Monday, August 31, 2009

UFO ;o)

Donald spotted a mysterious "UFO" floating through the sky yesterday evening. By the time he thought to get the camera, it was getting dark and the object (moving at a decent clip) was almost out of sight. These were the best pictures he could get:

UFO:  What is it?

It looks like a red and blue/turquoise balloon of some type, but it's a very strange shape for a balloon-- less like a typical weather balloon or hot air balloon than one of those inflatable characters you see in Thanksgiving Day parades! It seemed to "twirl" a little, and sometimes it looked like there were two or three legs or tails (???) descending from it. Maybe it was a pair of Paul Bunyan's pants riding the jet stream down from Up North. Or a three-tentacled alien balloon creature. Or maybe it was something like this... (Here's another view of the same dino-shaped hot air balloon.)

If anyone has an idea what it might be, please leave a comment. We're stumped!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Ridiculous "Rubber Rooms"

How did I not hear about this until today?

This morning, something in the news sparked a discussion of the evils of teachers' unions and tenure. It may have been the story of an Alabama teacher who continues to draw pay while sitting in prison. Her crime? Oh, only attempting to entice a 14-year-old boy for sex.

(Honestly, for our purposes, it doesn't matter what her crime was. If she's in jail after being convicted of any crime, she's unable to perform her duties as teacher and isn't earning her pay, though the nature of her crime does add a nice dash of insult to injury, doesn't it? However... Maybe I oughtn't to say it, but if you look at her mug shot, which accompanies this article, it's clear that it probably would have taken a whole lotta enticing. . .)

Anyway, one way or another, Donald mentioned the "rubber room teachers".

Me: (blank look) ". . . The what?"

Him: "You know, those teachers in New York that they pay just to sit around a rubber room all day."

Me: (more blankness) ". . . Really?" (Thinking: "How do I get in on that deal?!" Ok, ok. Not seriously.)

Him: "Yes. Look it up online later."

Well, I did, and here it is.

Below are some excerpts from the article. (They're here primarily for future reference, when the article has long since gone bye-bye and an older version of me is reading this, scratching her/my head and saying, "Well?? Was he right? Details-- I need details!")

"The roughly 700 workers accused of various wrongdoings collect their full salaries for spending seven hours a day in low-ceilinged, over-heated rooms, playing cards, doing puzzles, reading magazines and sleeping."

"Most of the school employees banished to what are officially called Temporary Reassignment Centers are awaiting disciplinary hearings on offenses ranging from excessive lateness to sex abuse."

"...Nine people have lingered in a rubber room for more than four years. Twenty-six have idled there for more than three years.

"Eighty-six have been collecting public salaries for more than two years..."

"The data identify the longest-serving person stuck in a rubber room as a teacher who was accused of sexually abusing a child and yanked from his classroom 5-1/2 years ago.

"Because the allegations were never proved, and because he refuses to quit his job, he collects his full annual salary - up to $95,000."

Makes perfect sense, just like everything the government does.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Unbiased Media: "Help Obama!"

Last night Donald was chuckling in amazement over a story he found on Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper/magazine he regularly checks online.

Before I go further, perhaps I should mention that I've seen some people refer to Aftonbladet as yellow journalism. Donald says that it's simply an "evening newspaper". Apparently, the Swedish evening papers are less hard news and more geared toward entertainment than are the morning papers. (It may be that way here, too. I probably ought to know that, but I don't. Count me among the horrible masses bringing print newspapers steadily toward extinction. Sorry!) Oh, and Donald also points out that this is the most widely circulated evening newspaper in Sweden-- so it's not like it's something that only a handful of people ever read.

After explaining what was so amusing in the article, he translated it into English for me. I thought some of you might also be interested in reading it. We already knew it, but here's more proof that the European media is just as unbiased as the American media.

Here's the story in Swedish:
Hjälp Obama!

President Barack Obamas ambition att reformera det amerikanska sjukvårdssystemet (dyrast i världen, på 37:e plats mätt i kvalitet och med 40 miljoner medborgare oförsäkrade) stöter som bekant på patrull. Förslaget att en statlig sjukförsäkring som är öppen för alla ska få konkurrera med de privata försäkringsbolagen har utlöst en förtalskampanj från den privata industrin. Fejkade gräsrotsrörelser larmar om att reformen förvandlar USA till Sovjetunionen, och högermedierna ger eldunderstöd. Kampanjen fungerar, stödet för sjukvårdsreformen sjunker och aktierna i försäkringsindustrin stiger. Hela reformen är allvarligt hotad.

Nu uppmanar oss européer att slå näven i bordet. Via ett innovativt upprop har vi chansen att berätta för amerikanerna att våra offentligt finansierade sjukvårdssystem faktiskt fungerar bra. Kampanjen hade bara tre dagar efter starten samlat 100 000 namn. Skriv under och sprid ordet.

Dan Josefsson

And here's Donald's translation:
Help Obama!

President Barack Obama's ambition to reform the American health care system (most expensive in the world, ranked 37th in terms of quality, and with 40 million citizens uninsured) is as you know meeting some resistance. The proposal that a governmental health insurance that is open for everyone will be allowed to compete with the private insurance companies has triggered a campaign of slander from the private industry. Fake grassroots campaigns are making outcries that the reform will turn the U.S. into the Soviet Union, and the right-wing media gives fire support. The campaign is working; the support for the health care reform is sinking and insurance industry stocks are raising. The whole reform is under serious threat.

Now is urging us Europeans to put our foot down. Through an innovative appeal we now have the chance to tell the Americans that our publicly financed health care system actually works well. The campaign had collected 100,000 names after only three days. Sign it and spread the word.

Dan Josefsson

I think Donald was amazed by the fact that this article was trying to pass as an unbiased representation of facts, while the journalist clearly supported one side over the other and failed to give both sides of the story. (Heck, the guy even urges his readers to join a campaign supporting one side over the other!) It is pretty unbelievable. The way it's written, this is editorial material-- not news material.

Personally, as an American, I don't particularly care for the idea that some Europeans think they should have diddly-squat to say about our health care system. Give your opinion? Sure. But "put our foot down"? That language is a bit strong. (It reminds me of the 2004 presidential election, when some people who didn't even live in the U.S.-- much less claim citizenship-- were blogging about the fact that they felt the whole world should have a say in the election. Oh really? How'd they feel if Americans wanted to have a say in their elections? No answer necessary.)

Anyway-- why should Swedes or Europeans in general care how health care in the U.S. is run? Frankly, it's none of their business. A generous appraisal of their motivation might be that some people are genuinely happy with their health care system and think it could work in the U.S., too. It might alleviate the suffering of the supposed millions going without. (Of course, if they're basing their opinion of American health care on articles like the one above, they're not getting the full picture-- at all.) I may be lacking in generosity, though, because I suspect that many of the 100,000 who had already given their names did so for less noble reasons. (You know what they say about misery loving company. . .)

To those who point to success stories in European-style nationalized health care, I say this: Not all countries are the same. Just because something works in one place, for one group of people, doesn't mean it will work everywhere for everyone. It also doesn't mean that it's what the American people want for themselves. There's no single right way to handle these things. The United States is not a European nation, and most of us like it that way. No offense. It's just. . . is diversity only wonderful when it comes to our physical appearances and cultural heritage? What's wrong with diverse nations with diverse ways of taking care of things like health care?

- - - - - - -

And while we're on the subject of politics:

White House spokesman Bill Burton, defending Obama's plan to take a weekend trip to Camp David at the beginning of September, said, "As I recall, the previous president [took] quite a bit of vacation himself, and I don't think anyone bemoaned that."

*SNORT* Funny, I seem to recall people complaining about that exact thing! Or "bemoaning" it, if you will. I don't have a problem with any of our presidents taking some vacation time. They need to unwind every now and then, just like any other human being. However, it was surprising to hear the media reporting the vacation in Martha's Vineyard as his first vacation as president. I guess the recent tours of national parks and the non-official-business things he and his family did abroad didn't count as recreation? (And we won't even bring up the infamous Date Night excursion to NYC. Oops. Guess I just did.)

Edited to add:
The Prez is just lucky Donald's not in charge. He doesn't think world leaders should even be allowed to drink alcohol, since they (theoretically, at least) have to be ready to make major decisions at all hours of the day and night. It does kind of make sense. I mean, do we really want someone who's flat-out drunk or hungover-- or even just buzzed-- making critical decisions that could affect the fate of the world?

This subject comes up between us every time we hear about things like Obama inviting people to have a beer with him or the Great Beer Summit of 2009. Meanwhile, I'm just rolling my eyes and gagging on the staginess of it all. "Hey, folks! Did you catch that? I'm just like you! I drink Bud Light!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Autumn Preview & Outdoor Oddities

Our weather over the weekend was beautiful-- cooler and drier than usual for August, with pleasant little breezes that made it feel cooler yet-- and for a couple of nights it was cool and dry enough for us to turn off the air conditioning and open a few windows.

Ahh... There's nothing like that first taste of autumn! Of course, it was only temporary. Heat and humidity have already begun to creep back up the scale, but we did our best to enjoy paradise while it lasted! ;o) (And there's supposed to another slight cool spell early next week!)

We took advantage of the nice weather and did some yard work. There's still much to do (I'm making a list of work to accomplish before spring/summer 2010), but it's a start.

After clearing a portion of a vastly overgrown flowerbed, I noticed a bunch of what looked like tiny white eggs.

Unidentified Eggs

I'm not sure yet what they contain(ed). A little later on, only a yard or two from the eggs, I saw a teensy baby green anole (a common lizard around here-- the type in my photos on Flickr). A quick look online suggests that maybe lizard eggs are larger than these were, but what else could they be? I wouldn't expect a garter snake to lay so many eggs, and I don't know if they'd be this tiny, either... Actually, I wouldn't expect a lizard to lay so many eggs. They don't strike me as insect eggs, but that would explain the number.

Speaking of insects, I found several of these strange-looking caterpillars in some rosebushes:

White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

I think I've identified them as white-marked tussock moth caterpillars. If so, they apparently sting and are commonly found munching on trees.

Well, I had planned to write a slightly longer, coherent entry, but trying to write while I watch TV isn't working. (Weird, huh?)

There are some more photos from our nice-weather weekend on my Flickr photostream, including several pictures of Trixie chasing soap bubbles.

In Her Sights

Nothing Tastes Like a Great Big Soap Bubble.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sorry. I'm Not Feeling Compassionate Today.

I don't really remember much about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. In 1988, the news of the wider world mostly seemed too distant for me to worry over. (It was a happy way to live out a childhood.) However, I still reserve the right to be outraged at the early release of Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing. (To remind my future self,) Scottish officials recently made the "compassionate" decision to send Megrahi home to Libya after he recieved a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer.

Apparently some (how many, I do not know, nor how justified their concern) question whether the man was guilty (though several years ago his country took credit for the attack), but the fact remains that he was convicted of the crime and has not served out his sentence.

What does this mean for future convicted criminals in Scotland (and eventually, elsewhere)? Is a terrible cancer diagnosis really enough to wipe clean a criminal record or balance the scales of justice? What about heart disease? High cholesterol? How low a life expectancy does the prison doctor have to give a man (or woman) before it is no longer "compassionate" to keep him behind bars? If he had died suddenly of a heart attack, would the Scottish authorities now be wringing their hands and wailing? "Oh, why didn't we release him sooner?! That poor, poor man! He died in prison, far from his family and native land! Cruel, cruel world!" Never mind about the hundreds he is convicted of murdering.

Compassion... Some people might suggest that it was compassionate enough to give a life sentence instead of condemning him to death. However, now that life has condemned him to death (as it will us all, sooner or later) something more is required.

Meanwhile, Megrahi has returned home to Libya, where he was met by a hero's welcome. Well, and isn't that a heart-warming end to this tale of woe?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pointless Babble

Only three rounds of pointless babble this time.

- - - - - - -

1. Does Twitter have a monopoly on "pointless babble"? I think not.

I'm now following The Drudge Report on Twitter-- by far the most prolific entity on my list. One of their tweets the other day was a link to a story about how one study (with a sample of a measly 2,000 tweets, however) determined that 40 percent of tweets are "pointless babble". (Their example of "pointless babble" was something like "I'm eating a sandwich now", by the way.)

Measly sample size aside, I'd say the findings are accurate-- if anything, they may be a little low-- but remarkably unsurprising. Haven't people known all along that Twitter is designed for pointless babble? Or at least that's what I tell myself, since babbling is just about all I do on Twitter-- usually pointlessly.

After reading something like that-- and honestly, even before reading the article-- I think twice before tweeting. This may be difficult to believe, for those of you who either "follow" me on Twitter or read my tweets right here on this blog and see my snoozy observations on weather, how tired I am, or what Trixie happens to be doing at the moment, but I've actually been holding back my most boring tweets. I frequently stop myself in mid-tweet. "Nah. That's just too boring to bother people with" Or-- "I don't want it to sound like all I ever do is grumble, so... (backspace backspace backspace)"...

I wonder how many Twitter users feel this pressure to be interesting-- to stay upbeat (or cool and dark, depending on the personality)-- to censor themselves when they begin to feel that they've been doing too much babbling. (Note that I only insinuated that I feel the pressure to be interesting and upbeat-- not that I actually achieve a high level of interest and cheeriness. Just wanted to make sure that was clear. (g))

As someone who only tweets "on the side" and really prefers a blog for the long haul, my next thought naturally is of the blog. I may curb my tongue (fingers?) on Twitter, but my blog is at least 40% pointless babble, too. I'm going to try to forget I ever thought about that, though, and just keep on blogging away, one tedious entry at a time. The good thing about my blog is that there's no fluctuating "follower" count to avoid noticing every time I log on.

- - - - - - -

2. Trixie may not be destined for print, after all. (Oops.)

I may have spoken too soon about Trixie being in the I Has a Hotdog book. The last e-mail we got on the subject indicated that there's still some chance of the photo not making the cut. (Though they did sound encouraging.) I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

No, this doesn't really matter-- only I'll feel silly for having mentioned it at all, if it doesn't pan out. And it would be fun to see one of our dogs in a Real Book.

- - - - - - -

3. "Island Flyover" is fun.

My current favorite thing on the Wii is the Resort's "Island Flyover" game. It's not a very structured, competitive game, which is probably a big part of why I like it right now. Just between the two three however-many of us there are, I can sometimes be a little too competitive. (No comment necessary, Donald :oP) A non-competitive solo game is a nice break from losing to the meanie computer for the nth time in a row at ping pong table tennis.

For those who don't know, in this game you fly a little plane around the island resort looking for (marked) points of interest and/or popping balloons by shooting them or flying into them. I like games with a little of a treasure hunt in them, and this one is also something where you can just sit back and enjoy the view, too-- particularly once you unlock the sunset and night-time options.

- - - - - - -

The End.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Doppelgänger, Trixie & AARP

Mein Flickr Doppelgänger
The other day, I came across someone (on Flickr) who does polymer clay, takes lots of macro nature photos, apparently has some connection to Scandinavia (Denmark, though, not Sweden), and even has a blog with a background almost identical to the color mine is (at the moment, though I think I'll be changing it soon). It's kind of weird when little similarities keep piling up like that, one right after the other. Of course, the dissimilarities piled up even higher (and faster), but they're less interesting to note.

- - - - - - -

Trixie's Fame Increases
Earlier this week, we were surprised to be contacted about the recent "Loldog" featuring a photo of Trixie. It seems the people behind the "I Has a Hotdog" site selected our photo for inclusion in their upcoming book! What fun!

- - - - - - -

AARP Lied, Michael Sighed
My political question of the day is this: If the AARP isn't "behind" ObamaCare (and they supposedly are not), how come I just saw an Internet ad for health care reform, sponsored by the AARP? It referred to one of those pesky "myths" and ended with a link to a nifty little health care reform web page. Maybe it's just me, but it sure sounds like the AARP supports ObamaCare. . . They even have a petition, a call for "your powerful stories", and cool "TAKE ACTION" and "DONATE" buttons. I'm sure the people in charge would say that they're not advocating a particular plan-- just reform in general. Why am I not convinced?

Prayers Requested

I guess it's a sad fact of life that sooner or later your family and friends (or you yourself) will face scary health problems. Lately, it feels like both sides of my family have had their share of worry. My Uncle Doug recently learned that he must have one of his kidneys removed. I don't know all the details, so I hesitate to write more, but the family would appreciate prayers for a successful surgery and treatment. (Thank you!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doesn't Anybody Love Me?

I keep hearing about "viral email" filled with "myths" "lies" about ObamaCare, and what I want to know is this: How come I haven't gotten any of it yet?

I mean, most of the people I'm in regular contact with aren't jumping on the ObamaCare bandwagon, so why doesn't my inbox overfloweth?

...Doesn't anybody love me anymore?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This is News?

The things that qualify as "news" these days. . .

The predicted "Obama baby boom" is turning out to be a bust.

Evidently, some thought that the American people would be so overjoyed by the results of the 2008 presidential election that they would be inspired to. . . er, procreate.

. . . Yeah, I tell you, nothing puts me in the mood for romance more than a presidential election. ;o)

But putting aside my personal quirks (g), it turns out there is no bumper crop of little left-wingers this year. (Or at least no more so than usual.)

But before you start blaming the Prez, listen to this excuse: According to Donald Bogue, a University of Chicago demographer and sociologist, "Births are now predominantly planned and not very responsive to good news."

So, let me get this straight. . . If there had been an increase in births right about now, we'd be hearing about how this was all due to people's love of Obama. "Oh, the people felt such an upsurge of joy and hope for the future that they knew it was the perfect time to have that child they'd been putting off during the Dark and Dreadful Bush Years. Obviously." But now that it hasn't panned out, it couldn't possibly be linked to him in any way, shape or form.

Yeah, that seems about right. *sigh*

The article I linked to above concludes with a bright note:
"In 2008, the name Barack set what's believed to be a record for the Social Security Administration's annual Most Popular Baby Names list by skyrocketing more than 10,000 spots on the list, from No. 12,535 in 2007 to No. 2,409 in 2008. And the Social Security Administration predicts the name will even crack the top 1,000 this year."
Maybe it's just me, but I'd hesitate to name my innocent child after an unproven president. (Actually, I can't see myself naming a child after any president, but that's beside the point.) Even if you're happy that Obama was elected, are you that convinced that your child will be proud to bear his name in ten or twenty years? There's no telling what might happen-- what kind of leader he'll turn out to be-- in the next three or four years. Why not leave the name for your grandchildren or great-grandchildren? People think they're making some grand gesture, I guess, but I'm not impressed.

Anyway, now you know the big story of the day. You're welcome. ;o)

P.S. I wasn't going to mention this, but something I read just ticked me off, so. . . If ObamaCare passes, I have a feeling that some people might think a little longer and harder before making that decision to have a child. I know it would at least be in the back of my mind.

+ I saw a comment on the article linked above to the effect that maybe some of the women who became pregnant during the Obama Glow Period decided that they didn't want to be "punished with a baby". Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Oddities in the Ocean

There are bizarre creatures hidden beneath the water's surface, some strangely reminiscent of the alien beings that populate distant sci-fi worlds.

Here are two that have come to my attention recently:

Barreleye (aka "Spookfish")
Barreleyes have an unusual arrangement as regards their eyes:

Did you catch that? The "dots" in the front of its face are not its eyes. Those are "olfactory organs". (Think of them as nostrils.) The eyes are the green marble-shaped things in the image below, and they're sealed within the creature's transparent head.

So incredibly weird!

Now, don't try to tell me that eyes looking at the world through a transparent head aren't a feature worthy of the latest alien life-form to pop up on Star Trek. Just admit it. This is the kind of thing you'd expect to see in the Star Wars cantina. ;o)

To truly appreciate this one, you have to see a video of it in action. What sets these fascinating animals miles apart from the usual is their ability to dramatically (and instantly) change the appearance of their skin. Sure, it can change its color and/or colorization pattern-- either for camouflage (when hiding from predators) or to stand out (when mesmerizing its prey or attracting a mate)-- but even more amazingly, it can change the very texture of its skin, from smooth to spiky and back again.

There are a few nice video clips of cuttlefish here, or you can always check out YouTube, which is where I found this video:

Pretty impressive!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I'm probably the last person in the world to hear about Repper (or at least the last person who might potentially be interested in it), but just in case I'm not, I highly recommend it, if you want to quickly and easily create a seamless tiled background image.

It's web-based. You don't have to download or install anything to use it. You don't even have to register. You just go to the web page, click "Start Tool Now", and play around until you get something you like. You can use their photos (one of which automatically pops up when you start the tool) or upload your own photo or other image. Move and/or resize the "sampler" square to repeat different parts of the picture. When you get a pattern you like, save it. (There's a brief "how to" video on the home page, if you need help.)

I found this tool when I decided to finally make my own background for my Twitter page. Not only is it simple and fast, but it's also quite a bit of fun.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Tidbits

First, here's a message from your friendly neighborhood White House website:
"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to"
Well, why are you just sitting there staring? Be a good American! Go tattletale-- err, spy-- um... Ha! There's no nice way to say this. Go inform against your friends, family, and neighbors-- strangers you may overhear on the street-- anyone who dares express an opinion in opposition to the standard White House line. Freedom of speech? Nah, that doesn't apply here. This health care issue is none of our business, really. We should just sit down, shut up, and trust that the glorious government has our best interests at heart and actually knows what it's doing this time.

. . . Yeah, right.

It seems like every week there's a new "I can't believe this is happening in America" moment.

(I'm very curious about what they plan to do about the "fishy" e-mails and such that may be reported to them. Use the information to calculate future talking points, of course, but will they also-- for instance-- be compiling lists of naughty non-"team player"-type persons? This feels awfully "fishy" to me.)

- - - - - - -

Earlier this week, while looking over Hobby Lobby's sales page, I noticed that they had devoted a large portion of the page to "Christmas Trim-A-Tree". I know stores keep pushing Christmas-related sales back a little earlier every year, but the first week of August? This is getting ridiculous. (Maybe Hobby Lobby has an all-year Christmas section. I haven't noticed. Even so, keeping holiday merchandise in stock is one thing; putting it prominently on sale is another.)

It makes sense to have a sale on Christmas craft supplies early in the year, because you need time to work on them, if you want them ready for display by December. However, everything mentioned in the ad-- ornaments, tinsel, garland, decorative treetops, and mini trees-- is already finished and ready to go. No crafting necessary. I can't imagine many people are in the mood to shop for Christmas decorations when it's still this hot and incredibly humid outdoors, but maybe it's therapeutic for them to pretend that it's almost winter...

- - - - - - -

The beadboard wainscoting in the breakfast room is all up. (Well, except for a small patch on the other side of the kitchen door, next to the refrigerator.) Yesterday, Donald started the caulking, and I guess that now it's time to paint. The wainscoting came primed, but it still needs a coat or two of white-- and while we're at it, we'll also freshen up some of the existing trim. (Otherwise, it wouldn't match. You don't often think about it, but one paint marked "white" is usually not the same color as another paint marked "white".)

Eventually, we'll have to make a final decision on the new color for the kitchen/breakfast room. Not that it has to be painted. The yellow is still perfectly livable, but paint is pretty cheap-- especially when you do the painting yourself-- and it's fun to get a fresh look every now and then.

We had narrowed our color choices down to two or three paint chips, with "Spa" being the favorite:

I still like that color, but we're not sure it's quite enough color. (Donald especially feels this way, and I have to agree that it is very faint. Actually, though, I think it looks darker in the sample above-- on this monitor, at least-- than it does on the paint chip taped to the wall...) So we pulled out the other paint chips for a second look, and now we're back to narrowing things down again.

There are so many appealing colors that it's almost impossible to choose just one!
Here's a sampling of the colors we're now considering:

As you can see, we've focused on a specific type of color-- a pale muted blue with a tendency toward aqua. You might describe it as a partially desaturated robin's-egg-esque blue. I think we'd be happy with any of these colors, but you can't help but feel that there's one magic tint hidden among them-- and that's the one you should go with. Now to figure out just which one it is...

Obsessive? No, not at all! This is merely what comes of having such a high color IQ! ;o)

- - - - - - -

To close, I leave you with this photo of "2 Iron On American Stickers" (made in China):

The British might be surprised to find that the Union Jack is "American"...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happening Lately

What's been happening lately, in (informal, not at all "parallel"-- sorry Mrs. Boswell) list form:
  • Quite a bit of rain, lightning, and thunder-- not constantly, but frequently enough.
  • Such intense humidity that it's not very pleasant to be outside, despite temperatures lowered by the rain. (There. That's weather out of the way. I think...)
  • Donald joined Facebook and discovered some type of Tetris game there, after which fact, Facebook = Tetris, for him.
  • I've mostly abandoned Facebook. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it. I like being able to keep up with people who don't (to my knowledge) blog, but there are other aspects of it I don't like at all.
  • Watched Coraline and thought it was visually striking (in spots, at least) and pretty weird overall.
  • Watched Being John Malkovich and thought it was really weird.
  • I started watching Wives and Daughters again. (Always a good antidote for weird.) I think I like it even better on this viewing than before, maybe because of its stark contrast to the Malkovich atrocity. (Apologies to those who love it. There are funny, creative bits, but it just goes off the deep end. Insanity is not creative genius. It's merely insanity. Plus I didn't like any of the characters well enough to care about them. That's never a good sign, in my opinion.)
  • Watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the theater (a weekend or two ago). The special effects were pretty special. I've forgotten most of the book, though, so I can't say how good it was as an adaptation. (It sounds like I've been doing a lot of movie-watching! More than usual, probably, since there's not much new on TV this time of year.)
  • Gave Molly the first half of a haircut. She was fairly well-behaved for a while, but progress slowed drastically when we started trying to cut the places she's sensitive about (that is, practically everywhere but the back and sides-- but most especially her legs, feet, and "underneath"). After a while, we decided she'd had enough for one day. Round two awaits... Still, we've removed a lot of hair. She must be more comfortable this way-- and it's funny how much smaller she looks without all that extra padding!
  • I noticed Donald's driver's license was about to expire, and he went to have it renewed. (Mine's good for another year. I need to write myself a note on the calendar, since they don't send reminders...)
  • Someone spoke of "co-boys". I was mystified for a moment, then realized that "co-boy" = "cowboy". So if you ever hear a Swede say something about "co-boys" or "co-girls" at the "ro-day-oh"-- now you'll know what s/he means. Oh! And every Swede knows that "co-boys" love Mexican food, so if you ever have to feed them, I suggest "tack-ohs"-- not tacos, mind, but tack-ohs. Definitely not pasta, though. Co-boys loathe "past-ah". (Sorry, you-know-who. I only do it because you make so few mistakes these days, and I want to remember them for the time when you no longer make any.)
  • Oops. I accidentally published this entry prematurely, and I don't see a way to undo it, short of deleting the whole thing... Well, that's ok. I'll just wrap it up quickly...
  • Donald's been putting up beadboard wainscoting in the breakfast room. He's making fast progress. Fast by our standards, at least. I've posted a couple of photos (at Flickr) from the first bit he put up, but I need to take more. Maybe later today...