Monday, November 30, 2009

Bowing to the Inevitable

Conversation I had with my cousin Sarah yesterday at a baby shower.

Sarah: Are you a Twilight person?

Me: No. I mean, I keep up with it because I like to stay on top of pop culture. I read the first book and saw the movie and I'm going to read the second book. I don't know anything about Jacob as a boyfriend, but I'm on Team Jacob because Edward is such a bad, stalkery boyfriend.

Sarah: [nods in agreement]

Me: [Silently relieved because if she were on Team Edward, the conversation could've gotten ugly and lengthy.]

Sarah: If you know about Team Jacob, then you're a Twilight person.

Damn, there goes my And Then Buffy Staked Edward, The End superiority complex. I officially know too much about Twilight to pretend that I'm above the whole thing and ignoring it completely.

But here's my thoughts on unhealthy human/vamp relationships.

Buffy & Angel: All teenage girls want to date the broody guy. We get over it. (I say that the whole moment of perfect happiness thing is kinda outweighed by all. the. fucking. brooding. By the age of 25, she'd be so over that shit.)

Buffy & Spike: Fucking your vampire stalker is exactly the sort of fucked up thing that someone does when they're going through some really fucked up emotional shit, which Buffy was at the time. Even he knew he was Mr. Right Now, which makes it OK.

Bella & Edward: Dating your vampire stalker is the sort of thing that you do when you're young and haven't dated much and he's kinda hot. And then you grow out of it.

Grown adults swooning over Edward (or Spike, for that matter) and holding him up as the ideal boyfriend: Indicative of exactly how fucked up people are, and a little embarrassing to the rest of us who just want to ogle Taylor Lautner's underage torso in peace.

And by the way, the only time Spike watched Buffy sleep was this one time, after they had already done it loads of times and she had given him permission to share the bed with her. Which means Edward is a worse boyfriend than Spike.

As Sarah & I agreed: If a guy is watching you sleep while trying to decide if he wants to date you or eat you--that's a dealbreaker, ladies!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Permanent Mistakes

Via Spankcracker, which has nothing to do with Spanksgiving (though I hope you all had a good one), I have discovered Ugliest Tattoos, the Gallery of Regrets.

Go forth and look and just imagine that people are wearing these on their skin permanently. At least some of them have no regrets at all.

Though the Robocop riding a My Little Pony unicorn? Ten kinds of awesome.

Which one is your favorite? Perhaps I should say, which one disturbed you the most?

The ones that are placed to peek over the top of the undies freak me out far more than is necessary.

**Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win. I should probably mention that the cookies will probably be imported from Japan, so that's cool. There will also be novelty salt & pepper shakers. Depending on who wins, I'll throw in some craft supplies or chocolate or whatever. In honor of WKRP in Cincinnati, there will be a tube of lip balm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Not entirely work safe post, though it's just text.

OK, so Thanksgiving is upon us and while some people are making sure they have enough cranberries, the rest of us are making sure that we have enough tranquilizers. (Can't wait to see what ads go with that line. Also? Cats with crooked teeth!)

Psych Central has 10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family. They are excellent ideas, even though they have nothing to do with quaaludes, which is a really fun word to say. Go ahead and say it. Isn't it fun? Try saying it to yourself when one relative tells you that you're too dressed up 5 minutes after someone else has told you that you're not dressed up enough. It takes the edge off.

My little trick for getting through the day is carrying with me this little piece of information: There is a porno called The First Spanksgiving.

Makes you happy to be alive, doesn't it?

You're curious, so I'll just explain that it has 5 women in 1950s clothes sitting down to a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. Spanking starts happening. At the end, they all toast "Happy Spanksgiving!"

And now it takes a concentrated effort not to wish people a Happy Spanksgiving, which makes the whole holiday like a little game.

And now, you'll have to play too.

Happy Spanksgiving!


**Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win. I should probably mention that the cookies will probably be imported from Japan, so that's cool. There will also be novelty salt & pepper shakers. Depending on who wins, I'll throw in some craft supplies or chocolate or whatever. In honor of WKRP in Cincinnati, there will be a tube of lip balm.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Open Letter to People Who Need to Chill

or, my passwords do not need to be strong enough to pull a tractor with their teeth.

Keep in mind here that I spent 13 years working in technology, ensuring that the software being developed met everyone's needs: the end users, the stakeholders within the company, the legal department, you get the idea. So know that I'm not a newbie who keeps all their passwords on a post-it attached to their monitor. No, I'm a badass techie who keeps their passwords in their PDA.

Because, seriously? Almost every single web site I use has a different crazy set of rules for creating passwords. This one includes at least one letter and at least one number. That one requires one letter, one number and one capital. And so on.

So if my usual password was "skippy", which it isn't, because even I'm not that lax about security, one site would require "skippy1" and another "Skippy1" and a third would tell me that "skippy" is too commonly used so I should pick something else and I feel I've shown great restraint by never using "FkingProgrammers". Because, of course, the only people who can remember all these different passwords without writing them down have the kind of mind that make you able to code software.

Which is why I've had to point out many times at work that requiring Strong passwords that must be changed quarterly make people's accounts so insecure (thanks to post-its with passwords, or web browsers set to remember them) that we might as well not require a password at all.

Other solutions have been invented, but it's cheaper just to force you to add an umlaut in the middle of your password, so that's what we're stuck with. My favorite was realuser.com that used photos of people instead of passwords. They call it passfaces. They teach you in 10 minutes which 5 photos made up your password and they display a page with 9 pictures, only one of which was yours. They do this 5 times and then you'd be in. I haven't been to their site in years and I was just able to log in with my 5 faces. And yet there's no way I could tell you what my passfaces are (it's that freshfaced woman, then that weird looking guy and so on).

But no, I have to call my health insurance company every 3 months to change my password, because logging in correctly with an expired password isn't good enough for them. Heaven forfend that anyone log in as me and search for a doctor in my network! They don't even store claim info. There is nothing secure in there! And yet they have higher security than my bank.

I also had to come up with a strong password for IdeaAid, so I could suggest my Kris Kringle for Heifer International idea. Are we worried that someone will log in as me and suggest a bad idea?

OK, what's the site that makes you come up with the most ridiculously secure password in the history of this here series of tubes?

**Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win. I should probably mention that the cookies will probably be imported from Japan, so that's cool. There will also be novelty salt & pepper shakers. Depending on who wins, I'll throw in some craft supplies or chocolate or whatever. In honor of WKRP in Cincinnati, there will be a tube of lip balm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moo

I'll be taking up Marsha's challenge to try to conjure forth a Google ad for cat orthodonture, but not today.

Every year my extended family does a Kris Kringle for everyone over the age of 18. (For international readers who don't know what this is--you pick a name out of a hat and give only that person a gift, instead of everyone.) Kids still get gifts from everybody. Now, my Mom is the oldest of 6 kids and my family, when you count aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, cousin's kids, we have over 50 people. So just imagine all the gifts that were passed around before we started the Kris Kringle thing. Entire forests perished just to make the wrapping paper.

This year, inspired by this article (I had a writing class with the guy pictured on the right), I suggested that we give each other Heifer International gifts. They're an organization that gives animals to desperately poor people in other countries so they can make a living.

I've been giving Heifer gifts to my immediate family this year because they're so hard to shop for. Pretty things just have to be dusted. Food gifts may or may not get eaten (except for fruit baskets, but I can't send one for every occasion). But the gifts I've given from Heifer or Oxfam Unwrapped have gone over well.

For example, I gave mom a bee hive for her birthday and some family in South America got a bee hive so they can support themselves by selling honey. And His Awesomeness got to make jokes about Mom opening a box of bees as they flew out and stung her. And Mom didn't have to dust her present.

And there was much rejoicing.

So I emailed the family, letting everyone know that I didn't want to kill Christmas and wasn't trying to guilt anyone out of a gift. So far, some of us are on board with the idea, so we're a go. The way we're doing it is to let the Aunt In Charge know whether we want a gift or a Heifer. Then we'll pick names like usual and everyone who picks a Heifer recipient just gives Aunt In Charge $25 (our usual limit) and she'll buy a Cow or Water Buffalo as funds allow.

Moo!

So I'm mentioning this in case you have a family or office Kris Kringle coming up and maybe you want to make the same suggestion. Not only is it better for whoever gets the Heifer animals, but it's good for the environment because it means less consumption. Remember, when you buy a cheap, plastic thingie for your co-worker to put on their desk just because you'd all agreed to exchange gifts, that thingie was made in Asia, probably by someone in a sweatshop, and then shipped halfway around the world, using lots of fuel and labor. Just to get a thingie on someone's desk that they may not even like.

If you go this route, let me know how it goes.

Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Selling Out For Fun and a Contest

As you can see, I've added Google ads to the blog and RSS feeds. Why would I do such a thing?

Well, my unemployment has run out, so I can't turn my nose up at the $2 a month (or less) I expect to earn from blog ads. But mostly, I just think Google ads are funny. I love using my Gmail and seeing what ads the system thinks are related to the email I've just sent. My most recent favorite was when I emailed a friend asking about how I should respond to an editor who was considering an essay I'd sent her. I said to my friend something like, "God, it's like dating!" because you have to put some thought into every email. Google showed me an ad for a dating site and my brain went "hee!"

So now we're going to play a game. In a day or two, the ad spaces will be filled with real ads. (For the first day or two, it's just public service announcements, that may not be context-sensitive.) If you read a post and see an ad that is amusing, entertaining or incongruous (I hear that the liberal site Talking Points Memo gets fed ads for the far right, which they find hilarious), then leave a comment saying what it is.

Every comment (ad related or not) will get you an entry to win a box of random stuff. There will be cookies. Last day is December 9.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Om, You Jerkwads

This started as a comment on a post on Knit and Tonic about people who suck stressing out other people in yoga class. But I did yoga in the gym for many years and therefore have many gripes, so it was getting long. Plus, if I complain, then you can complain too, so that's nice.

I love yoga, but hate so much about the classes. I used to rush to get there early enough to get a spot far away from the door so no latecomers would crowd around me. (And believe me, it would get pretty cramped around the door.) But then I'd notice people coming in late, looking around for a spot and not seeing the ton of space on the far side of the room (sometimes there's be 3 of us in a space big enough for 5), so I'd try to wave them over (if they'd come in quietly).

Now, this was at a gym, so we'd be in a studio right next to the free weights. We'd be in corpse pose and someone outside the room would drop heavy weights onto the floor, startling all of us and tensing up my neck. And no one ever said anything to the weightlifters. Hate!

And I just stopped going in Januarys, because all the new members who had joined for their new year's resolutions would come into the room and overlap their mat onto other people's mats.

I also stopped going to the class taught by the most popular teacher because he wouldn't enforce the 15 person maximum. The room, it was small. We once had 19 or 20 people in there and it got so hot just from all the people in there not even doing yoga yet, that I felt faint and had to leave. After showing up 30 minutes early to make sure I could get in and get a good spot.

Gah! Just thinking about this has me so stressed that I need to do some yoga to unwind.

OK, your turn. What drives you crazy about your favorite allegedly relaxing activity?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion #5

Day 9 of my 7-10 day cold and I'm looking forward to a reduction in snot production. I've already moved on to the point where I'm freaked out by how much stuff I have to do because I didn't get anything done while I was sick. A sure sign of recovery.

I've joined the blogging team at WorkHerWay.com. You can check out my posts here.

For the knitters amongst us (and those who love them), I'm selling off some luxury alpaca yarn that I bought before discovering that I'm allergic to it. Details on craigslist. I'll split the cost of shipping with anyone not local who's interested.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stupidest Ghost Story Ever

Told to me at girl scout camp, rendered here in list form because I can't possibly be arsed to add in all the bits that make it spooky, because it's just that bad.

  1. Kid's mom sends him to the store to buy bologna for dinner.
  2. Kid fucks around and by the time he makes it to the store, it's closed.
  3. Kid's solution to this problem is to go out back behind the store and cut off his left buttcheek, to give to his mom, telling her it's bologna. (This seems like the point where I may have said something about how this made no sense and was told to shut up.)
  4. Kid's mom believes this and serves up ass cheek sandwiches. Kid pretends not to be hungry so that he doesn't eat his own butt cheek.
  5. The next night. Repeat steps 1-4, only it's the right butt cheek this time.
  6. Accidental cannibalism turns the rest of the family into zombies and they attack the kid or something. I dunno.
What's the stupidest ghost story you've ever heard? Besides the one I just told, of course.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate Show!

This past weekend was the annual Chocolate Trade Show in NYC. HA and I have been going for several years now to taste the samples and stock up on chocolate for months to come. We have one of the crisper drawers in the fridge designated at the chocolate drawer, to keep the stuff from going bad, since we don't plow through it all at once. (We keep the veggies in these awesome containers which really do keep things fresher longer, which is very important in a one or two person household.)

Also, we were shocked to discover that we had completely forgotten about it this year. Fortunately, a friend of ours works at Metropolitan Pavilion, where it was held and mentioned being there on Facebook. I leapt into action, called HA at work and then ran out of the apartment to meet him at the office. We could've waited until tomorrow, but we didn't want to.

So the way it works, is you buy your ticket, walk around eating samples and making your purchases and getting really wired on all the caffeine and sugar. (Some people only sample and don't buy, which is understandable considering the cover charge, but discourages vendors from returning, or inspires them to sell samples for $1.) There are some dessert wines to try, a chocolate spa to visit and chocolate art pieces to look at. And then you go out for a protein-heavy dinner to take the edge off.

They also have presentations. They're usually by some TV chef, but when we were there, Chocolatina was performing.

Moments later, she was dancing with someone in the audience. The theater area was crowded and we were feeling the pull of chocolate mania, so we moved on. Suffice to say that the chocolate drawer is full, plus we have a few Christmas gifts. And the sugar rush from all the samples had me bounding up and down and doing dishes at 11:30 PM.

My only disappointment was that this year, Mary's of Japan wasn't there. I assume that the economy prevented them from flying over their squadron of chocolatiers and huge display booth. They're probably not getting much international business these days, since I seem to remember more english on their web site. They make ganache thingies about the size and shape of a mini marshmallow, in chocolate and green tea chocolate. They also make these flower bonbons, which seem to be made my someone else now, so maybe there's been a split over at Mary's.

They've been known to run out of the ganache, so they're always the first stop. Since they weren't there, we made a beeline to Roni Sue because last year, by the time we got to them, they'd entirely run out of Pig Candy (chocolate covered bacon). There's been a lot of buzz about it and now we'll get to give it a try.

We had a great time meeting the founder of SweetRiot and stocked up a bit. They're chocolate covered cacao nibs and they're a great pick-me-up. Love! I always pick some up when I'm at Whole Foods. We picked up a bunch of stuff at Jacques Torres, including the chocolate covered cheerios. (The year we got married, we were on our honeymoon during the chocolate show, so we made up for it on Valentine's Day by going to the Jacques Torres store and going to town.)

And I'm still dreaming of the Toffee we got from Toffee Taboo. Noms.

The night before the chocolate show starts, there's a chocolate fashion show. Most of the clothing is made from chocolate. The wicked witch's bodice shows this clearly.




I love that she has her own flying monkeys.



There was also a big chocolate haunted house.








Noms.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Two years ago tomorrow night, I married His Awesomeness, who gets more awesome every day. Except for the days when he sucks, but that's OK.

We're going out for a romantic dinner tonight because tomorrow night, we'll be going to a Doctor Who event. We both want to go, so it's OK.

While we're out eating French food, in honor of our honeymoon destination, you can read up on the disastrous makeup trial, the shocking discovery we made about our wedding song, the wedding itself, and some nice stuff that happened around the actual wedding stuff.

What I didn't mention in the wedding post was that the manager of the restaurant screwed a lot of things up at the reception. (The old manager, who said it would be no problem to have a wedding reception, had to move out of state for family reasons. So this was a relatively new guy.) Things went so badly that the owner offered to treat me and my family to dinner to make up for it and I was too upset to go back to the restaurant to take him up on it. We'd originally thought that we'd go back there for dinner every year on our anniversary.

Yeah, not so much.

At some point this year, I finally got over it all (remember I had lost my voice and was powerless to manage the situation) and now I find the whole thing funny. Well, most of it. Which allowed me to start putting together the scrapbooks of all our pictures. You see, right after we toasted each other, the owner of the restaurant took the manager into the hallway and yelled at him in Italian. See, part of the problem is that the manager closed the bar right when it was time to give the toasts, so someone went to get the owner. So all the pictures of our toasts show either the manager wearing a bitchface, or the owner wearing an I'm gonna kill you face.

Today, I find this hilarious. A year ago, I wasn't quite there yet.

I still think it's stupid that:
  1. they didn't set out the seating cards we had pre-delivered
  2. they set out the centerpieces, but had no table numbers, so left our post-its on them
  3. didn't set out the cupcakes, or set up the cupcake tree (sisters in law to the rescue!)
  4. let 2 hours pass from the time everyone's orders were taken to the time they served the entrees, without suggesting that maybe we start the dancing because it's gonna be a while (the ripple effect was that people with kids had to leave before we did our first dance, or served the cupcakes. They got cupcakes for breakfast the next day, though.) (Also? I only discovered how much time had passed when our first dance started playing while they brought up the food. We had made mix CDs with 2 hours of dinner music, so we should've had more than enough music. I burst into tears from frustration when I heard our song. People thought it was because I thought our big dance moment was ruined, but really I just wanted to kill someone. Fortunately, everyone was so stuffed full of hors d'oeuvres that they weren't starving during the delay. Except for that one guy who went to McDonald's and brought it back. I still shudder over that one. Oh God, I'd managed to block that out. Also, we did a pretty good job or assigning groups to tables, so everyone had a good time chatting, except for that one table where not everyone showed up, which kept the conversation from flowing as well as it should have (sorry Karl!))
  5. the waiters were really rude whenever we asked for an update on where the hell the food was, especially when I tried to do so in note form because of the no voice thing.
  6. they served someone's special order after everyone else at their table was halfway through their meals
  7. they tried to shut down the bar when they should've been getting ready for a toast.
  8. they served champagne all night long instead of just at the toasts, as we had agreed (I don't wish champagne hangovers on anybody)
  9. a lot of this could've been avoided or dealt with, if I'd only taken up my friend Judy's offer to play wedding coordinator for the day.
But mostly, I find it funny. It helps that I managed to crop the McDonald's guy out of all the photos.

Oh well, so much for a sappy post about how much I wuv HA and how I wuv being married to him. But he knows that.