Saturday, October 31, 2009


Kiwi has a couple of the hard plastic toys that you might give a toddler.  Electronic toys where the child pushes the buttons to hear letters or numbers or sounds.  She likes the telephone one the best.  Thursday night, when I was at the Library my mother, Kay, sent me a recap of a conversation she had with Kiwi. 

Kiwi: (sing-song) 1....2....3
Kay: Kiwi, what comes after 3?
Kiwi: FOUR!
Kay: Kiwi, what comes after 4?
Kiwi: WHAT?!
Kay: Five, Kiwi. One, two, three, four, five!
Kiwi: Ok
I don't think Kiwi knows what numbers actually mean, but I am certain she is speaking in context.

Friday, October 30, 2009

That Was Fast

I mentioned that the leaves in my favorite tree turned to yellow overnight.  They also dropped overnight.  I am starting to think that those years when I thought that life was passing me by because I didn't notice the changing of the seasons....were a big lie perpetuated by this monster that has left his soggy bodily waste rotting on my lawn.

Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Walter Payton

We've been thinking about Walter Payton in Chicago lately.  I mean, we always talk about him, but lately we've been thinking.   For me, it started with word that they were trying to get a statue put in at Soldier Field.  Apparently the Park District, which owns Soldier Field, had a problem with that.

Then, there was that beer commercial.  One came out a couple of weeks earlier featuring Tony Dorsett and I remember thinking, "If they did one of those with Walter Payton footage, I would probably cry."  And can I tell you?  I heard it on the radio.  The sportscaster, calling the game as Payton broke Jim Brown's record.  I freaked out in rush hour traffic.  Beer commercial.

And then, of course, we think of Walter when our team is getting spanked.  Which is why the idea of a half time memorial on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of Payton's death, sounds like a great idea to me.

I was at the public service in 1999 with my friend, Eric.  I have never been to such an event for a celebrity before and I can't imagine what would make me attend another.  But it was for Walter Payton.  I remember the Mayor wasn't there, but the Mayor's brother was.  He botched something ridiculous, like what number Payton wore.  I remember seeing the old teammates.  Dude, it was like Brian's Song, so don't get me started.

The active players had to get up and leave at some point.  They were getting on the bus to go to the next day's game in Green Bay.  They really weren't any good that season, but there is nothing worse than losing to the Packers (unless it is losing to the Vikings).  The last play was Green Bay kicking a field goal to win it.  A really easy one, if I remember correctly.  I don't normally watch field goals, but for some reason I looked.  A Bear got a hand high enough in the air to block it.  We won the game.  In my little circle, "Walter's Game" isn't the day he broke the record.  It was the day after his memorial when it took a small miracle to beat the Packers.

If it takes a small miracle to beat Cleveland on Sunday, I will consider the season over.  But I will still take the opportunity to send some love Walter's way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Smash

Sometimes when I am all stressed out at work, I take the longish walk to Jamba Juice and get a smoothie for lunch.  I went in last week and got the pumpkin smash.  I heard it was "pumpkin pie through a straw".

It actually is.  Not "pumpkin spice".  But actual pumpkin.  It was slimy, even.

The issue is that there is a serious curve in the diminishing marginal utility.  After four or five sips, it is just too much.  Because I didn't think to take a picture, I stole this one from Serious Eats, that has a real review and even a recipe link.  If Death by Pumpkin sounds good to you.

Dr. Zarkov! There's no sun!

I hate driving to work in the dark.  The weather has been lame, so the sun isn't breaking through, but it's mostly the days getting shorter and whoever had the bright idea of messing with Daylight Savings....was just wrong.

And speaking of the change in season, the leaves in my favorite tree turned.  Overnight.  No kidding, people.  There might have been a day or two of going dark green to light green, but the light green to yellow - overnight.

My Corporate Finance course started today.  It looks scary with the problem sets and the quizzes and the vague instructions on what is expected in the weekly discussions.  And the worst part?  It is all open book.  Anne's Law: Never trust a test that is open book.  If I am still alive at the end of this class, I am going to read nothing but trashy novels for the rest of the year.  I'm pretty sure I have a sequel to Pride and Prejudice around here somewhere...

Sunday, October 25, 2009


LibraryThing has a program of sorts that offers up advance copies of books to members willing to review them online.  The list of available books is on the home page and it isn't a bad way to keep up with who is coming out with what.  If you care.

On the page right now is Gregory Maguire's new book.  You know, the guy that wrote Wicked.  He has done some really good stuff and some really mediocre stuff, and I took a second look.

It's called Matchless.  My cold black heart sank a bit.  Please tell me it isn't about the Little Match Girl.  I freakin' hate that story. 

It is.

There are three early reviews and there is no consensus of opinion, although it sounds like the ending is somewhat less tragic.  Don't care.  Won't be reading it.

Not From a Box

Somewhere between the third and fourth touchdowns of the worst game ever played in the National Football League, I had to get up and do something.  I made cranberry sauce.  Although technically, the recipe came from the back of the bag, I can call absolutely call this cooking from scratch.

With a full cup of sugar.

My family was perfectly happy with the stuff from a can.  We would refrigerate it in advance and a true champion, like my mother, could get the lump of cranberry jelly to slide out into the dish in one unblemished lump.  I forget why I first tried making it fresh...but I remember my family trying it and saying, "Wait a minute.  This is good."  And being all impressed.

So.  Green bean casserole and fresh cranberry sauce.  That's what I can contribute to Thanksgiving dinner.  If we bother to cook at all.

P.S.  I am convinced that if I had been fed fresh cranberry sauce as a child, I would have found it lumpy and complained about the seeds.  I wouldn't expect Alex to eat this.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Queenpin, by Megan Abbott

Book 41

I saw Queenpin, by Megan Abbott at the library used book store right after utter_scoundrel blogged about another of her books.  Slim volume, so I gave it a try.

The first half was so cliché it made me angry.  Young girl cooking the books for some low budget operation is discovered by a serious player-chick who hires her and teaches her the underworld game.  And Rule #1 is don't let a man screw it all up for you. 

Young girl gets a taste for it and gets good at it and then she meets the jerk.

I must say that the whole, "I knew from the moment I met him that I would do anything for him" routine turned me off in a big way.  She keeps her "relationship" a secret, so then we wait to find out when and how it is "discovered" or whether the boss knew it all along.  I didn't care.

Then comes the day when the jerk presents his plan for her to get him a big score.  Here we go.  And it is all ugly and stupid.  But then, the story actually gets good.

Death of the Jerk just rocked.  And the last third of the book is watching the game unfold in the aftermath.  Does the mentor intend to throw the protégée to the wolves, or is she just buying insurance?  Will the protégée cut and run?  She is a bit of a crybaby.

The climax of the story is not unexpected, but very cinematic.  The "epilogue" is lame.  And there were still some unanswered questions that left me hanging.  But in the end, I enjoyed it.  Abbott's novels do not require much of a commitment (What was I thinking in starting up another Mailer this year?) so I grabbed another.

And While I am Discussing My Spending Habits Again

I went in to Yankee Candle.  I had been using an electric tart warmer for a couple of years, but officially ran out of outlets in the area that I kept it and I don't feel like adding more.  So I went old school.  I use a jar candle when I am going to be home for a long stretch and the standard tart warmers during the week when I will only be upstairs for a couple of hours before going to sleep.  The accessories are getting better.  I love my new jar holder:

Except the picture looks weird with the shadow behind it.  Anyway, the tip of the day for the hard-core Yankee Candle people is that if you use an electric tart holder, set it on a timer for a few minutes before you get home.  So the scent is already wafting by the time you walk in the door.

Credit Card Processing

Warning: Disingenuous Rant to Follow

I was in the Bath and Body Works.  I was once a regular customer of this branch.  While I have defected to The Body Shop for most of my shower gels and creams, I still go to Bath and Body works for a few things.  Today it was hand soap because Vanilla Bean Noel is back in the house.  And the shea cashmere hand cream also made a comeback.  And I had a 20% discount.

After all of the sales and discounts, my total was something under $20.  I swiped my credit card and signed.  While the lady was putting my stuff into my reusuable shopping bag, I put the card away.  She handed me the bag and asked to see the credit card.  Now, I don't mind handing over the credit card, but I really thought the whole point of the self service card swipers that capture signatures was to speed the process along.  I opened my bag, took out my wallet and handed her the card.

She told me my signature didn't look like the signature on the machine and asked to see my i.d.  Staring daggers into her heart, I handed it over.  She looked at the picture, looked at me and handed both back with my receipt.

Now.  Here is my damage:

Of course the signature doesn't look right.  These digital machines can't pick up anything properly, let alone at the odd angle at which I am required to sign because I am left-handed.  Once or twice, when these machines were new, I asked a store to erase my signature and start the transaction over because even I couldn't read it.  Apparently, that was also suspicious.

Ulta has these digital signature storing devices.  I always found it weird that the sales associate had to swipe the card herself.  I am thinking this is why.  She can eyeball the card without making a big display of theft control prowess.

I know that I should be pleased that someone is taking care with my credit. But really. The total was less than $20. I worked the sales and discounts to the extreme. Do the Amex thieves really use all of their little coupons when they have just stolen someone's card? For that amount, many stores don't even bother to collect a signature.

Making me feel like a criminal is not the way to regain (or retain) my business.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Product Review - Wigo Curling Iron

Skilled as I appear with the eyeliner and skin care, I am a total loser about my hair.

It is bone straight and I have spent a lifetime trying to put curls into it. (Note Jenny's Theory - No woman is every happy with her hair.  She has the thick and curly kind that I would just love and she's tried every method of straightening known to Man.)  When I was 12, my mother paid a bloody fortune to take me to an extremely well-recommended stylist at Sam Martirano’s to get the darling corkscrew curls that were all the rage with the teased bangs in 1986. It did not last two weeks.

I’ve tried sleeping in curlers. Works, (actually works a little too well) but what a pain in the butt. And there was no way I was going to do sleep in curlers in the co-ed dorms.

I’ve tried regular curlers, steam curlers, round brushes…you get the idea. All that is left is frying my hair with the curling iron. I had a pretty good system going with the products last spring, but I cut my hair rather shorter and the large barrel wasn’t doing it for me, so I picked up a new curling iron. Because my last one lasted a good decade, I paid a moderately larger sum for the Wigo, about which the Ulta stores had been raving.  But then I was on summer hours, and you all know that I am pony tail girl all summer long – between getting up earlier and the humidity it isn’t worth styling my hair for real.

September arrives and I pull the curling iron back out. That first morning, I forgot to use the volumizing gel because I was half asleep. But I did my usual thing, sprayed with my usual hair spray and left for work

And my hair held all day. 

What the heck is the difference? Something about ceramic and ionic something-something. But I am using one less product in my hair and it is holding up for an entire work day. Don’t know what kind of damage it’s doing...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Overheard in My House: Conversation Between Kay and Kiwi

Scene:  My mother was in the laundry room.  I heard the sound of Kiwi the Grey flying in to see her.  She lands on the dryer.

Kay:  Kiwi!  You couldn't just wait on your perch for one minute?!

Kiwi:  (opens a pine nut)

Kay:  Kiwi!  There's no eating in the laundry room!

Kiwi: (drops pine nut shell on the floor; continues to chew)

Kay:  Kiwi!  You can't just fly around the house with food wherever you want!

OK.  Kiwi didn't actually speak in that conversation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Product Review - Eyeliner Sealer

I started wearing make up at eleven. I know stuff. I don’t know everything, because who can be bothered? But trust me on this one – eyeliner.

I have pale skin and pale eyes, so eyeliner has always been my one most important cosmetic. Although concealer is rapidly catching up. But I have tried every kind. Eye pencils are really good for beginners, and the come in a wide variety of colors. But they smudge off really easily. Liquid eyeliner holds better, but requires really good technique, and even then it can look too harsh. At some point – I am thinking early in college – I discovered Clinique’s water resistant eye liner:

It is like a watercolor. You run the brush under the faucet for a second, until it is wet through. Then get some “paint” on the brush and paint the eyelid. Good product. I used it for years.

At some point, when I determined that I really should keep foundation around, I tried Bare Minerals. Best concealer ever, and I can even stand to use the foundation. Occasionally. Slowly, I started trying the other products. The eye shadow is loose powder, which is odd but perfectly good. The eyebrow stuff is works very well.

Then I tried the eyeliner.

It is also loose powder. The lady in the store told me to mix some with water and paint it on. Well, that worked with a built-in hard palette, but I am hardly going to try it with loose powder. I would never get the consistency right. So I brushed a thin line of powder on my eyelid and then dampened a really thin brush to “watercolor” it, which creates a kind of cosmetic seal.

I have just exactly enough talent to pull this off. Meaning that if I am not totally awake when I make the attempt, I might get soft black powder all over my face, fingers and bathroom counter. So when I screw up, I have to scrub everything and start all over again. And really, I didn’t think this stuff holds up any better than Clinique’s over the average workday.

And then.

I saw that Bare Minerals had a serum designed to solve my problem. “Weather Everything” is labeled as a “liner sealer”. The instructions say to mix it with the powder before applying, but I ignored that again. I put the powder on my eyelid, then put some sealer on the brush. The look was the same.

But people.

8 o’clock in the evening, I went to take a shower. I looked in the mirror and my eyeliner hadn’t moved. I walked outside at lunchtime. I came home and went walking after work. I played four tennis matches on Wii. My eyeliner hadn’t moved. I was so stunned that I rubbed it on purpose. Still didn’t move. It isn't cheap, but I am in love with this product.

Poor Kid

My brother, Scott, is a web guy. He builds web sites for a living. But he doesn't like blogs and has a particular disdain for Facebook. A favorite story:

Scott keeps in touch with some people that he worked with at the Herald. They go to lunch every few months. He shows up at the table, all jazzed to show everyone the new pictures of Ainslie. One chick tosses them back on the table and says, "I've already seen these."

He is floored. "They are days old. How did you see them?"

The answer, of course, is that she is Facebook friends with his wife, Becky. He pouted for days.

Earlier today, he e-mailed me that Wil Wheaton had been on The Big Bang Theory. I like that show, but I have missed so much that I am officially writing it off as a "pick it up on DVD unless it lands in syndication pdq". But I knew Wheaton was on, because he blogged about it.

Unfortunately, I was busy with Professor Blight last night. (sigh).

Scott called me after work today, asking if I'd gotten his e-mail. I'd totally forgotten. He said it was hysterical. I told him I'd heard. How did I hear? Wheaton's blog.

Silence. I swear he almost hung up on me. But apparently he tivo'd it so that he can make me watch it the next time I am there. That's a good boy. Here is a picture of him, from the Alex Collection.  The surreal effect.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Wars

They're actually calling it Book Wars.  MSNBC, among others, is reporting that Wal-Mart and are engaging in a price war with certain new releases going for $9.  In other words, they are selling for a loss.  Just to tick each other off, I guess.

I can't stand Wal-Mart, and I much prefer Barnes & Noble to Amazon.  Also, I've been particularly judgemental about books since I heard the rule of thumb that if the author's name is larger than the title on the cover, it's a bad book. 

But this is a bit scary.  Remember that horrible movie, "You've Got Mail"?  Meg Ryan had a decent line.  She disdainfully told the camera that she heard Tom Hanks' character compare the selling of books to the selling of cans of olive oil.

That's how I feel about this.  I realize that I don't get to talk, inasmuch as I buy so (soooo) many of my books used these days.  But it offends my little sensibilities.

Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way.  Maybe I should just be happy that Amazon isn't letting the Evil Empire off easy.

Hot Diggity Moon Dog

My friend Jodi is starting a Blog.  I am very excited because she is one of the few people I know on Facebook that posts every day(ish) and is still interesting.  If she is going to post a sentence about her crappy day, it is something like:  "I left my cell phone at the office.  Should I go back to get it?"  I'm thinking about turning off my e-mail notifier thing because of all the conversations she generates.  Another was if you are interviewing candidates for a job, and the otherwise perfect person wears flip flops to the meeting, would you hire?  (The answer is no.  And NO.)

She is cool for about a million reasons but I will start here:
  1. She found a job in Milwaukee and moved there because she couldn't stand living in the suburbs for one more minute.  I bet she can make a whole bunch of fun observations about that.
  2. She has two cats named...Vinnie and Leo, I think.  After the artists.  So she has goofy cat stories, which I hope will include goofy pictures.
  3. She is also back in school.
  4. She is my personal human urban dictionary.
Oh, and her husband is my friend Rich. 

Jodi's first blog entry blew me away.  No "Hi, I'm Jodi and I am starting a blog because that is what all the cool kids do."  She was all personal and relevant and current events-y.  Apparently, gay people are not allowed to be organ donors. 

And now that I have posted about her, she will be forced to keep the thing up.   For awhile.

P.S. Jodi:  Now my mother has your blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The House on First Street, by Julia Reed

Book 40

I pulled out another New Orleans book because my friend Andrew just blogged a manifesto about the place, and it made me miss it. And this piece seemed a bit less hurricane-tragic than the others I have read:

The House of First Street: My New Orleans Story, by Julia Reed, is another New Orleans journalist’s account of life before and after Katrina. It doesn’t have near the emotional intensity of Heart Like Water or 1 Dead in Attic. (Although Reed seems to be a friend of Chris Rose, who wrote the latter.) In fact, Reed spends half the book complaining about the nightmare rehab job on her historic house in the Garden District – before the hurricane. While I found it all rather tedious, I ought to keep it in mind the next time I think that I would like to live in a Victorian that has some personality.

No kidding.

Where Clark and Rose wrote of heart-wrenching moments and broken relationships, Reed wrote about how food and booze kept every going. OK.  Where Rose (I think) wrote about randomly breaking down in tears one day at a gas station – which no one seemed to find odd – Reed wrote about gaining the “Katrina 15”. Clark wrote about staying in the city and desperately dodging the cops that were trying to clear the place out. Reed wrote about asking Newsweek for a press pass to get home, because she was afraid the one from Vogue wouldn’t quite impress that National Guard.

Reed knew that she sounded like Marie Antoinette in her dispatches to Vogue, because her editor told her so. She knows that she was very lucky, but I still feel like the story was less about New Orleans and more about her building a newlywed middle-aged life in a big house that happened to be in that city at that time.  I guess that's fair enough - she does call it "My New Orleans Story".  The epilogue was about how her house was robbed five days before the manuscript for the book was due and she hadn’t backed it up and had to write the whole thing over again.

She has a couple of interesting accounts.  One was the rumors about typhoid and the plague going around.  They were patently untrue, but kept many people from coming home.  Another was a description of a doctor friend of hers that set up camp in the French Quarter to help people because those in need couldn't find the official free clinic that had been put together in the basement of a hotel.  He pulled it off because someone - I think it was one of the National Guard groups - gave him access to a pharmacy they had on lockdown.

Those brief pieces of the picture I didn't have before were few and far between.  To sum it up, “A New Orleans story for readers of Vogue” probably isn’t too bad.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Return of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Book 39

The Return of Sherlock Holmes was one of the out-of-copyright freebie books on the Amazon Kindle.  I started reading it for two reasons.  First, I was on the road for two weeks in September and second, I remembered that reading Holmes cases was cool last year while I was in school because I could put it down for a whole week and not have a problem picking it back up.

The first interesting thing was that I hadn't realized that "The Return" actually meant Returned from the Dead.  Poor Watson.  And you know what that jackass Holmes said - in explaining just why he hadn't told his best friend that he was really alive?  That Watson wouldn't have been convincing enough in his grief or whatever if he had known the truth.

So the first case was how Holmes drew out the remaining members of Moriarty's gang.  Whatever. 

There were a couple of cases where Holmes let the culprit go free - in a which is the greater evil sort of way.   And it is always funny when there is a chick involved.  He calls Watson the expert in that area.  And that also reminded me of House MD.  I have read more than once that House was partially based on Holmes.  Genius jerk with a past drug habit and a most loyal sidekick.  Watson seems like a much less damaged guy than Wilson, though.

I like that the cases are less about big crime or big players - although they sometimes are - and more about whatever weird thing strikes the detective's fancy.  Also true of House.  Maybe I should just go watch House now.  I have that James Earl Jones one sitting in the Tivo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On the First Night of My Weekend of Doing Nothing

Obviously, I took some time and finally found a blog template that I can live with.  For awhile.  But it killed all of my widgets and I can't find the Quote of the Day one I was using.  So I put in the Darth Vader for the time being because that will at least amuse my mother.  I will also have to re-create my links list.

I also tried playing a new cheapie computer game from Half Price Books.  It is called Cooking Academy and it is absolutely terrible.

And I did the grocery shopping.  How lame has school made me, that I did the grocery shopping on a Friday night so that I really wouldn't have to do anything all weekend? 

Also, I can hear something going down over the loud speakers at the high school.  It is too cold, or I would open the window, but I know it isn't homecoming weekend.  Because I looked it up on the Internet.  You know they actually have YouTube videos of those events?  What won't people put on that thing?

There are several suburban library book sales going on this weekend and I dare not go to any of them.  I've been buying books for six weeks that I haven't read since I've been in class.  I haven't caught up on my Tivo from last Spring.  And I must not forget the Vanity Fair magazines.  I'm pretty sure those go back to the inauguration.  And last but absolutely not least, I am only halfway through Professor Blight's course on the Civil War on Academic Earth.  I am in love with this man.  Kay can have Professor Foote and his Southern drawl.  Blight is from Michigan.  And besides being a big nerd, he sometimes sounds like Indiana Jones in front of his classroom.

And he still uses an overhead projector.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Week

Tomorrow is my final exam and I will have one week off before the next class.  The big question is whether I will read books, play video games or watch TV.  No.  The actual question is whether I am going to pass this final.  My mother will tell you that I always say that, but for weeks now my job has me so distracted that I can't concentrate on anything and it isn't like this particular subject matter comes naturally to me.

I am happy to say this was my best experience with a group project ever.  Because all three of us are having a rough time at work, we were each extra careful to get ahead of the schedule and not be rushing at the end.  So thank you, Rebecca and Nav.  Unfortunately, we are each so close to finishing the program that we will not be in class together again.

Corporate Finance, rumor has it, is calculations and quizzes each week.  I hate math (those present value formulas make me crazy), but the weekly quizzes worked for me in Accounting.  Here's hoping it doesn't kill me.

I am just at the point of serious diminishing returns on the studying.  So you know what I am going to do?  I am going to quit worrying about it and go to sleep.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Continuing Mission

This is an Animal Planet story about Dr. Pepperberg’s continuing research with Griffin, the African Grey parrot. It seems to be narrated by Shatner:

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Water Bottle Problem

I like to carry around a bottle of water.  Not very eco-friendly.  I've been looking at the new stuff on the market, but none of them fit my personal requirements.  Like diswasher safeThen I found this one.  Rubbermaid calls it the "Chug Bottle".  At CVS or something.  I bought six of them.

I am not ready to call this a confirmed success, but I am pretty happy so far.  It is a 20 ounce bottle.  I tend to screw the lid off as opposed to drinking from the pop up cap, mostly because I am afraid of leaving the cap loose and spilling water all over the place.  I toss them on the bed and in the car and stuff

I only put water in them, so I don't wash them every day.  But I could, because they appear to be durable enough.  We have water coolers at home and at the office, but I am a snob and don't feel like the water coolers are quite cold enough. These can take ice. I prefer to fill them up and put them in the refrigerator. The only trouble is how to tell whose bottle is whose.  I think I saw them in different colors.  Must buy more.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writers' Theatre - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Back for the new season at Writers’ Theatre and the first show was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which I really dig. This play was my second experience with the alternate point of view genre (Grendel was the first – both in AP English). I remember it because my nerd friends started playing The Question Game for awhile. That was right around the time that Kris’ parents started doing missionary work in Africa and we all discovered Jello shots, but never mind that.

Where Grendel and Wicked are from the point of view of the villain, and Rhett Butler’s People and a whole slew of Pride and Prejudice books are from the point of view of the romantic lead, this took two characters from Hamlet that were rather throwaway and made them the focus of a story. (If you want the point of view of the bad guy in Hamlet, try John Updike’s Gertrude & Claudius. Messed with my head.)

R&G were always kinda dumb, so the piece is part comedy. It is also part philosophy. The guy behind me at the show, (in between blowing his nose just a bit too close to my hair) suggested that it was a “purgatory piece” – where the characters are already dead and reflecting on their choices.

I’m pretty sure that was one of the theories going around about Lost.

I have seen several different versions of Hamlet, and while my mother may faint to hear me forsake Olivier, I must declare that I live and die by the Branagh version. Which means that the characters of The Players messed me up. Because I was somehow looking for Charleton Heston. It took me about 2.4 seconds to get over that and I loved them.

So the set design was a stage. And the backdrop was a mural of theatre seats. When the “Hamlet action” was going on, the actors all faced the other way. I’m not sure whether that is standard technique for the piece, or Michael Halberstam came up with it himself, but it was awesome. Although, now that I am writing it, it sounds like they are trying to coach the audience on what is the canon and what isn’t. There was actually a flyer in the program that had a summary of the original Shakespeare.

The part is so small, but I must say: if I were going to make a Top Ten List of the most annoying characters in all of literature, Polonius would totally be there. (As would Mrs. Bennet. Oh, and Sue Ellen O’Hara. I am going to have to write a full post on that concept.) And the actor that played Polonius was the most annoying Polonius he could possibly be. Which I guess is a good thing.

The actors that played the leads (Writer’s Theatre Fave Sean Fortunato and New Guy Timothy Edward Kane) were really good. The Tribune critic thought that Kane was too broody as Guildenstern, but I thought it added some weight to the Free Will debate that I hadn’t considered before. Fortunato was goofier; kind of child-like. I guess that was the better foil.

Of course, the big license the play takes is in suggesting that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were aware that they were to be executed and stumbled into their fate with their eyes open. My 18 year old self did not buy this idea. In this show, they somehow pull it off. Or maybe it is just my matured suspension of disbelief. Or the purgatory thing.

Whatever. This show rocked.

Again with the Products

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As you probably know, I spent the entire summer at war with my skin.  It would not stop breaking out.  I expect the issue was a combination of stress, the mold in my house (that also accounted for the stress) and my SPF problem.

It is no longer up for debate that I require serious SPF in whatever moisturizer that I use everyday.  This is because I am both lazy (I can't be bothered to look in a mirror more than once a day, let alone re-apply product) and careless (I don't think much before opening the windows or the sunroof in the car).  My skin is officially sun damaged and it is not cool.

I have spent years looking for a decent moisturizer with SPF of 15 to 30.  Mary Kay's made me break out.  Others were greasy and/or messed up my make up.  For the last couple of years, I have gotten away with using a light moisturizing serum under a standard sunscreen.  I am getting too old for that.  Finally, I found something that I like:

I found Coola's "organic moisturizing suncare" at The Soap Box Shop in Highland Park.  It is one of those hand-made/organic/way too expensive boutiques that happened to have its door open as I returned to my car after seeing my allergist and it smelled good in there. 

The label says, "paba/paraben/petroleum free, water/sweat resistant, vitamin rich and specifically designed to protect and hydrate sensitive facial skin."  It was $32, which I consider too much for sunscreen, but not terrible for a good moisturizer if it lasts long enough.  And it was 25% off.

It didn't clear up my skin right away, but I was reminded that if you keep changing up your skincare routine, your skin will get ticked at you.  But once everything returned to normal, I dedided that I love this product. 

I don't care much about organics but I dig the cucumber scent in this one.  I have been using it on top of The Body Shop's Vitamin C serum (which no self-respecting spa junkie would do, but the Vitamin C is helping with the sun damage and I just refuse to pay $135 dollars for the Skinceuticals product that everyone is raving about), and I don't need very much of it to get coverage.  It doesn't make my face any shinier than normal and it does not gunk up my make up brushes.

The final test of this will be how deep into the Chicago winter will it take me before my skin feels dried out.  I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What You Get for Blogging

I have several e-mail accounts.  One at work.  One personal.  One "personal business", that I use for online ordering and mail-listy stuff.  I just received an e-mail in my personal account from Meatheads, the new burger place in Northbrook.  It looked like this, and included a coupon:

First, I think, "Oh, cool".  Then I think, "I don't remember giving them my e-mail address".  Then I think, "Wait, even if I did give them my e-mail address, I wouldn't have given them this e-mail address."

Then I figured it out:

I blogged about them.  And my blog is attached to my personal e-mail account. 

Huh.  I don't know whether this makes me happy or not.


It seems I didn't figure it out.  My mother sent me an e-mail saying that she is on their mailing list and she "redirected" the above to my personal e-mail account.

Best Friends Notice

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has a been setting up local networks to spread the word about pets in need and rescue groups that need a hand.  Today I received an e-mail about Roxie, a dog in foster care that needs a home and I thought I might spread the word.  Here are the details:

Breed: English Coonhound
Location: Aurora, Ill
Sex: Female
Age: 3-4


Roxie is a multi colored 3-4 year old English Coonhound. She is a very friendly but very active
girl who can be quite an escape artist. Roxie is very smart so she would love someone who would have alot of time to spend with her playing games and keeping active so she would not get bored. Roxie loves everyone including other dogs, children and cats.

Contact: Jody Porretta
Phone: 708 268-6965


Friday afternoon, my nerves were shot from the worst week at work ever.  Although I am absolutely one of those "we who are employed should count our damn blessings" types.

So I went over to the Refuge and brought home another foster bird.  This is Maxi:

She also has aspergillosis, and is on medication.  But supposedly, she takes it in a sandwich.  Except I have had to hand feed it to her which is so not the case at the rescue.  But she sits on that swing that I bought for Kiwi - who won't use it.

Kiwi is very happy for the company, but Maxi isn't interested in making friends right now.  We'll see.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What is This?

I like McDonald's and I am a sucker for good marketing.  So I play the Monopoly.  I ordered a medium fry because I know they don't give you game pieces on the small.  But then.  Are you seeing this? 

No game pieces on the fries. They have seriously diminished the menu items that have game pieces. I only got them on my drink, And you know what's worse?

Look at this freakin' game card!  This is not a Monopoly board! 

I guess I should thank them for turning me off of this racket.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playing Kissy Face

I had a most craptacular day.  Then PJ and Fred started making out.    So I took a picture.  And now I am going to do my homework.

Monday, October 5, 2009

21 Dog Years: Doing Time at, by Mike Daisey

Book 38

Another book that I picked up while researching  This was much less useful for a scholarly study.  And sometimes, it made me cringe.  Most memorable for my poor psyche was the last straw before Daisey quit his job:

Someone left a spreadsheet in the bathroom that had all of the salary information in his department.  He made copies and distributed it.

He talks about his work from customer service to business development as a big snow job that he pulled on the suits.  Which is kinda funny and kinda makes me insane.

I just figured it out: this book is like Office Space.  Where every member of my generation is going to find it funny except for me because I work in HR. 

There were some moments that even I found funny.  Like when his fiancee asked why he is always ripping on France; he told her that he had been doing it for so long that he doesn't even remember. 

Apparently, Daisey is now doing one-man shows and writing books.  I bet that if I were listening to him telling his stories, rather than reading them while I am working my butt off to finish a graduate degree in management, I would beter appreciate it.  But even so, he makes a great point in this book: there is no way you will be able to do really good work at a job you can't stand.  So follow your passion.  Or something.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Animal Rescue Site Contest

The Animal Rescue Site is running its Vote for Your Favorite Shelter thing again.  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary always wins, but the top prizes aren't awarded to the same shelter more than once a year, so we might have a shot at a state prize. 

Please visit, click on the Shelter Challenge and look for A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife in Illinois.  Vote early - vote often (once a day is the rule)!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stupid Eco Friendly Stuff

Dear Aquafina:

While I admire your corporate commitment to minimizing the carbon footprint of my bottled water habit, I must say that your new bottles suck.

I bought a case of 16 ounce bottles in the new packaging and am now about halfway through it.  In opening all but one of the bottles, I have spilled water all over the place.  One needs a firm grasp on the body of the bottle in order to break the seal in the cap of the plastic.  That grasp collapses the "eco-friendly packaging" and the water squeezes out.

That's just poor engineering.  Respectfully, I'm going back to Ice Mountain.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Not that you’ve asked for my job hunting advice, but Joy and I were talking about some résumés this afternoon and I feel the need to get up on a soap box. My standard disclaimer applies – HR people are all different and we do not make hiring decisions, anyway. We are just the gatekeepers. Feel free to try and go around us. I don’t care.

First. Cover letters are not optional. Some job post web sites have a box to check if the hiring employer is requiring them and I do not check the box. Because I am judging applicants based on whether they bother to do so without being told.

Second, there are all of these new-fangled ways that the experts are giving people to “brand” themselves. Things like listing all of your accomplishments together – the actual titles and employers and lengths of service are secondary – or less. Employers only care about what you can do, not where you did it. Some are even saying not to add dates at all.

I think that is garbage.

Particularly when we have to sort through piles of applications, if the thing that differentiates you is that I have to hunt for the information I want like “is this person a job hopper” and “is there a pattern of progressively responsible positions” – that is not in your favor. If you get too creative, it makes me think you are trying to hide something. Oh, and trying to hide your age is silly. First, because I don’t care how old you are and second, it also tends to hide your experience.

The other new résumé thing is sections on “objectives” and “summaries”. I have never read one single “objective” section that made me want to hire a candidate, but I have read many that made me dismiss them. On the “summary” I can go either way. If you think it adds something, by all means include it. But if you use it to broadcast “excellent communications skills” or to declare yourself a ”top notch professional”, I think it is a waste of space on the page.

Bottom line: don’t get cute on the résumé. Differentiate yourself in the cover letter. I have said before that the best cover letter I have ever seen included a list of the job requirements and then pointed to how the candidate had that experience. She got an interview.

(stepping down now)