Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Minimalism, Schminimalism

Sometimes I look over a room-- or even just a bookcase or table-- and think, "Maybe I should get rid of all this stuff.  We don't need all these little bits and pieces-- all these knickknacks... It would be so much easier to keep the house clean and dusted if all this crap just went away."  (Yes, I think "crap".  So long as I'm not already worked into a frenzy of bad temper by exhausting housework, in which case, maybe it's better I don't tell you what I think...)

...Then I usually either go ahead and spend ten minutes dusting, stand back to admire the gleaming surfaces, and think "Oh!  That wasn't so bad.  Why am I such a whiner?" (until five minutes later, when the dust has magically reappeared [cue the "it's better I don't tell you what I'm thinking"!])-- or I get sidetracked, forget my (temporary?) dislike of decorative clutter, and go another week or two without really bothering one way or the other. 

Still, it can't be denied that if I did eliminate some of the cluttery Stuff around the house, it would be easier to keep clean.  Maybe it would make the place feel more relaxing, too.  (On the other hand.... meh. Nah, I don't really think it would make that much difference.  Not to those of us who live here, at least.  It's amazing how you tune out your most familiar surroundings.  I frequently live under the blissful misapprehension that a room is, if not spotless, at least reasonably tidy and presentable-- until someone drops by for a minute, at which point offense after offense leaps to my eye (causing me to burn with shame ;o)).

Oh well.

The point of all this? 
Simply that no matter how I may occasionally consider tossing this, that, or the other, I never seriously want to live in a painfully minimalist home.  I suppose I'm just too traditional for the style.  So many of the (magazine versions of) minimalism look stark, cold, inhospitable-- nothing like a home should look, to my mind.  I mean, just look at this room... or this one... or (~shudder~) this one

Why would anyone choose to live that way?
So, yes.  Fine.  I'll live with the clutter of my earthly possessions-- books, knickknacks, whatnots, CDs, endless scraps of paper, and all.  Doing so seems much preferable to living without any clutter at all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seeking a Position as Graphic Designer... ;o)

Sometimes I take the lazy way out when it comes to cooking.   ("Who, you? There must be some sort of a mistake," you all say.  In unison.  In complete and utter disbelief.)   For instance, I'll use a can of pre-made chili together with another can (or two) of beans, add a few spices (according to personal taste), serve it (heated, no less!) with rice, and call it a meal.  I could make it from scratch, of course, but sometimes a shortcut is preferable.

So (now that I've explained what I'm doing with canned chili in the first place), I noticed something a little odd about one of these cans, the other night.  It was decorated with two little figures.  "Chili Masters", I believe they are meant to be.  They're holding bowls of chili with blue ribbons attached, so you know they can cook.  However, I'm not sure I'd dare to sample their stew.  There's something a little... off about them...

Here we have the creepy Chili Dude:

And then there's the even more sinister (if that's possible) Chili Dudette (or at least I assume it's a dudette, because that is clearly a lacy/frilly, scalloped neckline...):

Ok, where do you go to get hired to make the art for labels for canned chili?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fourth Thursday of November

I'm signing on just to wish a happy, safe Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans (and anyone else who chooses to celebrate it).  So... Happy Thanksgiving!  May your plate overfloweth with good food even as your heart doth with warm fuzzies.  ;o)

Honestly, it doesn't feel like Thanksgiving (yet) to me.  This is mostly because it is warm and humid.  (I suspect that my moods are too heavily influenced by weather and other external stimuli...)  Well, there will still be family and food later, and it I try really hard, I might even work up a sense of gratitude for the many blessings in my life. ;o)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No, Really?

Here's something else to file under "Yeah, We Already Knew That":
A new study determines that dogs are smarter than cats.

This study seems to have based everything on brain size and how it correlates with social skills, which I don't think is the strongest argument ever made, but based on my own observations of cats and dogs (and their relative problem-solving abilities, among other things), I was already convinced that the average dog is smarter than the average cat.

...That said, there are also dumb-as-a-rock dogs and exceptionally intelligent cats.  Both cats and dogs are impressive animals, but in some ways they are so different that comparison is pointless.

P.S.  Yes, you're right; I may be biased.  Though I would've considered myself a cat person during younger years, I am now happily a dog person.  Cats are nice, but if I have to choose, I'd rather have a dog at my side.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Catch-Up Entry

The weather forecasters didn't know what they were talking about, today.  No-one (that I heard/read) mentioned even a chance of rain for today, yet I drove to the grocery store through fairly heavy rain... walked through drizzle to get into the store... came home to find that it had rained here, too... and now it's drizzling raining heavily again.  I'm not really complaining (not now that I'm home and dry, I'm not), but it's unusual that they're this far off the mark about rain. 

- - - - -

Around Halloween, Carrie and Victor announced that they're expecting their first child-- which will be the first grandchild on both sides of the family.  (ETA: Well, the first on both sides of our family, I mean-- but not the first on Victor's side.)  Obviously this was big news.  ;o)  (They told my parents by presenting them with a bucket of candy-- a very careful selection of candy, such as Sour Patch Kids, Sugar Babies, etc.)

The due date is sometime in mid-May (I think).  Still waiting to hear if I'm going to be an aunt or an uncle. (Ha ha. (g))  Seriously, though, I'm curious whether it's a boy or a girl.  (This is a perfect excuse for more crocheting, and I need to figure out what pattern and colors I want to use!)

- - - - -

A while (month? I lose track of time) ago, my father brought a good pile of mulch up to our yard from the pond.  (Which reminds me, as if I needed reminding, that I need to finish spreading that. Time goes too quickly!!)  Anyway, I spent some time carting it around and spreading it over plantings and around trees.  At first, I took care that the dogs shouldn't be outside while I did this, because I thought they might get in the way.

See Trixie watching me through a window?  Isn't that adorable? ;o)

Trixie Watches

Later on, however, they managed to be out while I worked.  Trixie found the digging into Mulch Mountain very exciting.  Every time I jabbed the shovel into the pile, she pounced on it, growl-barking and biting it. (ETA again:  I meant that she pounced on the mulch pile-- not the shovel... which would be kind of dangerous.  It was almost like she thought I was attacking the pile and wanted to join in.)  (See?  I told you it was exciting.  Bet you didn't believe it was really that thrilling, did you?)

Once some of it was taken away, the pile of mulch became Molly's designated spot to wait for our return when we go on walks:

Molly on Mulch Mountain

Outdoor pet beds-- yet another use for mulch!
- - - - -

While I was out doing yard work, I happened to look up and catch sight of a huge flock of American White Pelicans.  You may recall that we spotted a group of these birds a couple years ago.  I posted a (shaky) video of it, back then.  This flock was much larger and therefore more impressive.  I ran to tell Donald, and while he snapped some photos, I got some more (shaky) video of the flock.

American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans

- - - - -

Let's see... What else?

According to my (old) cheat-sheet of Subjects to Mention on the Blog, we went to Fairhope Pier to eat pizza and take photos.  Apparently it was ideal photo weather, because there were photographers everywhere.  And not just casual photographers, either.  There were people with tripods (and you guys, they were actually using them).  There were people with big, for real cameras and lenses.  There was even someone doing bridal portraits... of a bride... in her flowing white wedding gown and veil.  Seriously, it was like the local community college had sent out a whole class of Photography 101 students on a field trip to the pier. 


Mobile Bay

Sunset Sparkle & Glow

You couldn't ask for more beautiful weather.
...And then we saw a cruise ship leaving Mobile, which was also pretty neat. 

- - - - -

After finishing with Project 365, I wanted to set up another photo blog for any smaller photo challenges I may decide to try.  Here it is for anyone interested:  The View Through My Lens.

Right now, I'm in the middle of a month-long challenge for November-- A Month of Gratitude.  The challenge (not surprisingly, given the title) is to take a photo a day representing something that makes you feel grateful.  One of my friends from the online community of polymer clay enthusiasts had the idea and invited people to join.  If you like, you can visit the Flickr group pool to see what has inspired others with gratitude.

So far, my photos for the challenge have been kind of random, but that's ok.  November always seems like a fairly busy month to me, so I'm feeling sufficiently challenged even with my random (sometimes not-so-great) photos.

- - - - -

Ok, that's caught-up enough!  ;o)
I hope you're all enjoying your last full week of November!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Give Me the Creeps, Why Dontcha?

(Let me preface this by saying that I recognize that this article is in The Sun-- possibly not the very most reliable news source in existence.  ...That said, I've read about at least some of these inventions before, in other papers.)

"A ROBOT that can fall in love with its owner could put an end to millions of lonely hearts across the globe."

People of the world--  Why would you want to waste your time and affection on an inanimate object (in expectation of getting some positive feedback from said object-- completely different from taking interest in a collection of some sort)?  Chances are, there are people out there who will be your friends-- possibly even your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.  For goodness' sake, if you can't find another person to connect with for the time being, at least get a dog-- cat-- pet cockroach-- any other living thing that can genuinely benefit from your care and attention. 

These "love robot" stories are creepy, pathetic, and horrifying. 
I just- don't- get it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Sound Grumpy, Don't I?

In Which Michael Responds to the Headlines...
(Because everyone's been waiting for my opinions on this stuff-- with bated breath.)

--Britain's Royal Engagement... Betrothal... Whatever.
Yeah, "whatever" pretty much sums up my response, as well.  A wedding?  That's fine, but I don't particularly care.  It was fun to pretend "princess" when I was a little girl, but in those days, I was usually a princess myself... or my favorite Barbie doll was-- either of which was infinitely more exciting to imagine than a real royal wedding in another country.  I just can't bring myself to view it with anything more than the most casual of passing interest.

--Scanners and "Enhanced" Pat-Downs.
I get that there needs to be security screening of some kind-- but I'm afraid that in the end, because the people we're dealing with are insane, willing to kill themselves along with their victims, there's no way to completely protect ourselves (or at least not just by screening people boarding flights).

When I see or hear about elderly women and nuns being selected for special screening, I'm very frustrated.
 So let me get this straight... They're asking me to endure greater inconvenience-- further prying into my personal space-- the indignity of a pat-down or the (supposedly minute) radiation of some new scanner that reveals every detail of my body?  ...If I agree, they had better be using whatever other methods are at their disposal-- including some form of the much-maligned profiling.  It's common sense.  It's possible that at some future date, we will find that elderly women and nuns are recruited as terrorists (or that terrorists disguise themselves as such), but until that day, let's not waste time hassling Granny, ok?

Mostly, I'd just rather not fly again, ever.  Unfortunately, that's probably not an option.

--Local News Guy Entices Viewers to Stay Tuned-In with the Promise that They'll Get to See Him Get a Flu Shot Later On.
...Well, that does sound mighty fun...  I mean, the only thing better than that would be getting a flu shot of my very own... but... I think I'll pass.  (...Who comes up with these things?  Since when is is Great Fun to see news anchors getting medical procedures?  Nightmarish.)

--Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee!
Remind me not to watch.  Er, well, considering that I never watch Glee anyway, don't bother.  ;o)

...and at this point, I realize that this has become nothing more than a grump-fest.  So I'll stop.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One-Way Ticket to Mars? Any Takers?

Have you heard about this?  "Scientists propose one-way trips to Mars" because "human travel to Mars could happen much more quickly and cheaply if the missions are made one-way".  Well, I can't really argue with the logic, but I wonder what kind of people would hear that proposal and say, "Sign me up!"

I guess my initial reaction ("No way, no how, never-ever, unh-uh!") is not a particularly useful gauge of the average person's opinion of the idea, because that is also my reaction to the idea of going into space at all (even one of those brief joyrides that are supposedly going to become so commonplace).  I'll leave that to other people.  Me, I'm staying here on home-sweet-Earth, thanks all the same.  I'll take my chances with the asteroids, etc., right here.

That-- asteroids-- is what these types of articles always seem to mention as the reason that colonization is so crucial.  They casually inform us that the Earth will probably be destroyed, sooner or later, so we don't want to leave all our eggs in one basket.  Gee, thanks for trying to ruin my mood this morning, random journalists.  I really appreciate these frequent reminders that the whole world could go ka-blooey in the blink of an eye.  It makes life so cozy and cheerful.  *grump grump grump*  Look, I'm perfectly fine not thinking about crap like that, so would you mind keeping your daydreams of cataclysm to yourselves?

One of my favorite lines from the article?  "They argue that it would be little different from early settlers to North America, who left Europe with little expectation of return."  ...Yeah, except that most of those people were going in search of a better life for themselves and their families... and there would be quite a few other people with them, including maybe their immediate family (and if not, they probably intended to have the family follow them eventually)... and they probably thought that if worse came to worst, they might possibly be able to find their way back to the Old Country... oh, and they were "only" going to a different continent, not a whole 'nother planet

But apart from those things, yeah, it's totally the same thing. (Good grief.)

(By the way, I'm not saying this won't or shouldn't happen... just... I'm really glad I'm not the one making the trip!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Probably Should Keep My Mouth Shut...

(As a female Michael, maybe this is one of those subjects I have no business addressing, but maybe it's for that very reason that I find it of interest...)

I read a story today that included a list of the names that grew the fastest in popularity in 2009.  Three of the top ten are "Twilight names"-- names that (it seems very likely) were chosen more often because of their appearance in the Twilight series.  (The names, in case you're wondering, are Cullen-- #1 on the list!-- Emmett, and Jasper.)

Well, I suppose it's a step up from naming your baby after someone in a soap opera... I mean, they're books, so there's reading involved, which imparts a certain degree of "class"... But still.

Who am I to judge, though?  Go ahead!  Add another little "Cullen" to the world.  For the rest of his life, everyone will know that Mommy has/had a thing for YA vampire fiction, but so be it!  I guess it's no worse than naming a baby after a popular song or a president's daughter.

I can even try to understand.  Maybe you just really liked the name "Jasper"...  "It's so different," you think.  "So fresh!"  And it doesn't hurt that you also like the character.  Of course, now it won't be quite such a unique name, but, eh, it's different enough.  Now to just figure out how to convince your husband that it's a great idea to name your infant son after a sparkly vampire...

(And yes, I realize that this is an old story.  Fortunately, few people read this blog for breaking news.)

Grief Counselors? Seriously?

Heard about this?:

A staffer for a congressional Democrat who came up short on Tuesday reports that a team of about five people stopped by their offices this morning to talk about payroll, benefits, writing a résumé, and so forth, with staffers who are now job hunting.

But one of the staffers was described as a “counselor” to help with the emotional aspect of the loss — and a section in the packet each staffer was given dealt with the stages of grief (for instance, Stage One being anger, and so on).

“It was like it was about death,” the staffer said. “It was bizarre.” The staffer did say the portions about the benefits and résumé writing were instructive.

Yeah, that does sound pretty bizarre.

Look, I'm all for good mental health.  If you're having problems, find someone to talk to.  Don't be ashamed to admit you're having trouble.  But this?  This is just ridiculous.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Obligatory Midterm Election Commentary

(But I'll keep it brief.)

Come what may in the months ahead, watching the midterm election results roll in Tuesday night was a pleasant change after the last election.  One of the high points of the evening:  We happened to be watching ABC when they (finally, long after the other networks had done so) announced that the Republicans would take control of the House.  Diane Sawyer apparently couldn't quite contain her disappointment; she frowned and shook her head (slightly) while turning away.  Ha!  Yeah, really unbiased and professional there, Diane*.  She's not alone, though.  It was clear that many of the anchors that night (and the morning after) were displeased by the turn of events. 

Also:  Are they really going to keep calling the whole thing "Midterm Madness"?  Like voters had to be crazy to vote the way they did?  Ugh. 

*The next morning, I read that at one point she expressed dismay at the news that Republicans are active on the Internet-- or, as most seem to remember her putting it, "You say you've seen signs that Republicans have moved into the Internet?  And are now dominating there?" ...I know it's hard to believe, but yes, non-liberals also use the computer box, and a few of us have even managed to figger out howter git on thuh Internets.