to protect them -- oh right, to protect us) that our book club invades for shenanigans of the above sort.

Let's see if you were even remotely close to guessing what she was doing.


As I've posted before, I am a huge Project Runway fan. One of my fellow devotees, whose cabin this is, decided that this year we would add a PR challenge to our weekend. So everyone who attended had to bring three garments they didn't mind parting with, as well as assorted knick knacks, crafty items or whatever else they thought might be useful in the challenge.

We divided into three teams. Items were objectively divided into three piles, and each team got a pile, plus scissors, duct tape and whatever tools they wisely had brought with them.

Team One: Angeline Jolie

Team Two: Tori Spelling

Team Three: Bree VanDeCamp

I was on the Tori team. After tucking one of our discarded booze bottles neatly into a wicker basket/purse, Tori read a moving tribute to her late father, Aaron. Here's Tori getting into a little number (that come to think of it reminds me of that "Gift to Someone Special" Buddy gives his Dad in the movie "Elf") as well as her shoes, which were custom designed that day:

I swear she could be a foot model -- look how cute her toes are! But I digress...

Angelina looked like a vamp, and the outfit actually turned out pretty decently! And Bree, well the picture you saw in the beginning was Bree's racy housewife lingerie. I only wish I'd videotaped the festivities so that I had the scripts everyone used to describe their characters...

This is why my husband (and I'm sure he's not alone) can only scratch his head and wonder about "women's weekends." When I was describing all of this to him, he was silent. Later he said, "You know, when John and I go away for a 'man's weekend,' we fish, we eat, watch a little tv, and relax. There aren't any 'planned activities!' We don't schedule a craft or figure out who is making what for which meal! I don't get it!"

Which is exactly why they aren't invited.

Go Colts!

Yes, I have completely switched positions.

Earlier I was rooting for the Bears. Then my husband branded me unAmerican for not rooting for the Saints, all things considered. Frankly my plate has been so full lately that I didn't put together that the Bears would be playing the Saints. My bad. And I really do wish the Saints had played better than they did.

Anyway, after watching Peyton Manning lead his team from behind and beat the Patriots* I am absolutely hoping they win the Super Bowl. I can't even believe how interested I was in the game, and how genuinely excited I was that they won.

Part of it is -- I love Tony Dungy. I mean love him. (More than I love Lovey.) From back when Tampa Bay was in our conference and he was just a grade A guy. So between that and wanting to see Peyton Manning get his Vince Lombardi moment, here's to the Colts.

I understand that Dungy and Smith are best friends. That makes for good copy, even better than the angle that it will be the first time two black coaches will face off in the Super Bowl.

I take Indy by 14.

* It should be noted, that as a Packer fan, I am still bitter about that second in a row Super Bowl loss way back when. The Patriots just had to go -- their dominance reminds me of Dallas, another nemesis for Green Bay.