Monday, December 29, 2008

Photoshop Disasters


Have you seen a truly awful piece of Photoshop work? There is only one place that really cares and wants to show the whole world. Photoshop Disasters is run by the mysteriously anonymous Cosmo7, who uses his powers to shine the light of truth on the clumsy manipulation, senseless comping, lazy cloning and thoughtless retouching perpetrated by the world of Photoshop driven advertising and art. Also, his thoughts and the comments of his community are worth the price of admission alone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ten Most Important Satellites Orbiting Earth Now


Remember that model solar system you made in the sixth grade? Well, now there is something more relevant and even closer home you can force your kids to make out of Styrofoam balls. It's a diagram of the "Ten Most Important Satellites Orbiting Earth Now," brought to you by IO9. Satellites are involved in every day of our lives from weather reporting to Google Maps to shooting television stations around the globe. So you might as well get on a first name basis with them. Well, all of them except Goldeneye that is.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Homeboy Astronomy


Marko Pyhajarvi writes the "Homeboy Astronomy" blog to help beginners and fellow amateur astronomers learn astronomy to start observing the stars and other interesting objects.

Marko is from Finland and he gives this little etymology about his blog's title " 'Homeboy' can be understood as “a hometown boy, a close friend”. A close person of mine called me homeboy some time ago." Oh, cute! I'm not sure he realizes just how sweet and welcoming his slang usage is in the states.

In any event, Homeboy Astronomy gives accessible, practical advice about backyard astronomy sprinkled with astronomical factoids and tidbits. Now, he can be your homie too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bjorin Hurri


Formed online in 2006, Gorilla Artfare is a collection of 100 artists "chained to their drawing boards" around the globe and connected to an underground network of over ten thousand more "bridging international boundaries and defying artistic definition".

Bjorin Hurri is one of their family whose created a delightful collection of "Steampunk Star Wars" character designs (make sure you scroll down). They are so worth drooling over and perhaps using as my ipod screen saver.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Verbotomy


Most Word of the Day sites lack interest and whimsy because, frankly, they are filled with words that are actually words used in the English language. How unimaginative of them! Thank goodness I found "The Big Book of Bunkum" by Victoria Elizabeth a.k.a. the self proclaimed, "Quipping Queen". Please don't mistake any of these words for actual words, they are just fun to say.

Recent additions to Bunkum include "flatterchatter" (one with an incredible if not insatiable appetite for all forms of adulation, praise and recognition) and "umdrum" (a pregnant pause associated with a pathetic person, a prosaic place, or a thankless thing that one wishes one had not encountered in the first place. Hello, my last alumnae dinner).

Want to try your own hand an verbal invention? Join Verbotomy, where everyday "verbotomists" create a new definition (and matching cartoon). Players must create a word -- a verboticism -- that matches the definition to be voted on by community members. Recent winners include the above "tinselclown" (A person so enamored with the holidays that they don't just deck their halls and home, but they also decorate their car, their cubicle, their pets, and themselves) and "delessious" (To leave out an important ingredient when you are sharing a favorite recipe so that no one else can make it taste as good as yours). Go forth and conquor.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Suck at Photoshop


Okay, some of you will recognize this Donnie Hoyl's Videos from the "My Damn Channel" website from my post on the "Top Ten Lifehacker Videos". Well, I had to pull his series "You Suck at Photoshop" out because, not only are his methods succinct and easy to understand, but I haven't laughed so hard since I was addicted to Sifl and Olly in 1998.

Much of the information we have to remember in modern life is presented dryly using printed words or in a straight forward lecture format. Our brains do not easily encode information from either method. However, add mnemonics, vivid imagery and strong emotions (like laughing your ass off) and presto, you get rich retention of both information and the structure of the information. And because the images are vivid and the emotions strong, the message is easy to recall when you need it.

Otherwise, just watch so you'll laugh your ass off.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Year's Biggest Full Moon Friday Night


As you go out in search of the first stirrings of Holiday parties, remember to look up as the sun is setting. According to the LiveScience article, "Year's Biggest Full Moon Friday Night" earth's natural satellite reaches its closest point to our planet, tonight meaning it will be 4 percent bigger in our sky and 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during the year. Oh, and expect record tides, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Speed Eating Key to Obesity


Osaka University scientists looked at the relationship between eating speed, feelings of "fullness" and being overweight by scrutinizing the eating habits of 3,000 people. Check out their findings (reported in the British Medical Journal) at the BBC News article "Speed Eating Key to Obesity".

What the Japanese research shows is that individual differences in eating behavior, such as eating too quickly too allow your gastric feedback signals have a chance to start developing underlies the over-consumption of food and is linked to obesity.

Also, see why Japanese scientists probably give a damn in the Softpedia article "Why Are People of Okinawa the Most Long-Lived on Earth?".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Top Ten How To Videos


It's fun. It's dandy. It's how to improve your life according to Lifehacker. Check out their, "Top 10 How To Videos" to find out how to open a beer bottle with paper, boost you're WiFi signal with foil or (just like George Bush) how to walk into a car dealership and walk out knowing exactly what they're going to charge you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OBAMANOS!


It's not every morning I wake up, put on red, white and blue and walk down to the multi-lingual school to stand in line for an hour and a quarter just to gain access to the gym. I feel just so, everything, right now. Completely anxioushopefulterrifiedexcited as so many Americans are feeling, tonight. To ease you through you Election night jitters I have compiled some fun things to do while waiting for the results to roll in. Just remember to keep breathing!

The NY Times keeps track at how voters are feeling with, "one word to describe your current state of mind," an organic wordsmithing plaything which pops the most used words submitted by voters across the screen in varying magnitude.

BlackBook.com presents, "Get Drunk and Watch Election Return in Washington DC," offering a list of places offering free food and, you guessed it, booze on election night. My favorite?, The Ritz-Carlton will be dropping prices of drinks when a state turn red or blue, but only the prices on drinks of that color.

In that vein, The Modern Gal, Martinis for Two, and The Culture Blog each offer an election night drinking games that are fairly self-explanatory.

Need a good laugh? Try cracked. com's "The 2008 presidential election as depictd by 5-year-olds".

Need a good cry? Talking Points Memo does a good job of capturing why the images and stories of voters bringing their children to the polls have been so touching in, "I Didn't Vote For Obama Today".

Friday, October 17, 2008

Google Chrome Goes to the Comics


What's all this buzz about Google Chrome? It's not just the "Incognito Mode" that's great for hiding your skeevy midnight browsing habits. Conveniently, Google has a web comic called, "Google Chrome: Behind the Open Source Browser Project," explaining why their product kicks every other browser's ass.

Already know why about it and want to become a Google Chrome Thaumaturge? Check out Lifehacker's, "The Power Users Guide to Google Chrome".

Ready to make the switch-a-roo? There's only one caveat. Google Chrome is not yet compatible with the Google Toolbar. Oversight much? Why Google, why?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hand Bones


I called them Hand Bones while growing up. A line a picked up from the ever popular "Mocking Bird" rhyme. Recently stuck at home with an injured shoulder the repetitive movement was about all a could manage to relieve boredom and I found myself clapping rhymes with myself.

Enter the suddenly remembered secret domain of a little girl. Handclapping rhymes, a important component of handed-down oral girl culture and an altogether mysteriously shared experience. The Daring Book for Girls describes them as a fascinating oral storytelling tradition, many of which flirt with adult concepts such as, courtship, language and power memes all while using inventive language, simple songs, and sometimes tricky choreography.

If you'd like to catch a couple of school girls artfully giggling their way through some modern ones, watch the videos hosted on Kidz Lore, an Australian folklore website that has a section on "clapping games" which provides a nice collection.

One of my favorite memories of these games comes from a magical day in the fourth grade when I taught three friends how to do the only foursome hand bones I knew, Rocking Robin, as you have it which made us the stars of the playground for a week. Oh, and if you just want to remember how to do your favorites again? Cocojams.com has a good list of songs and patterns.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tech Habits to Improve Your Life


So, I spent a little time on an information technology help desk. Who hasn't? It turns out, a lot of people. There isn't a single place I have worked that hasn't turned me into the de facto go to person when it came to computers because I was available and knowledgeable, even though I never worked in IT out of college.

Keeping good technology habits can be hard, but teaching my Mom how to use the clipboard across software platforms led to a glow of pride when she eventually cracked open her own tower hardcase and installed new memory cards. If you fear the electrical demon in your home or office, it's time to face the music. And PC World's article "20 Tech Habits to Improve Your Life" is the right place to start. Go on kids, learning how to do backups should be taught in middle school, and after you learn how using a mouse can actually slow you down and how the essentials of basic e-mail tidiness can speed you up, you'll feel like a new person.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Your Global Neighbors Are Buying



The New York Times has an interesting interactive cartogram titled, "What Your Global Neighbors Are Buying," that shows how citizens of the countries of the world spend their discretionary income. Greece? Thirteen times as much on clothing as electronics. Japan? More on recreation than clothing electronics and household goods combined. Americans? Well, we spend a lot on everything.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Raging Caging


The topic on everyone lips last night? Voter disenfranchisement through fraud and voter caging possible in the upcoming November elections. What is voter caging? The slate can clear it up for you in their 2007 article on "Raging Caging".

Other news stories I heard included one from Michigan, where the Chairman of the GOP in Macomb County has declared he will challenge people's right to vote if they have been evicted from their foreclosed on homes. Macomb County is 1 of the top 3 hardest hit by foreclosures and even if he can't turn voters away from the polls, Macomb County, populated mostly by African Americans, can expect some long lines on election day. The Michigan messenger picks up that story in, "Lose your house, Lose your vote".

Lastly, you can listen to the September 11, 2008 broadcast of the Thom Hartmann Nationwide show, where sub-in Lee Rayburn describes how registered Democrats in "purple states" across the nation are receiving misleading absentee ballots with incorrect addresses or return addresses to GOP headquarters. The bit posted here is 10 minutes and well worth listening to or you can download the complete third hour of the show at the itunes store under Thom Hartmann Nationwide - 9/11/08 - Hour 3.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider Drinking Game



I am personally excited about the Large Hadron Collider and it's not just the flood of messages from our apocalyptic future, inspired new music, the rush scientists get from playing God, or the possible annihilation of the earth as we know it, (but hey, those things are sexy too) but mostly because I like large physics-y things being smashed together causing world wide panic and a return of middle ages type hysteria that hasn't been seen since the clock rolled over to 12:00, 2000. Woo. That was a mouthful. I feel a little dizzy.

Work off the LHC Blues by checking out The Large Hadron Collider Drinking Game at io9. What's io9? That's another post.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Web(non)sense


Websense has dropped public access to their website lookup tool.

Yes, I correct Wikipedia articles. I also submit corrections to internet censorship companies like Websense and the now defunct SurfControl (who recently bought by Websense in 2007). Some of my favorites corrections have been the censorship of official Adobe Product Help Forums and various sites which provided educational materials (like blank sheet music) or reference materials (say information about coin collecting and starting your own coin collection).

Last week I received this dandy notification from Websense in my In-box (shortened version follows):

During a recent upgrade to MyWebsense, we have implemented steps which increase the accuracy of our customer information. This allows us to better meet our customers' support needs.

Unfortunately, your MyWebsense account is missing some key information and is no longer active.

To re-initiate your account, please visit http://www.websense.com/supportportal/ .
By providing this information, we will be able to provide you with more focused support offerings, improved ability to create support cases via our online portal, and online forums, to be released in the near future, which will enable you to interact with other customers to resolve issues.

We apologize for any inconvenience.
(Blow yourself),
Websense Technical Support


Okay, I added the "Blow yourself" at the end. But the long and short is the new required information is the Activation Key for their product, which will only be available to the Information Technology (IT) professionals which installed the software and not to the millions of users effected by the technology in public school systems and libraries, on high traffic machines in hospitals and private universities or government workers across the globe. Not to mention independent website providers and bloggers who can no longer look-up how their own websites are categorized by Websense and request changes to (their often inaccurate) categorizations.

Cheerio.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bafflegab


Had an interesting bout with payroll the other day, which leads me to toady's word. A dictionary definition of bafflegab clarifies the word as, "incomprehensible jargon" and compares it to "gobbledegook". This definition is vastly insufficient.

Let's begin our discussion with an excerpt for an actual notification from a government contractor "suggesting" its workers take annual leave during building maintenance:

[Maintenance] has announced that electrical power to [our building] will be shut down beginning Friday. We understand that routine functions will cease at that time and non-emergency personnel will not be permitted in [our building] during the power outage.

Employees who are not able to work during the power outage may, with supervisory concurrence, adjust their work schedule for the [pay period before the outage] to complete 40 work hours prior to [Friday]. Alternatively, employees may elect to take Annual Leave for the work hours missed due to the power outage.

Not one worker in my office fully understood the message. Vaguely some realized that a choice was being given, but none understood what the choices were. The notification gamely suggested it was addressed to employees not able to work during the power outage, but since all employees were not be permitted in the building, it wasn't clear that the message was addressed to EVERYONE.

That's because it was written ambiguously, using jargon and conflicting modifiers with the explicit intent to cover [management's ass] by deliberately clouding the message's real intent (we are forcing you to work overtime or take annual leave). This message was written in bafflegab.

Milton A. Smith, the assistant general counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce, coined the word in 1952 after a maddening day trying to explain a written order to a colleague. He decided a special word was needed to describe his office's special blend of “incomprehensibility, ambiguity, verbosity and complexity” in its bureaucratic language.

At the presentation of an award from the Washington Report, Milton Smith was asked to briefly define his word. He described it as:

“multiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies.”


Expect to see that on your next annual review.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John Derian for Target


I've fallen in love with John Derian's morbidly anatomical prints and whimsical sense of humor too many times to count. I even made a special pilgrimage to his store/studio in New York last week in the hopes of spending (no more than $50) on one of his gorgeous and subtly twisted objects of useful art. But drat the hated price tags! Sixty dollars for a paperweight the size of my thumb? In this economy? Really Mr. Derian? I was so furious, I wandered around the shop vaguely imagining running into the artist himself furiously covering hand-blown glasses with layers of antique script. (Of course he wasn't there. I'm sure he was of enjoying martinis on his yacht made of gold bricks. Or perhaps relaxing with a scotch in soda in his shadowy, well-appointed mansion sitting on top of a dark, lonely hill) May I remind you that, decoupage is a Victorian pastime disguised as pseudo art originally meant to occupy women? Curse you and your lovely antique star-maps pasted to the inside of pencil trays!!

Of course, I took it all back as soon as I opened the first page of the Domino magazine that came in my mail yesterday. I squeezed the first page with all the shock of reunited lover. John Derian's designs are to enter Target stores on September 7th with a lower priced line of stationary and home decor. Do you see these tears? They're tears of overbrimming happiness.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Conspicious Presence



The Italian issue of Vogue is reacting to the reluctance of the fashion industry to hire black models, by using only models of color in their July issue. The New York Times has applauded their slap in fashion's face by calling the industry lazy, paranoid and pedantic in their article, "Conspicious by Their Presence".

After scouring newstands and bookstores that carry foreign issues and being dissapointed (this issue sold out almost immediately and finding a copy in DC proved impossible), I turned to Jezebel.com for a reliable round up. You can catch other smoking hot photo shoots with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Sessilee Lopez, Tyra Banks, and Toccarra Jones (woo, plus size!) like the one above in their article, "Italian Vogue's "All Black Issue": A Guided Tour".

Friday, July 18, 2008

Time for Some Campaignin'



The folks that brought you, "This Land" have finally changed their tune. Check out "Time for Some Campaignin'" .

My favorite part? The Unicorn, baby.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Sleazy, the Noir, and the Science Fiction


My current obsession with American Pin-ups has run amuck to encompass pulp fiction novel covers from the 40's through the 70's. Not surprisingly, many of these lurid and fantastically seedy covers were penned by the same great illustrators that made pin-up and glamour calendars a national religion in the 50's. Because of my natural inclination, I find my favorites are the sleazy, the noir and the science fiction (not necessarily in that order). On sharing my secret shame with my Sister, the Older, she remembered a few covers that we owned in our childhood.

"Remember, Casca the Eternal Mercenary?" she asked (a delightfully trashy set of tales of military daring-do discovered on my Brother's bedroom floor). It's true, I not only picked up these pulp-tastic tidbits but I read them from cover to cover, as if I could find something within the words that matched the rapacious illustrations on front.

"Did you ever read any Gor novels?" I screeched in approval. Under my direction, she directly read the short story, "Houseplants of Gor" which succinctly captures all three of the above qualities, ardently displayed by the stilted, laughable, and all together entertaining works of dubious literary merit scribed by John Norman.

Now, so should you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

xkcd


I must be the last person in the world to discover xkcd (the acronym doesn't mean anything, it's just hard to say). Defined as a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language (really what else could you want?) it produces such winners as this panel quoted from Neil Gaimon's Sandman Graphic Novels.

And this panel about Orson Scott Card's Ender's Series.

It's been awhile, but xkcd (I'm serious, it doesn't mean anything, I've done my research) has a permanent place in my Sweetshop.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cooking for Engineers


At a young age, I read the Joy of Cooking. Back to Front. I've always had a love-love relationship with food and when I was of an age to be entranced by Mr. Rogers, it was mostly because he came on before Yan Can Cook, the Frugal Gourmet (I don't care, his recipes are awesome) and Julia Child. I read cookbook after cookbook, comparing recipes, writing my own notes and then writing my own recipes, trying to understand the science of it all. Why were my fried eggs soggy? Why didn't my pop-overs pop? I was good at math and science and cooking was like chemistry, there were things going on, food things, amalgams to compound, liquids to emulsify, energy to be released. I bought as many of the Time-Life "The Good Cook" series as I could, because they taught the basics: marinades needed an acid, an immersive, and a flavoring agent; chicken sautés must be seared then tempered with vegetables then finished in a simmer.

Modern cooking shows like Alton Brown's "Good Eats" were such a godsend, because he put the math and science right next to the cooking. Finally, someone else got that teaching one to prepare food should not be about teaching how to follow a recipe, but how to understand food and how to experiment with it.

You don't have to have cable (or a TV for that matter) to learn the same thing. Enter, "Cooking for Engineers", a site built for analytical minds that like to cook aimed at demystifying the science of food preparation. In addition to their ingredients dictionary, catalogue of cooking tests, and notes on equipment and gear, at the end of each recipe is a Nassi-Shneiderman diagram (shown above for New England Style Chowder) which is simply the recipe at one glance. Now why hasn't Alton Brown thought of that?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Embrace the Shoelace


Once upon a time, I was a middle-schooler of the eighties, fond of watching ThunderCats, buying dresses printed with faux paint splatters, and wearing my black Reebox sneakers with wild shoelaces, meticulous threaded during timeless evenings of Gimme-A-Break, Growing Pains, or Family Ties.

Now that the eighties are unofficially back, I find myself pressing my nose against the glass at Lady Footlocker, wondering if I can get away with practicing my basket-weaving skills on the tops of my shoes. You could do it too, you know. And you don't need to scour the pages of Seventeen magazine like I did back in the day. You can just take a look at Ian's Shoelace Site. Which, among other things, has colorful step-by-step instructions on not only how to tie designer laces the envy of any respectable Reebox wearer, but also carries shoelace news stories, tips for teaching children, ways to repair agelets (those shoelace ends) and methods for calculating your own appropriate shoelace length.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stay Cool


I was supposed to see U2 3D last weekend with some friends down at the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater in the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian, but the very idea of leaving the apartment and foraging into that horrible hotness that can only be known as DC "weather" caused a swoon that could only be cured by cold beer, soccer games and Xbox.

I also spent some time surfing the web and pretending to be productive, when came upon list after list of interesting websites that I never got around to visiting. Seems like everyone has a listing of what they think are the "coolest" website on the web. But these Ploomy, what men need to know and Time Magazine actual have some street cred. Take a look at Ploomy's "10 Cool Websites" and Times' "10 Cool Websites" when you are cranking up the AC and hiding from the DC heat wave.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot Dog, Haute Dog


When summer approaches, hot dog consumption goes up exponentially as the temperature increases. (Not to mention, I'm heading off for my sister's wedding this weekend in Chicago). In honor of such simple pleasures, I would like to bring attention to the Chicago Tribune's article, "Hot dog, haute dog!". You don't have to go to Chicago to experience these creative twists on the old-fashioned dog. Included in the article are fabulous recipes from the Chicago Chefs for making such delicious innovations like the Asian Tuna Dog, or the Hoisin-and-Hot-Mustard-Glazed Tofu Dog in your own kitchen. And don't worry, when asking the five interviewed chefs to put their own spin on the wondrous wienie, they made sure to stipulate it had to be something the home cook could feasibly replicate.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Garfield minus Garfiled



Dan Walsh of Dublin did all Garfield critics a favor when he took the orange lay-about and all of his furry friends out of Jim Davis's cartoons. The result is a neurotic, manic-depressive and frankly hysterical offshoot called "Garfield minus Garfield" showcasing the neuroses of Jon Arbuckle (Garfield's Owner) in all their delirious glory.

Surreal and a touch dark (they way I like 'em) Jon's antics are still touchingly human and laughably ridiculous. In Amy Orndorff's article, "When the Cat's Away, Neurosis Is on Display" in the Washington Post, she noted "the futility in making everything turn out right every day". I for one, love the Walsh's refreshing pandering to the lonely, absurd and desperate conditions of office workers and stalled dreamers everywhere.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thesaurus.com's Lexico sued by Roget's Thesaurus


If you use thesaurus.com as extensively as I do, you'll notice that on or about May 1st the website became drastically useless. Here's what happened.

Around April 8th, 2008, Jezebel.com made a snuff about synonyms for the word "weaker" at thesaurus.com, which came up as "female" and "lady". While disgusting, synonyms like these don't particularly surprise me since they are slang for the concept of female as the "weaker sex". (Yes, while males get stuck with synonyms like "soul" and "humanity", feminine synonyms run a gamut of derogatory slanders. Welcome to being a lady. But that is another post.) Many of these synonyms can be found in Roget's Thesaurus (indicated as slang, just like I said). I know because it is on the bookshelf above my writing desk (sometimes I like to drift among the words, like a thirsty man in the desert, so sue me. Oops, did I give away the post?). The people these synonyms surprised the most, were the people at Roget's Thesaurus.

The attention and outrage garnered at Jezebel.com lead to someone at Roget's realizing that Thesaurus.com was lifting their words and infringing on the copyright of their 21st Century Thesaurus. They are now suing Lexico, the owners of Thesaurus.com in "The Philip Lief Group, Inc vs. Lexico Publishing Group" dated May 7th, 2008.

Apparently in 1990 and 1998, Roget employed a Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD to create the 21st Century Thesaurus and the Revised edition. Roget retained the copyright and its agreement with Kipfer prohibited her from participating in the preparation of another English language thesaurus without Roget's permission. In 1999, Thesaurus.com requested a license for Roget's Thesaurus for its (then) fledgling internet based reference business. Citing that the business was not profitable and would be used mainly to educate people, they offered Roget's $3,000 smackers. Roget's declined.

Meanwhile, Thesaurus.com entered into an agreement with Dr. Kipfer to buy a thesaurus for their online site called "Roget's New Millennium Thesaurus". Roget's is charging that Kipfer's "New Millennium Thesaurus" is actually their "21st Century Thesaurus" copied verbatim, complete with misspellings and nonsense words.

Oops.

From 2002 to 2008 Thesaurus.com has increased in business value by creating a significant web based advertising supported business replete with pay for use premium features. In July of 2007 Lexico (declined) an offer of 100 million dollars for its sale.

Around May 19th, Thesaurus.com apparently removed all the words from their database that could only be found in Roget's new Millennium Thesaurus. The result is fewer returns, non-existing antonyms and some that words no longer have thesaurus entries. Since each word is cross-referenced through hyperlinks, this has drastically reduced the overall effectiveness of their on-line tool. Cries across the web have ranged from complaints about the "massive reduction" of hits and the "newly degraded" format to less detailed epithets ("suddenly sucks" and "now worthless").

Other discussions on the subject have disintegrated to a lot of finger pointing. Thesaurus.com's parent company, Lexico, has remained mum on the subject (foolhardy in my humble opinion) but court records serve as the herald of the awful truth.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Commuters with Empty Pockets


Forbes Magazine has published a couple of studies, "America's Most Expensive Commutes" and "Cities With the Worse Pain at the Pump" which take a look at the rising cost of gas and the effect on the average commuter.

In "Pain at the Pump" Forbes.com took the country's 50 largest metro areas and looked at congestion, fuel costs, use of mass transit and carpools and commuting distances to determine which metropolitan areas were paying the most for gas and burning the most in their commute. My beloved Washington D.C. taps out on top with an average of $13 a day to commute into the city.

Think you can escape the rising gas prices by being a good citizen and taking the metro? Think again. "Most Expensive Commutes" illustrates the skyrocketing price of public transportation where the cost of the daily commute is proportional to the size and extent of the rail system. More extensive infrastructures means cheaper commutes. However, inexpensive commutes were inversely proportional to the cost of housing. Take New York City, it was the second cheapest commute in the country, but has some of the highest housing expenses and least affordable housing markets in the nation.

You know, I usually like to end these kinds of posts on a positive note. Ooops.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Great Big Lie


Well my loves, vacation seems inexcusable in the land of blogs and I really did mean to keep up my love of trivia while I was away in Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic. But I didn't, did I? I'm back now and I learned all sorts of things and saw all sorts of sights in "foreign" countries (I mean, the landscape did change quite a bit in Germany and the Czech Republic, but all the people stayed rather the same, except I couldn't understand them). Which leads me to one of my favorite sites in Prague.

It’s the Prague Astronomical Clock. This fabulous display of medieval artistry and science is still ticking away in the city's Old Town Square. While I was pointing out with appreciable geekiness to my husband and sister-in-law, the meaning of all the golden dials, whirring knobs, and mosaic illustrations of zodiac constellations, my husband noted that the sun could not possibly be in the constellation of Gemini as the clock was indicating. After all, it was only May 10th. And he should know, since he's a Gemini.

Welcome to the Great Big Lie.

I told him how on my first day of Astronomy 101, with no small amount of glee and (a certain degree of pity) my astronomy teacher told us of how the astronomical dates for sun signs were set by the classical Greeks about 2000 years ago. And due to the precession of the earth's axis (don't ask, but basically it's the same reason why Polaris wasn't a pole star for the Greeks either) over time, the positions of the constellations have actually shifted about 25 astronomical degrees. "That's right", I explained to my husband, "you're actually a Taurus."

If you too would like to find out what your "real" astrological sign is, you can visit, the Live Science Article "Your Astrological Sign may Not Be What You Think It Is".

Or like me, if your horoscope seems just a little off today, try reading the one before it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Birds


I sat down in Dupont Circle today with my Well-dressed Burrito in hand, all ready to catch up on some blogging while chowing down in the sun. All of DC seemed to be having the same idea. There were young female coordinators eating salads in sun-dresses and chatting over the shouts of the rowdy chess players, two homeless guys were lazily fanning themselves on a couple of benches, and quite a few young men in shirts-sleeves were gossiping good naturedly by the fountain.

A few birds landed near by me as I started my lunch and all seemed right in the world. That was until five minutes later, when I looked up and counted nineteen (wrens? wood thrushes? chicadees?) flopping down near me and pretending to burrow or look for worms in what was obviously bone-dry, over-worked dirt. After a few minutes, they gave up all attempts at pretense and blatantly glared at me for handouts while a couple of hefty pigeons waddled over like bouncers. The thrushes reacted by trying to muscle morsels out of me by buzzing my shady spot with dives and swoops. I didn’t know whether to ignore them or run for my life.

Know thine enemy I say, and since I was a 30 minute walk away from my Boy Scout manual, the “North American Bird Photo Gallery” came in pretty handy. Turns out the bullies in Dupont Circle are “Spizella arborea” or American tree sparrows. You’ve been warned.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dead Worm


Well, hello there, candy addicts. Been a while since I posted some poetry. So, here's a bonus post! Vastly appropriate, regarding the Washington, DC weather.

Indeed it is a skinny death, without the
bend of bone,
When tears have splashed their meager
life upon the empty stone.
To wither and concave oneself in the
shadow of wrinkled earth.
And be sucked and crinkled to a soaked brown,
from the beating red of birth.

The dead worm -- Anika Ismel

We're Powerless Against Data Grazing


Sound like the first step in a new addictive behavioral support group? Not exactly. Take a gander at Lee Gome 's article in the Wall street Journal, "Why We're Powerless To Resist Grazing On Endless Web Data" that explains why surfing the internet activates the same centers in the brain we get in the snack aisle, the buffet table, or (worse) the sale section).

Like a cat with a laser pointer, surfing the web can become and endless, ahem, rat chase. But by recognizing are own human attraction for abundance, we maybe able to do a better job learning what is useful information and what isn't.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hilary vs. Obama vs. ABC


Did you catch the Hilary vs. Obama debate last night on ABC? Even if you didn't, you should read these scathing reviews of the network broadcast "In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC" by the Washington's Post's Tom Shales and Greg Mitchell's account, "The ABC Debate: A Shameful Night for the U.S.Media" in the Huffington Post.

Shales calls out mediators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos for behaving like "newsniks waiting for mistakes or foul-ups like dogs panting for treats after performing a trick". And (to quote them both) Greg Mitchell, in the Huffington Post article, calls out the mediators for spending unconscionably brief moments on the "wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health care and mortgage crises, the overall state of the economy and dozens of other pressing issues" in return for [Shales] "dwelling entirely on specious and gossipy trivia...in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news."

Just wow.

Apparently, even the crowd began to boo the commentators near the end. Is it possible some members of the media are beginning to call out The Media?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Solve a Rubik's Cube


My husband and I were lamenting the wanton bling and unexpected bright pops of color on the Metro Saturday night, before we realized that the teeny-boppers we were watching weren't wearing bright pops of color. They were wearing NEON. It all became clear on the shuttle bus from Trusty's Bar to RFK stadium for the DC United game, when we spotted two pairs of high-top sneakers. "The 80's aren't coming back," must husband warned me. "They're here."

As disturbing as that is to someone who lived through the 80's, there is some encouragement this time around. That is, that someone is willing to share how to solve a freakin' Rubik's Cube. And I don't how to figure out how a network executive could think that a cartoon based on a rhomboid puzzle would entertain children on a Saturday morning, I mean the actual puzzle.

Check out Instructable's instructions on "How to Solve a Rubik' s Cube," (they have pictures!) and amaze your friends.

While your at it, check out other neato instructions from Instructables, how to turn plastic bags into "yarn" and how to make your own hoodie.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dactylonomy


Heavens, how long has it been since I gave Candy readers a really delicious word to chomp on? Too long, says I. Dactylonomy (think "pterodactyl" with out the "ptero") is the science of counting on your fingers. That's right, I said science. Nice try, haters, who think I am just bad at simple math.

If you think I'm just trying to get off not admitting that I never remember the sum of 7 and 3 with looking at my, um, dactyls, then you should read this explanation of the art of dactlonomy from World Wide Words, which notes the historical significance of the art based on descriptions of methods from the Middle East, Asia and other places (and by the Venerable Bede from the north-east of England in the eighth century AD if you must know). Paintings exist from more than four thousand years ago showing Egyptians finger counting and we know it was common in classical Greece and Rome so it can't be too good for you.

The word is from Greek "daktulos" meaning "finger", plus "-nomia" which is related to nomos, "law", that we use to mark some specified area of knowledge. Which leads me to a very similar, but little recognized science that I just made up, "Grammenomy", from Greek "gramme" meaning the stroke or line of a pen or mathematical figure, plus "-nomia", well you know the rest. It's the science (or art if you have it) of counting on the brush strokes of mathematical figures. Here's the system I devised in the third grade, mostly to keep my fingers out of the eyes of datylonomy bigots (haters).


Now, the next time someone gives you the evil eyeball for counting on you fingers, just turn up your nose and say, "I'm a dactylonomist, actually. It's very difficult to be a good one."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fishtown



CandyBuffet had the exquisite opportunity to hang with her brother-in-law in the sound booth for the Lifehouse concert in DC. The thing is, I went to the tailor with a friend earlier in the day and told her I would be going to a concert at the 9:30 Club. She was driving on busy U-street and was a tad distracted. "Who's playing again?" she asked me. "Fishtown?"

All night, I kept thinking how Fishtown would be an awesome name for a band. Screw Lifehouse, I'm going to see Fishtown! Don't worry, you don't have to expend brain power on thinking up cool names for your band (imaginary or otherwise), just use Band Name Maker.com to generate cool band names for rock, punk, emo and basically any musical style you can think of. Type in your optimal word of choice, and the generator spits our ten possibilities. Toad the Wet Sprocket, watch out!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lost and Found in Tokyo


I love to regale my friends with stories of my visit to Zushi, Japan, including my brother's description on the low crime rate and general honesty of the Japanese populace. As we were walking to the train, he pointed to a low stone wall separating the houses and the train tracks. "You could forget your purse right there," he suggested, "and it would still be there three days later. Untouched."

It might be hard to consider, but the New York Times article, "Never Lost but Found Daily," seems to agree with my bra. In Tokyo, easily 8 million residents strong, items like cell phones, umbrellas and wads of cash find their way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Lost and Found Center, a four-story warehouse where hundreds of thousands of lost objects are meticulously catalogued by date and location of discovery.

According to the article, the system has been in place since the 18th century, where finders were given an assurance of a percentage of a reward for found property. Finders who did not hand in objects were severely punished (including a historical account from 1733 regarding two officials who kept a parcel of clothing and were led around town and executed). Today, children are taught from early on to hand in lost objects to the police in their neighborhoods and most of the 200 to 300 adults who come to the center every day take the system for granted.

In 2002, people found and brought $23 million in cash to the center, 72 percent of which was returned to the owners and about 19 percent went to
the finders after no one claimed the money for half a year. That's
right, if the original owner is not found after half a year, the finder can claim the object or money. But most finders don't bother making any claims, and the objects and proceeds usually end up going to the Tokyo government.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Healthy Competition


I seem to remember my current (now ex) general practitioner screaming at me that I didn't need any other thyroid test than the one he gave me during my annual exam and that if I saw an endocrinologist I would be "throwing my money away". Did I mention the screaming? This is the same guy who said of my frequent chest pains that "the less I thought about them the less severe they would seem" (not what the cardiologist said, by the way).

Why is it so much easier to comparison shop, for say, a new stereo than for a good doctor? Check out the CNN article, "Can the web create shoppers' market for health care?" about a Twin Cities company called "Carol" which is attempting to transform the U.S. health care system by offering a site that lets you compare quality and price for medical services and helps you make appointments. Users click on the part of the body they are interested in having checked out, which leads to various exams and services for that subsection. A results page shows options which range in price for each service. If the user has insurance, they can also type in plan information to estimate out of pocket cost with each particular health provider.

The site generates revenue from the service providers that have signed on to be "tenants" of Carol, so the biggest challenge for them will be getting enough doctors and health plans to participate. And right now they only carry providers in the Twin Cities area, though they are looking to serve a second U. S. market alter this year.

The site has taken criticism from doctors who think that health care is too critical to be left to the usual marketplace. All I have to say to that, is that health care is already left to an unusual marketplace, better likened to a Russian Roulette table. You can search the site without registering (to increase consumer privacy) so why not take a gander? And like me, keep dreaming that they'll come to your area comparing Dental and Vision Care.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bread Blues


A couple of Christmases ago, I thought my sister had gone off the deep end. You see, when her family started to get low on bread, she told her lovely son that she would make more that day. No problem. Been there, done that. But then she sweetly pulled out a ginormous grinder from her cupboard in order to GRIND HER OWN GRAIN. Well, I thought, she'd be amply prepared in case Utah ever turned into a scenario from "Red Dawn". Then I read Boston.com's article about "High Wheat Prices". The price of wheat has more than tripled during the last three months and experts expect that 80 percent of groceries will follow with their own spike. Apparently, Wheat, is the plankton of our little land mammal food chain, and it used to feed cattle, poultry and dairy cows and therefore is associated with everything those guys produce from eggs to milk. Not to mention that skyrocketing gas prices is making wheat even costlier to get to market.

You may think the only option is to buy less. But you might want to turn the other cheek and bake more. Store bought white bread cost an average of $0.85 per pound in 1998 and $1.03 in February 2006. The price last month? $1.32 per pound. While that makes store-bought bread run between $3 and $5, a home-baked loaf will cost about 60 cents (less, I supposed if you are grinding your own wheat to boot). As for me, I'll be looking to take some wheat grinding lessons from my sister.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today



You didn't think I'd bring my own funny did you? Cracked.com's article "5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today" makes you look at shiny new apples in a new way.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Keep From Getting Bored Out of Your Skull at Work


The article, "30 Things to Do to Keep From Getting Bored Out of Your Skull at Work" from zenhabits has made me realize why government workers (city or federal) are so ineffective and inefficient at work. It's because they can't keep themselves busy when they don't have enough to do. I'm not suggesting to start finding new work on top of your lazy office mate's desk. I mean work that stimulate's some gray matter, like finishing that novel, posting to your blog, figuring out who Maria Theresa of Austria is (Marie Antoinette's mom) or playing a brief game of solitaire. Stuff that betters yourself and uses your brain.

Some of the things on this list are better done with an office door closed (sadly, goodbye, crunches). But most of the ideas are intelligent and instructive (hello, hunt for a new job).

Yes, I'm complaining about bureaucracy and government again, because, basically in the microcosm of the government world, it's impossible to get anything done with half the websites on the internet blocked. Including my own. And probably yours. And all the tech experts at Microsoft's. I'll make up for my bitchiness with the hilarity of my next post. Promise.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Race Speech


Sometimes Freshsnaps and I talk about the same things. Tough Buns. Everybody should read this.

"Obama's Race Speech" from the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Google Got Its Colorful Logo


Random? Yes. Insightful? Indubitably so.Ever get sick of reworking that draft of novel, poem, cake recipe, or website?Seeing how Google's infamous logo could have gone so horrible wrong in Wired's "How Google Got Its Colorful Logo" will instantly make you feel better.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Necessities of PBS



Now that Jane Austen week is over on PBS there is a void in my evenings that is not filled by my daily dosage of Science Fiction shows. Little did I know that the void could become permanent.

The New York Times ran a thoughtful article a couple of weeks ago, “Is PBS Still Necessary”, about the decline of Public Television both in funds and in programming. At least Public Radio still has an edge.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

FireFly is the Underbelly of our Future


Dare I say, millions of viewers will never forget the artistic and intellectual crime perpetrated by Fox executives when they canceled Joss Whedan's FireFly series. I for one, thought it was a good approximation of our far future, as long as one took into account that the "Alliance" of planets was a synonym for the "Federation" from Star Trek the Next Generation.

So did I brake out in a cold sweat when I read this article from the News Tribune which ran in last month's Washington Express about "Cultural Translation"? More than a little. Get your Chinese on by checking out the children's program. And face the facts that in 500 years, English will be the new Spanish.

By the way, if you are not sure you should get into FireFly, just watch the Fruity Oaty Bar commercial from the movie "Serenity". That should clinch it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Incredibly Detailed, Useful (and free) Dingbat Fonts


You know how when you're designing the perfect office document, the one you want to illustrate beautifully, except every piece of clip art you come upon looks cartoony and amateurish? Or maybe you want to make your own t-shirt for your kick-ball team, fantasy football club, bachelorette party or whatever and you couldn't find any of those elusive silhouettes that make such projects possible. You don't need to get Photoshop, you need better dingbats!

Bitbox's "Dingbat Roundup" sets you free at last. From little bunnies to mujeres of all shapes and sizes, from skulls to maps of Florida, these dingbats are really detailed, useful and (best of all) free.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leave It On Your License Plates


I know everyone has probably noticed that the U.S. Government's strangle hold on my right to an uncensored internet extends to every URL with the word "blog" in it and has therefore drastically effected my ability to post on a daily basis. I promise to figure out every way possible to post more often. Starting with this laugh out loud column from Marc Fisher, "Mint to D.C.: Leave It On Your License Plates".

It details the lightening fast response of the U.S. Mint to the District of Columbia's coin design submission that included the slogan "Taxation without Representation". You can read excerpts of the actual response in the column, (However, one poster succinctly described the official response as "Get bent."). Make sure you don't end your reading at the words of Mr. Fisher. The real gems of this column lie in the comments at the end. From submission ideas that the coin should portray "the Redskins emblem & the words 'Dallas Sucks'" or depict "...a car with several parking tickets and a boot on it. Something that captures that DC "je ne sais quoi". To one eloquent poster (can you hear my sarcasm?) who decried:

So I suppose the "no taxation without representation" folks also support allowing children who pay sales tax (or even just teenagers who pay income tax) to vote? (Or alternately exempting everyone under the age of
18 from all taxes?)

I guess even intelligent adults in the greater metropolitan area equate the tax paying residents of the District Columbia with children, and therefore have every right to be treated as such. Nice.

Nothing gets a poster back in the game like a good civil rights issue.
Go forth and conquer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Name Game


As a writer (and especially a fantasy writer) I find the business of naming things to be of singular importance and that knack and believability of names in word culture can make or break not only a character setting but a marketing campaign. In the fourth grade, I often "doodled" by making up culture, mythologies, and languages for the stories in my head. It was no Tolkien feat, being as I was nine, I just fooled around with letters until I thought they sounded masculine, or feminine, like war or like food. I even made a list of letters that I thought should only be used to describe, say metal things, and other should only be used for female farm animals. During one sunlit, boring afternoon I realized something that I would be taught in a college linguistics class twelve years later. Sounds have no intrinsic meaning. Right then, I decided to write down how I felt about every letter of the alphabet with the intent that such knowledge would make naming characters and made up places that much easier. Who knew that twenty years later big companies would be doing the same thing.

Read about drug names and big business in, "Drug Makers Make Name Games Big Business" from Forbes. This informative article talks about how "X" seems scientific and "Z" convey speed. It also describes how naming things is big, big business. It recalled an article I once read in the career section of the Washington Express about a private, professional namer with such a good reputation, she paid the bills by selling cleverly crafted words. Naming for profit is such a modern concept! I mean, talk about wordsmith, the very idea was so Stephensonian (oooo, I just made that word up) to believe that people really can make money by selling intel to the highest bidder.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thrifty Threads


I don't know if it's my adoration of steam punk or a love of the environment but toss last year's scrap lace onto this year's tweed discards and I'll toss it into my shopping bag. You can't deny that deconstructed and reconstructed threads are a hot, hot trend. Sustainable, fashionable, and often home grown, they may survive to be the hallmark of our age the way pencil skirts recall the 40's, a mod shift signals the 70's, and wedges brings the 70's back to life.

It used to be that I scoured the internet to find independent designers and seamstresses who were hawking their reconstructed duds online. But this article from USA Today which ran in last Tuesday's Washington Express about Thrifty Threads, proves you don't have to. Check out the article to see how big names like American Apparel and Rag & Bone are making moves to locally grown organic fibers and carbon free processes. The hot, new bolts of fabric for next year's fashion shows just may be thrift's store cast-offs.

Monday, February 11, 2008

11 Don’t Tell the Wife Secrets, All Men Keep


We all have them. Our dirty little secrets. However, it was Bono in "the Fly" who suggested, "A secret is something you tell another person." I always imagined secrets were rather like doves, soft and fuzzy while you hold them, but made to be released beautifully for dramatic effect. Were there people in the world who keep their fuzzy, little doves close to their chests forever?

The answer is, yes. And one of those people is most likely your spouse. Now, I'm not advocating that there is anything wrong with a secret kept here and there. Nor that the other way (secrets kept all the time) does anyone any good. But I can acknowledge that some people like to drive on the highway of life with their windows down. Some people like tinted windows. Some like to ride with the top down. And some (not naming any names, but her initials are CB) like to ride with their head out the window, sitting on the door, driving with their toes.

The toe drivers sometimes have trouble understanding the tinted window crew, which is why, "11 Don’t Tell the Wife Secrets, All Men Keep," is a little funny, a little reassuring and a little refreshing. Perhaps, reading this cute article about hidden truths (which I think happens to be accurate for both sides of the marital divide) will help us compulse a little less over every little secret our significant other keeps.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Welcome to America...Your Under Arrest


Sometimes I suffer from, what I call, the "Attack of the Embarrassing Moments". You know what I mean. Everyone has had an Attack of the Embarrassing Moments. Its when some minor image or smell brings you back to the day you marched right instead of left during the half time show at Homecoming in marching band in High School and now every memory of every horrifically embarrassing moment of your life comes to attack you at the same time. Now, your palms are sweating over your palpitating heart and your pretty sure the other rider on the bus to work can smell your panic.

Well, similar to the "Attack of the Embarrassing Moments", is the "Attack of the Insignificant Injustices", which, while not as prevalent, is just as ridiculously palpable. The overwhelming emotion derived from this attack is generally anger instead of self-disgust. My friend Jessica once described this attack to me and she finished with "So I was stabbing the mirror with my finger and pretending I was talking to her, and I got all worked up for a fight and there was no fight."

When recovering from these attacks, I generally try to think of how they are common to other people. Ands some people have it quite worse than me. Enter the subject of today's post "Welcome to America...Your Under Arrest: Tales of a Pakistani immigrant dealing with racial profiling, the Patriot Act and the INS as he tries to make a life in New York City". After reading this, sometimes sad, sometimes shocking and many times humorous post will leave everyone thinking that the Insignificant Injustices are universal to everyone and being able to laugh at them help them to lower their ugly heads.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Celebrity Horoscopes


I was sure Brad Pitt was born under the Sun Sign of Cancer, that was until I realized I was thinking of the character he played (Austrian adventurer, Heinrich Harrer) in Seven Years in Tibet. Enter Libra Rising and their page on Celebrity Horoscopes. I was happy to find out that my suspicions about being astrologically compatible with Leonardo DiCaprio were accurate, as well as my fears that Courtney Love and I have a little too much in common.

Remember that the catalog is alphabetized by your famous person's first name. And also remember that (as the warning says) it is a common practice for many celebrities to change or modify not only their names, but their birth data as well, so view all the charts with a tinge of suspicion. As an extra bonus, can you name all the celebrities in my pop silhouettes?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spot the Fake Smile


In keeping with the State of the Union address general coverage, play this game at the BBC, "Spot the Fake Smile". By the way, I got 16 out of 20. Never know it to look at me would you? How did you do?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Criminals in the Bush Administration


I'm sitting here listening to the State of the Union Address on WETA and every radio station that can carry NPR in our house. I was debating not even watching the thing, because (as my mother says) it will just make me angry. Leave it to alcohol to save the day. Peter and I are currently playing a drinking game that helps one stay focused. I drink every time Dubya says "Economy" and he drinks every time he says "Empower".

To keep you focused on the future, I direct you to Suzie Q's Blog Post on "Criminals in the Bush Administration". She has conveniently divided the list into section by degree of damnation including:

  • "Indicted / Convicted/ Pled Guilty"
  • "Resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation or Allegations of Impropriety"
  • "Nomination Failed Due to Scandal" and
  • "Under Investigation But Still in Office"
Enjoy. (ugh, "economy" again?)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Break the Argument Cycle


"It's not you, it's me. And what I mean by that is, it really is you, but it's me that can't stand you.

Too many times I have started an argument with my significant other by thinking these very thoughts. And too often I have continued an argument I was tired of by simply not walking away. Enter DumbLittleMan and his tips on how to "Break the Argument Cycle". His tips on life are sweet, quick and insightful enough to give anyone something to think twice about.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vegetarian with Benefits


Plenty magazine has a wonderful article, "Vegetarian with Benefits" about one of the "Most Useful Words of 2003" as voted by the American Dialect Society. The word is "Flexitarian" and the meaning is a person who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, but who is also willing to eat meat or fish occasionally (Sound like anyone we know?). The word has been slow to catch on and not only because it is more than a mouthful, but because it resists easy classification.

Vegetarianism has come a long way since the 50's and 60's, when it was viewed as an odd, overzealous, unhealthy fad, to enter into American vernacular. Our culture now recognizes a vegetarian as someone who has restricted their diet based on moral and ethical objections (described by most vegetarian societies as motivated by either Health, Compassion, or the Environment or some combination thereof) and not because of a food preference.


But what if you are not a strict vegetarian, but you still have moral objections against eating certain foods? Words like "Flexitarian", "Pescetarian", and "Pollotarian" tend to confuse hosts and food servers even more than the eventual dissertation that must follow their use. Because of its familiarity and its strong connotation of moral obligation, the word "Vegetarian" has also become unduly associated with other forms of moral and ethical dietary needs giving birth to the use of "Vegetarian" as a metonym. In other words, the word "vegetarian" is used to describe other diets that are ethically motivated since vegetarianism is ethically motivated, even though those diets are not vegetarian.

This modified use is either your bane as a strict vegetarian or vegan (because the food industry is constantly believing that you will eat fish or chicken stock if prodded) or your blessing (as a "semi-vegetarian you do not need to include a three hour dissertation to your food server using flow-chart). Either way, read the plenty magazine article and discuss the ways the American vocabulary for ethical eating can be expanded.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bad Ass Bible Verses


Well you know how much CandyBuffet loves contemplating the apocalypse. Well, she also spent a good amount of her childhood in Seminary (read "Bible Study"). With that in mind I can't help a good giggle at Cracked's "Bad Ass Bible Verses" detailing the the most violent passages that would do well as the next summer block buster movie or xbox new rated "m" for Mature. Smooches!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stick It To Them


This pair of sister sites couldn't make your life easier. "Bug Me Not" keeps listings of free passwords and usernames allowing you to quickly bypass annoying, compulsory registries and login s for many popular websites including the NYtimes, YouTube, and (the real winner) IMDB. Bypassing all those tricky "can we keep you up-to-date" questions (and resulting spam) is priceless.

Speaking of priceless, "Retail Me Not" keeps an extensive listening of user submitted electronic coupons. What make this site different than all the other foul, ad-laden coupon sites? Well first, "Retail Me Not" doesn't have flashing banner screaming at you that you have won two free new iPods. Also, each coupon is submitter by a user and is tracked by other users according to how successful it is (the success percentage is right next to the codes) and is commented on how to use them successfully by real people (not web crawlers). The interface is slick, quick and painless. This candy girl never goes shopping online without checking in and routinely uses coupons for PeaPod, Urban Outfitters and Dehlia's. Go now and take advantage to all the free shipping the internet has to offer.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How to Detect Terrorists



I don't know why I think this poster is funny, but I do. I really do. Besides the obvious 40s-esque homemaker who looks like she may go all militant on your arse, it looks like a poster I might have encountered in Sunday school (Get behind me Satan!). What's even funnier is that it comes from the website of the Dulles chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) the self proclaimed "dissident" chapter of NOW. I really want to put it up in my cubical at work. However, being as I work for the sarcastic object of this poster, I may need to reconsider.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Manage Your New Year's Resolutions


Here's another post to help you enter the New Year. Not less than three links from Lifehacker's excellent article "Free Tools to Manage New Year's Resolutions" have made it to a place of honor in my bookmark's folder. New Year's resolutions won't keep themselves, and these nifty gadgets help you manage and keep track of your favorite goals' progress. Some of them, like "Daily Plate", and "Mint" I have blogged about before, but other's like, "Joe's Goals", "Don't Break the Chain" mentality and "Benjamin Franklin's Progress Chart" are pure gold. While you are resolution making, read the article on Benjamin's way of reflecting on his personal virtues every week (Between you and me, I'm pretty sure that "chastity" tab wasn't often ticked off).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Year's Worth of Books


Yesterday we talked about music, so it only makes sense that today we look at the notable books of 2007.

A friend commented yesterday on how she was slowly and inexorably replacing all the books in her life with reality television. It was not that she wanted to, but rather there had been an unlikely dearth of book openings in her life that was cause. And she didn't mean new books premiering. She meant the demise of the physical act of lifting a book's cover.

One of my own New Year's resolutions is to finish reading all the books on the reading shelf beside my bed (it’s a long shelf, believe me). So, in the spirit of getting us all reading again, the NY Times has a delightful article of picks from 2007 including "10 Favorites from 2007" from all of their book critics, a "2007's Ten Best Books" list and "100 Notable Book of 2007" list.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Best Albums of 2007


My opinion of Yahoo music is usually summed up by the word "meh". However, much like how monkey typists eventually turn out poetry, this article on the "Best Albums of 2007" rings so very true. Spend some time at work at Project Playlist listening to tunes from these albums and downloading tracks from itunes. Never heard of Project Playlist says you? It the quickest way of listening to other people's music on the internet, and everyone knows the quickest way out of a musical slump is to listen to other people's music.

Monday, January 7, 2008

5 things I learned from Marjorie Hills


In the spirit of New Year's, I've devoted a week of posts to reinvention, end-of-year examination, and methods of achieving goals. And I can't think of a better way to start than with one of my favorite books. "Live Alone and Like It", by Marjorie Hillis can't come with a high enough recommend. It is a stern, yet witty treatise on the human existence (especially from a female perspective) and though the content is dated, the wisdom is eternal. It should be essential reading for every female teen through tween on the planet.

Marjorie Hills has the uncanny knack of finding the trick of how to suffer through yourself from day to day by using a grain of salt and a touch of humor. Her grandest lesson being, we can be our own best friends if, when you are alone, you treat yourself like a guest. Here are five other life changing pieces of advice from her:
  1. On Loneliness and Ennui:
    If you are bored and lonely, blame it on your own lack of initiative. If you are interesting, you'll have plenty of friends and if you're not, you won't, unless you're very, very rich. Anyone who pities herself for more than a month on end is a "weak sister" and likely to become a public nuisance besides. The role of a martyr may be appealing to the player, but a terrible bore to everyone else.

  2. On Being Interesting and Making Friends:
    Being interesting does not depend on income, but on cultivation. Being well read and well informed, learning to listen and how to draw people out, taking the trouble to refine one's taste and develop one's ideas about painting, plays or politics and is the duty of any sensible, intelligent human being who wishes to have a social life.

  3. On Loving Yourself:
    Don't economize on flowers and beware of the dispiriting effects of snacks on one morale. It takes a genius to make an impression in run-down heels and an unbecoming hat. You need good clothes and grooming. Our vote is for a little pampering--as much, in fact, as can be squeezed out of your schedule and your budget. Really smart clothes can cost as little a dowdy ones and it is not the ladies with the uncrowded schedules and large budgets who look the best. Go in for cosmetics in a serious way. A few good strokes with a hair brush, a bit of cuticle oil and a lotion on the hands, cleansing cream and whatever other cream does the most for your face, are just as important as brushing your teeth. A glass of sherry and an extremely special dinner can be served on a night when you are tired and alone. Bath slats, toilet water and a trim little cotton frock that flatters you can be worn on the morning when you are feeling violently domestic.

  4. On Self Sufficiency:
    Never, never, never let yourself feel that anybody ought to do anything for you. Once you become a duty, you also become a nuisance. Be surprised and pleased at gifts, invitations and other attentions.

  5. On Loving Your Surroundings:
    It is a good idea to give some extra-special attention to your surroundings. The place you live should reflect your personality-- and it will, whether you want it to or not. It will give you away to everyone who comes in, and it will influence your moods and your morale. But after all, it should be comfortable according to you needs and peculiarities. This is your house and it is the one place in the world where you can have things exactly.
A while ago, upon reading my Amazon wish-list my sister wanted to know why I wanted to read a book with such a title about "living alone". "Is there trouble in you marriage?" she inquired.

"Everyone dies alone," Captain Malcolm Reynolds of FireFly once said and the sentiment of that statement is true in the converse. Everyone one lives alone, because at the end of the day (until we evolve into telepathic beings) we think for ourselves, we hope to please ourselves and we try to make something of ourselves. No matter how hard we try to live for others, our lives are seen most acutely through our own lens and weighed most delicately by our own scales. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself become a burden to yourself and try to inject a little gaiety into our weary world.