Thursday, April 27, 2006

What's the worst that could happen?

I worry about the darnest stuff. I am not good about getting the car over to the oil change place on time, so I've figured that my happy little Sante Fe would just explode or something someday. But thankfully I came across this article from Real Simple "10 Things You Can Stop Worrying About". Now I know that 7,000 miles between changes is okay!

The article covers a few of my worries:
  • Eating cracked eggs
  • Leaving stuff in the washing machine
  • Sneaking food into the movie theater.

Real Simple magazine is fantastic, they have smart, well-written articles on house and home stuff as well as some fashion and food. On their website you can sign up for a weekly newsletter which offers great little tips. That is where this info came from.

Monday, April 24, 2006

No Gas from You!

I really don't like door-to-door salesmen of any stripe. I should stop answering the bell, but sometimes you get suckered. A few times, at least 3, in the last two years I have had my doorbell rung by reps from company peddling natural gas. Each time, I saw someone with a badge and something that said Nicor. Thinking that there may be an emergency, a gas leak or something, I opened my door to talk to the guy.

Each encounter I had with these folks was unpleasant, leaving me feeling bullied. One kept calling me, "Stupid, Stupid" loud enough to for neighbors to hear, when I refused to sign-up. Another told me that gas prices were not subject to supply and demand, so prices would only go up if I didn't lock in prices. The scary thing besides the name calling and the lies, is their tactic of passing themselves off as utility employees and trying very hard to enter my house. These were big guys, pushy guys who when I refused the offer demanded to talk to my husband about it and tried to push past me. As a single, fully competent, female homeowner, it really pissed me off.

So I was really happy to see that the Illinois Citizens' Utility Board has issued an alert about them. I'm not absolutely sure this is the same organization I dealt with, but if you read the article, you will see the similarities.

It looks like a similar scam is documented at the Consumerist --- my favorite blog. See here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

More crazy knitters

The Yarn Harlot is fun. It seems that knitting is 'in' these days, I should give it a try. It's so creative and so practical, all at the same time.

Well, I just came across a knitting grafitti site, Knitta. These guys are hard core public 'knitting grafitti artists.

Here's their story
"… A tag crew of knitters, bombing the inner city with vibrant, stitched works of art, wrapped around everything from beer bottles on easy nights to public monuments and utility poles on more ambitious outings. With a mix of clandestine moves and gangsta rap — Knitta was born! Today, Knitta is a group of more than 10 ladies of all ages, races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientation… and gender".

Light Beer Wishes and Casserole dreams

The White Trash Mom blog has some pretty cute entries and interesting entries on whether you're the mother of a teenager yet, and a reference to an Anna Quindlen article about The Good Enough Mother. She also refers to the other perfection-based, over-performing, blonde-bob-huge SUV-driving-stick-thin Moms out there as the Muffia. Check it out.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I love the harlot

I gotta tellya, the yarn harlot blog really makes me happy. She just seems like a really nice, crazy knitter with lots of crazy knitter friends.

Once when I went on a vacation to Washington D.C. to visit friends, I complained to them that most photos I take are boring because they're of buildings and art, but with no human interest to them. So for all the photos we took during that trip, I made sure there was a human in each one, even if it was an elbow or finger stuck into the corner of, say, a photo of the Washington monument.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the yarn harlot) does something similar, in that all of her photos include whatever knitting project she's working on. It makes me laugh because, after all it is a blog about knitting. Her latest photos, of the taxi drivers who have been driving her around on her book tour holding her knitting, make me giggle.

Another thing is that all her audiences in the pictures just look so darned happy. Who knew some wool and a couple of sticks could do that to a person?


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Get Happy

Take a minute, or two to read this excellent blog post at Creating Passionate Users. Kathy Sierra discusses how being around negative people can infect you with unhappiness. She points out the science of how people unconsciously mirror the behavior they are exposed to. That means if you hang with chronically unhappy people, you probably will become unhappy.

When I changed jobs last summer, I basically went through de-tox. It took me several months to adapt to a happy environment, where co-workers encouraged and helped each other. I hadn't realized how stressed out I had been before, until I had the mental space to relax.

The sad thing is that I can trace the whole negative environment to one or two people at the old job. These two were basically good people, who were desperately unhappy and afraid. Any change was viewed as a "problem", any creative thought was shot down. I think I fought against this tide for a while, but I got all caught up in it myself. Pretty soon the work day became a struggle for me -- I was unhappy. Of course there were other factors in my unhappiness, but I think the toxic people really crashed the work atmosphere.

Within a month of changing jobs, my father became seriously ill and then died. It was such a sad and tense period. But in looking back, I thank God I changed jobs when I did. I can't even imagine if I had to deal with Dad and have an unhappy workday. My new co-workers were very supportive and gave me the space I needed at that time.

Take a good look around at the unhappy places in your life. It may be time to evaluate the toxins you deal with, also check to make sure you aren't adding your own poison to the situation. Life is too short to be spent in negative spaces.

Take a flight -- quick animation

Got a minute, take a quick little trip with Airport by Iain Anderson.

Power to the People!

Within the web developer and library world there is a lot of talk about the Web 2.0 movement. (That's pronounced two point oh). I don't know if I would classify it as a movement, it is more a trend. Calling something a movement is a little too pretentious. Anyway, this new trend in web design is all about collaboration and community. Blogs, the Wikipedia and photosharing sites are examples of this new approach for the web. On some of these services, anyone can participate whether they are posting a personal diary (blog) or helping to create an encyclopedia.

I find these new tools exciting and fun to use. There are drawbacks to letting anyone use something --- copyright infringement or bad,bad encyclopedia entries in Wikipedia. After all, as my Dad said, "You get what you pay for". Perhaps the best things side of the 2.0 trend is the ability to publish comments on blogs or other services. Here you do get a sense of community, of shared interest or concern.

The warm fuzzy of community came to mind when I stumbled across a community I want to join. It's the cilantro haters --- I am not alone anymore. Here I can recount horrid run-ins with this all too common herb. I can view pie charts on which compare the taste of cilantro to stink bugs and soap. Yes, this is the type of life-affirming, community-building I need. I am not alone!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Catch that Red Paperclip wave

I need to post stuff quicker. Last week I came across a great story of Internet creativity. Now this guy is all over the place. Should I regret the widespread coverage or marvel at my own trendspotting ways..... oh well, here's the story.

Creativity in life, art and business make life interesting. I love Kyle MacDonald's spirit, he set out to get a house by trading up. He started with a rather large red paper clip. Now he is up to a rent-free house in Pheonix for a year. Vist his website at

What a story --- read more at Yahoo News.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Do you make this guy sick

I saw this a this sweet picture on Neatorama a while back. I think I've sickened this man on 6 counts. Or maybe 5, I'm not much of a party animal these day.

There wasn't much written about the situation this came from, but it is pretty interesting. I love the kid in the foreground, I'm sure the 'sick' signholder thought he was making some pretty profound statements, using all those fonts on his sign.

In the Middle of It....

I turned 41 last week. That seems definitely middle-aged to me -- no longer able to chalk things up to youthful mistakes, I am an adult. Of course, by placing yourself firmly in the middle, you pretty much bow to the idea that there is an end. It's not too much fun to think about, but definitely enters my mind more these days. After my dad died in September -- the notion of being a child was gone, no matter that I had been a parent myself for 14 years.

So, at this mid-point you can either just sit back with some sort of confidence that things will roll on and on for a while, or you can get charged up for a fight against the inevitable. Neither of those positions are really my view. I'm kind of doing both, embracing the end and feebly fighting against it. I work out at least a few times a week --- breaking a sweat on occasion -- and I 'try' to eat better. I also started smoking again, if you remember quitting was my hot topic a couple of months ago. So, despite my advancing age, I still do the half-assed things I should have grown out of .

My brother's death, almost 2 years ago, changed my idea of life and fairness. Here the best, healthiest person I knew, the guy who was doing all the 'right things' in health and faith, got Leukemia and it took him. His death was fundamentally unfair, which I believe had a great deal to do with my father's death this year. While I miss Dad on a regular basis, I cry when I think about Mike. It was unfair that both these men didn't get the ending that they had hoped for, one came too quickly, the other's came after tasting such deep sadness. We really don't get to choose.

As a middle ager, I need to realize that I have no idea what will become of me. I don't know the length of my life. Who does? All I can do is live it and make some little goals for myself along the way. When you look at the obit of some people, you are blessed with a good story, one with a couple of beginnings, along with several endings. It would be best to take care of myself where I can health-wise, but not to get to tied up in that because it may not matter. If I only have a year or two -- then I hope I enjoy a bunch of chocolate cake between now and then.

I know this is not the happiest post, but it is something I've been thinking of. Here is a little pick-me-up article on a man who is alive and kicking at 110. He's a cupcake eater and smoked until he was 60, God Bless him!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Really bummed here

I remember reading that you should compose blog entries in a word processor and then past into Blogger. The reason being, that sometimes Blogger hiccups and loses posts before you can publish them. It just happened to me.

I spent a good 40 minutes composing an entry on Contemporary Art and it was blown away. You would have liked it too, but now I'm too tired to re-create it. So perhaps, I'll try again tomorrow -- using Word to compose.


P.S. Blogger's spellcheck doesn't recognize the word Blogger -- go figure.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Is there a generation gap anymore? Should we care?

Has the generation gap slimmed to a chink? Is it even there anymore? When we 40-year-old Generation X'ers continue to wear jeans and hoodies and listen to the same music as our children (or nieces and nephews), are we refusing to grow old gracefully, or are we, as this article in New York magazine attests, merely refusing to do anything except those things for which we feel passionate? Or is it really that because of the democratization of information through the Web and 24-hour news and television, all generations are more or less feeding from the same trough, culturally?

As a 40-year-0ld with a 20 year old inside me wondering what happened, I really found this article interesting. At 40 my mom had six kids and was wearing polyester pantsuits. Now, "40 is the new 30." Are we X'ers following the dreaded Boomers into that Peter Pan Neverland where you never grow old, even though they all hoped they'd die before then?

God, I hope not. Boomers are a pain in the ass. If that's the way the X'ers are headed, hand me the apron and pass the Bobby Vinton.