Friday, June 20, 2008

All the news that's fit to print.

Today I've had to write a few pieces for the office newsletter. Ouch. Ouch. My brain.

Newsletters are a very specific sort of writing. I used to do it all the time at my old job. But now I'm severely out of practice. Blogging is a totally different animal for me. There are lots of ways to do it, but for me I just pretend like we're all just shooting the breeze at the local coffee shop. If you've read this blog, you more or less know what I sound like in real life.

But office newsletter writing is much, hmmm. Plainer? You are writing for a wiiiide audience. And the closer you get to the middle of the road, the more successful you'll be. If you've got mad literary skills, save 'em. Nobody wants to hear metonymy or alliteration while they're trying to eat a bag of microwave popcorn in the lunch room. You have to be informative, not scholarly. You have to be business-like, yet friendly. Humor is encouraged. But of the "ha ha ha" variety. Not the "heh heh heh" variety. And irony is strictly forbidden. Irony leads to standing in the HR office while you apologize to a co-worker.

So, when I stare at my monitor, struggling for words, I think to myself "What would Barbie write?" Barbie would be a perfect newsletter writer. She'd keep it light, bright and breezy. She'd never cross the line. Of course it's printed on pink paper, but it's always squeaky clean.

When Julie gives a recipe for watermelon agua fresca on her blog, her serving suggestions include substituting the "agua" for Stoli. When Barbie gives the same recipe, her serving suggestions include garnishing with mint and frozen blueberries. That Barbie. She's such a nice girl. And so informative!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Canadian Severed Foot Watch - The Recount!

Okay, just watching CNN.  We have revised totals:  4 right feet, 1 left foot, 1 paw (it has not been disclosed whether the paw was a righty or a lefty).  Evidently the paw was planted by a Canadian practical "joker".  Hey!  Lay off the Labatts, you hoser.

Why am I so fascinated by this story?!?!?

Seperated at birth?

Do you suppose they actually intended for Cate Blanchett* to look like Edna Mode?

Or was she just supposed to look like a hot date for Chairman Mao?

*Picture snapped from a Dr. Pepper Indiana Jones promotional can. Yeah, that's what you want to look at while you sip your decadent American soft drink.

And don't call me Shirley either!

I get this e-mail this morning. How wrong is it? Let me count the ways . . .

First, it's not my birthday.

Second, I don't celebrate my birthday.

Third, even if I did, I couldn't afford to celebrate at Mi Piaci.

Fourth, my NAME'S NOT SUSIE!

Frankly, I was about to send out a blistering e-mail to the people at Mi Piaci about the evils of sending out spam to innocent people who wouldn't celebrate their birthday at their miserable restaurant, even if they did celebrate birthdays. And by the way, if you are going to send out spam, shouldn't you at least make sure you've got the name right? When I go to a restaurant, I want to be where everybody knows my name. Not where everybody thinks my name is Susie!

Then I had a "Oh. Wait a minute." moment. At restaurants, I do occasionally give the name Susie Derkins. Just because I really hate it when they yell "Julie, party of 4!" Do a bunch of people at a restaurant really need to know my name? (Okay. Yes. That's paranoid. But I'm willing to own my neuroses.) What? Are they going to ask me for ID? And besides, it makes me laugh.
So, okay. Possibly, my bad. There may be some way that a restaurant might think my name was Susie. Though I'm sure I've never eaten at Mi Piaci. And I don't remember ever putting my e-mail address down at any restaurant. And I definitely wouldn't tell a restaurant my birthday. Even a fake one. The chance that I might have gang of happy-clapping waitstaff surrounding me and chanting some rhythmic message of birthday glee at me is just really more than I could bear. Even if it was my real birthday. Which it's not.

But, the Susie point just took the wind out of my sails. Mi Piaci's marketing staff is safe from receiving a blistering e-mail from me. This time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Canadian Severed Foot Watch

The total count of severed feet now stands at 6. Righties still out number lefties by 5 to 1. Police call it "a little mysterious".

Oh. I see.

Sometimes I look at people (mainly in politics and big business) and think "Just how stupid do you think we are?" And looking at this interview, this is it. Right here. This is just how dumb they think the American public is. Because, you see, we should have figured out that the rise in gas prices is all. Our. Fault. The oil companies have nothing to do with it. They aren't sure why they're racking up record profits. Just lucky, I guess. Shoot. I guess they were just at the right place at the right time. And it's just a coincidence that this meteoric rise in gas prices comes up when they can make a case for opening up offshore drilling areas that they've wanted access to for years. Ain't it funny how sometimes things will just happen at the same time? Shucks. Thank you, Mr. Chevron Man for explaining "supply and demand" to me. You make it sound so simple. I feel lots better now. And here I thought I was getting screwed.

It Blows

On the old green issue, I saw this article that talks about whether those hand dryers in the bathroom are more eco-friendly than paper towels. Their conclusion is that the blowers are the lesser of two evils. Dang. Not what I wanted to hear.

Cause let's face it - those things are just sick. It's not happy, fresh outside air that the dryer is blowing on your hands, it's bathroom air. All the whatever that's floating in the bathrooms is being sucked into that little box to be moderately heated and blown straight onto your own two little mitts. Which I should point out, you will be taking with you when you leave the bathroom. (I'll pause while we all picture a rubber bracelet-bangled 80s-style Madonna blasting her face and pits in germ air in Desperately Seeking Susan - oh ugh.) And considering that the bathroom cootie blaster has been around for a million years, I doubt there's some sort of ultra-violet light built in that sanitizes the air about to blow the hands that you were trying to get clean just 2-seconds ago in the sink. Self-defeating, no?

I saw that the guy who built the Dyson (uhm, Mr. Dyson?) vacuum cleaner had invented a super sucker to replace the cootie blower. Sucks the water right off your hands. I have yet to see one of those babies in action, though. I think that's some technology that needs to filter into the population pretty freaking quickly. Save the trees. Kill the cooties.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


This is something that I've been thinking about for awhile. I don't know if I could ever truly get into the simplicity movement. I've thought about it. It sounds good. But I think possibly simple might drive me stark staring nuts.

The truth is: I'm a clutter bug. I like clutter. I look at those uber-neat danish modern homes, and I feel the need to take off my socks and throw them on the floor, just to have something to look at. I know there are people who like clean lines and every thing in it's place. Bless them. I can't take it. Clutter says "home" to me. My favorite college textbooks give a little extra height to a lamp. The vase I made in jr. high is still around. Little bits of my life are lying all around my house.

Of course, the danger of clutter is that it can reach the tipping point and become chaos. Or worse, just plain dirty. So the challenge for me would be to become as uncluttered as I could personally stand. Whittle it down. Step away from the edge of chaos. Do I really need the map of the London underground that I used in 1996? Probably not. But I like it. That was a good trip. It would hurt to throw it away. Not a lot. But definitely a little. And I'd feel sad for a minute. But it's the kind of edit I really should bite the bullet and make.

On the other hand, my grandmother's two (not one, count 'em, two!) sets of depression glass dessert bowls take up an enormous amount of space in my tiny kitchen. But I have no intention of getting rid of them. Yes, they're old. No, they aren't worth anything. I just like them. They sit on my shelf and remind me of my grandma. And I use them. They've held dessert. But they've also held shrimp cocktails and hummus and olives and all sorts of other party stuff. The only way they leave my house is through attrition. It is me. I'll break them eventually. But I'll have had a lot of use and joy out of them before then. And, to me, that's just not clutter.

Don't go fishing in Vancouver;_ylt=AvkwQnvt4QD1KXV6SQ4Fbi4Qr7sF

I'm just kind of amazed at how lack-a-daisical the cops seem to be about this. 5 feet (four rights, 1 left) in 10 months. In the 2 accounts I've read, they don't even mention having gone back up the river to find out, maybe, where the feet are coming from. In fact, the AP account on Yahoo says that the foot might not even have been severed and thrown into the river. It may just have popped off. Of a body that was already in the river. Hello? The fact that there are multiple sources of the body parts bobbing along your river only seems to be a point of speculation. Evidently it's not strange enough to make somebody pick up a phone and call another police department upstream and say "Hey, anybody up there missing a foot?"

And the cop who says "Hey, hey, hey, what do you think we are CSI:Saskatoon?". Um. No, my little Canuck Barney Fife, I don't expect you to have some magic equipment that would tell you who the foot belongs to. But I do kind of expect that after nearly a year, you express some sort of curiosity about where the feet are coming from. One foot in the river? That's a little weird. Possibly a fluke. A really creepy fluke, but still. Five feet in the river? That's a trend, my friend. Possibly it was just a tragic freak wading accident involving a long pier and an out of control boat propeller. Or. Perhaps, just perhaps, it's time to call in the Mounties.

Eye Witness News

So, yesterday I'm leaving my office building when I'm nearly run over at the door by a fireman carrying a giant axe. I was so startled by the giant axe that I couldn't even tell you if it was a cute fireman or not. That's how scared I was.

So I automatically switch into fluffy bunny mode. I'm looking at everything going on in the street, sniffing for smoke and making sure I've got an escape route. I saw about 8 fire department vehicles circling the building. And a bunch of firemen. Looking at the front door of the building. Then looking at the top of the building. Looking at me. Looking at the front of the building. I spotted my escape route and hopped to it, quick like a bunny. As I heard more fire sirens arriving. Are they looking up to see smoke? Or is there somebody trying to jump? Seriously, I don't want to get hit by flaming debris, or a body falling off of a tall building (and thank you sooooo much M. Night Shyamalan for that little image that is being broadcast in the "every hour on the hour" commercial for The Happening. You little prick.)

My personal philosophy in that kind of situation is that "she who clucks and runs away, lives to cluck another day." If I see a situation developing, I feel like all parties are served by me skeedaddling as quickly as possible. It is highly unlikely that the fire department is going to want my help with a fire hose. And if I'm not standing around, I can't become an "innocent bystander". Discretion truly can be the better part of valor. This is of course completely different from a situation in which I could actually be of assistance. The cluck and run policy is null and void when people are in need. But otherwise, I believe in clearing the scene. Looky-loos are just a nuisance.

I did do the only thing I thought was helpful, in that I called the one person that I knew was still in the office and told him to pay attention if there was a fire alarm. But I did it from a safe distance. Okay, sure, I might miss all the excitement that way. But then, I also miss all the excitement that way. Hit by flaming debris is exciting, but not in a good way.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Low Down, No Good, Going Green Blues

This article in the NY Times really lays out what I've been feelinging myself lately ( You don't need to be a superhero, or an environmentalist to save the environment. You need to be a freaking actuary. The level of calculations necessary to figure out whether what you're doing is right or not just makes my tiny brain hurt.

Look at my coffee cup. I use a plain ceramic coffee cup at work every day. Seems like the quick fix. No styrofoam cups adding chemicals to the local land-fill. Go, me. But what about the hot water that's used to clean my cup every day? And the chemicals from the dish soap? I don't even have the capacity to do that kind of mathematics. Oh, and there are the fuel costs to transport those styrofoam cups. And does it make a difference that my ceramic cup was made in China and had to be transported here? Ow. Ow. Ow.

And if I were to eat locally, to reduce carbon emissions from trucks transporting food, my diet would consist mainly of cantaloupe and beef. And evidently if I composte my cantaloupe rinds, that's pretty okay. But the cows are producing methane, that's doing something or other to the ozone and polluting the air so that it's killing the plants. Cow farts are killing the cantaloupes even worse than the truck farts.

And then, after all the hours that I've spent bundling paper products for recycling, and taking them to the recycle center, somebody tells me that recycling paper is a toxic process that is a large contributor to environmental pollution. It was all I coud do not to beat him to death with a rolled up newspaper.

I don't mind trying to do the right thing. I just hate finding out that I've been doing the wrong thing by trying to do the right thing.


Yesterday was a health day for me. All I had on the agenda to do was light housework and stay out of the freaking solar sweat bomb that was the great outdoors. EEE-YUCK. And personally, I find that it's easier to keep my thermo-stat at a higher temperature if I lie like a lump on the couch during the hottest part of the day. So really, it's not laziness. It's the E thing to do. I'm very green-minded that way. Energy conservation is everyone's responsibility.

Anyway, on the health front, I spent most of the day watching Lifetime Movie Network. There was the perfect convergence of my PMS and a Sob Sister Sunday marathon on LMN. I find that a good cry is very cleansing. And I think it's very healthy for my sinuses to bawl until snot runs out of my nose.

And boy, was LMN looking out for my health. The theme was "good Dad/bad Dad". And as a true-blue Daddie's girl, nothing will make me cry like watching Andrew McCarthy as a widower fighting to keep is Chinese, adopted, baby daughter. Or Charles Shaughnessy (or as true The Nanny fans call him - Shister Meffield) finding redemption as he cradles his multi-racial grandchild on his deathbed. By the time we got to the last show, which was a hot, 22-year old country singer trying to keep the baby he made during a one night stand with a cougar who didn't want to be his baby-mama but wanted to give their baby to a lesbian couple (okay, I'll admit by now I was having some trouble following the mildly psychotic, yet strantely cathartic Liftetime-formula plots), I was a sodden mess. I cried so much had to eat some salty snacks in order to restore my electrolite balance. Good times. Good times.

I didn't find it in the basement of the Alamo

Love at first sight. When you see that one in a crowd. And all the others fall away. And all your hopes, your dreams, your desires are focused on that one. That perfect one.

I bought a bike at the big church garage sale. I couldn't even tell you what the other bikes were. The second I spotted this one, it was like we were alone in that parking lot. Just me and the sweetest little ride on this or any other planet. Girlie bike with gorgeous swoopy lines. Straight up cruiser. If I had to guess, I'd say it' probably an early 60s model. Pedal brakes. Big fat seat. Metalic gold paint - original. And kicky gold hand grips with - wait for it - sparkles!! It is THE perfect bike for anyone too uncoordinated to use hand brakes, and too lazy to figure out how to work gears correctly. Plus it has a bicycle license plate from Scottsdale - how cool is that?

I took it out for a practice ride with my niece on Saturday. And then road it over to a friend's house on Sunday (and hey, how green am I?). If there's a feeling any better cranking really fast on your bike, then sticking your feet out at the side and just flying down the street with the wind in your hair, I don't know what it could be.

There are relatively few repairs that I need to make. The tires probably have one more summer in them. And somebody replaced the kickstand with one that's too big, so that the pedal bangs it every it goes time past. That's a pretty easy fix. Otherwise there's nothing that a little WD40 and a few jazzy new reflectors won't fix.

The big question is, do I let my new bike (tentatively named Bella the Bike. I have some sort of weird obsession with B names for my possessions. Barney the Wonder Truck. Betty the Bat, my Louisville Slugger brand home security system. Bella would fit, but it's also my niece's middle name, so I'll see how she feels about it before I make anything official) stay in it's pristine original condition, though the paint has fadded and the chrome is stained, or do I go full on re-hab and trick this baby out? I could do a new paint job (green, pink, blue, red?), put in some fly detailing, a front basket, a bell, streamers, the works. Do I let this beautiful relic of a simpler time age gracefully, or go the full Pee Wee on it? It's a deep philosophical question that I shall have to contemplate very seriously before making a decision. Feel free to give me helpful guidance in this most critical issue. I'd appreciate all thoughts. I'll post pics tomorrow so that you can get the full "most wonderful bike in the world" experience.

TIME: Quotes of the Day